History of West Australia/Chapter 17
TRANSPORTATION CEASES; NORTH-WEST; AN ELECTION.
1861 TO 1868.
CONVICTISM A PANACEA—EFFECTS ON SOCIETY—SOCIAL CONDITIONS—ARRIVAL OF CONVICT SHIP—SUGGESTIONS OF EARL GREY'S COMMITTEE; CONDITIONAL PARDONS ABOLISHED—GOVERNOR KENNEDY, AND MAGISTRATES, IMPORTERS, LAW CONVICT EXPENDITURE—RETIRES—GOVERNOR HAMPTON ARRIVES—VIGOROUS PUBLIC WORKS POLICY, AND LIABILITIES—STREETS, ROADS, BRIDGES, ETC.—BARRACKS ON MOUNT ELIZA—ESTABLISHMENT AT FREMANTLE—NORTH FREMANTLE BRIDGE, AND CHAIN GANGS—CONVICT EXPENDITURE—COMPTROLLER-GENERAL HENDERSON RETIRES; SUCCEEDED BY CAPTAIN NEWLAND—NEWLAND RETIRES, AND G. E. HAMPTON IS APPOINTED—ACCUSATIONS AGAINST HAMPTON FOR CRUELTY AND INEFFICIENCY—GOVERNOR REBUKED—MR. WAKEFORD BECOMES COMPTROLLER-GENERAL—PERTH COUNCIL AND TOWN HALL—PUBLIC WORKS—EASTERN OPPOSITION TO CONVICTS—DESPATCH NOTIFYING CESSATION—NO EXCITEMENT CAUSED—C0MPENSATION—CONVICT SHIPS—LAST SHIP—FREE EMIGRANTS—FENIANS AND MAN-OF-WAR—CONVICT STATISTICS—CRIMES, ESCAPES AND NOTABLE CONVICTS—NORTHWEST—F. T. GREGORY DISCOVERS DE GREY AND OTHER RIVERS—PROPOSALS TO FORM SETTLEMENT—SPECIAL LAND LAWS—WALTER PADBURY, PIONEER, GOES TO NICKOL BAY WITH STOCK—J. WELLARD FOLLOWS—EXPEDITION TO GLENELG RIVER AND CAMDEN HARBOUR—MR. WITHNALL AND OTHER SETTLERS AT NICKOL BAY, GASCOYNE RIVER, AND SHARKS BAY—EXPEDITION TO CAMDEN HARBOUR FOR GOLD; INGENUITY OF CONVICT—ROEBUCK BAY COMPANY FORMED, AND STOCK TAKEN TO ROEBUCK BAY—MURDER OF EXPLORERS—MR. LARNACH'S APPLICATION—MR. TAYLOR AT NICKOL BAY—CAMDEN HARBOUR ASSOCIATION REPRESENTATIVES ARRIVE; MORTALITY IN SHEEP—R. J. SHOLL APPOINTED GOVERNMENT RESIDENT; HIS REPORTS—EXPLORATIONS—MALAY FLEET—MR. SHOLL AND PARTY ATTACKED BY NATIVES; TERRIBLE SUFFERINGS AND DEATHS—CAMDEN HARBOUR ABANDONED—MR. SHOLL REMOVES TO NICKOL BAY—DENISON PLAINS ASSOCIATION COLLAPSES—VICTORIAN SETTLERS—ROEBUCK BAY ABANDONED— RUNS—OVERLAND ROUTE DISCOVERED BY E. T. HOOLEY—ROEBOURNE PROCLAIMED—LOSS OF SHIPS—PRIVATIONS OF SETTLERS—NORTH-WEST STATISTICS—EAST AND SOUTH-EAST EXPLORATIONS; DEMPSTERS, C. HARPER, B. CLARKSON, AT GOLDEN VALLEY; H. W. LEFROY AND LAKE LEFROY; DEMPSTERS FORM SETTLEMENT AT ESPERANCE; MR. LARNACH; C. C. HUNT'S EXPEDITIONS; DISCOVERS HAMPTON PLAINS; OTHER EXPLORERS—SOUTHWEST SETTLERS AT BLACKWOOD, WARREN AND DONELLY RIVERS—LAW STATISTICS—PEARLS—MR. BATEMAN SENDS PEARLING BOAT TO NICKOL BAY—OTHER PEARLERS—A PEARL FLEET—PROMISE IN 1868—WRECKS AND MURDERS—EXPORT AND IMPORT; STOCK, WOOL, WHEAT, TIMBER, GUM, MINING-GOLD DISCOVERED—EMIGRATION AND POPULATION—REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT; PETITIONS; SEMI-ELECTIVE COUNCIL—ELECTIONS—REPRESENTATION PROMISED—OFFICIAL CHANGES—DEATHS—VOLUNTEERS—MONEY ORDER OFFICE—POST OFFICE SAVINGS BANK—PERTH BUILDING SOCIETY—FREEMASONS—CHURCHES AND SCHOOLS—WRECKS AND FLOODS—NATIVE MURDERS.
SUCH a momentum was given to development in 1861-8 that it would seem as if the introduction of convicts had provided a panacea to dispel all deep-rooted troubles. The position was so improved that the colony could gracefully dispense with such a dubious source of wealth.
After considering the position in 1850 with that at the end of 1861-8 even the prejudiced critic must confess that though convictism was dangerous, doubtful, and repugnant, it certainly gave settlement an impulse that decades of struggling and waiting would not have done. And with the advantage of succeeding years of knowledge he might also confess that transportation was almost justified by results. The convict lost nothing but the home he proved himself unworthy of; he gained lighter punishment, a better standing, and an infinitely greater opportunity of winning name and fortune. The settler ran risks of having his infant country corrupted, of condemnation for resorting to questionable agents to obtain prosperity; he secured a temporary prosperity without the permanent vitiation that was anticipated.
It would seem improbable that an army of over 9,000 criminals could be quartered for years in a community of lesser numbers in adults without becoming the dominating power, and leaving an indelible memorial of its presence on the character and physique of succeeding generations. To a slight extent—perhaps not more than the usual proportion in a country—signs of criminality are to be seen in the faces of isolated communities; also, even to this day, the indigence and hopeless inebriety of the class are found in one or two rural districts. Some point to a crowded lunatic asylum as an aftermath. And yet, by instituting comparisons between Western Australian communities and others in Australia, where convicts were never introduced, the value of these conclusions will be minimised. Officials trace the number of lunatics to consanguineous marriages in remote portions of the colony; heat, or isolation in lonely places, have probably caused similar results. Drunkenness was not confined to convicts. Mrs. Millett, Mr. Howard Willoughby (the writer of a pamphlet on Western Australia in 1864), convict officials in their reports, and newspapers, repeatedly recorded that among sections of free settlers and pensioners intoxication was as rife as among felons. In point of morality a Western Australian community to-day will compare with any other Australian community.
This substantial absence of taint comes from the most natural consequences. So irregular were the lives of the worst classes of convicts that they seldom married or became fathers of families. They spent all their wages in drink, in serving their own vitiated appetites, and therefore they did not set up housekeeping. Their existence was precarious and sottish and short. Then large numbers left the colony altogether; it is impossible to record how many. Notwithstanding strict regulations hundreds succeeded in entering eastern colonies, while hundreds more removed to other parts of the world. The best classes established homes in Western Australia and begat families. Their conduct was so excellent that often no difference could be detected between them and freemen. But it is in the children of convicts that the most gratifying variations and consequences are observable. At first thought it would be considered that in moral heredity the children would take after their parents. To quite a remarkable proportion this was not so. Whatever be the cause, whether environment, opportunity, absence of incentive and temptation, or climate, these children became Australians in character and temperament. They were educated side by side with the children of the free, and since they have become men and women they have enjoyed equal opportunities for wealth. The criminal records of the last twenty years—1877 to 1897 show a singular immunity from serious crime.
A glance at the social conditions of Western Australia in 1861-8 adduces some curious facts. The free people were not affected to any serious extent by the advent of the emancipated class. There was a great gulf between free and bond—a gulf, one writer put it, as deep as that separating Dives and Lazarus. In other convict settlements the emancipated intermarried with the voluntary settlers; they could not do so to any extent in Western Australia. Although convicts sometimes acquired wealth, and even obtained notoriety in local journalism and commercial pursuits, and responsible positions under Government, no matter how well-behaved they were, they remained outcasts from the best society. If the free met the bond in the street he passed him by as did the Pharisee of old. The respectable labourer would not commune with the ticket-of-leave man in the pot-house; he followed the example of his master, and was virtuously complacent. Mr. Willoughby averted that such a condition was unprecedented in convict history. The same gentleman reported that drunkenness was well nigh universal, that the ordinary class of convicts lived without regard for the outward observances of religion, and that being restrained by no ties—families, wives, or other civilising tendencies—they hung loosely on society. Captain Du Cane, who was attached to the local convict system, told Earl Grey's Committee in 1863 that no injurious moral influence was even at that time apparent in the colony.
Mr. Willoughby, after travelling through the settled districts, wrote that a visitor saw little that was exceptional. Even amid such a heterogenous people there were quiet, peaceful, village-like communities with English customs, constitutions, and laws. It was only the clang of fetters and the occasional sight of road parties that reminded him that instruments of torture and barbarism existed. Occasionally, where even the air hushed freedom and liberty, he looked with sad eyes on the opposite of bondage and servitude.
Pensioners and expiree convicts were a considerable feature of town and rural populations. In 1864 there were 570 expiree and conditional pardon men, against 316 free adults, in the Northam and Toodyay districts; they owned freehold valued at £4,000; crops (1,693 acres), at £5,500; stock at £2,500; and other personal property at £9,000. Those pensioners who arrived in the colony last were kept on active duty; they were envied by the older men because they had a larger salary. In most towns they were awarded allotments of land which convicts cleared; policemen for a time got grants of fifty acres, which were cleared by forced labour. The pay of pensioners and warders was ridiculously small, and a man with family responsibilities seldom had any money by him. The annual increase for warders was £1, so that it would take fifty years to become eligible to £102 a year, supposing the original salary was £1 a week. The sight of pensioners in their peculiar garments, scores of miles back in Western Australian bush, conjured up, said Willoughby, recollections of Chelsea.
There were changes to be found in the old rural settler. He became a conservative in everything but what appealed to his pecuniary interests, and in later years he became somewhat conservative even in that. He was not so well informed in contemporary art and literature as when he came to the colony; years of dispiriting drudgery had even stultified the impulse for improvement. The lives and minds of his children were sometimes exceedingly primitive; so remote were they from civilisation and culture, that there was little opportunity to become otherwise. But they were as hospitable as their fathers before them. A portion of expiree men became itinerant beggars wandering from district to district, sleeping in the bush or in outhouses, and begging food and money at every roadside farmhouse. When, by hook or by crook, they obtained money they quickly spent it in the nearest inn, and finally, perhaps, were locked up. The convictions in the courts were greatly increased by these means. Indeed, the numbers of beggars caused thinking people to fear that a great burden would ultimately fall on the Government purse. Western Australian witnesses before Earl Grey's Committee—ex-Governor Kennedy, Colonel Henderson, Captain Du Cane, and Mr. Sandford—referred to this evil. Convicts usually styled themselves "Government men," as being more euphonious and less objectionable than "convict" or "felon". They thus came to be largely called by freemen. The same word, indeed, was applied to many things; all waste lands were referred to as "Government lands," convict or other public buildings as "Government buildings." Writes Mrs. Millett:—"The frequent reference in West Australia to the word Government, and the manner in which it was alluded to, might have led one to suppose that it was an imaginary creature whose character varied with that of each person who spoke of it, and with the peculiar views which he or she took of things in general. Thus, I have known it quoted by children to sanction their having pelted a turkey to death, on the plea that 'Mother says as how it is Government ground, and we may do as we like.'" If some application to officialdom was refused, the remark was indignantly made that "the Government had a 'down' on him."
According to his own testimony the convict was the most imposed upon creature imaginable. Trial by jury resulted only in getting the wrong man punished. Nearly every convict was innocent of crime; he was the scapegoat for another man's offence. A feud existed between expiree men and pensioners, owing to their relative positions in the colony; the old convict complained that the pensioner was the greatest of all rogues, only he had never been found out. The plenitude and cheapness of convict labour erected disabilities in the way of free labourers. The latter were practically elbowed to the wall for a time, and hence suffering and irritation were accentuated among that class. Where possible these toilers left the colony for the goldfields. Many of those emigrants despatched by the Imperial Government to balance forced emigration remained in Western Australia but a short time. A prevalent source of discontent among convict labourers was the custom of certain masters to pay them by truck. The employer supplied the ticket-of-leave man with boots, ready-made clothes, groceries, flour, and meat, and deducted the amounts from his wages—a system easily abused. It is said that the worker was charged at times enormous prices for these supplies, and thus when the term of his service expired he found, probably, that there was no money to come to him, although he expected many pounds. The system was frequently attacked previous to and anterior to penal settlement days, and the free labourer suffered with the forced. A better scheme, said Mrs. Millett, could not have been devised to disgust rogues with honest labour. It disheartened and therefore hardened them.
Before proceeding to record the revivifying of industry during this period the various points of the convict annals up to 1868 must be referred to. The Duke of Newcastle replied, in March, 1861, to the resolutions of the Legislative Council concerning the apparent dilatoriness of the Imperial Government in giving the colony a regular supply of convicts. He explained that, owing to the limited number of offenders being sentenced to periods of imprisonment of sufficient length to fit them for transportation, the authorities were not able to send out the number required by the colony, although they were sensible of its importance to Western Australia. In February, 1861, the Palmerston arrived with 296 convicts, together with thirty pensioners, twenty women, and forty-nine children. No further shipment arrived until January, 1862. The advent of the Palmerston served to give an impetus to public works, and a few weeks later 100 men were engaged in the streets of Perth and on the Guildford Road. Metalling was being done on St. George's Terrace, the stone for which was mostly conveyed by boats from Freshwater Bay. The road to Mount Eliza depot was also being metalled. The people were relieved, and seemed contented that convict introduction was not yet to cease. The Duke of Newcastle promised that the committee appointed under the chairmanship of Earl Grey would take the question into full consideration. It was asserted by the several witnesses that Western Australia had ample room to accommodate 1,000 more convicts, and could continue taking that number each year. Western Australia was then the only British colony to which convicts could be sent, and naturally the committee advised the continuance of transportation.
A report of Comptroller-General Henderson for 1861 attracted the attention of the committee. In it he says "Some doubt seems still to hang over the question of the continuance of transportation to this colony, and it may not be irrelevant to record once more that there exist here facilities, and an almost certainty of success of such a system as that now in force, which in all human probability will never recur. An extensive territory with innumerable resources slowly but surely developing themselves, a large leaven of free settlers anxious and willing to co-operate with the Government in the progress of transportation as here established, necessaries of life at a reasonable price, and excellent climate, and a well organised convict department with all the means and appliances necessary for the full and efficient performance of its duties in working a system hitherto successful, form a combination of facts which may hereafter be sought in vain."
One important bearing which the Committee had on Western Australia was to temporarily improve the class of men transported. As shown in the previous chapter, it was evident that a dangerous element had been introduced, so dangerous as to threaten the annihilation of the system. One witness affirmed that twenty-eight lunatics had been introduced to Western Australia, besides men convicted of natural offences. At one time in 1861 there were nearly two score murderers in the Fremantle prison. It would be impossible to conduct the system on the old free and liberal lines were such a hodge-podge imported, and hence the Committee wisely advised that a finer discrimination be used in choosing the men.
The Committee also recommended that the system of awarding conditional pardons be abolished in deference to the opposition raised by witnesses from eastern colonies and by local witnesses. Newspapers and politicians in other colonies complained lustily of the influx of men bearing conditional pardons, and not a little ill-feeling was aroused. Their ordinances were not effective in keeping them out. Local newspapers retorted that no cases were recorded in sister colonies of conditional pardon men being convicted. In 1863 the Duke of Newcastle informed the Governor by despatch that it was determined to abolish the privilege. This rule applied to all convicts sent from England after 26th September 1863. In future it was desired that every convict should remain in Western Australia under a conditional release certificate until he had served the full period of his sentence. It meant that he would be kept for a much longer period under official surveillance. Naturally, the new rule did not please convicts. Although no public opposition was shown to it, the annals record more desperate escapes after 1864. The number of conditional-pardon certificates issued up to 1865 was 4,180. The total number of escapes up to that year was only 47; death was responsible for the absence of nearly 500 felons.
On 17th February, 1862, Governor Kennedy retired, and was succeeded by Governor Hampton on 27th February. The Commandant, Lieutenant-Colonel John Bruce, ruled during the short interregnum. In some respects Governor Kennedy resembled ex-Governor Hutt. He had a determined nature, and pursued a certain course whether it was popular or not. In January, 1861, Messrs. Drummond and Lukin were removed from the Commission of the Peace. A newspaper gave as the reason that the first gentleman "declined to be placed under the surveillance of the police," and the second "refused to fritter away valuable time in hearing petty and vexatious cases preferred by the police against a man who was obnoxious either to them or those whose instruments they were." Mr. Bickley's name was also removed. Another attack was made on Governor Kennedy because of this, and he was again accused of interference with the magistracy, a policy which was described as indefensible and calculated to make justices "the mere creatures of the Executive." It was further asserted that a policeman was required to visit a certain court and take notes of the proceedings of the justices; also that special instructions were given to magistrates on the Toodyay bench which they refused to carry out. In January, 1863, the three gentlemen were reinstated by Governor Hampton. Other exceptions were taken to Governor Kennedy. His Customs Act came in for considerable derision among the importers. In 1861 a difficulty of some moment arose in regard to the regulations under which lightermen at Fremantle were required to provide heavy security before they were permitted to land customed goods. The Dolphin anchored at Fremantle with a full cargo early in April, and as the boatmen could not provide or find security the ship was kept waiting with a valuable cargo. The master of the ship and the consignees were alike unable to do anything. The Government offered to permit the boatmen to go out if they would enter into a bond, which would afterwards be cancelled, but the offer was refused, and the Government was compelled to discharge the cargo with the Harbour Master's boat. Messrs. Bateman and Maxworthy sent a boat to the vessel in spite of the regulation and landed certain goods; next day the boat was seized and Messrs. Bateman and Maxworthy were arrested. Governor Kennedy's action was held up to obloquy, and a petition was presented asking for the cessation of proceedings against the offenders, and the remission of a £10 fine on Mr. Maxworthy. The Governor acquiesced; Governor Hampton overcame the difficulty by a simple expedient.
At the same time a difficulty arose in the judicature. Judge Burt decided that by the constitution he had no jurisdiction as Commissioner of the Civil Court and Court of Quarter Sessions to issue writs of habeas corpus or certiorari. A special ordinance was demanded, sometimes in heated language, and on 17th June, 1861, the Supreme Court was constituted by Act of Parliament, and proclaimed on the 18th. Owing to the close corporation which this Act created among solicitors and attorneys in the colony to the exclusion of new-comers, the Act was amended in 1865. On 28th October, 1862, Geraldton was proclaimed a town at which Quarter Sessions might be held. Other legal difficulties arose in 1861 in regard to Judge McFarland and the Liddelow case.
These were among the last acts of Governor Kennedy's administration. In convict expenditure he was said to consider the interests of the Imperial Government to the detriment of those of Western Australia. His administration of convict labour was sometimes deemed inefficient and not to the best interests of colonists. It was announced in March, 1861, that the sum of £22,000 was lying idle in the colonial chest when there were numerous pressing uses in roads, bridges, and buildings to which it might be put. For some time Governor Kennedy had been exceedingly economical in the amount of money applied to public works, and he was accused of being foolishly parsimonious so as to show a substantial surplus at the expiration of his term of office. He was enabled to save a portion of this money because the limited number of convicts arriving did not absorb the appropriation. Just before leaving the colony, however, he projected public works on a scale which was said to be altogether unwarranted by the money in hand or to come, thus casting a burden on his successor.
While perhaps not obtaining the best results from convict labour, his rule pleased the Imperial Government and, to some extent, the colonists. In a despatch dated 9th September, 1861, the Secretary of State expressed approval of his services. Then on 11th December, 1861, in the Legislative Council, Mr. Samson read an address eulogising the freedom of debate allowed every member by the Governor, and his "calm dignity," "uniform courtesy," and "pleasing address." On 20th February, 1862, an address was presented Governor Kennedy by the heads of departments and clerks in the Government offices, and on the same day he departed from Perth for England. When giving evidence before Earl Grey's Committee, ex-Governor Kennedy claimed to have built 192 bridges, 219 culverts, and cleared 1,030 miles of road during the years 1855 to 1862.
Dr. John S. Hampton, the new Governor, arrived at Fremantle on 27th February, 1862, by the ship Strathallen. The customary congratulations, &c, were addressed to him by the citizens of Fremantle and Perth. Governor Hampton had for some time been Comptroller-General of convicts in Tasmania, where he was known as a severe disciplinarian, and where he became unpopular. It was anticipated, because of his wide experience in convict administration, that he would institute radical and beneficial changes in the public works policy, and that the best results would be obtained from convict labour therein. His term of office justified these expectations. He almost immediately infused new spirit into public works. He increased the number of labourers engaged in erecting Government House, in metalling streets, and in building the Swan River wall. Roads and bridges were also projected with vigour.
Governor Hampton experienced difficulty in meeting the liabilities entered into so liberally by his predecessor, especially in the necessity of curtailing operations so as to pay his way. In consequence, he had to refuse requests for new works, which were sometimes urgently required. He assured memorialists for one of these works that, while not able to grant their petition owing to financial reasons, he would earnestly endeavour to "render convict labour available for purely colonial work, so as to realise some of the expectations of the colonists regarding the material benefits to be derived from the presence of convicts in Western Australia." It subsequently appeared that a measure was necessary to legalise the unauthorised expenditure, which amounted to £25,375, of the late Governor. Such provision was made in the Legislative Council in May, 1862, when Governor Hampton quietly explained that £6,000 had been appropriated for these works beyond the amount provided for in the estimates. He therefore abstained from entering into several new contracts for the year 1862 unless for absolutely necessary repairs. It was his desire, and that of others, to establish a public works department in the Civil Establishment, but he regretfully found that it was impossible.
Dissatisfaction was frequently expressed in the newspapers concerning what was termed the "disgraceful condition" of the streets and footpaths of Perth. The methods upon which this class of work was conducted were incomprehensible. Metalling was only done when absolutely necessary, and then as a sort of "temporary makeshift." By patching here and there the civic works were made exceedingly costly, whereas had the authorities in 1850-62, and since, straightforwardly completed the metalling of one roadway, and then gone on to another, as money came in, hundreds of pounds and abundant complaints would have been saved. It has been said that for every £10 worth of metal used in patching and filling up holes, the sum of £50 has been paid in labour and salaries. Under the regime of Governor Hampton, considerable improvement works were negotiated. The road from Fremantle to Perth, begun in 1851, and dillydallied with year after year, was finished; the thoroughfare to Mount Eliza was metalled; the Swan River wall was built; the roads to Guildford, the main streets of Perth and country roadways were vastly improved, and several important bridges and public buildings were completed or projected.
In 1863, when the Governor had surmounted the onus of debt left him by Governor Kennedy, strong parties were appropriated to Perth and suburbs, ninety men were stationed on the North Fremantle road, excavations for the site of the North Fremantle bridge were hurried forward, a bridge and court house at Geraldton were finished, and road parties throughout the colony were increased. A bridge completed by contract at Newcastle, in 1861, at a cost of £1,100, was seriously damaged by floods in 1862; Governor Hampton caused the re-building to be undertaken by convict labour in 1863 for £110, whereas by contract it must have cost over £500. Under similar arrangements, the Northam bridge, damaged on the same occasion, was re-built at a trifling cost. The plans for Government House were found to be very unsuitable, and Governor Hampton caused extensive alterations to be made in 1863, before the structure was finished in 1864. One report says that there was not a room of any size in the building until Governor Hampton ordered the partitions dividing the drawing and dining rooms from smaller rooms attached to each to be torn down, thus constructing two rooms of tolerable dimensions. Three or four rooms were cleared away to make the ballroom. The private secretary's office was apparently projected so that the unfortunate occupant should have neither light nor air. In short, climatic conditions and comfort were not considered by the original architects of this edifice. A marine summer residence for the Governor was erected at Rottnest, and another at Fremantle.
It was announced in 1862 that barracks for pensioners would be built on the declivity of Mount Eliza. This work was put in hand in 1863, and when completed contained 120 rooms; attached to it were a military hospital, magazine, cooking and ablution shed, workshops, canteen, guard room, and cells. The huge prison at Fremantle was constantly being improved; it was now capable of accommodating 1040 prisoners, and had attached to it numerous workshops, outbuildings, and offices. So varied was the work negotiated there, that up to 1870 all Government printing was done in the Establishment. What is now facetiously referred to as the Bridge of Sticks (or Styx), at North Fremantle, was placed under construction in the same year. Surrounding this structure, report and rumour have cast an air which it does not merit. The most exaggerated tales are told of the inhumanity of the convict officials, of attempted escapes, of suicides, and what not. The rustic, tall old bridge is certainly a glamorous memorial of the labour of bondmen, and those of the worst class. It was here that the scowling chain gangs were mostly engaged. Day after day those manacled men marched along the North Fremantle road to the site of the bridge, the clinking of their heavy chains calling forth the unwelcome impotent pity of passers-by. That such a sight could be witnessed at all was lamentable; that public opinion would not brook it to-day is probable; that it was just punishment was what judges, justices, and comptroller-generals had to determine. The proper place for the chain gang was within the prison boundary walls, where private people could not penetrate, and were not shocked by revolting sights and sounds. The chain gang perambulating the thoroughfares was the huge black mark on the convict system.
As a rule, the chained men worked in the quarries by the bridge; convicts with their limbs free toiled on and about the structure. Looking down from the half-finished bridge disclosed scores and scores of sombrely-clothed and branded men, working under the superintendence of officers. The river was lined with men. In 1866 efforts were still being made to deepen the channel from the Swan bar to the North Fremantle bridge. It was intended to make the channel 60 feet wide, and to stake off the river to the old Ferry Point. Mr. Trigg found that the work done years before had not filled up with sand as was expected. Immense quantities of stone were removed in that and following years. The scene was therefore bustling. In November, 1866, the North Fremantle bridge, nearly 1,000 feet in length, was opened for traffic, but was not completed until 1867. The work was set down in the estimates to cost £2,072. Only one man was drowned during the progress of construction, but several accidents occurred. Several futile attempts to escape were made.
Governor Hampton was thus making the most of convict labour, and very few complaints were now heard. The country agricultural societies in 1863 rapturously referred to the new order of things. What pleased them most was the amount of Imperial money being spent in the various districts. They no longer had much cause to bewail the lack of prisoners on roads and other public works; the expenditure in each district per month was about doubled. The annual Imperial expenditure appeared to give satisfaction; in 1861, including military, treasury, and convict departments (Blue Book), it was £80,698; in 1862, £78,866; in 1863 (with magistracy, police, and rents for new works, &c), £100,394; in 1864, £104,110; in 1865, £112,440; in 1866, £112,247; in 1867, £114,209; and in 1868, £116,668, or a total of over three-quarters of a million sterling.
Activity in public works did not diminish in 1864 and succeeding years. In Governor Hampton's address to the Legislative Council in June, 1864, appears the following passage, which conveys the best indication of the times:—"The public works now in progress are bridges at North Fremantle, Perth Causeway, Greenough Flats, Beverley, and Ferguson River; jetties at Bunbury and Busselton; additions to the Poor House, Perth, and the police stations at Pinjarra and Newcastle; new police stations at Baylup, Staunton Springs, and the Lakes; and the reconstruction of the Swamp Drain at the back of Perth. Forty-nine road parties are distributed in different districts. With the exception of the Pinjarra Police Station and the two jetties all the works are carried on by convict labour, which costs the colony literally nothing for supervision and maintenance, or for the tools used by them, and the material benefit thus derived by Western Australia from transportation is further enhanced by upwards of £90,000 Imperial money being expended annually in the colony." In 1865, on 17th July, the new Perth Causeway bridge was opened to traffic.
A change took place in 1863 in the control of the Convict Establishment. On 31st January Comptroller-General Henderson (who had been raised to a Lieutenant-Colonelcy), left the colony in the ship York. Much of the success which attended the convict system in Western Australia was undoubtedly due to this talented administrator. His tact was such that he pleased colonists and convicts alike. As a disciplinarian he was strict, but not severe; firm, not tyrannical. Prior to leaving Fremantle a banquet was tendered him, when the officers of the Establishment presented him with an address. The convicts also showed their appreciation in a pathetic testimony, which stated: "We trust that the patient solicitude evinced in so many years' labour for the welfare of England's erring children will not be forgotten. Expressions of gratitude are all we can offer." Lieutenant-Colonel Henderson was called upon by the Home authorities to rejoin the active service. He subsequently became Chief Commissioner of Metropolitan Police in London, and was knighted before he died, a few years ago.
Captain Newland, R.N., took the vacant Comptroller-Generalship; and arrived in the colony per the ship Palestine on 14th January, 1863. With a system in full and efficient swing, the new Comptroller-General experienced few of the difficulties of his predecessor. Nothing of general interest transpired during his administration, which was a short one. Differences of opinion between him and Governor Hampton arose on several occasions, and as a consequence Captain Newland retired early in 1866. Pending the arrival of another officer, Governor Hampton appointed his son, Mr. G. E. Hampton, Acting Comptroller-General. Because of this numerous difficulties and complications arose, and the act of the Governor was severely censured in the colony and in England. His popularity, owing to the almost isolated control which he took over colonial affairs, had lately been on the wane, but this presenting of a lucrative position to one of his family gave rise to heated controversies and bitter resentments. It was held in the colony that Mr. O'Grady Lefroy should have received the appointment.
Mr. G. E. Hampton had no special recommendations for the position; he already filled other offices, and among them those of Clerk of Councils, and member of the Finance Board. He was, in addition, personally unpopular. Serious accusations were made against him by the press; murmurings arose from convict officials and colonists. What was termed by the Perth Gazette the "finishing touch" of Governor Hampton's great indiscretion was contained in an order issued by him in May, giving the Acting Comptroller-General "lodging allowance" at the rate of £100 per annum. The regulations entitled the official to such an allowance, but as he resided at Government House it was not likely that he would apply the money to the purpose for which he received it, "unless," writes the Gazette, "indeed, His Excellency intends to charge him rent for the rooms he occupies in his residence, in which case of course the amount will be placed to the credit of the Colonial Revenue under the head of 'Miscellaneous Receipts.'"
Charges of inefficiency were repeatedly made against Mr. Hampton. Probably because of the unpopularity and questionable wisdom of his appointment, some of these were biassed and without justification. It was said that the efficiency of the system was greatly impaired under his rule, and that the convicts were not nearly so amenable to restraint. Cases of attempted escapes became numerous, and were imputed to the lack of foresight of the Acting Comptroller-General in sending out on road parties men who should have been immured in the Establishment at Fremantle, thus endangering the life and property of settlers. It was also stated that he was so arrogant in his authority that for the slightest pretext well behaved convicts were placed in the chain gangs. It is well authenticated that the size of these gangs was greatly increased. The inefficiency of Mr. Hampton struck a strong blow on the system; and men were made to suffer without deserving it.
Striking proofs of his unsatisfactory administration came to light. Within eight months ending in March, 1867, no fewer than ninety convicts attempted to escape either from the Fremantle prison or from road parties, a number about treble that of any similar period. Ugly accusations of tyranny were chronicled. The Gazette heaped opprobrium on Governor Hampton and his son when in March, 1867, it announced that the Board of Visiting Magistrates had been abolished, an institution, it averred, which afforded the prisoners the only protection they possessed against tyranny and oppression. That severe measures were taken with some prisoners was suggested in evidence given before the Supreme Court in October, 1867. A convict charged with attempting to murder a warder in the Fremantle prison explained that harsh treatment had made him desperate and regardless of life. He was placed in solitary confinement in a stone cell with a concrete floor. One night, while in bed, the accused said, Mr. Hampton entered his cell, and after ordering the bed, bedding, and clothes to be taken away, left him to pass the night in the bare cell with nothing but a shirt to cover him. The following day his clothes were returned, but 28lb. irons and handcuffs were placed on him instead of the 14lb. irons he had previously worn. Four days afterwards Mr. Hampton again visited him—at night—and thereafter, says the newspaper report of the evidence, "for twenty-two days the man remained under the same treatment in the cold damp cell, without bedding, lying like a brute curled up on the stone floor. The impression this statement made upon the jury, before whom the case was tried, was evidently a conviction that the man was right in attributing to it a tendency, as he said, to make him desperate, and a favourable verdict was given." A further case is attested where a convict who had barricaded himself in his cell was left for seventy-two hours in darkness without food or water.
The London Review of 7th September, 1867, in an article on this subject refers to another glaring instance of Mr. Hampton's administration:—"Eight men having been charged with running away from the Fremantle Bridge, the magistrate before whom they were brought said he was directed by the Governor to sentence them to two years' hard labour in irons, and this remarkable judgment having been delivered, the Acting Comptroller-General stood up and read the following additional sentence from the Governor for the same offence—'These men are to be kept in dark cells on bread and water until the surgeon reports they can bear it no longer without danger to their lives.' We have no desire to shield the Australian convicts from the just punishment which their offences deserve, but they should not be deprived of that protection the law affords them."
Some surviving settlers and convict officials of that period acquiesce in condemning Mr. Hampton, and allege that many more serious contraventions of justice than were made public were imputed to him. Both he and his father evidently believed in the old principles of convict discipline, and sought to break the dogged spirit of sullen men by autocratic severity. Those infringing the regulations were made desperate examples of to their fellow prisoners. So unsettled and disturbed did convicts become that settlers were in a state of apprehension that some fearful outbreak would occur. Thus for a short period the ideal of the system, so well established by Comptroller-General Henderson, was sullied by the foolish actions of an incompetent young man. That such an onerous appointment—one where the official had supreme control over the lives of hundreds of men—should be so lightly given was highly unwise. Governor Hampton was rebuked by the Imperial Government, and colonial Governors were warned not to give positions of emolument to their relatives.
The old system was reverted to when on 15th May, 1867, Mr. Wakeford, appointed in England, arrived in Perth, and assumed the duties of Comptroller-General without delay. Mr. Wakeford enquired into the circumstances under which prisoners were receiving special punishment, and, it is openly stated, released numbers of them. The chain gangs were greatly reduced in size, and, under his calm judicial administration, were almost done away with.
But though Governor Hampton was a stern martinet, he was a successful controller of public works. It was decided early in 1867 to erect a Town Hall in Perth by convict labour, and on the 24th May the corner stone of that prominent building was laid by Governor Hampton with appropriate ceremony. Most of the skilled labour was concentrated on the building while the unskilled was employed on the roads. In 1864 the old Town Trust or Council of Wardens was amended by Act of Parliament. Perth was divided into three wards, each of which was empowered to elect three representatives annually; a chairman was elected by the general body of ratepayers instead of, as before, by the Council. The functions of the Council consisted principally in the levying of assessments, and the expenditure of the funds collected in the repairs of streets and other civic improvements. The members of the Council in 1867 were Messrs. J.G.C. Carr (chairman), Glyde, Armstrong, Haysom, Maycock, Vincent, Padbury, B. Smith, and E. Birch.
In June, 1867, there were 123 men and ten warders engaged on the Albany Road. The 12th November was made a notable gala day. It was expected that in 1867 the Duke of Edinburgh would visit Western Australia, but he was unable just then to gratify local patriotism. The Perth and Helena Bridges were to have been opened by him, but Governor Hampton now performed the interesting and important ceremonies. The weather was favourable, and colonists attended the functions from various centres. The bridges over the Swan spanned three distinct channels; the Helena Bridge was 1,600 feet long, and, as the others, was built of jarrah timber. The only unpopular act of Governor Hampton in public works was the practical abandonment of contracts. Under his regime the Convict Establishment and experienced draughtsmen undertook nearly the whole work. The saving was considerable, and enabled the Government to negotiate more work (with the same amount of money) than previously. Public works were pursued with energy in 1868. In that year the last convict ship arrived.
The eastern colonies, particularly South Australia and Victoria, had shown almost since its inception an uncompromising antipathy to convict immigration. Their opposition was sometimes bitter, sometimes unfair, but was justified, nevertheless. They desired that Australia should be inhabited by a peaceable and crime-abhorring people, who should enterprisingly devote the whole course and market of their time to developing those resources which their land contained. It was their very natural fear that by a continued introduction of convicts to Western Australia, the whole continent would be overrun with men whose crimes were so heinous that they were banished from the United Kingdom. Hence they considered that their wishes deserved weighty consideration from the Imperial Government, and they constantly sought to put an end to the influx of civic corruption. Eastern people also contemplated taking up land in the new northern district, but objected to do so while convicts were being sent there. Western Australians did not view the matter in exactly the same light, and once or twice they murmured against outside interference. They denied that Victoria and South Australia suffered from an influx of Western Australian felonry, and again contended that where conditional-pardon men did migrate they became law-abiding. But, generally, they took small notice of the eastern movement. Repeated representations of the rights of the eastern colonies were finally taken into serious consideration by the Imperial Government, and met with the desired end. Schemes were also being mooted for a revolution in the convict system. Thus, as early as 1864, and irrespective of Western Australians themselves, it was finally decided to discontinue transportation after a given period. The local authorities had proposed to forward batches of convicts to the new settlements formed in the north, but the Secretary of State refused to grant his assent. In a despatch dated 9th November, 1864, he prohibited such a course, and, moreover, said that after a period of three years convict transportation to Western Australia must cease altogether. He explained that the Government was led to this determination in deference to the earnest remonstrances of the eastern colonies:
"Taking, therefore, into view the interests of Western Australia, as well as the interests, the feelings, and the deep convictions of the Eastern colonies, Her Majesty's Government have arrived at the conclusion that the introduction of convict labour into the new district should be prohibited by the regulations, and that this opportunity should be taken for fixing a definite time beyond which transportation to any portion of the colony should not be continued. This definite period they propose should not exceed three years."
This decision was hardly appreciated at first, and some doubt existed on the question. The Chamber of Commerce at Perth, with characteristic confidence, made bold requests for compensation. It resolved that "No time should be lost in asserting the claim of the colony to compensation; that free emigration at the expense of the Imperial Government should be continued for ten years; that the Home Government should furnish a steamer for coast communication; that, as the convicts have been employed in the erection of buildings for their own occupation, and that now when the buildings are completed we are to be deprived of that labour which should be available for roads, a grant of £250,000, paid annually in sums of £25,000, from the Imperial funds, be asked for." Colonists and their friends in England also asserted the claims of Western Australia to be treated with some special consideration. Mr. (Major) Sanford and Mr. Mangles interviewed the Secretary of State and asked what compensation would be awarded. They were vaguely informed that some allowance would be made, but were advised not to ask for money. Certain people proposed to take over the whole Establishment for a lump sum.
Confirmatory news of the Imperial Government's intentions was soon received. The House of Commons was informed early in 1865 that convictism to the colony would cease in three years' time, and on 12th May, 1865, the Secretary for the Colonies wrote the Governor that "the present intention of the Government is to send out two ships containing from 270 to 280 convicts, in each of the years 1865, 1866, and 1867, at the end of which period transportation will cease." This was accordingly done. It was found impossible to despatch 1,000 men a year, as was formerly intended. From 1861 the colony was kept well supplied with convicts. The closing of other doors to them, and the evident desire of local colonists to welcome them, warranted the committee to suggest and the authorities to perform, the equipment of as many bands as were available. Ships arrived in the following order from 1861 to January, 1868, when transportation ceased:
|Palmerston ...||... 296||... 11th February, 1861|
|Lincelles ...||... 306||... 28th January, 1862|
|Norwood (1) ...||... 290||... 9th June, 1862|
|York ...||... 300||... 1st January, 1863|
|Merchantman (1) ...||... 192||... 16th February, 1863|
|Clyde ...||... 320||... 29th May, 1863|
|Dalhousie ...||... 270||... 28th December, 1863|
|Clara (2) ...||... 301||... 13th April, 1864|
|Merchantman (2) ...||... 260||... 12th September, 1864|
|Racehorse ...||... 280||... 10th August, 1865|
|Vimeira ...||... 280||... 22nd December, 1865|
|Belgravia ...||... 277||... 5th July, 1866|
|Corona ...||... 306||... 22nd December, 1866|
|Norwood (2) ...||... 254||... 13th July, 1867|
|Hougoumont ...||... 280||... 10th January, 1868|
|Previously arrived||... 5,509|
|Grand total introduced||... 9,721|
These figures are taken from the records in the Convict Establishment, with which other records do not agree. A report made to the Legislative Council in July, 1868, gives the total as 9,680. By special ordinance the Colonial Government was allowed to incarcerate locally-convicted men in the Establishment, which caused an accession to Imperial men of 202, thus giving a grand total of 9,923 men up to January, 1868. It may be of interest to mention that, according to Rusden (History of Australia), 137,161 convicts were shipped from England to Australia, made up of 59,788 to New South Wales, 67,655 to Van Dieman's Land, and 9,718 to Western Australia. Mr. Rusden's Western Australian figures evidently do not include those two or three convicts transported by sentence of court martial from India, which would make the total 137,164.
The discontinuance of the polluted influx was commemorated, seemingly, by no manifestations of pleasure or disappointment; its death was as callously surveyed as that of the sheep slaughtered for the table. The colonists' rich relative had awarded presents and emoluments, and, like many another beneficiary, they gave no thanks. They evidently conceived that they could now get on well enough without outside assistance. Opinion was apparently equally divided on the question (as at the origination of the system), and there were some who supported continued convictism, and some who were heartily tired of its risks and unpleasantnesses. The Inquirer thus summed up:—" We have made roads and bridges, and constructed many public works which, without the aid of the convict system, we could not have performed. A large Imperial expenditure in the colony has maintained a trade, and strengthened the hands of the settlers. It has supplied the country with cheap labour—not the most suitable kind, certainly, but yet not the least desirable. And, while it has thus helped us forward, it has brought us but little to detract from the good. Black has not shown itself to be very black, after all. We have learned that the criminal is not all evil; that the angel within is not forever expelled by the verdict of a jury; that it may, and does, survive many deviations from the path of rectitude, and leaves us at times to marvel at the good that lingers around the hearts of even the hardest offenders, needing but little kindness from one to another to bring it out."
This generous appraisement of the branded men in the colony was not without justice, and is the more welcome because of the enduring beneficent memorials which resulted from convict labour, forced though it was. Perhaps in some places even a slave trade may not be wholly bad, and such eulogy as that of the Inquirer would not come inappropriately from the southern planter. Convictism seems after all to have been a modified slave trade. In this connection an extract from the report for 1865 of the Superintendent of the Establishment at Fremantle will not be out of place:—"Sooner or later the industrial employment of prisoners will be abandoned in all civilised countries, and for it will be substituted a system of comparatively short sentences to be passed in the strictest solitary confinement, on a reduced diet, without books other than the Bible and a few of the best religious works, without the possibility of communication with fellow-prisoners or friends, without any of those reliefs and consolations, whether physical, moral, or mental, which constitute the external mechanism of enjoyment, cheerfulness, and happiness to mortal man."
There were several important phases of the financial side of transportation which had yet to be arranged between the Imperial and local authorities. The terms took years to finally determine. Very little was heard during recent years of the free emigrants which it was understood the Home Government would send out as a counterpoise to the forced. The Legislative Council appointed a committee to report on the whole convict question. The committee estimated the total of convicts introduced as 9,680, and the total of assisted emigrants within the same period (1st June, 1850, to 9th January, 1868), including males, females, and the wives and children of pensioners, as 6,122. But the committee computed on the basis that two children were equal to one adult; while reckoning in the usual way the total would have been considerably increased. These figures gave the number of 3,558 assisted emigrants as yet to be introduced by the Imperial Government. The report claimed that the colony was entitled to this number, asserted that at the time of making the report (21st July, 1868) there was a dearth of farm labourers, shepherds and domestic servants, and asked that two emigrant ships be equipped by the Imperial Government at once. The Governor promised to recommend the matter to the Secretary of State. The fact that so many of this class left the colony almost as soon as they arrived was not mentioned.
The Secretary of State replied under date, 26th July, 1869, practically refusing the request. He wrote:—" The claim put forward on the part of the colony exceeds in amount what Her Majesty's Government could in any case recognise, partly because certain immigrants who ought to be included in the calculation of immigrants are omitted, and partly because the computation is not, as it ought to be, of the number of persons sent out, but of the number of statute adults. But apart from considerations of detail, Her Majesty's Government feel serious doubt as to the obligation of this country to continue the emigration now in question. It has already been laid down as a condition of that continuance that the immigration should be wanted, and such as the colony can provide for; but it is clear, from the census returns, that the large majority of those persons who reach Western Australia do not remain in it. There is, therefore, the strongest prima facie evidence that the immigration is not wanted." This document called forth a storm of abuse from the newspapers, and the Secretary of State was roundly accused of "grossly bad faith," "ignorance," and of being a "disgrace to his country."
The convicts on the Merchantman of 16th February, 1863, came from Bermuda; those on the Hougoumont included thirty-eight Fenians. Strong precaution was taken with the political offenders, and it was feared that serious attempts would be made to rescue them. The Hougoumont was escorted some distance from England by a man-of-war, because "it was well known," says a newspaper record, "that Fenian cruisers were prowling about the coast of England." Colonists consequently dreaded that a systematic and bold attempt would be made to rescue these men. Victorians and South Australians were also anxious. Messrs. Brockman and Phillips consulted Governor Hampton, who promised that if he at any time apprehended danger he would send to Sydney for a man-of-war. He almost immediately did so, and H.M.S. Brisk (seventeen guns and 175 men) arrived from Sydney on 4th February, and remained at Fremantle for several months. The conduct of the Fenians in prison was said to be excellent; rescue ultimately came in a most unexpected manner.
The population of men who could still be termed convicts in 1868 was:—
|Probation and Re-convicted Ticket-of-Leave Men on Public Works ...||1,519|
|Ticket-of-Leave Men out of employ on Public Works ...||31|
|Ticket-of-Leave Men and Probationers in Hospital ...||89|
|Ticket-of-Leave Men in Private Service ...||1,409|
|Conditional Release Holders ...||85|
|In Lunatic Asylum ...||25|
As closely as can be gathered, nearly 4,600 conditional pardon certificates were issued in the colony up to 1868, and about 150 conditional-release certificates. The figures are irregular, and not at all clear, so that it is impossible to account for the 9,721 men introduced. The manner and matter of the annual reports left much to be desired. When Great Britain withdrew from direct connection with the Establishment, large quantities of papers, principally dealing with official orders, were destroyed. Then in June, 1862, the Comptroller-General's, registrar's, and clerks' offices at the Fremantle Establishment were partially consumed by fire, and valuable records were destroyed. A smaller fire occurred in the registrar's office in May, 1865.
The convicts under the immediate control of the Establishment in 1868 were dispersed on public works, thus:—
The statistics for 1861-8 exhibit an increase of crime over the 1850-60 period. Considering the class of men in the colony, serious crime was still slight, but the magistrates' courts were kept busy. The returns for 1861 (Blue Book) announce thirty-five convictions at the Court of Quarter Sessions, and 2,773 at the Court of Petty Sessions. In the latter list, 1,256 were for drunkenness, 256 for breach of ticket-of-leave regulations, and 156 for straying cattle. Of course in that and following years the convictions of voluntary colonists swelled the lists considerably. After the abolition of the conditional-pardon certificate, and when the foundation of the convict system became impaired by an immature ruler, the number of convictions increased. Thus, in 1866, there were thirty-three in the Supreme Court, among whom were seven free, thirteen expiree, seven conditional-pardon and three ticket-of-leave men, with three Imperial prisoners. Their crimes were, tabulated:—Murder, 3; arson, 1; wounding, 3; burglary, 1; manslaughter, 1; housebreaking, 2; cattle stealing, 6; larceny, 9; forging, 3; assault, 2; and robbery by convicts, 2. The convictions at the Court of Petty Sessions totalled 3,524, including 832 free men. Their offences were set down as:—Absconders, 105; assault, 193; breach of ticket-of-leave regulations, 386; burglary, 24; breach of contract (Masters and Servants Act), 105; cruelty to animals, 1; cattle straying, 166; drunkenness, 1,527; robbery from the person, 28; misdemeanours, 78; petty larceny, 227; abusive language, 55; profane language, 111; and other offences, 518. In 1867 there were thirty-six convictions at the Supreme Court, and 3,408 (852 free men included) at the Court of Petty Sessions. In 1868 the convictions at the Court of Petty Sessions reached 4,137, in which are included 1,788 cases of drunkenness. The police force in 1861 comprised ninety-eight men, including seventeen native constables. Mr. W. Hogan was the superintendent; Mr. F. Panter, inspector; and Mr. W. H. Timperley, sub-inspector.
Only a few more convict items for 1861-8 remain to be chronicled—the more serious offences, escapes, and most notable careers. In 1861, Robert Palin, a convict, entered the house of a prominent resident in Fremantle for purposes of burglary. In one room he encountered a lady, and clutched her arm with such strength as to make heavy impressions with his fingers. He was arrested and charged with burglary, attended with violence. His antecedents were said to be of a fearful character, although his conduct in the Establishment had been good. He was executed in July. An escaped convict named Rogers for months robbed and threatened on the Victoria Plains. No one could capture him, until in March, 1862, he was found asleep. He awoke as a constable bent over him, and while the latter was unbuckling his belt to get at the handcuffs, Rogers bounded to his feet, seized the belt, and belaboured his antagonist with it. The policeman fired and hit Rogers in the side, who thereupon ran to a shepherd's hut, evidently bent on procuring a gun that was there. The constable was more fleet, and intercepted him. The owner of the hut proceeded to help the convict, and threatened to shoot the constable. Rogers, in rushing to a heap of stones, fell, and was quickly handcuffed. The shepherd made off. The convict was not seriously injured, and received a heavy sentence. His friend, the shepherd, was also arrested.
Four convicts engaged on a road party between Guildford and York left their quarters one night and attacked some carters who foolishly camped near by: The carters were seized and their goods, including intoxicating liquids, broached. The convicts sat by and drank until they were inebriated, when they were arrested by their keepers. They were all sentenced to death. Two were immediately reprieved, but were ordered to be incarcerated in the Establishment during Governor Hampton's tenure of office. A petition in favour of reprieving the remaining two was widely signed in Perth and Fremantle and presented to the Governor. Their sentences were commuted to penal servitude for life within the prison walls.
Several escapes from road parties, and the prisons at York and Fremantle were attempted in vain. Lilly and Gray (a notorious bushranger) were among the number. In 1863 a convict was hung for murdering an inoffensive old man. While the Merchantman, with 260 prisoners, was coming to the colony in 1864 several convicts, whose appetites dominated their discretion, cut their way from their quarters to the ship's storeroom and helped themselves to beer, cheese, and other delectables; then they were placed in irons and flogged. Runaway convicts robbed several shepherds in country districts in the same year. In March, 1864, a convict named Graham shot at and wounded Mr. Quartermaine, an old colonist. Graham then pursued a short but busy course of bushranging. In April Sergeant Finlay and a native constable captured him between Albany and Esperance Bay and he was subsequently sentenced to penal servitude for life. Later in the year he, with three companions, scaled the prison walls at Fremantle but was quickly captured. Among other crimes in this year was the attempt of one convict, engaged on public works, to kill another with an axe.
Brooks and Duffy, bushranging convicts, shot a shoemaker at Northam, on the night of the 6th October, 1865. The shoemaker had harboured them for some time, but, after robbing several houses of brandy and other articles, they got on a drinking bout, and returned their host's hospitality with murder. Within these few years bushranging was the ordinary occupation of escaped convicts. They held a whole district in fear that they would at any moment descend upon lonely settlers. Great care had to be taken in protecting everything valuable. Several colonists have experienced the sensation of having a gun or revolver placed in unpleasant proximity to their heads. There was now more opportunity for the escapee to elude the police for months. He was sometimes harboured by expiree men, settlement extended over a much larger area, and he could make constant raids to provision himself; if he be in good fortune, he might even influence the men on a foreign whaling vessel to take him away. This last was occasionally done. Nearly as often, however, the police succeeded in ferreting the fugitive out of dark places on whaling ships. While a few old convicts would harbour him, there were many free men and natives who would tell of his whereabouts. Not even all expiree men would give refuge to an escapee; it was a practice fraught with danger that they themselves would again get in the clutches of the system. The native constable sometimes personated his savage habits. He dressed again in his grease and coloured pigments, he wore feathers and sticks, and what not, in his hair, and carried spears and boomerangs, as if on a serious hunting expedition. He guilelessly drew near to the determined convict, whom it was unsafe for white constables to approach for fear of being shot down. He made friends with him and begged the loan of his gun or offered to share some captured game with him, until an opportunity arose to seize the weapon. Then pointing it at the fugitive he took him prisoner with the threat of death if he evinced opposition or violence.
When the conditional-pardon certificate was abolished more desperate attempts to get away from the colony were made than previously. Five prisoners crept out of the depot at Geraldton on the night of 22nd October, 1865, got into a boat and rowed to the schooner Lass of Geraldton, then in port. The crew was below and the convicts were able to scramble on deck. The leader, with a pistol, threatened to blow out the brains of the first man who offered opposition. Not one of the fugitives was a sailor, and what the objective was is difficult to understand. Harry O'Grady, captain of the craft, managed to get overboard and swim ashore. He gave the alarm. The noise and moving lights on the beach when the escape was made known seemed to frighten the convicts. They knocked down a member of the crew, returned to the boat, and amid a volley of shots pulled towards a quiet spot near the depot. Four of them then proceeded to creep into their quarters again as if to escape recognition; one of them did not return and was supposed to have been shot. On the 29th October the four men were sentenced to three years in irons, and the leader to fifty lashes in addition. A few days earlier a convict at Albany stole the pilot boat and sailed into the night. The craft was afterwards found a total wreck in South West Bay. In 1867 the body of a convict was found dead east of Albany. Another and equally fruitless attempt to seize a coastal vessel was made in 1866 at Fremantle.
By the Edward Fox, convict ship, which arrived at Fremantle in November, 1858, two prisoners, notable in England, were landed. These were the Hon. Rev. Beresford and Redpath. At different times Western Australia was visited by many men famous in the criminal annals of England, such as members of the trio—the business-like butcher, the ingenious stamper, and the garrulous messenger—who succeeded in forging Bank of England notes, and Robson of Crystal Palace notoriety. The clever butcher was said by his local keeper to be a man of excellent conduct. Beresford, of noble lineage, pursued a quiet and not unpopular career in Western Australia. After treading the gradations of the convict system he became a journalist, and a tutor to a publican's family at York. With the remittances he was understood to receive from his aristocratic relations he was liberal, and many were the hungry natives who obtained plenty from his simple charity. For some years he was a constant contributor to a Fremantle paper. The last stages of this promising yet sullied career were spent as an enfeebled battered old man in an invalid depot.
Redpath's history would be considered a famous feat of imagination if written in story. It may be excusable to mention it shortly. Newgate Chronicles announce that he began life in a small way as a lawyer's clerk, afterwards becoming a clerk in the P. and O. Company's office, until he set up as a broker on his own account. Of a charitable turn, he gave the money of his creditors to the poor, and was soon bankrupt. Then he obtained a clerkship in the Great Northern Railway Office, rose quickly and became assistant registrar, and finally registrar, with control of the share transfers. Both as assistant registrar and registrar he developed colossal frauds and launched out into extravagant expenditures. He set up in a princely residence, and was known as a Mæcenas and a patron of art. Leading social and artistic people gathered round his board; his dinners were costly, and attracted the attendance of peers of the realm. But his chief extravagance was in unbounded charity; he headed subscription lists, and not content, even sought out deserving cases. At Weybridge, his country residence, his name was revered by the poor. He was a governor of hospitals, and a patron of other charitable institutions. When the crash came, says the Chronicles, there were pensioners and other recipients of his bounty who could not believe that so good a man had been for years a swindler and a rogue. His detection was dramatic. The chairman of the Railway Company observing a peer shake Redpath warmly by the hand, asked, "Do you know our clerk?" to which his lordship replied, "Only that he is a capital fellow, and gives the best dinners and balls in town." Redpath had caused it to be believed that he had been successful in speculation, but the chairman immediately required an audit to be made of his books. Redpath fled to Paris, whither police officers followed him; Redpath secretly returned to London, where he was arrested while at breakfast in an obscure house. For a period of ten years this clever rogue had appropriated by forgery vast sums of money; the exact amount was never exactly made out. The false stock issued by him was estimated to have brought £220,000. His assets at the time of his arrest, in lands, house, furniture, and works of art, were valued at £50,000, even though he had lived at the rate of £20,000 a year. The stock market was greatly affected when the arrest was announced; society was convulsed. He was sentenced to transportation for life, and heard the mandate without showing emotion or surprise.Thenceforth Redpath, in prison, degenerated and "behaved" (Newgate Chronicles) "so as to justify a belief that he had been a gaol-bird all his life." He was not in Western Australia a great while before he received a ticket-of-leave certificate. Mr. Willoughby described him as a tall man of good appearance and address. Even in prison he never made his own bed or cleaned his own cell. These menial offices were obsequiously performed by some ignoble convict, anxious for the reward of the great man's smile—a reward not frequently but judiciously bestowed. Among ticketers he preserved an equally elevated demeanour, and lived on the proceeds of sundry shipments of fancy goods consigned to him from English friends. His brother ticketers touched their hats to him; he wrote clever letters to the press under a nom-de-guerre, and was the founder and honorary secretary of the Working Men's Association. The leading settlers shunned him and termed him a "social agitator," or a "complete scoundrel." While in prison he did good service as a clerk in the Commissariat Stores. Governor Kennedy told Earl Grey's Committee that a large saving was thus effected, and of Redpath he said, "His conduct was exemplary, and he obtained his four marks which reduced his period of probation." On 29th November, 1871, Redpath left Western Australia for Adelaide; he was afterwards understood to be thriving in Melbourne. He was a prototype of those who apply the cloak of piety and philanthrophy to base uses.
Robson's career was similar. Of humble origin, but well educated, he had considerable literary ability. He was the author of several plays; one, Love and Loyalty, achieved some success. He, too, began life as a law-writer. He married on a salary of 20s. a week. His masters secured him an appointment as clerk in the Great Northern Railway Company, whence he passed to a better position under the Crystal Palace Company. Within a year he was chief clerk of the transfer department. His talents were such that soon the whole management of the transfer department was entrusted to him. Finally (Newgate Chronicles) he yielded to temptation, issued bogus scrip without detection, until the defalcations amounted to £27,000. With the proceeds he lived a merry life, kept open house at Kilburn Priory, entertained literary, artistic, and dramatic celebrities, purchased a smart carriage, and attended race meetings dressed in approved fashion. Nemesis came in the form of Mr. Fasson, who, while in the office, casually asked for certain certificates. Robson rummaged among his documents and replied that they must be at Kilburn Priory. Mr. Fasson insisted on driving thither, and upon arrival Robson hospitably sought to entertain him. After persistent demands for the certificates, Robson at last went to his room, secured money and valuables, and, leaving Mr. Fasson in the house, levanted. He coolly drove to a favourite West End dining place, had dinner, and then with a woman (not his wife) took steamer for Copenhagen. He was arrested in Sweden, taken to London, and sentenced to two terms of transportation, one of twenty and the other of fourteen years' duration. He was conveyed to Western Australia, where his conduct in prison was good, and where his services were utilised, in company with Redpath, in the Commissariat Department. He was early eligible to ticket of leave, and in June, 1860, was rearrested and sentenced to three months' imprisonment for embezzlement and obtaining goods on false pretences. He was for some time known in journalistic circles in Perth and Fremantle, and in 1861 projected and edited the Western Australian Literary Magazine in Perth, which was continued for only four numbers.
Many remarkable stories are told of the exploits of another ex-prisoner, "Moondyne Joe." A book has been written with him as a noble hero, and romance and myth encompass him about. But Moondyne was not so great as some of his contemporaries, and he obtained credit for exploits which he did not deserve. He was a successful prison-breaker, but not such an ingenious one as others. In brief, he was an overrated celebrity.
With true British instincts, colonists were encroaching on the wilds of the north-west. In Western Australia the later history of English colonisation is, except for physical and aboriginal differences, the history of their persistency in America, India, Africa, and the foam-girt islands of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. The Britisher goes wherever there is an opening to acquire wealth and property. His compatriots lie down and die on the march, but he does not falter. The northwest of this colony was believed to be exceedingly barren and so hot and thirsty that no European could live there. But the success of settlers on the Victoria plains, the Greenough and Murchison Rivers, caused them to explore farther north, and ultimately to establish sheep and cattle breeding stations among the natives. The progress during 1861-68 was made not without pain and loss and death. This advance of settlement was, perhaps, the most distinguished feature of local history between 1860 and 1870.
A certain air of romance surrounds north-west settlement. To the southern Australian reader the tales of tropical and semitropical flora and fauna, of life under the conditions peculiar to such abnormally productive regions, are more interesting than the stories of places which he knows better by experience. There may be something oriental in this semi-tropical existence, and, where nature does nothing by halves, there is a strong excitement. She is there universally artistic, never shallow; has penetrating, comprehensive, all-absorbing passion. If she undertakes to bestow good years, they are indeed abundant; if droughts, they are unextenuatingly lean; if attractive scenes, they are enchanting; if desolate and sterile, they are abodes of hopelessness and despair. It will be well conceived that the pioneers experienced all the tricky buffets of fortune. It was not an existence to be passed in the lap of luxury; there was a provoking uncertainty. Two years' drought would simply disperse five years' plenty. Happily, the lean years have been comparatively few. But, it may be said, almost without exception, that those who have gained fortunes by living and investing in the northwest have amply deserved them.
The indefatigable enthusiasm of Mr. F. T. Gregory, assisted by the Burges family, led to important north-west explorations in 1861, and the subsequent merging of settlers there. In 1860 it was announced that Mr. F. T. Gregory and Mr. W. Burges were in communication with Sir R. Murchison, and were arranging to equip a strong party to go into the north country, and that the Geographical Society and Imperial Government would contribute funds. In January, 1861, a letter, written by Mr. Gregory, was considered by the Legislative Council, in which he mentioned that Messrs. W. and J. Burges, T. Brown, and W. Padbury were willing to supply men and horses, valued at £400, towards the equipment of a party to land in Nickol Bay and explore the inland country. Mr Gregory himself was no mercenary explorer; he offered, if necessary, his six months' salary— £250—in the Survey Department, towards the funds. If the Government contributed £1,350, he explained, these amounts, with other subscriptions promised, would be sufficient to charter a vessel and supply a party for six months. After calling Mr. Gregory before the Bar of the House, the amount was voted.
The arrangements were quickly made, and on the 23rd April, 1861, the barque Dolphin sailed for Nickol Bay. The explorers were Messrs. F. T. Gregory (leader), James Turner (second in command), E. Brockman, Maitland Brown, J. McCourt, Harding, and Walcott. They were well supplied with horses. On the 11th May the Dolphin arrived at Nickol Bay, and leaving there the farrier, Walcott, in charge of the stores, the others began their journey on the 25th. Mr. Gregory proposed to survey the country to the Lyons and Alma Rivers to connect with his last explorations, then eastwards to longitude 120°, and even, if practicable, to longitude 123° or 124°, and finally north to the Fitzroy River. The first part of the journey was mostly over hilly country, down to the Fortescue River, whose banks were steep and stony. In its valleys was abundance of feed and water. After following the Fortescue for some 180 miles E.S.E. the party went over a grassy country bounded by hills, through which it was found difficult to pass. These hills were named the Hamersley Range. The season was evidently a favourable one; the grass was luxuriant. On the further side of the Hamersley Hills the explorers came to grassy plains, which extended beyond longitude 118°, where, 2,000 feet above sea level, they were still surrounded by rich vegetation. The country hereabouts to latitude 22°58' south, was stony, intersected with fertile valleys. The horses were showing many signs of fatigue, and Mr. Gregory formed a depot, whence flying trips were made. During one of these journeys he reached the Ashburton River, which, meandering through fertile plains, gave every indication of extending to Exmouth Gulf. On 25th June he saw Mount Augusta, about thirty miles away, and the valley of the Lyons River, whereupon he proceeded to the eastward, cut the Ashburton about fourteen miles higher up in fertile land, and returned to the depot. Here he found the horses' hoofs in such a state as to oblige a return to Nickol Bay. The explorers re-crossed the mountains, went over stony country and open plains, and discovered the Sherlock River, which they followed to the coast. The last twenty miles were made up of extensive grassy flats, which Gregory estimated to contain 20,000 acres of arable land. Thence the party went parallel with the coast, crossed and named the George and Harding Rivers, and arrived at Nickol Bay on 19th July.
On 29th July they resumed their travels and followed their homeward tracks to the farthest point of the Sherlock River. In the E.S.E. they discovered and named the Yule River, which they ascended for two days. The country was grassy, and well-watered, but rocky. Then they traversed hilly country, and found the Strelley River, and eastwards another stream in longitude 119° 44' latitude 21°15' south, which they named the Shaw. The pasture was good, and the land hilly. After following a tributary of the Shaw they came to and named the De Grey River. Then leaving open grassy plains they went further east and named the Oakover River. Gregory described parts of the land approaching the Oakover as containing superior pasture. For two days the explorers traced the Oakover, and then they again struck east over fertile plains, which merged into stony country. They went beyond the good country, and were soon in difficulties. They had entered extensive sand plains, with ridges of red drift sand, and after losing three horses and abandoning some pack saddles they fell back on the Oakover. The furthest point reached east was near Mount Macpherson, about longitude 121°30'. The Oakover was now followed to its junction with the De Grey; on either side stretches of fine pasture were passed. The De Grey nearing the coast was surrounded by open grassy plains extending outwards from ten to twenty miles. Gregory was well pleased with Breaker Inlet, which he termed an alluvial delta as fertile as any land he had seen in Western Australia. The return journey to Nickol Bay, past the Strelley and Yule, was soon accomplished, and on the 9th November the Dolphin arrived with the explorers at Fremantle.
Owing to the severity of the journey six horses succumbed. The distance travelled was 2,040 miles. No inconvenience worth mentioning was experienced from the natives, although it was twice necessary, when they became threatening in their efforts to prevent the advance of the explorers, to frighten them away by firing off the guns. At Nickol Bay the blacks assisted in watering and wooding the ship. The only mishap during the whole trip was the accidental shooting of a member of the party in the hips, but under Gregory's care the man completely recovered. The leader reported that the flora of the northern country was most brilliant, differing from that around Perth. The banks of the rivers were lined with bamboos and mangoes, while the wild plum, fig, and date trees were also numerous. On the Fortescue there were particularly handsome palm trees, many rising to the height of forty feet and more. Kangaroos, emus, and swans were scarce, but there was a plentitude of ducks, pigeons, and cockatoos. The rivers were all fresh, and abounded in fish, principally the cobbler species weighing about five pounds. These fish were found far inland. Of the value of the country traversed Gregory reported favourably. He estimated that he passed over 3,000,000 acres of grazing land and, 200,000 acres of land suitable for agriculture. Numbers of pearls, some of value, were procured in Nickol Bay, and several tons of pearl shell were gathered.
In the past Western Australians had been apt to speak mournfully of the small stretches of pastoral country in the colony. Their experiences had made them sceptical and unduly cautious, and as a consequence they usually waited for some new-comer to go out into the wilderness and pave the way for them. Residents of the eastern colonies formed the opinion from these characteristics, and also from the old injurious reports, that the colony possessed but few large areas of grazing land, and these, where they existed at all, were isolated and set in desolation. But leading settlers were at once exceedingly anxious to form stations in the land traversed by Mr. Gregory, and they also soon heard that squatters in Victoria were making enquiries concerning it. Mr. Walter Padbury was the most enthusiastic and enterprising, and became the pioneer of north-west settlement. He approached the Government, asking for special privileges, and wrote Mr. F. T. Gregory for a definite opinion. The reply of Mr. Gregory is interesting in the light of knowledge since acquired. He wrote:—"North-west Australia is a very stony country, and by no means so fertile as Queensland, but yet quite sufficiently so as to, in my opinion, afford a fair prospect of success to judicious settlers, and is beyond all doubt far beyond the average of the settled districts of Western Australia." Mr. F. T. Gregory left the colony in 1862; a farewell banquet was tendered him by the Chamber of Commerce in February.
The Governor compiled special regulations for the north-west country, subject to the approval of the Imperial Government, and offered Mr. Padbury, or any other person actually settling there, the use of 100,000 acres, in 20,000 acre blocks, for the term of twelve years, the first four years to be without rent. These regulations applied to the district between the sea coast and the meridian of 129° east longitude, and to the north of the Murchison River, and of a true east line through the summit of Mount Murchison. They also applied to country discovered to the east and south. The lands were divided into classes. Class A comprised those lands within two miles of the sea coast, including the adjacent islands, for which annual licenses were to be obtained. A new class was opened: Class C lands were granted for eight years, and comprised the remainder of the lands in the north and south-eastern districts. Free pasturage was allowed for one year from date of arrival of stock, and within that period runs could be selected, not to exceed 100,000 acres, by any one person or company. A license would then be issued. A fee of £5 was charged at the commencement of Class C leases, with 5s. per 1,000 acres for each of the first four years and 10s. per 1,000 acres for each of the second four years. Class A was charged at the same rate, but without license fee. Leases and licenses could be transferred if properly stocked, and might be resumed, with compensation for lawful improvements, on twelve months' notice. The right was given to cultivate during the first year of lease. These regulations came into force on the 1st January, 1863; the Imperial Government signified approval of them.
The whole set of regulations was slightly revised during the next two years. In August, 1862, a committee, consisting of the Colonial Secretary, the Surveyor-General, the Acting Treasurer (F. B. Wittenoom), Mr. J. W. Hardey, and Mr. L. S. Leake, was appointed to rectify the defects. The members reported in September, and their principal recommendations had to do with mineral lands, which they advised should be sold at the fixed price of £5 per acre, in blocks of not less than 80 acres; £1 to be paid on approval of application, and £1 in annual instalments. In regard to other regulations, when fee-simple grants were held, it was suggested that the proportion of stock to be allowed free pasturage on surrounding waste lands should be one head for every ten acres. They also advised that a preferential though not positive claim be given to Class B lessees for renewal at the expiration of their term. The Government asked for expressions of opinions on these suggestions, and the squatters and agricultural societies were not backward in seeking for concessions. They desired that expiring Class B leases be renewed for a further eight years, asked for a redistribution of Class A boundaries, and for several technical alterations. A meeting of delegates of agricultural societies was held in Perth on 13th January, 1864. Among the decisions was the request to have mineral lands thrown open and leased in 100 acre blocks at a rental of 2s. per acre for the first year, at 3s. for the second, with the right of purchase at the end of two years at £2 per acre. It was found difficult to satisfy all parties. New regulations were proclaimed in August, 1864, and remained in force for a number of years thereafter—an abortive attempt being made in 1867 to have them altered. Mineral leases were eventually issued in blocks of not less than 80, nor more than 160 acres, at a rental of 8s. per acre. Mining licenses could be taken out, and mineral lands were sold at a fixed price of £3 per acre. The leasing regulations followed, almost without exception, the committee's report; the alterations were not appreciable. Substantially they gave satisfaction.
Mr. W. Padbury, who arrived in the colony as a boy soon after its foundation, had by thrift and hard work attained a deserved position. His father died in 1830, and the lad was left without relatives, friends or means. The first few years of his colonial life were passed amid stern and bitter disappointments, but his sturdy nature refused to give way. After various unenviable employments, he began shearing and shepherding in the rural districts, and saved a little money. This he invested in a business in Perth, until getting modest means he took up land and became wealthy. With the characteristic enterprise and caution of a "self-made" man he went out to the frontiers, after carefully measuring the risks. Before the end of 1862 he sent to Victoria for stock for the northern country, and prepared to proceed to the scenes of Gregory's explorations. It was an expensive and even dangerous enterprise; the stock must be conveyed by ship, large food supplies must be laid in, and the party must be large enough for mutual protection. Early in 1863, Mr. Padbury procured a coastal vessel, the Mystery, to maintain communication between Nickol Bay and Fremantle, and chartered another ship, the Tien-Tsin, to convey his party, stock, stores, &c., to the former place.
On the 4th April, the Mystery, with Messrs. C. C. Hunt and Turner, proceeded up the coast to take soundings of harbours, and on the 24th April the Tien-Tsin sailed for Nickol Bay. On board the latter vessel were Messrs. Padbury, Samson, Ridley, McCourt, Nairn, Brown, Jones, Swift, and five natives, with 11 horses, 6 bullocks, and 540 sheep. Messrs. Hunt and Turner inspected the mouth of the De Grey, which they found unsuitable for landing stock. They communicated this information to Mr. Padbury, and a harbour was chosen east of Point Lambert and west of the De Grey, and was at once named Tien-Tsin Harbour. The process of landing the stock was accomplished without casualty, though one bullock and forty sheep died through drinking salt water while walking over the shallows at low tide. No suitable locale was then chosen, and Mr. Padbury, after going down the Harding with Captain Jarman, Messrs. Samson, Turner and Nairn, returned to Fremantle, leaving members of his party in charge of the stock. He was greeted with effusive compliments in Perth, and his hardy enterprise was enthusiastically praised at a banquet given in his honour in June.
The Tien-Tsin sailed back to Nickol Bay in the same month, with 515 sheep and 17 horned cattle. On arrival at the port, neither the Mystery nor the land party was seen, the latter having evidently proceeded some distance away for suitable pasture. The stock was landed with a loss of 30 sheep (from drinking salt water), and Mr. McCourt took charge of them. Mr. J. Wellard was the next squatter to settle in the north, and on 6th August he sailed in the Tien-Tsin, accompanied by Messrs. S. Hall, H. Logue, W. Scott, and four others. Mr. Wellard took as a nucleus of stock, 370 sheep, 26 cattle, and 9 horses. He quickly learnt that Mr. Padbury's party had moved to the De Grey River. While crossing the Harding, a native attack was made on one of Mr. Padbury's black servants, who fired at and wounded an assailant. On two occasions, also, the aborigines caused annoyance to the men on the Mystery, but were easily repulsed. Stones and clubs, instead of spears, were the chief weapons used by these natives. A heavy fall of rain took place on llth May, when the De Grey rose five feet, and every bush on the plain not over eighteen inches high was submerged.
Mr. Ridley, attached to Mr. Padbury's first party, was a Government Surveyor, and in his report wrote flatteringly of the district. The example of the pioneer was therefore early followed by other gentlemen. By May, 1863, Messrs. K. Brown, S. Hamersley, A. Brown, B. Clarkson, F. Pearse, and Dr. Martin had chartered a vessel—the Flying Foam, Captain Cooper—to convey them to the Glenelg River. The Glenelg was reached on the 30th June, and the ship proceeded as far as the rapids, about twenty-eight miles from the coast. Then the equipment and stores were landed, and Messrs. K. Brown, Clarkson, and Dr. Martin left the camp on 6th July with five horses for Camden Harbour, in the north. They experienced few difficulties, and returned on 10th July. They reported of the intervening tract:−"A very fine country, with abundance of good grass and water—one of the finest countries in the world." The experiences of a second party were not so pleasant. Messrs. Clarkson and Hamersley proceeded on the 16th July on another northerly course, and returned four days later with their horses so fatigued as to be unfit for travel. Much of the country they entered was exceedingly rough.
The rise and fall of the tide at the rapids, according to Captain Cooper, was about twenty feet. On the 25th July two boats, manned by Captain Cooper, Messrs. Brown Brothers, Clarkson, Hamersley, and Taylor, went about ten miles up the river. While they were looking for water in a mangrove thicket some thirty powerful savages prepared to attack them. The natives shipped their large spears and approached. Captain Cooper fired and brought down one who appeared to be the leader; the others did not stop, and Mr. A. Brown then shot and wounded a second, and Mr. Clarkson a third. At the last report the blacks gave way, and with an awful yell disappeared in the thicket. Captain Grey had reported that the valleys in this country were as rich as any part of the globe, and that the grass was so high that he could not see over it. The present explorers were astonished at the luxuriance of the vegetation, and Captain Cooper considered the grass to be higher even than Captain Grey led him to expect. On the banks of the river, he said, thousands of tons of hay could be cut. The country back from the Glenelg was very hilly, and clothed with tall grass. The Flying Foam reached Champion Bay on the return voyage on 13th August.
No settlers immediately went to Camden Harbour or the Glenelg. In March, 1864, the Sea Ripple sailed for Nickol Bay with 650 sheep, five horses, and two cows, the property of Mr. Withnall, who selected a large area of country. Meanwhile, Mr. C. Von Bibra, in September, 1863, took up land near the Gascoyne River, a fact which was deemed of importance to the newly-settled territory, as it would to some extent simplify the difficulty of forming an overland route for travelling stock. By the end of 1863 three runs of 100,000 acres each had been selected in the northern district, while negotiations were in progress for the selection of other large areas at Camden Harbour and Sharks Bay. In January, 1864, it was announced that Mr. Turnbull, a Victorian, had applied for the lease of Dirk Hartog's island in Sharks Bay. Water had been discovered in the island, and there were estimated to be 200,000 acres of good feeding country thereon. In February, 1864, Mr. Maitland Brown landed at Sharks Bay with 165 sheep and two horses. He remained at Freycinet Harbour for some time, and was the first to run sheep in the neighbouring district. Thus two links between settlement and the party at Nickol Bay were formed. A few weeks later overland communication between Champion and Sharks Bays was established. In May the Burges Brothers sailed from Geraldton in the Flying Foam to explore country north of Sharks Bay. They landed at Exmouth Gulf, but their efforts to go inland were abortive, the country was so barren. Re-embarking, the brothers moved to the Gascoyne, and searched for good country there. During an encounter with the natives Captain Cooper was severely wounded in the breast by a spear. He soon recovered. The Government offered inducements to the discoverer of an overland route to Nickol Bay. On 20th July they announced in the Government Gazette that the first person actually driving 100 horses or cattle, or 200 sheep, or a due proportion of each, from any part of the settled districts to the northern country prior to 1st August, 1865, would obtain the use of 100,000 acres of land which he might select free of rent for twelve years.
Satisfactory progress was made by Messrs. Padbury, Wellard, and Withnall, and in August, 1864, the first shipment of wool (seven bales) arrived at Fremantle from the north-west. Colonists were now excited over the potentialities of the northern country. Preparations for settlement were being made in Victoria, where the reports of Mr. F. T. Gregory were eagerly perused. It was known that the north-west was semi-tropical, and therefore that the heat was sometimes intense, but this fact did not daunt the younger men, who, indeed, eventually became the chief portion of the population. The old reports of navigators as to its sterility were no longer believed in, and with the liberal inducements offered by Government it was fulsomely supposed that wealth could be rapidly attained. To some extent the rashness which follows all such excitement was manifested in the north-west, and not a few settlers had reason to regret their precipitancy. The imagination of a convict led to another voyage to Exmouth Gulf and Camden Harbour.
Wildman, the felon in question, made a circumstantial and reasonable report to the authorities that the north-west was rich in gold. With consummate versatility (which was truly meritorious) he told them that when first mate of the Maria Augusta, from Rotterdam to Java, in 1856, his ship lost her rudder on the north-west coast. He anchored near Camden Harbour to effect repairs, and mentioned the names of several land-marks thereabouts. The vessel remained in the bay for twelve days; while inspecting the neighbouring country he picked up in two and a half hours eight nuggets of gold, which, on his return to England, he sold to a bullion merchant in Liverpool for £416. He carefully kept his discovery secret, and would not now tell the authorities the exact locality, except that it was some distance up a river which entered Camden Harbour. It had been his intention to charter a small vessel to return to the place. He now asked that a ship should convey him thither as a prisoner, and magnanimously desired that, when his story was confirmed, he should receive a remission of his sentence of fifteen years' penal servitude recorded in 1861.
The listeners were pleased, and the story was taken from one to another until settlers, newspapers, and Government were excited, and thought it advisable to accede to Wildman's request. The river flowing into Camden Harbour was surely meant for the Glenelg, which disembogued into Doubtful Bay near by. An expedition was equipped, and there were numerous applications for membership. It is said that the Government communicated with the Home Authorities to ascertain if such a quantity of gold had been sold by a seafaring man at Liverpool, and when Wildman's story was confirmed, excitement led to sensation.
The Government voted £150 towards the expenses of the expedition, and commissioned Dr. Martin to act as surveyor and botanist. Surveyor-General Roe, who was acquainted with the country from his voyages with Captain (since Admiral) King gave valuable instructions. Mr. Panter, inspector of police, was given charge of the party, among whom were Messrs. Turner, F. and H. Caporn, Du Boulay, W. Scott, Langoulant, and Stokes, besides Wildman and two natives. The ship New Perseverance, under Captain Owston, was chartered, and on 2nd March, 1864, sailed on the quest. Horses were taken for the inland travelling.
During the voyage up the coast the convict was treated on terms of equality. The vessel was in risk of being wrecked in a willy willy, but by the seamanship of Captain Owston managed to weather the storm. When Camden Harbour was reached the real difficulties of the adventure were experienced. The convict refused to point out the spot, and notwithstanding the cajolery and threats of Mr. Panter, he preserved a stubborn silence. He was disrated from the position of passenger to that of cook. Finally the party proposed to find the gold without the felon's assistance. The horses were landed, and Mr. Panter and his band proceeded inland some twenty miles, but though they searched sedulously, they found no gold, and returned to the vessel. After inspecting the country for pastoral stretches they coasted down to Roebuck Bay, where the horses were again landed, and more exploration work was done. For two days the convict remained on the ship in seeming content. Then at night he attempted to escape, taking with him the two boats. He was caught some days later and placed in irons. The New Perseverance returned to Fremantle in June.
Mr. Panter supplied a favourable report of Roebuck Bay. He travelled fifty-two miles due east from the coast over well-grassed country. There were no running streams, but he averred that water could be obtained anywhere in the flats at depths ranging from six to twenty feet; most of the native wells were only eight feet deep. It would be difficult, he said, to describe finer plains than those in the vicinity of Cape Villaret, containing about 40,000 acres of splendid pasturage. Dr. Martin was even more impressed. His report refers extensively to millions of acres of good land, magnificent harbours and rivers, and luxuriant vegetable and other products. In the Glenelg district pouch-bearing animals were very numerous, and emus, geese, ducks, bustards, pheasants, dugongs, turtles, crabs, and crayfish were innumerable. The pearl oyster was plentiful, and the natives wore on strings of their own hair round their necks pearl shells, ground into an oval shape. In Breakneck Harbour he saw beds of table oysters.
Thus though this expedition was mercilessly put about by the inventive mind of a convict, its members succeeded in acquiring information important to the colony. Several prominent gentlemen in Perth and Fremantle issued on 23rd July,1864, the prospectus of a company, proposing to take up this good land in Roebuck Bay. The provisional committee were: Lieutenant-Colonel Bruce, F. P. Barlee, Major Crampton, C. Wittenoom, G. Shenton, J. G. C. Carr, and J. Farmanar, with R. J. Sholl as secretary pro tem. The name of the Roebuck Bay Pastoral and Agricultural Association Limited was taken, and the capital was set down at £20,000, in £10 shares. A revised prospectus was issued on 1st August, when the estimated cost (including the purchase of 5,000 sheep, 20 cattle, 25 horses, a vessel of 50 or 60 tons, of arms, provisions and stores) was given for the first year as £10,000; second, £2,500; third (including erection of shearing shed), £3,500—total, £16,000. The profits were somewhat prematurely estimated at 7½ per cent. on the capital for the first year, 12½ per cent. on £12,500 for the second, and 18¾ per cent. on £16,000 for the third. Shares were applied for so rapidly that by the 31st August the list was closed, and tenders were called for stock, vessel, &c.
The Flying Foam was procured, and in October set out with an advance party, including the manager of the company, Mr. Jas. R. Harding, Mr. L. C. Burges, jun., assistant, and six other men. Mr. Panter accompanied Mr. Harding as a guest and was expected to be of great assistance in choosing good pasture, and pointing out a landing place and wells. Shortly after the departure of the Flying Foam a meeting of shareholders was held (22nd October), when Messrs. F. P. Barlee, G. Glyde, C. Wittenoom, S. E. Burges, E. W. Lander, G. Shenton, and Major Crampton were elected directors. Two vessels, the Nile and Hastings, conveyed stock to the scene of operations at Roebuck Bay, and sheep and cattle were landed without difficulty. The Nile carried 700 sheep. When the Flying Foam returned, Mr. Harding's report to the directors asserted that the country chosen was excellent, and Mr. Burges went so far as to inform them that the company's station would be one of the finest in the whole colony.
But horrible disaster befel Messrs. Harding, Panter, and Goldwyer. On 9th November, 1864, they left their camp to explore the country towards Lagrange Bay to the south. They took provisions enough to last for two or three weeks, and, as they did not return within that period, Mr. Burges searched for them. He tracked them to a mangrove creek in Lagrange Bay, where all traces were lost. When the Nile left Roebuck Bay on 4th January, 1865, after conveying stock, &c., the men were still missing. The news was received with consternation in Perth, and Mr. Maitland Brown generously volunteered to take the leadership of a search party which the Government despatched. The Clarence Packet left Fremantle immediately, and Mr. Brown was instructed to thoroughly scan the country between Roebuck Bay and Mr. Padbury's station on the De Grey. Soon after entering the wilds Mr. Brown and his party, comprising Messrs. Burges, Francisco, Williams, D. Brown, and two native policemen, Toovey and Dugdale, were told that about three months previously three white men with four horses were seen by the Wugnarry tribe at a river called the Boolu Boolu. The white men slept by the river, and next day the natives attacked them; the whites shot and killed three blacks, and the rest then ran away. The following night the natives, in increased numbers, stole upon the explorers, who were again asleep, and stuck spears through them all. Then, continues the terrible tale, the natives tried to pin them to the ground, but the white men rose and killed fifteen natives and drove the rest away. Knowing their adversaries to be wounded, the natives signalled for assistance from all around, and crowds of blacks collected and in broad daylight rushed upon the wounded men with spears and clubs. The whites were overpowered and killed, and their horses shared the same fate. This story was corroborated by several other blacks.
Mr. Maitland Brown seized two natives and ordered them to conduct him to the scene of the murder. With their usual tactics they led him astray by devious paths and attempted to escape, but the native policemen shot them. One, while dying, confessed to having been implicated in the murder. Finally, Mr. Brown and his companions found the bodies at Lake Ingedana (Boolu Boolu), in Lagrange Bay. They were close together, and a tent bad been partly drawn over Messrs. Panter and Harding. Nothing had been taken from the bodies. Upon the bough of a neighbouring tree hung a compass and a tether rope; scattered around were broken spears and clubs, and the baggage of the party. The body of one horse was found a few miles away with spears protruding. The unfortunate men were killed on Sunday night, 13th November, 1864. There were no signs of a struggle, and it appeared that they had been slain while asleep. The last entry in Mr. Panter's journal was dated 13th November. It read:—"Remained in camp. Early in the morning thirty-four natives came in; they left, but in a short time returned with spears, &c., and, as they appeared to be up to some mischief, we frightened them away by firing a revolver; they kept whispering and making signs we could not understand. In another hour we saw them again, sneaking behind some bushes, but when seen they ran away." There the journal ends.
While proceeding to the coast with the bodies, Mr. Brown's party was followed by large numbers of natives. On 6th April four of the rescuing band were decoyed into a mangrove ambush and attacked. They fought their way out again without loss or damage. Six natives were killed, and about twelve seriously wounded. The remains of the explorers were conveyed to Fremantle on the Clarence Packet, and on 17th May were buried in the Perth Cemetery in the sight of a large and sorrowful concourse of clergy, military, police, and private citizens. Mr. Maitland Brown was appointed a magistrate as a mark of distinction for his services, and was the recipient of a letter of thanks from Governor Hampton.
It would be considered that the tragic fate of these men would act as a deterrent to north-west settlement. But the colonist is not so easily dismayed, and settlers now went thither in greater numbers. As yet the pioneers were so few as to be at the mercy of the blacks, but the Government soon afforded them protection. In December, 1864, Mr. Taylor sailed for Nickol Bay in the Tien-Tsin with 900 sheep, six horses, and two cows. In the same year Surveyor-General Roe, who had returned to the colony and resumed his duties, compiled a well arranged pamphlet for distribution abroad, on the resources of the colony. It contained a copy of the land regulations, Captain Grey's description of the north-west, and the reports of Mr. F. T. Gregory, Mr. Panter, and others. No doubt this pamphlet, together with news from private sources, determined many wavering minds in Victoria and South Australia to take up north-western land. Towards the end of 1864 vessels left Victoria with settlers and stock for Western Australia. Some of these were under the auspices of the Camden Harbour Pastoral Association, which was formed in Melbourne in July of that year. The Government received strange applications for special land privileges. One Victorian gentleman, Mr. Larnach, after applying for an immense area in the south-east, near Esperance Bay, asked, should he and his companions be successful in traversing the country between Exmouth Gulf and the Glenelg River with 2,000 sheep before 1867, that they be awarded 1,900,000 acres on lease with the right of pre-emption, but without claim to priority of selection. Governor Hampton was not able to go beyond the regulations, and therefore refused.
The Camden Harbour Association (limited liability) was floated with a capital of £20,000 in £100 shares. The secretary and treasurer was W. Harvey, Flinders Street, Melbourne, and the provisional committee consisted of W. T. Sellars, J. H. Wood, C. S. Affleck, A. Mattingly, W. Harvey, S. Hart, and J. Meadew. The declared object was "to settle the very superior well-watered pastoral and agricultural country around Camden Harbour by placing one head of cattle on every 1,000 acres." It was considered that £20,000 would secure 4,000,000 acres, and would stock that area with 4,000 breeding cattle. One share entitled the holder to a free passage in a first-class ship to Camden Harbour; to one year's rations there; and to a lease for twelve years of 20,000 acres, with twenty head of cattle to stock the same, at no rent for the first four years. If any applicant for shares was not approved of, the deposit was returned; no person could take up more than five shares. A pre-emptive right was declared to be allowed on the area leased, a statement which was incorrect. On 29th July, 1864, a meeting of about 100 persons was held in Melbourne, under the chairmanship of the Hon. J.P. Fawkner, when considerable information, much of which was incorrect, was tendered, and it was announced that certain applications for land by members of the association had been granted by the Western Australian Government. The rules of association were confirmed at a meeting of depositors on 8th August. On this occasion Mr. Harvey, in answer to questions, gave additional misleading information. He said that Camden Harbour was 270 miles from Perth, when it is more than five times that distance; that settlers could go back 270 miles from the coast; that for the first forty miles the country was well grassed and lightly timbered, when ranges 3,000 feet high had to be crossed to reach level, salt bush lands. Mr. Harvey altogether ignored the existence of mountainous country near the coast, and ingeniously removed the range of hills many miles inland for the convenience of shareholders. By 31st December the Western Australian Government had received seventy-three applications from Victorians for land near Camden Harbour. Each applicant asked for 100,000 acres, and promised to land from forty to 150 sheep. Thirty-nine persons offered to convey 100 horses, or 100 cattle, or sheep. One, G. Urquhart, St. Kilda, applied not only on his own behalf, but for seven more Urquharts (all minors) besides. A. Mackintosh, Greenhills, and seven minor members of his family did likewise, and so on. Shipowners, barristers, and other professional and commercial people sought to obtain land. The brilliant expectations of this band, it is unnecessary to say, were not realised.
The first vessel to sail from Melbourne under the auspices of the Camden Harbour Association was the Stag on 16th November, 1864. She reached her destination on 16th December with sheep, cattle, and horses, and such sturdy young settlers as Messrs. E. T. Hooley, A. J. McRae, J. Hindhaugh, T. C. Murray, and Ellwood. A more inappropriate season than December, 1864, could probably not have been chosen. It was a time of drought; the heat was intense, sometimes registering before sunset 125 degrees in the shade; and the tall waving pasture which explorers depicted had disappeared. The land contiguous to Camden Harbour was burnt and parched, and destitute of grass and water. Grave mistakes had been made; the shareholders were misled and the association had not taken the trouble to examine this country before embarking the stock, nor were they wise in choosing the time of year to found their settlement. The young men, when they appreciated their unenviable situation, set about making the best of it. Messrs. Hooley, McRae, Hindhaugh, and Ellwood struck for the Glenelg in hopes of finding fresh water to relieve the famishing stock. They discovered to their surprise that the Glenelg was a tidal river. On the return journey Mr. Ellwood became fatigued under the extreme heat and excessive exercise, and it was with difficulty that his companions encouraged him to proceed. All were thirsty, and more or less suffering. In the gloaming a bronze-winged pigeon was seen to rise a little distance away, and going thither a beautiful pool of fresh water was found. By morning they reached the Harbour in safety, and learnt that Mr. Murray had hit upon a splendid spring half a mile from the shore.
Two other vessels of the Company with stock and settlers put into Camden Harbour within a few days. The stock, including over 4,500 pure merino ewes, was driven to the scant pasture round Mr Murray's spring. But misfortune now came, and the sheep began to die off at the rate of 120 a night. The cause of this mortality—imputed to a poisonous weed—was not found, but the disconsolate pioneers determined to remove further inland. They fixed upon a spot where was ample old grass and good water, but even here there was no diminution in the mortality. A fall of heavy tropical rain brought up luxuriant grass, and still the sheep continued dying in hundreds. Messrs. Hooley, McRae, Hindhaugh, and Ellwood explored the north-east along the Prince Regent's River, but discovered no better location for a station. They agreed with Captain Grey that the scenery was grand and inspiring, but they found the country so rough that there were no allurements to a struggling pastoralist. Disaster was ruthless, and every week's end chronicled further loss of one kind or other. At the end of three months only 1,554 sheep survived; in August all were dead. The pitiless hand of nature has consummated many such stories, and the pathos of the condition of the immigrants can be imagined. They were without a leader, without concentration or combination of effort, and, hemmed in by solitude, it was hugely disheartening to observe their worldly possessions succumb in a luxuriant enough country, and have hopes long fondled dispersed. In January and February seventy-two people left Camden Harbour in the Stag and Tien-Tsin. Three men had died a few days after arrival. One party in the Calliance had its awakening in an even more perilous situation. This vessel left Melbourne with numbers of settlers and stock. During the voyage up the western coast she struck on a reef not marked on the chart. She got off with difficulty, and arrived at Camden Harbour on Christmas Day, 1864, two days after the accident. After discharging the cargo she was moved in shore to ascertain the extent of damage, but a puff of wind piled her on a reef. A boat sent from the Calliance for assistance was capsized in a squall and Captain Edwards was drowned. The members of the crew of the wrecked vessel were sent to Perth on the Tien-Tsin.
Governor Hampton decided to despatch a Government Resident and other officials to administer the affairs of the new territory. Mr. Robert John Sholl was appointed Resident Magistrate, or Government Resident; his son, Mr. T. C. Sholl, magistrate's clerk; Mr. Phelps, surveyor; and besides them were a surgeon, a tidewaiter, three police, and several other persons. It was intended to mark out the site of a town and to supply the settlers with adequate protection and assistance.
Early in 1865 Mr. Sholl and the other officials arrived at Camden Harbour in the Tien-Tsin, and the picture which they saw was gloomy and dispiriting. Mr. Sholl's chief calls were to procure passage for his subjects to other ports of the colony. Instead of establishing a new settlement he was needed to wind up the nascent concern. His first report was not complimentary to many of the Camden Harbour Association people. Upon the whole, he began, they were a good class of people, but yet without unity. Affairs were conducted on a hap-hazard principle; no definite arrangements, apparently, were made prior to embarkation. The new arrivals were all shareholders in the company, and "as shareholders they were all equal—one had no more power than another; all were masters; there were no servants." The sheep, in his opinion, were neglected; they were allowed to wander, were scorched to death by the tropical heat, chilled to death by tropical rains, lamed by sharp burning stones, starved on innutritious grass, killed by native dogs, or lost for ever in the bush. With the provisions the same want of order was maintained: "Hay, bran, biscuit, and bacon were carried away by the high tides, and left rotting on the sea-shore." The young active men carefully examined new country, but found none of great value, except on the river's banks. Then Mr. Sholl gives a description of the country. Of edible fruits the grape, currant, fig, plum, a nondescript apple, a peach, and wild cucumber were collated. The place was deceptive: "What seems a grassy hill—for there are hills everywhere—at fifty or thirty yards distance, upon closer examination becomes a mass of rocks, with grass high enough and so thick as to hide the rocks." He climbed to the top of Mount Lookover and discovered what appeared to be a vast extent of fertile country—"it consisted mainly of grass-covered stones." The district abounded with iron and copper, and he thinks "richer and purer metals will yet be discovered." Butterflies were very beautiful and numerous, the harbour teemed with fish, and the sea-rocks with excellent oysters.
In reply to this report Governor Hampton instructed Mr. Sholl to use his discretion in providing passages for people desirous of leaving Camden Harbour who were unable to defray that expense. Many of them, however, had already gone, and large numbers took passage to Adelaide in the Sea Ripple and Sea Nymph. Numbers more removed to Nickol Bay and availed themselves of the permission to take up land. Among the applications granted there about this time were those of R. Batten, 12,500 acres, at Nickol Bay; M. Bolger, 34,500 acres, and J. Patterson, 11,500 acres, on the Harding River; J. Sloss, 100,000 acres, C. Purdue, 23,000 acres, S. Connell, 11,500 acres, R. Bell, 23,000 acres, J. Inglis, 11,500 acres, and A. Cane, 34,500 acres, on the De Grey River; J. Smith, 11,500 acres, — Stirling, 11,500 acres, and Simmons, 11,500 acres, on the Fortescue River.
In May Mr. Sholl reported that the Camden Harbour Company had ceased to exist; the property was equally divided among its members. A few of the latter still remained in the district, but the duties of the Government Resident were not onerous. On 10th April he left the harbour on an exploring expedition south of the Glenelg, accompanied by Assistant-Surveyor Cowle, Police-Constable Jackaman, Graham, a chainer, and Billy, a native constable. It was by no means an easy journey, for he crossed range after range of rocky precipitous hills, some of considerable elevation, with but little table-land. There was grass everywhere—upon the hills, in the valleys, and even on top of the sandstone ranges. On the borders of the numerous streams was good alluvial land; the spinifex was confined to the high hills south of the Glenelg, with not much of it there. He passed over splendid plains, named the Hampton Plains, where was grass of great height without undergrowth. He never travelled through so much grass in Western Australia. He distinctly mentions seeing indications of gold at one place where the formation resembled that at Creswick, Victoria. The country thereabouts was covered with broken quartz and ironstone. His further progress was stopped by the King Leopold Ranges. On 27th April he returned to the Harbour.
A strange and startling sight greeted him and his companions next day. While seeking to pass the lonely hours they were astonished to observe several unusual craft entering the Harbour. Warning was given, every man was ordered under arms, and the Union Jack was hoisted. Then seven Malay proas and thirty canoes approached,skimming over the water. They made towards Mr. Sholl's camp, who with his men waited with feelings of doubt and consternation. When the singular fleet came to anchor on the beach Mr. Sholl, fully protected, visited the nearest proa. The Malays possessed two rusty cannon of small calibre and a few old flint muskets. There were about 300 men in the canoes and proas. The fleet remained in the Harbour for some days, and Mr. Sholl had a strict watch kept every night. The intruders did but little fishing and came to blows with the natives, who drove them from the watering places. It would appear that the Malays were in the habit of stealing North Australian natives and taking them to the islands as slaves.
Shortly alter this unusual advent, which was not unwelcome to the remote party, Mr. Treverton Charles Sholl and Mr. McRae made an interesting exploration into the King Leopold Ranges, east of Collier Bay. This task was not accomplished without vicissitude, but resulted in very good pastoral country, watered by a fine stream, being found. The stream was named the Walcott, and around it, by Mr.McRae's estimate, there were 350,000 acres of splendid pasture. Unfortunately the journal of this expedition was years afterwards lost, and therefore the narrative cannot be given. Mr. T. C. Sholl and his companion deserve liberal credit for penetrating, under none too favourable conditions, these difficult parts; they gave names to several features in the districts traversed.
The list of disaster at Camden Harbour was not yet full. The natives having stolen a boat belonging to the Government officials, Messrs. R. J. Sholl and T. C. Sholl, with T. Tompkinson, M. Quinlan, W. Gee, and D. Coffee, sailed in the Government pinnace on 4th September, 1865, to search the coast. Next morning, while pulling along the south shore of an inlet or bay in Port George the Fourth, a native tried to decoy them ashore. Gazing round about, the men saw other natives partly concealed behind rocks, and instead of landing in a little creek pointed out by the decoy, they put ashore on a flat ledge of rock. After vainly striving to induce the native to come to them, they turned to get into the boat, but were immediately attacked from the rear. The air was darkened with spears, dowacks, and other missiles, and, turning to discover whence they came, the amazed whites saw behind a rock a few feet away an ominous mass of black heads, breasts, and arms. Mr. T. C. Sholl jumped behind another rock, aimed, and pulled the trigger of his revolver, which, however, missed fire. The other white men fired several shots, and finally the natives decamped. Mr. T. C. Sholl was severely wounded in the arm, and Police-Constable Gee was struck in the shoulder-blade by a blunt spear. After firing desultory shots at any native seen peering over the rocks, Mr. R. J. Sholl, at the wish of Gee, who was suffering acute pain, entered the boat and pulled from the shore. As they left, mournful wails arose from among the rocks, evidently from natives bemoaning the fate of killed or wounded companions.
The white band had a providential escape, but the worst was yet to come. The tide was near its full height, and in the straits they found it impossible to make much progress; indeed, eventually they began to lose way. The anchor was dropped, and dragged for a short time, till it suddenly held fast and pulled the boat's bow under water. All the men were cast into the strong current, and Quinlan sank and was never seen again. The others were swept onward by the rush of water at a terrible speed. It needed great endurance to combat such force, and Mr. R. J. Sholl was finally so overcome by fatigue that he was about to abandon the struggle. His son, seriously disabled though he was, swam to his rescue. The father, knowing this would endanger both lives, begged the young man to save himself, but filial faithfulness prevailed. By almost superhuman strength Treverton kept his father afloat until, catching a keg from the boat, he swam, dragging it after him, while Mr. Sholl, senior, held fast to it.
The accident took place at noon, and by fine endurance and splendid zeal the son assisted the father until evening. Six or seven hours after their immersion they landed eight or ten miles from where the boat sank, and about two miles from the scene of the encounter with the natives. Gee miraculously managed to follow them, as also did the remaining men. Their plight was now extremely pitiful. While in the water they had divested themselves of nearly all their clothes, and, of course, their provisions had been lost. Though Camden Harbour was only about ten miles away, they had to go some thirty or forty miles round Augustus Water and many mangrove creeks to reach it. Fresh water could not be found, and thus, famished, fatigued, and without boots and clothing, they began their long journey. Added to these disabilities was the fear that the natives might at any moment pounce down upon them, and, unarmed as they were, they could not expect to successfully repulse them. Gee and Treverton were suffering intensely from their wounds, which could not be properly dressed.
The poignant anguish of the band can be imagined. The dangers on land were as great as those on the sea. It took them from the 5th till noon on the 8th to reach the camp. Progress was laborious at best. Without boots, their feet were lacerated by sharp stones; without proper food, they subsisted on lizards and like repulsive creatures; without water, they even drank their own blood; and without clothing, the sun's rays brought ugly blisters on their bodies. They eventually became so exhausted as to hardly make any appreciable advance. Finally they sighted the Harbour, and then sat down, collected tufts of grass, with which they mended what tattered garments they had, and rose and crawled to the camp. A more harrowing spectacle could hardly be witnessed. The doctor to the settlement attended the sufferers, and all recovered except Constable Gee, who died a few days afterwards.
On 29th October Mr. R. J. Sholl and his band sailed for Port Walcott, Nickol Bay, in the Kestrel, and, after spending some days at Roebuck Bay, they reached that port on 24th November. Thus the Camden Harbour settlement was abandoned. In its chequered history were numerous examples of rashness, disorder, trial, disaster, and noble conduct. In a few months several deaths had been encompassed, and much capital sunk—the expense to the Government was over £5,000. The settlement provided an object lesson, and the experience gained was useful to some who became noted West Australians.
Mr. Sholl disembarked his horses at Roebuck Bay, and instructed Surveyor Cowle, with Messrs. McRae, Vincent, Police-Constables Toovey and Vincent, and a native, to travel overland to Nickol Bay. Mr. Cowle left Roebuck Bay on 10th January, 1866, and reached his destination on 28th February. He described the intervening country as covered with pasturage growing on a sandy, loamy soil—altogether, he computed that he passed over 3,000,000 acres of permanent grass. Mr. McRae, with Mr. Shakespeare Hall, a well-known pioneer, a few weeks later made an important trip to the Fitzroy River, which he struck ninety miles east of Roebuck Bay. He reported favourably on the fertility of the land, and Mr. Hall concurred.
The Denison Plains Association was established in Melbourne shortly after the Camden Harbour Association. A similar instance of the unwholesome effect of excitement is provided. A lamentable want of prudence was shown by promoters and shareholders of this company, for, without acquiring knowledge of the country proposed to be settled, its members invested in stock, chartered vessels, broke up homes, and sailed for what was practically an unknown region—and doubtful at best. Its history was little longer than that of the Camden Harbour Association. On 2nd May, 1865, the first band reached Fremantle on the Warrior, a ship of 1,100 tons. Mr. C. E. Broadhurst was manager of the Denison Plains Association, and the stock consisted of 2,100 sheep, a valuable stud of 44 horses, and 20 fine cows. The names of the Warrior passengers were:—Mr. and Mrs. Broadhurst, Mr. and Mrs. Wedge and family (five), Miss Anderson, Dr. Baynton, Messrs. Venn, Brodie, Edmonstone, Sayers, Hodgkinson, Hanlow, Mackay, Frazer, Graham, Gardiner, Hicks, Sayes, Simson, Macintosh, Cane, Bush, Jeffrey, Filchey, and Mr. and Mrs. Mullen and family (four). Governor Hampton informed Mr. Broadhurst of the failure of the Camden Harbour Association. It was proposed to land on the head waters of the Victoria River, and proceed thence to Denison Plains. The Warrior stopped at Nickol Bay, and was followed by other ships. Land was obtained, and several exploration parties searched for good country. Mr. H. W. Venn, a member of the association, was the leader of most of these, and though only a young man he succeeded in discovering much new country. He went west of Roebourne, where Mr. F. T. Gregory had not touched, and with Messrs. Mackay, Cane, and Frazer traced the Fortescue and Ashburton Rivers, discovered and named the Cane and Robe Rivers, and scanned for the first time other notable local features. In return for his services the Government subsequently granted him a free stock lease of 100,000 acres on the Ashburton.
The Denison Plains Association was from the first unsuccessful, and its members did not relish the co-operative principle as applied to pioneering the north-west. Early in 1866 the association was wound up; the stock was divided among the creditors. Some of the shareholders returned to the eastern colonies, while some became prominent in local industry and politics. Notwithstanding these failures of large undertakings, private bands and individuals continued to go to Nickol Bay, the De Grey, Ashburton, Harding, and Fortescue Rivers, besides other parts. Indeed there was a splendid expansion of industry, and numerous examples of courage and laudable enterprise. The disbanded shareholders of the Camden Harbour Association and other arrivals were constantly selecting large areas of land. The state of the small northern colony early in 1865—with the exceptions already mentioned—was promising and almost flourishing. Among new arrivals was Mr. James Orkney, with fine merinos, conveyed from Melbourne in the Aurifera. On 2nd April Messrs J. E. and A. R. Richardson, Edwin Anderson, Mackenzie Grant, and John Edgar, determined and hopeful young Victorians, put into Tien-Tsin Harbour in the Maria Ross. With a nucleus of 1,600 ewes they founded the Pyramid Station of 200,000 acres, and eventually came to be among the prominent northern squatters. Like their contemporaries these gentlemen were forward in exploration. Messr's. Grant and Anderson, with Mr. C. Harper, established in 1871 the noted De Grey Station. Several other gentlemen arrived from Victoria, and among them the McLeods. There was considerable risk entailed in transporting sheep, and of 1,300 shipped at Portland in the Douglas in 1865 only 450 were landed in Western Australia.
Messrs. Hooley and Murray, after leaving Camden Harbour, sailed to Tien-Tsin Harbour, where they landed on 1st April, 1865. They formed private exploration parties and elaborated and confirmed previous explorations and exploited new country. They first traversed the country contiguous to the Harding and Sherlock Rivers, in company with Messrs. Mount, Murray, and E. Anderson. Then they crossed the Harding and Fortescue and forced a passage over the Hamersley Ranges, discovered by Mr. F. T. Gregory. The country thereabouts was so rough that it took them seven days to traverse fifty miles. The ranges were covered with dense spinifex. Then they made the Ashburton River, where their appearance astonished the natives. Here, as further north, the blacks at first had an unspeakable horror of horses and cattle, a horror always intensified when they observed the white man dismount from his steed; they believed man and horse to be one. About sixty blacks prepared to attack the party on the Ashburton, but were easily influenced to change their plans by the firing of a gun. Mr. Hooley and his companions named Mounts Murray and Alexander, from members of the party, proceeded as far as Yanarie Creek, and on the return journey discovered excellent water in the Hamersley Ranges.
New runs were selected after nearly all these private trips—made to pick out good country for settlement purposes. The Roebuck Bay Company was slightly hampered in 1865 by the depredations of natives. This northern country was numerously populated, and the aborigines soon contracted a relish for mutton. They made two serious attacks on the flocks at Roebuck Bay, and on one occasion drove off a considerable number of sheep, eighty of which they speared. The remaining sheep were rescued after a stubborn resistance—it is said that twenty blacks fell under the settlers' guns before the tribe released the plunder. It was soon evident that the north-west natives were not only finer made than those in the south, but were more bold and determined. Unlike most of their kind they depended more on their spears than their legs to save their lives when opposed to white men. Mr. Sholl reported that they surrounded the stations at Roebuck Bay in great numbers, and chased any white man they found alone; moreover, they were night prowlers, thus differing from southern tribes. In 1866 the Roebuck Bay Pastoral Association removed to Nickol Bay, not because of unfitness of the country for stock, but because of the difficulty of communication, and of insufficient numbers to keep the natives in check. The station-holders established near Nickol Bay at the end of 1865 (according to a newspaper record) with 100,000 acres each were:—Messrs. Padbury, J. Withnall, J. Wellard, A.M. McLeod, D. Simson, T. Baynton, J. N. McLeod, G. Lockyer, Viveash and Co., A. E. Anderson, W. and W. H. Knight, Mackenzie Grant, J. E. Richardson, and W. A. Taylor. Mr. J. Edgar had 26,000 acres, and Mr. S. Mullen 20,000. Messrs. Anderson, Mount, Murray, and Hooley had each selected 100,000 acres of newly-discovered land on the Ashburton. By 12th January, 1866, Messrs. R. H. Broadhurst, F. and C. Broadhurst, E. Hartley, and C. S. Holmes had each applied for 100,000 acres on the Ashburton, and Messrs. L. Mount and F. L. Mount for similar areas on the Harding. The Blue Book states that thirty-one runs, representing 2,946,000 acres, were held in the north-west in December, 1865, and stocked with 16,000 sheep, 300 cattle, and 120 horses.
In October, 1865, Mr. Hooley, who was visiting Perth, offered to mark out an overland route to Nickol Bay if the Government would furnish the outfit and two natives. At first some demur was made, but eventually, in November, the offer was accepted. Some time was occupied in making preparations and in traversing parts of the country beforehand. On the 27th May, 1866, Mr. Hooley started from the Geraldine mine on his important trip with five white men, two native prisoners from Rottnest, 1,920 sheep, and two teams of three horses each. A portion of the proposed route had never been traversed, while most of the remainder had only been cursorily scanned by explorers. The proposal to drive stock over this area was doubtful, if not dangerous, considering the reports of explorers. For about 280 miles Mr. Hooley held to the Murchison and then he struck out for settlement on the Fortescue. He kept ahead of the sheep and teams and mapped out the line of progress. In this way and with splendid generalship he accomplished his enterprise without serious difficulty. Good pasturage and fresh water were discovered. Exactly three months after leaving Geraldine he reached the Fortescue, having lost only eight sheep. Thus overland communication was established, and the value of the north-west was greatly enhanced by the cheaper method of getting stock to and from there. Mr. Hooley's services were fully appreciated, for, after returning over the same country a few weeks later in company with a white companion and a native, he was received with acclamation in the old settled districts, and in Perth was presented with a handsome chronometer and chain.
Deliberate and solid progress was thenceforth made in the north-west. The initial difficulties were overcome, and a strong footing was gained; yet the after history was not devoid of tragedy. Wells were sunk at convenient distances along the overland route, and stock was thereby travelled with less risk. In May, 1866, it was determined to form a townsite at Port Walcott. A survey was made, and the town of Roebourne was proclaimed and received its designation in honour of the worthy Surveyor-General. The Government Resident, Mr. R. J. Sholl, reported in November that the first Government land sale was held at Roebourne on 3rd September, when twenty-six town lots were sold at an upset price of £5 each. In the same report he estimates the number of sheep in his district as 17,660, and the number of people as 124. The natives had suffered from an epidemic of small-pox and eight settlers were attacked; the disease was soon eradicated. The clip of wool exceeded anticipation. In December, 1866 (Blue Book), forty-nine runs were held under lease, with an aggregate of 4,720,000 acres.
Several circumstances conspired to make the year 1867 disastrous and tragical, what with a precarious supply of provious, which brought every member of the small community within the reach of starvation, and wrecks by sea, which caused the death of nearly fifty men. The chief calamity was the loss of the Emma. On 3rd March this vessel left Nickol Bay for Fremantle with forty-two people on board, and was never heard of again. It was a tragedy so terrible, so void of the slightest knowledge of the passengers' fate, that each colonist felt as if he had been struck a blow by an enemy in the dark. The sorrow was intensified by the loss of the brave young Trevorton C. Sholl, who was a passenger. This youth had proved himself to possess such an amiable spirit that he was the hope of all his friends, who did not even have the consolation of knowing where or by what special means he met his death. Speculation was eager for many months, and several vessels hurriedly scanned the coast and neighbouring islands for signs of the Emma. The lost passengers with Mr. T. C. Sholl were:— C. Nairn, Captain J. E. Abott, R. Toovey, R. Williams, J. Vincent, L. Blagrar, W. F. Tays, G. Gregson, W. Rogers, Corporal Wittle, J. Barr, E. Radford, E. Goodall, J. Farrell, J. Byrne, J. Purviss, M. Breadman, D. Brown, S. White, J. Foster, J. Fowler, M. McGrath, C. Sutton, C. Smith, J. Stainer, J. Hogan, five natives, Captain J. H. Baback, and a crew of eight men.
Another small vessel, the Brothers, sailed from Fremantle on 19th February for Nickol Bay, and was lost. She had six persons on board. A few weeks earlier the New Perseverance stranded at Nickol Bay. Up to July, over sixty persons were drowned on the Western Australian coast in 1867.
These vessels were the provisioners of the settlement, and their non-arrival almost caused a famine. Settlers were compelled to live on a reduced diet, and sometimes subsisted on a quarter of a pound of barley a day, without tea or sugar. Their situation was so straitened that Mr. C. Harper was asked at a public meeting to lead a party to Champion Bay. With Messrs. McRae, Judge, and a native, he started on horseback from Roebourne on 29th May. The season was a dry one, and feed and water were consequently scarce. On 29th June Mr. Harper reached Geraldton, after thirty-three days of severe travelling. The Flying Foam was sent to relieve the dearth at Roebourne, and arrived there none too soon.
During the year nine runs, comprising 1,015,000 acres, lapsed in the north-west districts, but others were taken up; the number of selections held at the end of the year was sixty-one, representing 5,805,000 acres, against forty-nine runs and 4,720,000 acres in December, 1866. Two of these were surrendered in 1868, when the figures stood:—Fifty-nine runs, 5,605,000 acres. The statistics of stock in the north-west in December, 1868, were:—Sheep, 38,580; cattle, 444; horses, 208; and goats, 23. Within five years the way was paved for the utilisation and further exploration of the great north-west. The pioneers were worthy captains in the British army of colonists. Amid heat and danger and death they fought bravely and quailed not.
Concurrent with the extension of settlement in the north-west was the discovery of large areas east, south, and south-east. Settlers worked together to search for pastoral lands beyond the limits previously considered safe or expedient for settlement. Those in the eastern districts were particularly zealous, and foremost, perhaps, were the Dempster Brothers. As Western Australian-born sons of an enterprising pioneer, the bush had an attraction for them; moreover, they had the young Britisher's love for adventure and the exploiting of unknown country. The Dempsters had already made trips into the east, and very soon their enterprise extended from Cow-cow-ing to Esperance. Mr. Charles Harper, possessing similar characteristics, was a thorough bushman, and was best pleased when surmounting the obstacles which the Western Australian bush so frequently places in the paths of explorers. He too, was enterprising, and eventually went to the north-west, where, on the De Grey River, he was among the most energetic pastoralists. He it was who in 1867 made the difficult journey to procure relief for settlers against impending famine. The Clarkson family were equally energetic and at home in the wilderness. The pioneers of this well-known Western Australian house were experienced English agriculturists, and were among the first settlers in the York district. For some years misfortune followed them with relentless persistency, and whether in agricultural and pastoral pursuits, or as sanguinary martyrs to treacherous natives, they suffered keenly and long, and did not obtain in the colony the rewards they often merited.
On 3rd July, 1861, Messrs. C. E. and A. Dempster, Charles Harper, B. Clarkson, and a native, left Northam with fifteen horses for the eastern thickets. They hoped to discover good pastoral stretches, and proposed to go out beyond the limits of previous explorations. They succeeded in the latter attempt, and before their return on 23rd August they reached a point estimated to be 280 miles east of Northam. About 100 miles out a limited area of fair pastoral land was surveyed, but otherwise the country was barren, and contained little vegetation that was not stunted and almost leafless. Cypress and acacia thickets had to be literally cut through; white gums of limited growth stood out in groves like grim skeletons. Water was found at first by the native, who led them to lonely springs and rock holes, but this fellow decamped, and the young men had to depend on their own instincts and the assistance of occasional natives met with. Once they were without water for two days and three nights. The Dempsters and their companions claim to have traversed on this trip Golden Valley, since rendered famous by the Yilgarn Goldfields. Mr. Harper gathered and carried away a collection of geological specimens. The last seventy miles of the outward journey lay along the margin of a lake, upon the banks of which lay salt, thick and fine like Liverpool salt. It would seem that they got into the plain beyond Southern Cross towards Coolgardie. As the first to penetrate this now noted region the trip must be considered a historical one.
The natives again demonstrated that they possessed fertile imaginations. From time to time they have been responsible for the most sensational stories. On this occasion they repeated an old statement that Central Australia was composed of an immense sea. Ten or twelve years before, they informed the Dempster party, three white men had reached the bank of that sea and died. It was supposed that these men might be members of Leichardt's party. Then prior to beginning the journey the young explorers were told by natives of monkeys living in the eastern wilds. They made enquiries during the trip, and elicited quite a sensational narrative. The monkeys, which were called Chinabas, were about the height of black men, and sometimes walked on all fours. They had long tails, and lived in holes and recesses amid large high hills covered with bright flint stones of various colours. One native confessed to the explorers that he had even been attacked by these monsters who chose such harmonious abodes; he was bravely rescued by his companions. The natives pretended to live in continual dread of the ferocious animals. Messrs. Dempster Brothers, Harper, and Clarkson observed what they described as a tiny species of antelope, about six inches high, which, however, was so fleet that they could not catch it. The Government made the explorers a small grant. A few months previously Messrs. Sinclair and Glass discovered good country east of York.
In August, 1862, the Dempster Brothers and Mr. Clarkson attempted to go still further into the interior. It was a year of floods. The party went about seventy miles south from York intending to push on in a south-east,and finally a north-east, course into unknown parts. The country, whether clear plain, or forest, through which they passed was alike boggy, and the horses had to wade knee-deep in mud. The explorers were, therefore, compelled to turn back. The York Agricultural Society, in January, 1868, held a meeting with the object of encouraging exploration in the east. On the 7th May Mr. H. W. Lefroy, Mr. Robertson, Mounted-Constable Thos. Edwards, and Frank Hall, pursued a course north of the route of the Dempster Brothers and Clarkson in 1862. At this time Mr. C. Smith possessed a station about 100 miles east of York, whither Mr. Lefroy's party first went. Before the explorers returned to York on 31st July they had travelled about 900 miles. The young grass, while fairly plentiful, lacked nutriment at that time of year, and three horses were abandoned; the men were compelled to walk most of the distance covered. From Mount Welcome they proceeded E.N.E., keeping generally between 30° 20' and 32° south latitude, to longitude 122° 40' east. It will be seen that Mr. Lefroy must have penetrated a great distance eastward. Lake Lefroy, south of Kalgoorlie, was discovered. Unfortunately, we have not the advantage of possessing a list of features he named in these important areas. He formed a high opinion of the country, believing it to be suitable for both agricultural and pastoral purposes, and he reported that the farther away he went the better became the land. Indeed, he predicted that the eastern portions of the district traversed would eventually be the chief grain-producing regions of Australia. A great drawback existed in the absence of permanent surface water, and of brooks, rivers, or gullies in which water might be conserved.
Then come the journeys which led to the opening up of the Esperance Bay district. News was received in Perth that South Australian parties intended searching for good land along the south coast, east of King George's Sound; and, indeed, that two parties were there in 1863, one of whom landed from the schooner Daphne in Thistle Cove, sixty miles west of Cape Arid. The latter party desired to proceed overland to South Australia, but in July its members abandoned the attempt, not before, however, inspecting country suitable for settlement. While the South Australians were so engaged a Western Australian band—C. E. Andrew and William Dempster—went along the coast. This was organised by the enterprising Mr. Padbury, and by Mr. Larnach, a Victorian. The Dempsters left Albany by ship, with horses on board, on 26th April, and proceeded to Point Malcolm, east of Esperance Bay. Messrs. Larnach and Maxwell followed a few days later in the coaster Amelia. An attempt was made to push into the interior, but after going a short distance the travellers had to turn back for water. Then they held to the coast as far as Point Culver, digging wells three or four feet deep in the sand to water the horses. From Point Culver they steered due north, but an immense plain, containing not the slightest sign of moisture, compelled them to put back to Point Malcolm. The country traversed so far was scrubby and desolate; there were few patches of grass.
Mr. Larnach returned to Albany, but the Dempster Brothers proceeded to Northam by land. After an abortive effort to go inland from Mount Ragged, they held to the Coast until a better opportunity occurred to strike a north-westerly course. They passed over limited areas of good pastoral land about Esperance Bay, and on the 21st August arrived at Northam.
All this eastern country was open to selection under the liberal regulations which came into operation in January, 1863, the eastern district under which comprised those lands between longitudes 121° and 129° east and latitude 30° south to the south coast. The Messrs. Dempster Brothers almost immediately applied for, and were allotted, a large area of country adjoining Esperance Bay, which had for its eastern boundary the east point of the bay. In December, 1863, four runs, representing 304,000 acres, were selected in the eastern district.
The Dempster Brothers lost no time in stocking their new property, and travelled 518 sheep, 80 cattle, and 19 horses overland to Esperance. The long journey was made with conspicuous success. The enterprising brothers were well suited to become pioneers of this district. With a different temperature, and being nearer to a settled district, their difficulties were, perhaps, not so great as those of north-west settlers, but yet they experienced numerous rebuffs. If anything, they were for some time more isolated, and the risks to be taken were equally serious. In 1866 the Dempster Brothers imported to Esperance sheep from South Australia.
In February, 1864, Mr. Larnach applied to the Government on behalf of himself and associates, whom, he said, were persons of great wealth in Victoria, for a selection of 100,000 acres at Israelite Bay and Point Malcolm. He engaged to immediately stock the land with 5,000 sheep. He also asked for the exclusive privilege of exploring 300 miles north and east of Cape Pasley, for the purpose of taking up within eighteen months blocks of 1,000,000 acres for a term of twelve years. He guaranteed to stock such selections with sheep, horses, and cattle to the full grazing capacity, and applied for the right of pre-emption in fee-simple for such portions as he and his partners might choose during the twelve years, at 10s. per acre, in blocks of not less than 1,000 acres. At the same time he asked for concessions, already mentioned, in the north-west. The Governor replied that he had no power to go beyond the already liberal land regulations, and therefore could not comply with those requests not in accordance with them. Mr. Larnach's scheme was supported by a memorial addressed to the Secretary for the Colonies, the Duke of Newcastle, who refused to grant any concessions.
The Dempsters continued, practically, to be the only settlers in the south-eastern district for numbers of years. In 1867 they surrendered their runs at Esperance, and selected another area of 100,000 acres in the same district. In 1868 there were 5,000 sheep, 150 cattle, twenty horses, and twenty-four pigs in the southeast.
After Mr. Lefroy's and the Dempster Brothers' trips into the interior and the south-east, exploration by settlers, and semi-official parties, by no means stopped, and further eastern country, which has only recently become populated, was discovered. Mr. John Cowan, and the native, Kowitch, in October, 1863, went out for 160 miles along Mr. Lefroy's track, and found grass two or three feet high near several bald hills; a fact which attracted pastoralists. In February, 1864 Mr. B. Clarkson made a lonely journey ninety miles east of Northam, and selected an area where grass was good and water abundant. Messrs. C. C. Hunt, R. D. Hardey, and Robinson left York in March, 1864, and proceeded for 180 miles E.N.E. in latitude 31° on a slightly different route from that of the Dempster, Clarkson, and Harper party in 1861. The feed on this occasion was very scant, and one horse died of exhaustion. The party reported that available water was to be found along the whole route at distances of about seventeen miles apart.
A few weeks later Messrs. Clarkson, Harper, and Lukin entered the eastern country to more carefully determine whether it was advisable to establish remote runs. They kept north of the 1861 track, but after being out two months they returned on 26th August, disappointed, so far as the discovery of pastoral land was concerned. On the outward way portions of the 1861 route were crossed, and though then fairly grassed were now barren, suggesting, in truth, that there had been no rainfall during the intervening period. Here and there under some bush or fallen tree there was a tuft of grass; elsewhere the country was bare and parched. They explored a range north by east of Mount Kennedy, and from the top of Mount Barker viewed a typical interior panorama—low stony hills, thickets, dry beds of salt lakes, somnolent melancholy plains; no feed, no water. When they tried to penetrate to the north-east they were driven back by a rough waterless waste. The natives had a miserable appearance, more "like monkeys than men," says the narrative. They lived on rats and one another, and occasionally made a meal of their own blood mixed with the powdered root of a tree.
The next expedition was partly equipped by the Government. Surveyor C. C. Hunt, the leader, was accompanied by J. Seabrook, J. Cowan, R. Eaton, Police-Constable Edwards, and two natives. Twenty-three horses and twenty-two weeks' rations were taken. Mr. Hunt departed from York on 9th July, 1864, and succeeded in going beyond the limits of the settlers' explorations. He got through the more arid country seen by them, and came to what he termed a tract of fine pastoral and agricultural land about 350 miles east of York. For forty miles it remained of equal promise, even improving as he went on. In the region of longitude 121° 55' east he found plenty of grass but little water. Emus and kangaroos were numerous, which, it was thought, proved that there were still finer stretches eastwards. Messrs. Cowan and Seabrook returned to York earlier than Mr. Hunt, who wished to search for permanent water and further examine the plain. He named the area where the pasture was the best the Hampton Plains, in compliment to Governor Hampton. He traversed portions of the eastern goldfields beyond Kalgoorlie, and visited Lake Lefroy and the northerly hills of the Dundas Range. Throughout the whole journey the explorers were never in need of water, although there was evidence of a long drought having taken place. Lake Cowan and other places were named. On 3rd November Mr. Hunt arrived at York.
The Government apparently believed that the Hampton Plains would be selected by pastoralists; and in 1865 Mr. Hunt, with four pensioners, eight convicts, and one native was sent out to cut a track thither and sink wells. He also had with him ten horses and nine bullocks. It took him some months to complete this severe task, but by October he declared that a practicable route existed for upwards of 400 miles into the interior from the western sea-board. Although Hunt's track was not used in the way intended by Government, it came to be of inestimable service nearly thirty years later when the goldfields were discovered. It was then overgrown with scrubby vegetation, but was in sufficient order to be used as the highway to Coolgardie. The railway now partly follows Hunt's track. Many of the wells and reservoirs by granite rocks remained intact, and greatly assisted the development of the goldfields. The track went over the huge plains from Southern Cross through Gnarlbine, north of Lake Lefroy, to the Hampton Plains.
On three occasions in 1865 Hunt vainly tried to explore the country east of Hampton Plains; he was beaten back by want of water. It was a time of drought, the most extraordinary the natives remembered. Beyond Depot Hill, Hunt said the country consisted of beds of slate, pipeclay, and quartz. A further attempt was made in the winter of 1866 to penetrate the environments of the Hampton Plains. With Mr. F. Roe and a well-equipped party, Mr. Hunt formed a depot at Hampton Plains, whence he made flying trips. He, Mr. Roe, and a native succeeded in going 200 miles east and north of the 1865 limit, and passed over some grassy plains on which were kangaroos (of various kinds), and emus. No features are named in the record, but Mr. Hunt mentions seeing dry lake beds, and he must, therefore, have found the Kurnalpi country and Lake Roe, named after his companion. After making flying trips in every direction, and spending some months at Hampton Plains he returned to York in November. He now believed the Plains to be an isolated tract of 500,000 acres of fertile country, surrounded by vast forests on level plains. The Plains themselves, he said, would be untenable for pastoral purposes without a large expenditure in well sinking. But he described "large masses of trap-rock, identical with that found on the goldfields of Victoria." Mr. Hunt and Mr. Roe were also told by natives of white travellers dying beside an inland sheet of water. The colony lost a useful public servant on 1st March, 1868, when Mr. Chas. C. Hunt died at Geraldton. Although only thirty-five years of age his energy and zeal had rendered him conspicuous.
This eastern area was almost reached by A. Dempster in September, 1865. Starting on the 12th from Esperance Bay with S. Symons and a native he travelled northward over timbered country, with occasional patches of feed, and viewed Fitzgerald Peak on the 15th Sptember. Thence he went to the Dundas Hills, which had red flats under them and gravel and large stones on the sides; they were rough and dry. For three days the horses were without water, and becase of that and the absence of feed the men turned back sooner than was intended. Mr. Dempster concluded by stating that "a good route could without much difficulty be formed, for sheep or other stock, by sinking tanks in the granite rocks, which would fill up every time rain fell." In 1866 Messrs. Taylor and Belches left Albany with the intention of going 600 miles to the eastward, but failed in the attempt. Most of the land they traversed had already been discovered by other travellers. Some excitement was caused in the colony in 1867 when it was reported that the South Australian Government claimed Eucla to be within their territory. A coastal boat took soundings in the harbour.
Messrs. J. H. Monger, jun., and R. W. Hardey went 150 miles east of York in April, 1867, but were driven back by heavy rain and boggy country. On 31st August, 1868, J. H. and G. Monger, — Hicks, and three natives left York with seven horses to examine country east of Champion Bay. They were told by natives that well grassed and watered stretches lay in that direction. After a successful trip they hit upon promising country between the tracks of A. C. Gregory in the forties and Austin in 1854. To reach this area dense thickets had to be penetrated, but though the white men considered them impassable the natives guided them by easy paths. The Mongers selected 100,000 acres of land then discovered; Lake Monger is a geographical feature marked by the party. Mr. H. Gray in 1864 explored to 170 miles east of Champion Bay.
While settlement was pushed north and south-east the south-western portion of the colony was not forgotten, and large stretches of new land were taken up. Mr. James Lee-Steere selected 100,000 acres on the Blackwood River and resided there in 1861, and Messrs. R. Scott, J. J. Giblett, J. B. Roe, T. Giblett, G. Giblett, G. D. C. Lefroy, and E. Brockman were already settled in the Warren and Donelly River districts. The natives were at first very troublesome in these parts, and murdered the black stock boys and threatened the white men. In 1866 Mr. J. S. Harris, Government Resident at the Vasse, explored new country between Busselton and the rivers mentioned. In 1861 the licenses and leases held in the Victoria, old eastern, and south-western districts represented 6,657,105 acres and in 1868 11,049,818 acres. Besides leasing out lands, areas were constantly being sold by the Government, but only in small lots. The new land was generally selected for grazing purposes. With the issue of fairly liberal tillage regulations newcomers and old settlers naturally chose the leasing system, buying only homestead lots. From 1861 to 1868, inclusive, upwards of 75,000 acres were sold at and above 10s. per acre. Large areas were taken up for tillage purposes. The report of F. T. Gregory's explorations in 1861 resulted in a new industry being founded. Though it was previously known that pearls and pearl shell existed on the north-west coast, it was considered impracticable to invest capital to examine the liquid beds. But when Gregory returned with a number of pearls and "several tons of pearl shells," gleaned in Nickol Bay, a new excitement entered colonial life, and wealth, romance, and inexorable fatalities found fresh and adventurous fields of enterprise. His report so closely coincided with those of others that Fremantle boat-owners seriously contemplated exploiting the northern waters. The Messrs. Bateman lost no time in equipping a party. These gentlemen for numbers of years had been active whalers along the south-western coast and, besides, conducted a successful mercantile business at Fremantle. While other colonists pursued rural occupations the Batemans were exploring the waters and garnering their elusive wealth. Thus almost since the foundation of local whaling, representatives of this old family had been associated with it. They, more than any other colonist, were likely to be attracted by a pearl shell industry.
Within a month of Mr. Gregory's return in November the Batemans made all arrangements, and were fortunate in interesting Mr. Jas. Turner, Mr. Gregory's companion, to lead their party. On the 15th December, 1861, the Flying Foam sailed on her mission. She quickly reached Nickol Bay and the search was begun. It was not an easy task, for the pearl shells were scattered over many banks a great distance apart. Mr. Turner did not, therefore, obtain the quantities he anticipated, and after a few weeks' work he collected only 910 shells and 150 pearls. But he was not disheartened, and announced on his return that he believed numerous beds existed in the neighbourhood. The Flying Foam arrived at Fremantle on 9th February, after a tedious homeward passage. A small export of pearl shells was made in 1862. The Blue Book gives the value as £250.
Interest in pearls temporarily collapsed, for these returns were not considered commensurate with the risks and amount of capital which had to be invested to further the industry. Thus little is heard and nothing done for some years. The expedition in search of gold at Camden Harbour in 1864, as already stated, mentioned that the natives lived almost entirely on pearl oysters, oval shells of which they strung into necklaces. Dr. Martin also said that pearl oysters were numerous. A few shells were collected, exported, and sold. But attention was so concentrated on north-west settlement that small thought was given to what the coastal waters hid. Thus two more years elapsed. In June or July of 1866 a boat was fitted out to further examine Nickol Bay, but the pearlers could not find any defined bed. The export for 1866 was valued at £6.
Occasional discoveries of pearl shell were made previous to this by settlers and navigators of coasting vessels. In October, 1866, it was announced that fine pearls had just been obtained in Nickol Bay, and one, weighing seven carats, was valued at £10. Mr. Tays more carefully searched the bay than his predecessors, and by January, 1867, had collected nine tons of shells of good quality, which he estimated to be worth £1000. Five tons were conveyed to Fremantle in the Mystery and shipped to England. The same gatherer continued his quest during the remainder of the summer, and up to May had secured eleven tons of shells, with a few pearls. Others joined with Mr. Tays and conducted the search in a primitive manner, going only to the shallow places at low tide and collecting what they could. Australian natives were employed to do the diving. The result was satisfactory, and by December, 1867, there were said to be more than twenty-five tons obtained. Several persons had seen pearl shell at different places along the coast, and it was now believed that they existed in immense quantities. It was said that one man, with the expenditure of only three bags of flour—wages to the natives—secured ten tons of shell, valued at £1000. The export in 1,867 was estimated to be £556.
A slight commotion was awakened. The success of 1867 led other people to go forth, and in December, 1867, and January, 1868, there was a flutter of excitement in Fremantle and Perth caused by preparations being made to send out a pearling fleet. Those boats which were at all suited for the work were fitted up, and crews were obtained. One and another wished to participate in this peculiarly attractive quest, and now that north-west settlement was more solid in its few years' growth, pearls and pearling absorbed conversation and attention. By the end of April, 1868, about ten boats had proceeded to the neighbourhood of Nickol Bay, such as the Fairy (Wilcox, master), Little Eastern (Knight), Pilot (Adams), and Industry (Tucker). It was a curious little fleet, and not such as is usually employed for pearling purposes. The captains and crews were usually the owners of the crafts, and shared the profits. Most of the work was done after midnight, and until sunrise. The natives—especially the women—proved excellent divers, and without them the fleet would have fared badly. The women could dive to a depth of ten fathoms without inconvenience. But a gale coming on wrecked two boats—the Nautilus and Ariel. Three men from the latter were drowned, and the fate of all except one on the former was not explained.
A few men here and there were in the habit of erecting tents on the beach, or among the neighbouring mangroves, and, with a native, going out after midnight to gather shells. Often they merely waded into the water at low tide, and collected what lay nearest at hand. In this way, many pearl gatherers, with no means other than their bodily vigour to begin with, became fairly well off. About the time of the gale a tragedy as serious occurred on land. Mr. Sholl, the Resident Magistrate at Roebourne, sent Constable Griffs and Peter, a native policeman, along the coast to apprehend several native robbers. One black was caught, and a chain was placed around his neck. That night the police, with their prisoner, remained in the tent of a pearl gatherer named Jermyn. The friends of the prisoner conspired to effect his rescue. With the aid of the latter, both the captors were killed as they lay asleep. Jermyn left his tent at 2 a.m. to gather pearls with his native, and returned at sunrise; he, too, was murdered in the neighbouring mangroves. Abreast of the tent the Nautilus was wrecked, and fifty yards distant from Jermyn the body of one of the sailors—Geo. Breem—was found. Breem was evidently speared as he ran from the murderous blacks. All this news was conveyed to Mr. Sholl through the medium of Jermyn's native servant. Mr. McRae, with a party of eight men, started in pursuit of the murderers. He came upon them near a mangrove thicket, and as they rushed for this the whole party fired. Chilwell, said to be one of the offenders, was killed, and several others were wounded. In the natives' camp were found many articles which belonged to the murdered men.
The results of the 1868 pearling season were beyond expectation. Such satisfactory quantities of pearl and shell were secured that the industry was viewed with great favour, and soon the exports became very large. No further items of interest remain to be chronicled. The pearling fleet completed their season without further serious mishap. The export of pearl shells in 1868 totalled £5,554, which, when compared with the infinitesimal amount of £7 in 1866, shows upon what promise the hopes of colonists were founded. In all, there were twelve small vessels engaged in pearling in 1868.
The general expansion of industry and trade for the period 1861-8 was phenomenal. In no similar period of the colony's history had such industry been manifested, and it would seem that with the annual increase of export, Western Australia could not again enter the old slough. New settlement was but a small side issue of the enterprise and vigour of the period. With cheap convict labour, and the annual expenditure of British capital, farmers, pastoralists, woodcutters, and others became more vigilant and active. Farmers produced not only sufficient grain to supply local demands, but were able to export; pastoralists nearly doubled their wool export and their flocks; and the sound of the woodman's axe echoed through the south-western and eastern districts.
The annual growth is shown in the following figures of export: In 1861, £95,789; in 1862, £119,313; in 1863, £143,105; in 1864 (year of drought), £111,902; in 1865, £179,147; in 1866, £152,240; in 1867, £170,080; and in 1868, £192,635. Within this period, therefore, the value of the export trade increased by nearly £100,000, or almost double that of the highest in any year previous to 1861. No testimony could be stronger. The imports in 1861 were £147,912, and in 1868 £225,614. The revenue in 1861 was £67,161, and the expenditure £81,087; the revenue in 1868 £99,495, and the expenditure £89,726. The colony in the latter year was free of public debt.
The story of the growth of export need not take long to tell, for the foundation was laid in previous years. Wool continued to draw the most capital to the colony, and the Victoria district became the chief wool-producing centre. In 1861 Geraldton was a stirring little village, and population on the Greenough Flats rapidly increased. After Governor Hampton's arrival a regular supply of convict labour was kept in the district, and better roads were quickly formed. Larger runs were held from end to end and new lands were constantly being opened up. In 1868 the number of sheep in the colony was 599,756, against 260,136 in 1860. Of this total, in 1860 the Victoria district had 48,786, and in 1868 135,050, nearly treble the number. The York district held second place in 1868 with 128,556, the Toodyay third with 107,855, Plantagenet fourth with 82,648, and the north-west fifth with 38,580; next came Wellington, 38,251; Perth, 26,339; Sussex, 17,321; Swan, 13,973; Murray, 6,183; and Esperance, 5,000. Each district more or less participated in the uprising. A severe drought was experienced in 1864 all over Australia, and a few squatters from South Australia migrated to the settled districts of this colony. In 1865 Marchant Brothers (S.A) took up 40,000 acres on the Darling Ranges, within thirty-six miles of Perth, and also 40,000 acres on the Collie and Harvey Rivers, fifty miles east of Bunbury. They began by introducing about 3,000 sheep from the sister colony. At the same time Mr. Rumboldt (S.A.) selected 40,000 acres on the Harvey. The drought of 1864 seriously affected the returns. In 1866 the absence of rainfall on remote York runs compelled squatters to remove their sheep to the Darling Ranges. The scab disease was exceedingly virulent for some years, and the York and other agricultural and pastoral societies advocated the passing of a restrictive measure. In 1866 a Scab in Sheep Act passed the Legislative Council, and afterwards by the use of a certain preparation the pest was gradually obliterated. The export returns of wool were encouraging. The total was nearly doubled. In 1861 the figures were £54,297, in 1862 £60,460, in 1863 £84,088, in 1864 £41,294, in 1865 £101,915, in 1866 £92,555, in 1867 £87,467, and in 1868 £98,254—a grand total of £620,330.
The other stock represented in the colony in 1868 were:— Horses, 18,924; cattle, 46,211; goats, 4,484; and pigs, 18,891. The export trade to India in horses was conducted half-heartedly, and frequent regretful references were made by agricultural societies to this circumstance. The export was valued at: In 1861, £1,720; 1862, £5,280; 1803, £6,050; 1864, £11,825; 1865, £8,167; 1866, £5,170; 1867, £8,074; and in 1868, £4,288. Mr. Brockman, Mr. Prinsep, and Mr. Phillips were among the most active breeders.
Agriculture and horticulture were persistently furthered. The Victoria district again led the way, and was the great granary of the colony. The Greenough Flats were the centre of industry, and in 1861 both flats were utilised by farmers. In 1862 a fall took place in the price of wheat, and temporarily depressed producers, but with more powerful machinery at work the farmer was able to grow corn at a cheaper rate. In 1862 there were two or three manufacturers of reaping machines; Mr. S. Cook, at Perth, was particularly successful. The York Agricultural Society vigorously advocated for their more general use. In October, 1862, Governor Hampton visited Champion Bay, and expressed astonishment at the rapid advance made on the Greenough Flats, where cornfields stretched for miles. Numerous substantial houses were constantly being erected. In the Northam, York, Toodyay, Swan, and Wellington districts fields were broadened and numerous flour mills erected. Each place had an increased area under wheat. In 1863 a serious fire occurred at Greenough, causing £2,000 damages to crops. A bad season was experienced in 1865, and prices rose, but in the following year a plentiful harvest made amends. At the Greenough Flats and at the Irwin River, in 1868, the ravages of red rust almost totally destroyed the crops, and the districts concerned did not produce sufficient wheat for their own consumption. In 1861 the area under crop was 27,387 acres; in 1868 50,014 acres—nearly double.
As early as 1861 flour was exported. The beginning, though small (£5), was taken by farmers to be a good omen. From that year the export grew, until in 1868 it totalled £17,445. The annual figures were:—In 1862—Flour, 26 tons, £468; grain. 3¼ tons, £84. In 1864—Flour, 208 tons, £3,750. In 1865—Flour, 486 tons, £8,270. In 1866—Flour, 115 tons, £1,963. In 1867—Flour, £12,457. In 1868—Flour, 1,163 tons, £17,445; grain, £3,922. In January, 1868, the Fitzroy sailed for London with 348 bags of wheat—the first lot shipped from the colony for England.
In 1868 there were 668 acres devoted to vineyards, and small quantities of wine were occasionally exported, and a considerable quantity was consumed locally. The wine export in 1862 was 85 gallons, valued at £12 15s.; in 1865, 177 gallons, £35; in 1866, 337 gallons, £69 8s.; and in 1867, 74 gallons, £25. In 1864 the Legislative Council passed an ordinance authorising, under certain restrictions, distillation of the products of the vine, but the Secretary for the Colonies refused to sanction the measure. Slight quantities of dried fruits were exported.
The exports of potatoes were, in 1861, £168; in 1862, £165; in 1864, £381; in 1865 £383; in 1866, £138 and in 1867, £161. Potatoes were principally grown in the south-western districts. The acreage under wheat had considerably increased at Bunbury and Busselton in preceding years. The Sussex, Wellington, and Nelson Agricultural and Horticultural Society was established on 6th September, 1861. On 29th September, 1867, Mr. W. Forrest, an enterprising miller and farmer, of Leschenault, suffered a heavy loss by fire. His Leschenault flour mill, in which were stored several thousand bushels of wheat, was burnt; and the loss entailed to him was estimated to amount to from £3,000 to £4,000.
Sir James Stirling considered, a few months after founding the colony, that certain soils were suitable for growing cotton. No cotton was then produced, and it remained with Governor Kennedy, in March, 1861, to encourage such an industry by offering premiums to persons producing the article. In August of the same year the York Agricultural Society declared that it would give a prize of £5 to the person securing the largest quantity of cotton from a quarter-acre block in the district. At the same time the society offered £10 to any person growing 2 cwt. of tobacco. Unfortunately the efforts thus put forth were not particularly fruitful. A sample of cotton was produced in the Victoria district in 1862, and was reported to be of a very high quality. The sample was sent to England. We next hear of the attempted formation, in London, of a cotton company, with a capital of £20,000. It was said that influential cotton dealers supported the project, and that that sympathetic friend of the colony, Mr. F. Mangles, was chairman of the board of directors. Arrangements were entered into to purchase 5000 acres at £1 per acre in Geographe Bay, and it was proposed to introduce coolie labour. Owing to a hitch in the arrangements the scheme was not carried out. In 1862 the Blue Book states that cotton valued at £2 was exported, and in 1865, 370 lbs., valued at £46. Mr. Shenton and others offered liberal inducements to producers of tobacco. Samples were grown in the eastern districts and other places.
Notwithstanding a fluctuating market in sandalwood the industry was lucrative and large. In 1862 and in 1864 there were heavy supplies in Singapore and China, for which no buyers could be got for a few months. The returns were not affected to any extent. From a total export in 1850 of £1,220, the figures had grown to £26,045 in 1868. The export in 1861 was £24,945; in 1862, £21,541; in 1863, £25,265; in 1864, £24,520; in 1865, £13,490; in 1866, £23,722; in 1867, £18,442; and in 1868, £26,045.
The timber export was irregular and without a permanent market. A few shipments were sent to England, to India, the eastern colonies, and other places. Of course, large quantities of jarrah were now being used by the convict establishment in the erection of bridges and other public works, so that the export figures do not show the amount of industry devoted to the hard woods. Mr. Mason, at the Canning, and Mr. Yelverton, at the Vasse, had the largest timber mills. The annual export was;—In 1861, £2,497; in 1862, £7,151; in 1863, £2,963; in 1864, £5,508; in 1865, £13,490;in 1866, £6,849; in 1867, £4,541; and in 1868, £638. The export in 1865 was the largest up to that period.
Gum which had been exported since the thirties, continued to afford the gatherers a fair return. This was an industry in which old and young could share, and the natives were quick and successful in the occupation when they cared. The exudations of the trees, indeed, drew considerable capital to Western Australia at one time and another. In 1862 the export of gum was 35½ tons, valued at £710; in 1864, 47½ tons, at £968; in 1865, 829 cwt., at £980; in 1866, 30 tons, at £1,012; in 1867, 170 tons, at £8,516 and in 1868 the value was £6,067.
Exhibits of timber, gum, wheat, wine, raisins, shells, &c., were sent to the Exhibition in London, in 1862, and the Melbourne Exhibition of 1866, when medals and honourable mentions were obtained. The returns of mills and factories in 1868 were —Twenty-three steam, seven water, and eleven horse mills; four steam sawmills, and twelve factories, tanneries, &c. The rates of wages for mechanics were high, but for other servants low. The average rates in 1867 were:—Carpenters 8s., masons 7s., painters 8s., blacksmiths 9s., and boatbuilders 8s. per day; domestic servants, £12 to £40, and farm and pastoral servants £12 to £40 per annum.
Whaling was followed along the south and west coasts, but with hardly the success of former years. The waters exploited for a number of years were becoming deserted, therefore the north-west began to attract whalers. In 1861 the colony had four whale fisheries, with seventeen boats engaged, along the west and south coasts. American whalers still pursued a lucrative trade, and in February, 1861, there were ten American whalers at the Vasse port at one time taking in potatoes and other vegetables. The innkeepers found them to be good customers. In that year, also, six boats were engaged in snapper fishing. The year 1865 gave the best returns during the period. The annual export of whale oil and bone was:—1861, £938; 1862, £1,558; 1863, £1,108; 1864, £37l; 1865, £3,587; 1866, £2,460; 1867, £2,047; and 1868, £833. The export of fish (dried and salt) in 1862 was £577.
The coastal traffic was greatly increased by the opening up of north-west country and the inauguration of the pearl shell industry. In January, 1867, there were seventeen small vessels plying along the coast to and from the various ports. Their earning capacity was estimated to be £9,000 a year. As for outside trade, in 1868, 125 vessels entered Western Australian ports of 56,223 aggregate tonnage, employing 4,963 men as crews; 90 vessels cleared carrying 41,040 tons freight from the colony.
While excellent returns were being received from the copper mines, some very disappointing circumstances crept in to cause the entire cessation of operations in several. It was recognised that the rich mineral deposits in the Victoria district held great inducements for the enterprise of wealthy capitalists. The percentages of copper were remarkably high, and showed no diminution in depth. It would appear, indeed, from many of the bulk assays that the district contained some of the richest deposits in the world. The several proprietaries worked while they could, but naturally the deeper they went the greater became the cost of production. Thus it came about that because of the lack of capital and the cost of raising and conveying the ore to market the owners were compelled to suspend operations, even where they had payable mines. The tract of mineral-bearing country was already proved to extend from the Irwin River to the Murchison, embracing, says one report, an area between four and five thousand square miles. The copper at the Yanganooka mine, south of Geraldine, was distributed in the form of a green carbonate through a matrix of soft felspathic rock. About three miles further south was the Wanerenooka mine, surrounding which centre, within a radius of a few miles, were the Gwalla, Gillirah, White Peak, Wheel Fortune, and Narra Tarra mines, all containing carbonates, sulphurets, and oxides. The Wanerenooka turned out up to 1869 about 1,450 tons of copper ore, which realised about £20,000 in England. The Wheel Fortune yielded rich copper and lead ores, while the other mines were more or less proved.
The export of copper increased until these insuperable drawbacks compelled suspension. The returns of export speak for themselves:—in 1861, 409 tons valued at £6,339; in 1862, 783 tons, £12,536; in 1863, 763 tons, £12,208; in 1864, 1,076 tons, £17,216; in 1865, 886 tons, £13,290; in 1866, 557 tons, £8,362; in 1867, 337 tons, £5,055; and in 1868, 83 tons, valued at £1,245. A gradual falling off is observed from 1864, when the highest record was reached.
The Geraldine lead mine continued to have the greatest output. It is recorded (W. H. Knight) that this mine yielded extraordinarily rich ore—ninety per cent. of lead—in various lodes. While there was a falling off in copper export there was an increase in lead. The figures were:—1861, 79 tons, valued at £790; 1862, 9 tons, £90; 1863, 230 tons, £2,300; 1864, 80 tons, £800; 1865, 703 tons, £8,436; 1866, 273 tons, £3,282; 1867, 902 tons, £10,824; and 1868, 1,100 tons, £13,206.
Messrs. Dempster, Harper, and Clarkson in their explorations easterly, in 1861, reported the discovery of a bituminous fluid. Mr. Harper conveyed specimens of the matter to Perth. Mr Lefroy in his trip, though he searched for it, found no indication of bitumen in 1863. In May, 1866, however, two small fragments of rock found east of Mount Stirling were taken to Perth and declared to be impregnated with the mineral in its soft, almost liquid state. Specimens were said to have been seen in several localities east of Mount Stirling. Later in the year a similar substance was found on the rocks at Port Walcott and Butchers Inlet (north-west). Mr. Cowle in his journey from Roebuck Bay to Nickol Bay found in one of the valleys off the Radii Hills, which he named, a native well containing what seemed a mixture of kerosene and water. Colonists agreed that the north-west district was rich in bitumen or petroleum. A specimen of the substance found by the Dempster party in the eastern plains was sent to the Rev. W. Clarke, an experienced geologist of Sydney, and he proclaimed it to be bitumen on granite. He suggested that a bore be put down in the locality.
The search for gold was intermittently conducted on the Darling Ranges and in the eastern districts. Private and semi-official parties were formed to prospect, and indications were discovered. In 1861 several parties wandered over the Darling Ranges, and a policeman found at Guildford some quartz showing gold. On 18th November Mr. Panter left Northam and scanned the remote parts of the district. He returned on 7th December with specimens. A meeting was held at Northam in November, when it was decided to collect subscriptions; by 22nd January, 1862, £2,500 was obtained; the Government contributed an equal sum. The Government offered by proclamation £5,000 to the discoverer of a workable goldfield within a radius of 150 miles of the Perth Post Office. The reward was to be paid for the first 5,000 ounces obtained from quartz or alluvial, and shipped to Great Britain before 1st July, 1863. Quartz showing free gold was found just before this time about twenty-five or thirty miles from Northam, but singular to say the discoverers could not again locate the place.
Mr. E. H. Hargraves, the noted New South Wales prospector, now wrote the Colonial Secretary, Mr. Barlee, offering to search in every settled portion of Western Australia for six months, or longer if necessary, in consideration of the Government paying him £500 and reasonable travelling expenses. The letter was laid before the Legislative Council on 3rd June, 1862, and the offer was accepted. Mr. Hargraves arrived in the colony later in the year, and examined the country from Albany to Northam and the Darling Ranges. He reported unfavourably, and termed Western Australia a trap country where gold could only exist in small quantities. He expressed, however, a high opinion of the lead and copper mines. On 11th January, 1864, he contributed a paper to the Royal Geographical Society in London "On the Non-Auriferous character of the Rocks of Western Australia." He affirmed that while the colony was rich in copper and iron it contained very little gold. A sample of local quartz, assayed at the Sydney mint in 1864, gave 5 dwts. 17 grains of gold to the ton.
Meanwhile, from the north-west at Camden Harbour and from the east at Hampton Plains reports were circulated of the presence of gold-bearing stone. We have already seen with what hope a search for gold was made at Camden Harbor, at the instigation of a convict. The specimens gathered by Mr. Hunt at Hampton Plains were submitted to the Rev. Clarke, of Sydney, in 1866. In a long and elaborate report he says no word of gold, but describes one specimen as "cavernous quartz, part of a vein, probably from granite." Undoubtedly this specimen was obtained within the area of the present eastern goldfields. Had Mr. Hunt but chanced upon certain glistening outcrops only a few miles from his track—as subsequent travellers did—the consequences to Western Australia would have been inestimable.
The Victorian Goldfields attracted large numbers of people from the colony in 1861-8. The intercolonial boats, and particularly the mail steamers, demanded certificates of freedom from every applicant for a passage, so as not to be prosecuted under the restrictive acts cf the eastern colonies. In 1864 the emigration was very serious, and it was suggested as a remedy that forced labour should not be allowed to compete with free, or that inducements in the form of small cheap blocks should be offered every free labourer. Nothing was done, and in some instances during this year agents of departing vessels had insufficient room to accommodate all the applicants. The total population of Western Australia in 1861 was 15,691, and in 1868, 22,733, made up of 14,539 males and 8,194 females.
The administration of Governor Hampton is significant for an important change—the inauguration of a semi-elective form of government. When it became known that the transportation of convicts was to cease, colonists considered that they were justified in asking to be allowed to elect representatives to the Legislative Council. They now averred that for some years such a change had been incompatible with the contingencies of transportation, under which the Governor must have dominant and sole control over public affairs and over dwellers in the colony. It would have been invidious to seek control where the Imperial Government had been so closely interested. But now that no more convicts were to be introduced it was conceived as opportune to ask for the favour which had been refused them for so many years. Local affairs had obtained such a momentum that the public deemed it only just that they should obtain at least a limited system of autonomy when the sister colonies were in possession of the boon. It was sometimes esteemed a slight that they as Britishers were not allowed to govern themselves, which was as much, indeed, as to say that they were not capable of doing so. Earl Grey wrote prior to 1850 that Western Australians might obtain the form of government possessed by New South Wales when they were strong enough to dispense with a parliamentary vote and able to bear the whole expenses of their civil government. At that time he was studying the big question of colonial government, and, after numerous difficulties, carried through the Imperial Parliament in 1850-1 the Australian Colonies Government Bill, by which other colonies obtained a certain form of representative government. Western Australia was beyond the pale of the provisions from a financial point of view, so that the withholding of the privilege from her in nowise impeached the wisdom and intelligence of the people. It was, however, promised that when the inhabitants petitioned for the New South Wales form of government and were rich enough to meet the charges hitherto covered by the parliamentary grant, they would obtain the privilege.
A meeting was held in Perth on 21st February, 1865, and about sixty persons, presided over by the Sheriff, Mr. A. Hillman, appointed a committee to draft a petition for presentation to the Governor and the Legislative Council. The petition, which was signed by 1,303 colonists purporting to be landholders, was presented to the Legislative Council in June, and formally asked, under the Imperial Act, for the establishment of representative government. Mr. Samson, who presented the petition, moved that it be read in a forlorn speech wherein he accused the non-official members of want of independence and of being lukewarm. Governor Hampton deemed it necessary to repeatedly call him to order. Mr. Hardey, while not in favour of the petition, seconded the motion that it be read. A committee, consisting of Colonial Secretary Barlee, Attorney-General Stone, Commandant Bruce, and Mr. Samson, was appointed to report on the document and its prayer. These gentlemen subjected the signatures to a searching scrutiny, and struck out 150 as being of persons unknown, of ticket-of-leave men, or of persons not in actual occupation of a house. This left 1,153, of whom 255 were declared to be expiree men, and thus they set forth in the report that the petition was signed by 898 householders who had always been free. The Imperial Act (13 and 14 Vic. c59) giving constitutions to the colonies recited that, upon the petition of one-third of the householders in the colony, it would be lawful for the Legislative Council to pass an ordinance to establish a Council, to consist of one-third nominee and two-thirds elective members, and to make the necessary regulations for the duly carrying out of the Imperial Act. The Committee found that the requisite number of signatures was contained in the petition even to 230 in excess, and it remained with the Legislative Council to do its work.
The councillors, while willing to introduce a more popular element, would not go the full lengths permitted them by the Act. Mr. Hardey moved, and Colonel Bruce seconded, an amendment to the petition that the constitution of the Council be improved by the addition of two non-official members to the existing four, and that the six be nominated for three years only, instead of for life. This amendment, which made no mention of an elective Council and really negatived the petition, was a blow to the advance party, and Mr. Samson was the only member who voted against it. Mr. Barlee, the Colonial Secretary, made a sympathetic speech in favour of the petition, but refrained from voting. Mr. Samson handed to the Council a written protest against the right and authority of the Legislative Council to negative the prayer of the petitioners, declaring that it was incumbent, according to the Act, on the members to support the petition. Continuing, he recorded that the wording of the Act made it imperative, not discretionary, on the part of the Council to adopt the wishes of the people, especially as no counter-petition had been presented. If, he affirmed, the Council had power to reject a petition signed by one-third of the householders, they might reject a similar petition signed by every householder in the colony. Mr. Hamersley now resigned his seat, and Messrs. Samson and Hardey placed a discretionary resignation in the hands of the Governor.
Another petition was circulated in September upholding Mr. Hardey, the compilers of which, however, weakly proclaimed, in regard to the six non-official members, that they should "very much prefer" that they be elected by the people. For a time public opinion was divided. On 12th October a meeting was held at the Court House, Geraldton, when, on the motion of Messrs. Du Boulay and L. Burges, a resolution was carried protesting against the Council's rejection of the people's petition. Another petition was proposed, and by 1866 it seemed that a more general enthusiasm was awakened in favour of an elective Council. Governor Hampton, during the debate on the petition, did not express any opinion one way or other, but, in his despatch of 21st July, 1865, after giving a brief history of the memorial and explaining that he carefully abstained from any interference, he concluded by saying that he had "reason to believe" that a large majority of colonists would vote against the proposal. In a second despatch, dated 22nd August, 1865, however, he declares:—"I am convinced that it will be impossible to arrest the progress of the movement unless some concession is now made." Then on 21st December, 1865, he forwarded the original memorial, and observed:"–Such a change, to me, seems to be very immaterial, seeing that, to whatever extent I might be allowed any voice in the matter, I should endeavour to nominate the persons most acceptable to the free inhabitants generally, and fairly representing every interest throughout the colony—a very difficult task which I would gladly see delegated to the electors.
Mr. Cardwell, the Secretary for the Colonies, pigeon-holed the documents until he left office, and his dilatoriness was resented by colonists with some impetuosity. Governor Hampton was openly blamed for this inaction, and accused of suppressing the salient points of the petition, of omitting all mention of Mr. Samson's protest, and of numerous other things usually uttered in times of excitement. But the Governor considered that he was innocent, and therefore bore the calumnies in silence.
The long looked for despatch was received on 13th September, 1867. Under date of 9th July of that year, the new Secretary for the Colonies, the Duke of Buckingham, signified Her Majesty's assent to the proposal which had been "made by the Legislative Council," that non-official members equal in number to the official be appointed for a period of three years. Mr. Samson's protest was completely ignored, nor was any mention made of the petition. The Fremantle Herald hotly attacked the Governor and his satellites, and held up to reprobation the "trickery" by which the Home Government was led to reject the householders' petition. The Inquirer, however, considered the Secretary for the Colonies had made an important concession, and, as was common among the half-hearted section of the community, pointed the finger of disdain to the eastern colonies, where, since the establishment of autonomy, public money had been wasted, imprudent debts contracted, and important interests disorganised, through strife of party, political stubbornness, and abuse of office.
A month later, on 14th October, a public meeting was held in Perth, presided over by Mr. A. Hillman, the Sheriff. Mr. S. Leake read extracts from several of Governor Hampton's despatches, and Mr Carr moved that as the change assented to by the Secretary for the Colonies was an improvement on the old system, it be accepted. Mr. Brockman submitted an amendment that colonists had not been fairly dealt with, and that the meeting decline to accept any alteration unaccompanied by the elective franchise. Mr. Carr's resolution was accepted. Mr. Bickley then carried a motion affirming that colonists should be allowed to select the non-official members, and a committee was appointed to carry out the objects of the meeting, the members of which were L. S. Leake, C. A. Manning, R. King, T. Fawcett, E. Newman, S. A. Barker, A. Francisco, S.S. Parker, J. Drummond, S. Burges, T. Burges, J. G. Lee-Steere, F. Lochee, P. Clifton, T. C. Gull, E Stirling, J. T. Cooke, W. Padbury, E. Birch, H. Saw, G. Glyde, B. Mason, J. T. Reilly, J. Hardey, T. Farrelly, B. B. Ranford, J. G. C. Carr, R. De Burgh, G. Shenton, W. D. Moore, and G. Johnson. The committee met on 19th October, and forwarded copies of the resolutions to the Colonial Secretary, and requested the Governor to favour them with suggestions for their guidance. A reply was read at another meeting on 22nd October. The Governor supported the movement, and hoped colonists would nominate six gentlemen pledged to perform all the duties of members of the Legislature. A circular letter was then sent to representative gentlemen in different districts, asking for their co-operation.
As it was necessary to choose representatives as early as possible, in order that the names might be submitted to the Governor and the Secretary for the Colonies, arrangements were quickly completed to take advantage of Governor Hampton's permission. The colony was divided into six electoral districts—Champion Bay, Eastern District, Guildford and the Swan, Perth, Fremantle, and the Murray. The Government rendered assistance, and it was decided that all male adults, except ticket-of-leave men, should have the right of voting by ballot; no proxies were permitted. The Perth election was held on 11th November, and at 2 p.m. the Sheriff took the chair in the Court House. The balloting closed at 5 o'clock, and at 5.30 the Sheriff declared the results to be:—J. G. C. Carr, 185 votes; W. Padbury, 68; L. S. Leake, 52. On 18th November Fremantle was gaily decorated with flags on the occasion of the election, and the town was unusually excited. When the votes were counted, W. Bateman was found to lead, with 209; E. C. Newman next, with 112; C. A. Manning, 99; and R. King, 2. At Guildford, on 2nd December, some commotion was apparent:—W. L. Brockman, 87 votes; T. C. Gull, 60; R. De Burgh, 10; and J. W. Hardey, 4. Party spirit ran high at Bunbury (Murray district); canvassers on horseback met voters coming into town. The elections were held in the Wellington Hotel on 5th December:—J. G. Lee-Steere, 182; D. Eadie, 98; and Captain Fawcett, 29. The balloting was keen in the Eastern district, which included such important centres as York, Northam, and Newcastle. The returns were:—E. Hamersley, 433; S. P. Phillips, 398; and S. E. Burges, 37. The Champion Bay people disdainfully refused to accept the "Governor's gracious privilege," and had no election. Governor Hampton was therefore compelled to nominate a sixth representative, and retaliated by choosing J. W. Hardey, whose opposition to the 1865 petition had rendered him unpopular.
The names of Messrs. Carr, Bateman, Brockman, Lee-Steere, Hamersley, and Hardey were submitted to the Secretary for the Colonies for his approval, and on 7th July, 1868, an Order-in-Council was passed constituting them members of the Western Australian Legislative Council for three years. One important reason why colonists so readily accepted this irresponsible method of electing representatives was the conviction that with the new members any future petition for Representative Government would receive better treatment from the Legislative Council than was granted in 1865. They wasted no time in leading up to this point. At a meeting held in Perth on 21st February, 1868, with Mr. Lee-Steere in the chair, on the motion of Mr. S. P. Phillips and Mr. A. Shenton, a resolution was carried, affirming the expediency of taking immediate steps to procure the establishment of Representative Government, and proposing that a petition be presented to the Legislative Council for that purpose at its next sitting. Messrs. S. Burges, Lee-Steere, Samson, Phillips, Padbury, Bickley, Birch, and A. Shenton all signified their earnest approval of taking what Mr. S. E. Burges termed "decided and well directed action" to have the memorial widely signed, and of great weight. A committee was unanimously appointed to further the project, and a resolution carried requesting Mr. Lee-Steere to introduce the memorial into the Legislative Council. A petition was drawn up and circulated.
But Governor Hampton, evidently impressed by the trend of public opinion, partly forestalled the petition. When submitting to the Secretary for the Colonies the names of the six gentlemen elected for nomination to the Council, in his despatch of 27th December, 1867, he recommended that at the end of the first term of three years, half the Council be elected, the other half consist of official members, and that the Governor have a casting vote. The Secretary of State, on 27th March, 1868, gave his approval, but required that the electoral divisions and franchise proposed should be described to him before any provisionary measure was introduced into the Western Australian Council. Before they knew that such a proposal had been advanced by the Governor, it was announced to the people in May, 1868, that in three years' time they would be allowed to directly elect their representatives to the Council. Some demur was made even to this privilege, for with an evenly-balanced House of official and elective members the Governor would, in the event of equal voting on any measure, have the casting vote. The petition went its way through the colony. Thus the matter stood at the end of 1868. The new Legislative Council met on 20th July, 1868.
Governor Hampton's tenure of office closed in November, 1868, when he left the colony. His administration was latterly somewhat stormy; but, nevertheless, he was able to confer numerous substantial benefits on the colony, memorials of which, in public buildings and roads, exist to this day. Western Australians, in debate or agitation, could say many bitter things, and they fully believed they were justified in saying them, yet they generally knew how to appreciate those who did them service. As early as August, 1867, a memorial was transferred to the Secretary for the Colonies signed by hundreds of persons, praying for the continuance of Governor Hampton's term of office. The heads of the Civil and Military Departments, followed by a long string of carriages, escorted him to Fremantle, on 2nd November, 1868, where a demonstrative farewelling was made. Several addresses were presented in Perth and Fremantle, and the departing Governor embarked under a salute of seventeen guns. Lieutenant-Colonel Bruce, the Commandant, was sworn in as Acting Governor.
Mr. O'Grady Lefroy, in 1863, paid a two years' visit to England, a release from duty which he richly deserved. In his absence Mr. Frederick Dirck Wittenoom, and then Mr. W.H. Knight, sen. (who, in 1861, was appointed Registrar of Deeds and Registrar-General), became Acting Collector of Revenue. The other official changes were few. The Legislative Council and Executive Council memberships were practically the same as in 1860, except for the resignation in 1865 of Mr. E. Hamersley. In 1861, Mr. J. Harris, of Toodyay, became Resident Magistrate of Augusta and the Vasse, and Mr. Durlachie succeeded him at Toodyay. Mr. Yule, P.M., for thirty years a Western Australian colonist, left for England in January, 1862. His services as a magistrate were for some time greatly missed. He died in November, 1868.
The record of death in 1861 is dismal, and each year witnessed the demise of pioneers who fought side by side against dispiriting odds. Mr. Marshall Waller Clifton died on the 10th April, 1861, at his residence, Upton House, Australind. The historical narrative mentions his name too often to call for detailed recapitulation here. The sudden change from high official positions under the Imperial Government in England to the precarious incidents of colonial life did not dismay this strong-minded man. After the failure of the Australind settlement, Mr. Clifton closely associated himself with the aspirations of the colony. He took up his residence within the old town site of Australind, at a charming point overlooking the wide expanse of estuary and the dark-ridged sandhills opposite. Near the beach he planted one of the finest gardens in Western Australia, notable for a splendid avenue of clustering vines—his peculiar care. A phenomenal rise of the tide cast the estuary waters over the orchard and destroyed it. In the Legislative Council Mr. Clifton was a zealous advocate for settlers' rights. He was seventy-three years of age at his death, and was buried near his colonial home. The other deaths in 1861 were—Mr. John Allnut, sen., at Australind, on 8th March, a devoted religionist; Mr. Isaac Wood, on 17th July, chief clerk of the Bank of Western Australia; and Mr. P.G. Meares, at Auburn, in August, a pioneer among the first and best.
Mr. Meares' brother, Captain Richard Meares, did not long survive him. On 9th January, 1862, he died at Auburn, York, in his eighty-first year. Captain Meares joined a cavalry corps in 1795, served in the 2nd Life Guards from 1809 to 1818, and fought in the battles of Vittoria, Toulouse, and Waterloo. He was an enterprising, determined colonist, and for many years filled the office of Government Resident at York. The kindness, simplicity, and truthfulness of Captain Meares' character made him respected. On 28th February, 1862, John Smith, late Colour-Sergeant of the 21st Regiment, who arrived in Western Australia in 1833, died at Perth. Lieutenant W. Shaw, J.P., late of the Rifle Brigade, died at Belvoir, Upper Swan, on 5th May, 1862. Since 1830 this gentleman had fought in the turmoil of a settler's life. Still another well-known south-western pioneer succumbed in 1862. On 13th January, Mr. James Edward Turner, aged eighty-three years, died at his residence in Perth. He was an excellent example of a pioneer, and one worthy of emulation—ingenuous, active, industrious, temperate, and prudent.
The revered botanist and Parmelia pioneer, Mr. James Drummond, died at Toodyay on 27th March, 1863, aged seventy-nine years. Few such enthusiastic men of science as Mr. Drummond could have been found to do such long, unostentatious, unremunerative service for a young colony. He devoted himself to the public service without salary. He traversed immense stretches—north, east, south-east, and south—in the interests of his branch of science—botany. He was able to glean a mass of information, useful not only for pastoralists and agriculturists in the colony, but for the furtherance of the botanical knowledge of the world. For some years he was in correspondence with illustrious English botanists, and his monetary reward was tardy and totally inadequate. While he was performing such splendid labour his personal interests were overlooked. No settler's name merits perpetuation more than Mr. Drummond's.
Other old colonists soon followed in 1863. Mr. Richard Morrell, at Northam, on 23rd April; Mr. Robt. Draper, aged seventy-four years, at Yangedine, on 4th July; Mr. Thos. Brown, old settler, Government Resident at Geraldton, and an earnest worker for public good, at Geraldton, on 5th July; Mr. Lionel Lukin, magistrate and prominent settler, at Deepdale, Toodyay, on 22nd July; and Mr. Gavin Forrest, at Busselton, on 4th August. Mr. Frederick Dirck Wittenoom, son of the Rev. J.B. Wittenoom, succumbed at Perth, on 28th October, 1863. This gentleman joined his father in the colony, and in 1840 entered the Public Service as a clerk in the Surveyor-General's office. He was afterwards appointed Guardian of Juvenile Immigrants, and subsequently Sheriff. When Mr. O'Grady Lefroy left for England in January, 1863, he became Acting Colonial Treasurer, with a seat in the Executive and Legislative Councils, positions which he filled until his death. Mr. Wittenoom possessed an amiable, a charitable, and an unobtrusive disposition.
The Resident Magistrate at Pinjarra, Mr. D.S. Murray, died in that district on 3rd February, 1864, and Captain Daniel Scott died at Fremantle on 20th February, 1865. The latter gentleman arrived in the colony in 1829, and succeeded Captain Currie as harbourmaster at Fremantle, holding that appointment for upwards of twenty years. Captain Scott was a fearless investor, both in buildings and mining. A pioneer miner on the Murchison, Mr. Joseph L. Horrocks, died, aged sixty years, at the Wanerenooka mine on 7th October, 1865. Mr. T. B. Wall, aged seventy-one years, of York, and Mr. Robert Powis, aged eighty-seven years, of Perth, both old colonists, died in October, 1865. Mr. William Edwards, aged seventy-three years, formerly of the 96th Regiment, and an old pioneer died at Beverley on 28th October, 1865.
The year 1866 was as fatal to pioneers as the preceding years, among the deaths being, on 19th March, at Albany, Mr. Henry L. Cole, aged fifty-nine years, a pioneer of 1829; on 9th April, at Fremantle, Mr. Wm. Pearse, aged fifty-eight years, a pioneer of 1830; on 12th May, at Carrolin, near York, the worthy Mr. John Gregory, aged seventy-two years, a pioneer of 1830; on 16th April, at Busselton, Mr. J. Herring, aged eighty-seven years, a pioneer of 1830; on 10th July, Mr Chas. Wittenoom, son of Rev. J.B. Wittenoom; on 22nd July, at Bunbury, Mr. James Everett; on 7th December, at Perth, Mr. McBryde Brown, late registrar of the Convict Department, and son of Mr. Peter Brown; and on 13th December, at Perth, Mr. W. Shenton, aged sixty-one years.
The western coast proved fatal to the Shenton family. In 1842 Mr. W.K. Shenton was drowned while proceeding from Fremantle to Bunbury in the schooner Devonshire. In March, 1867, Mr. G. Shenton was wrecked and drowned in the schooner Lass of Geraldton, from Fremantle, also bound for Bunbury. The vessel was capsized in a hurricane, and the crew of five men and the two passengers were lost, with the exception of the captain and a lascar. Mr. Shenton reached the colony in January, 1833, and associated himself with business pursuits. He was one of the most enthusiastic believers in the richness of the Victoria district, and rendered considerable monetary assistance to its graziers and farmers. The news of this catastrophe was received with sorrow.
Lieutenant-Colonel John Molloy, late of the Rifle Brigade, died at the Vasse on the 6th October, 1867, at the age of eighty-seven years. Since the foundation of Augusta in 1830 until March, 1861, Colonel Molloy had been its Resident Magistrate, with jurisdiction over the Vasse. His civil career was as distinguished as his military, and with the Bussell family, his name is indissoluble with early south-western history. Amid privations and discouragements, and the hundreds of contrary forces inseparable from early colonisation, he showed martial courage.
Another enterprising early settler died in 1867 in the person of Mr. J.H. Monger, on 12th November, at Perth. Mr. Monger on the Swan and at York succeeded in winning a respected position. On 19th May 1868, Mr. George Hayson, a large employer of labour, died at Perth; and on 14th May Mr. Walter Jones, aged ninety-one years, a pioneer of 1829, succumbed at Guildford. This large list shows how rapidly the older men were disappearing.
In 1861 an ordinance passed the Legislative Council providing for the organisation of a volunteer force. By September a company of sixty-four men was organised in Perth, another of seventy men at Fremantle, another at Guildford, and another at Pinjarra. At about the same time a corps was established at the Vasse, and one at York. Great interest was manifested in the new movement.
A money order office was opened for the first time in the colony in February, 1862; the maximum for orders was fixed at £10, and the minimum at 10s., issued at the rate of 4d. per £1, or a fraction thereof. Under an ordinance passed on 24th June, 1863, the Post Office Savings Bank was established on 1st September, 1863. The new institution was a great success, and within ten days held sixty-four deposits aggregating £680.
The Perth Benefit Building, Investment and Swan Society was established on 17th October, 1862. Shares to the value of nearly £6,000 were subscribed for at the first meeting. The first directors elected were Messrs. G.F. Stone (president), M. Dyett, R. Jewell, M. Smith, T. Farrelly, G. Glyde, W. Ryan, J. Farmanar, H.A.B. Middleton, B. Mason, E. Birch, and T. Almond; Mr. J. T. Reilly was first secretary.
Efforts were made in 1860–1 to establish in Western Australia a sanatorium for Indian troops. While in London Mr. J.S. Roe gave evidence before a Royal Commission appointed to fix upon a suitable site.
The Masonic body had been for some years established in Western Australia, and in March, 1861, the Government granted the fraternity a site adjoining the Mechanics' Institute for the purpose of erecting a hall. This structure was completed in 1867, and dedicated on 1st May amid demonstration.
In 1867 there were twenty-two churches and chapels in the colony; the cost of their maintenance being estimated at £2,624. The Bishop's School building was improved in 1861, but the institution proved a heavy burden on the Bishop. In 1862 a church was erected by the Anglican denomination at Geraldton, and on 16th February, 1864, the Cathedral at Perth was enlarged, and the new part consecrated. In January, 1863, Dean Pownall left the colony after ten years' service.
A Wesleyan Church, of early English architecture, was in course of erection in Perth, the foundation-stone of which was laid by Governor Hampton on 24th October, 1867.
The Catholic Cathedral in Victoria Square was completed in 1863, and in September, 1864, the Trinity Congregational Church in St. George's Terrace was opened; the structure cost £1,000. In 1867 there were forty-three public schools in the colony, the cost of maintaining which was £2,982. A new weekly journal—the Western Australian Times—was published in 1863.
Mention has already been made of some disastrous wrecks in 1861-8. Unfortunately they do not complete the list. On 14th June, 1861, the American barque Cochituate was wrecked on the Abrolhos Islands. The master and crew landed south of Champion Bay, and wandered about the country for fourteen days before they were rescued. They were reduced to a state of starvation, when a party of police, who had been informed of the disaster, found and gave them food and clothing, and conveyed them to Perth. The entire party was maintained at the public expense until an opportunity arose to ship them to the United States. The authorities received cordial thanks from the United States Government. In June, 1868, during heavy gales, the Emily at Port Irwin, the Albatross at Geraldton, and the Northumberland at Bluff Point were wrecked, and seven lives lost. In June, 1867, by the capsizing of a boat at Fremantle, five men were drowned, and among them Captain James Harding, the harbourmaster at Fremantle.
In June and July, 1862, tremendous floods occurred in different parts of the colony. On 6th July the road at the foot of Mount Eliza was covered by two feet of storm waters, and the low lands about Perth were inundated. Most of the gardens along the banks of the Swan at Perth were submerged. The jetty was under water. At York, where buildings were demolished on the 5th, the people floated on rafts down the streets, and at Toodyay, Northam, Bunbury, Champion Bay, and North Fremantle, sites believed to be above the reach of the highest floods were covered. The damage to roads, bridges, and private property was estimated at about £30,000. Several lives were lost, amongst them that of Lieutenant Oliver, of the 12th Regiment, who, while crossing the bridge at the Causeway, Perth, had his horse carried away. The horse swam ashore, but Lieutenant Oliver sank beneath the flood. This was the greatest flood since 1830.
A few murders by natives have already been chronicled for 1861-8. The white man was strong and the black weak, and the question was soon settled. By opening up the north-west country new and determined tribes of aborigines were encountered, whose subjugation, owing to the immense and, in some places inaccessible, area, was difficult and protracted. The native schools, while superintended by earnest, patient teachers, were not successful, and the aborigines in the old settled districts were quickly disappearing under the unuttered death sentence passed by settlement. The prison at Rottnest at this time had annually from fifty to one hundred inmates; white law was pitiless, and pursued its way in the punishment of crime irrespective of circumstances and persons.
In January, 1862, two natives were executed for spearing Charles Story, a shepherd in the employ of Mr. Hassel, at Albany. Joseph Hesketh, a farm servant at Marbalup, took to wife a native girl. After a time she returned to her tribe, but Hesketh induced her to again join him. Her friends followed the pair, and speared Hesketh to death. In February several blacks destroyed numerous sheep owned by Mr. J. S. Davis, in the Victoria district. They surrounded the shepherds, dared them to move, watched them for some time, nearly starved them, and then went away as if satisfied. Eleven of them were arrested and sent to Rottnest. In February, 1864, a shepherd employed by Mr. Davis shot a native's dog, which had been worrying sheep. The native and his friends watched and speared the shepherd. Several of them were arrested after a severe and dangerous straggle. In September, 1864, blacks made a raid on Mr. Gray's station in the Victoria district, and in the same month eight blacks speared a shepherd named Bott on Mr. Jas. Rudd's station, at Bundeen, on the Upper Irwin. Five of them were hung. In October, Mr. Rudd himself was brutally murdered near the same spot. Four natives were hung in 1865 for killing two of their countrymen.
The incidents of the next murder are full of pathos. On the evening of 31st July, 1865, several natives appeared on Mr. Edward Clarkson's station, eighty miles east of Newcastle. One of them cast a spear at Mr. Clarkson, which entered his side and penetrated nine inches upward towards his shoulder. David Hacket, the hut-keeper, a brave lad, only thirteen years old, seized a gun, and the natives took to their heels. With the boy's help Mr. Clarkson managed to get to his hut, where he passed a night of suffering. Next morning he sent David out to look for sheep, but before the lad's return—two or three hours later—the murderers had again been to the hut. As David approached he saw them torturing the squatter by thrusting spears into his arms, hands, and legs. At sight of the lad the cowardly blacks ran away. The young hero nursed Mr. Clarkson through days of agony, until the 5th August, when he expired. Then, covering up the body and securing the hut, David took the gun and made a solitary and dangerous journey through the bush to the house of Mr. Dempster, scores of miles away. Mr. Clarkson's remains were taken to Newcastle to be buried. A subscription for the courageous and faithful lad was raised and deposited in the Savings Bank.
The police went out to apprehend the murderers. In January, 1866, Ngowee, after being tried and convicted, was hung at the station. In April another native was hung there, and still another in May. Their bodies were left suspended as a terrible warning. In April two men were killed by natives on an island in Sharks Bay.