History of West Australia/Chapter 8
EXPLORATION; SOCIAL CONDITION; ABOLITION
OF LAND GRANT SYSTEM.
GREAT DOMAIN UNKNOWN—BANNISTER AFTER GREAT DIFFICULTY REACHES KING GEORGE'S SOUND OVERLAND FROM SWAN RIVER—KING GEORGE'S SOUND TAKEN OVER BY WESTERN AUSTRALIA—W.K. SHENTON AND OTHERS GO TO LESCHENAULT—JOHN DEWAR AND ANDREW SMITH WALK FROM AUGUSTA T0 SWAN RIVER—PARTY EXAMINE SOUTHERN COAST IN WHALE-BOAT LOSING WHICH THEY PROCEED ALONG THE BEACH TO AUGUSTA THENCE TO SWAN RIVER—DR. COLLIE'S EXPLORATIONS IN NEIGHBOURHOOD OF KING GEORGE'S SOUND—SETTLERS ON SWAN RIVER—STIRLING'S DESPATCH—IRREGULAR FOOD SUPPLIES—SATISFACTORY GROWTH OF VEGETABLES—HUNTING—RESULTS 0F HARVEST AND AREA CULTIVATED-EXPECT STORMS—WANT OF LIVE STOCK—PROPOSED MEMORIAL TO ENGLISH GOVERNMENT—AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY ESTABLISHED—BRICK HOUSES—PROGRESS AT GUILDFORD AND UPPER SWAN—KELMSCOTT, KINGSTON AND ALBANY ESTABLISHED—ALLOTMENTS DISTRIBUTED AT AUGUSTA—FREMANTLE AND BOATS—LIFE OF SETTLERS, VISITING, HOSPITALITY, EFFECTS OF SECLUSION, A BARRISTER GOING TO MARKET—CHURCHES—LITERARY SOCIETY AND HOSPITAL ESTABLISHED—NEWSPAPERS AND A BOOK—FIRST GOVERNOR'S BALL—THE NATIVES, MURDERS AND DEPREDATIONS—EXPEDITION TO SETTLE THE AVON AND YORK—DISCOVERY OF TOODYAY VALLEY BY DALE—THE CAUSES OF DEPRESSION—EVIL EFFECTS OF LAND GRANT SYSTEM, ETC.—OTHER REGULATIONS ISSUED—SALE OF CROWN LANDS.
ALL the isolated settlements in Western Australia in 1830 were formed near the coast. Any fears of French aggression held in earlier years were now forgotten, and, as far as was known, the most fertile coastal country was occupied by remote bands of settlers, so that little opening existed for foreign people to colonise without going the lengths of deliberate warfare. Hitherto comparatively nothing was known of that huge domain which was denominated Western Australia. Men had gone in a few miles from the coast, but they were ignorant of what the long ranges of hills and the unmeasured plains concealed. The primal obscurity still held these in thrall. Dale slightly illuminated the darkness by his explorations to the Avon Valley, and when the excitement engendered by his discoveries subsided, the thoughts of settlers and the administration led them towards their great undiscovered land. Paths must be found from the central settlement at Swan River overland to those along the coast. Speculation was general as to what description of country intervened, and one and all advocated the equipment of expeditions to reveal the mysteries of woodland, hill, and plain. The first few years were, indeed, more distinguished for exploration than for the development of the resources the colony possessed at Swan River and the other settlements. It has been inferred that the system of free selection of large grants had much to do with this.
Late in 1830 Lieut.-Governor Stirling determined to have the country between Swan River and King George's Sound explored. An immense distance had to be traversed, but so free were these lands already known to be of sanguinary enemies—men or beasts—that it was not considered necessary to equip a powerful party. Men were needed of strong frames and of a knowledge of bushcraft, who were able to pick their way through hundreds of miles of possible dense woods and sandy deserts to King George's Sound. Captain Thomas Bannister, who was attached to the military establishment, and had taken up some grants of land, was entrusted with the command, and under him were Mr. Smythe (of the Surveyor-General's Department, who was expected to specially guide the party), John Gringer, and John Galway.
On 14th December, 1830, Captain Bannister and his companions left Fremantle. The Darling Ranges were crossed at a more southerly point than the routes taken over the hills by other explorers. The usual fine jarrah, then called mahogany, mounted the summits, or shaded the glens, and intensified the rugged appearance of the hills. Ironstone, gravel, and scrub generally lay upon the uplands, but in the quiet valleys and on the shaded slopes were good pasture lands. The eastern side of the range was reached on the evening of the 18th. From their encampment they could see a hilly, though lower, country stretched before them, and the leaders decided to take a south-east course in the hopes of entering the southern extremities of those extensive plains which Mr. Dale and others had reported on to the northward. They went forward, but though they travelled in that direction until the 23rd December, they did not enter the same fertile plains they had hoped for. There were tracts of excellent land containing good food for stock, yet not equal to what Dale stated to exist farther north. Captain Bannister, after closely examining this country, believed there would be found considerable available land to the west and east, whence the water-courses generally trailed. The mahogany timber was now interspersed with blue and red gums, which in their turn were superseded by white gums in the valleys, and by banksias and ti-trees in the swamps and low lands.
A south by east route was pursued from the 23rd December to the 5th January, amid delightful scenery. Their task was a difficult one, their exertions severe, their seclusion complete; but the nature of the country so pleased the explorers that they thought little of these things. Their way undulated over rich land, and the dull feeling of mind which mere flat country engenders was destroyed by gradually rising hills, crowned with granite, pudding-stone rocks, and bluestone. Broad flat lands and valleys, many miles in extent, moderately wooded and grassed, lay round them. Their expectations of finding good country were exceeded, for "a very great portion of this tract was land of the finest description, fit for the plough, sheep, or cattle;" and, continues Captain Bannister, "the beauty of the scenery near to, and distant from, the rivers which we crossed, is equal to any I have seen in the most cultivated timbered country in those parts of Europe which I have happened to pass through." Five rivers were passed in this march of eighty or ninety miles, and numerous small water-courses. Excursions were made in different directions, from points where they were compelled to bivouac for some days to rest the horses. Sufficient water was obtained almost throughout the whole route. Mahogany trees embellished the high and ragged lands, and among them were the white and red gums. The herbage was green; even then in the midst of summer, a circumstance probably due to rain after bush fires, evidences of the latter being plainly discernible. The white and the red gums crowned the moderately high hills, and nut trees, blue gum, and wattle were gathered near the rivers, while nearer still were the ti-tree and banksia. Some parts of the country possessed no more trees than were necessary for ornament.
It is, unfortunately, not possible to give the exact route taken by Bannister, as his report to the Surveyor-General mentions no names of places until King George's Sound was approached. The route certainly lay west of the old Albany road, and the present Great Southern Railway line in the earlier part of the journey, but later the party must have approached near to those highways. Mr. Smythe judged from his observations on the 5th January that the travellers were then east of King George's Sound, and it was deemed advisable to turn more to the west. Seeing elevated lands to the S.W. they proceeded to them, but upon ascending the highest peak they descried an uninteresting view. Thence they went south for four days, making only forty miles. They were now entered on mountainous country, containing a thick underwood, and though the way was picturesque enough, it demanded great labour to traverse, and gave no view of an outlet. Hidden as they were in these unwelcome thickets and among high hills, where no civilised man had been before, they naturally became exceedingly anxious. During the next thirty-six hours they accomplished over sixteen miles in a south-west direction, where they came upon large granite rocks. Climbing these to gather some conception of neighbouring country, they saw high mountains southwards, three of which were conical and of considerable altitude. One of them, possessing "two bare heads," Mr. Smythe reckoned lay north of King George's Sound. They therefore directed their steps towards it, and camped for the night upon the banks of a large river flowing south. Their position was now dispiriting, and when the twin-headed mountain was reached on 12th January, Captain Bannister quickly scaled the altitude to see if any satisfactory landmark could be found. He was disappointed. As far as vision could go was one vast forest, and twenty to thirty miles distant in the south and south-west by west were high lands. In the intermediate country were occasional open valleys winding to the eastward between high hills.
The provisions of the party were nearly expended, and it was anxiously determined to make for the southern hills, hoping that directly behind them was the southern main. Through the haze they imagined they could see sand hills bearing south-west by west, and towards them they went. All that day and the next they kept their faces turned to these imagined sand hills, but though they travelled seventeen miles, they could not find them. Now believing himself far from King George's Sound, Captain Bannister turned disconsolately to the south, for considering that his provisions would not nearly last out, he wished to reach the ocean, where his party might subsist on shell-fish gleaned from the rocks. To depend on birds or kangaroos for food was very uncertain. Before long all the provisions were gone, except for a little tobacco, and enough tea to last for twelve days.
The travellers toiled through rough country until the 16th January, when they made the coast. For two days, by walking all day long, they had travelled only seven or eight miles. Nor were they yet relieved from their difficulties. Mr. Smythe's observations proved unreliable, which, he asserted, was caused by his not having a watch, and by his instruments being out of order. He now reckoned the position of the party to be forty-three miles west of King George's Sound, but it proved to be greater distance, for they were near Cape Chatham, west of Nornor-up, nine miles. The double-peaked mountain was the Mount Mitchell of Dr. Wilson. Bannister agreed with Wilson as to the fertility of much of the neighbouring country. The blue gums were of large dimensions, one which Bannister measured giving, breast high, a 42 feet circumference, and rising, "straight as the barrel of a gun," to 140 or 150 feet before a branch was projected.
Thenceforward for nineteen days the party endured great privations. The provisions gave out some days ere the coast reached, and this disaster occasioned poignant sufferings. For the nineteen days they subsisted on shell-fish, sometimes in meagre quantities, sometimes, when the surf was moderate, in plenty. Walking by the coast all day long they carefully searched for this food, and their quest caused much delay. Travelling was so rough that two horses died from exhaustion, and the men were in little better plight. Natives finally lent them a kindly aid, and showed them a native path along the coast to the Sound, where they arrived on the 4th February, nearly exhausted.
The pleasure felt by the explorers when they first sighted the settlement at King George's Sound was keen and relieving. Captain Barker (the commandant), the officers of the settlement, Dr. Davies (of the 89th), and Mr. Kent (of the Commissariat), received them with strong expressions of kindness and friendship, and extended the utmost hospitality to them while they rested from their labours and recovered their strength. Captain Bannister was much impressed with the country traversed from first to last, and wrote that even their disasters were conducive to good, since they travelled over country which otherwise would not have been explored for years to come. Consequently, "the fact of there being good land, even among these hills, wouldn't have been known to exist." He concluded his report with a very glowing panegyric. Thus-"From what I have written it will be concluded, and justly so, that there is a body of available land, with certain extensive tracts of the richest description, fit for the plough, sheep, or cattle, or indeed any cultivation, in the interior, commencing about twenty-five or thirty miles from King George's Sound, which, under a judicious system of colonisation, the main roads being made in the first instance by forced labour, would, in the course of a few years, become inhabited by thousands of industrious men, sent out by the parishes of England, Scotland, or Ireland, or brought out by individuals, bettering their condition as well as relieving their country. I have been induced to make this remark from the conviction that we can do nothing without the powerful aid of Government in our infancy. Like every young community, we must be nursed at first, which, though perhaps a little costly, will give rise to a good feeling towards our country, in those who follow us, which will last for ages."
Within a few weeks Bannister, accompanied by his companions, returned to Fremantle, where he was heartily welcomed, and where his report was eagerly read. The known estate of Western Australia was greatly enriched, but no immediate use could be made of the lands he visited owing to the insuperable difficulties of transport to so small a community. The settlement at King George's Sound changed hands a few weeks later. Towards the end of 1880 it was decided that the military and convict station should be replaced by men who should follow the peaceful pastoral and agricultural arts. The people of the Swan River Settlement prided themselves on being free by their constitution from that convictism which tainted the other Australian settlements, and they did not enjoy the thought that a band of convicts breathed the air of their untrammelled country. In consequence of this the military and convicts were withdrawn from King George's Sound by the New South Wales Government, and the settlement there was finally taken over by the Western Australian Government. According to Mr. H. Egerton Warburton, traces of military occupation remained at the Sound for many years. The "humble thatched buildings which formed the post were clustered about the neighbourhood of the present cricket ground." In front of the long low building occupied by the commandant, stood the flag-stall and "a pair o stocks—an institution which seems in those days to have accompanied the British in all their migrations." Other stocks were used in the town, and remained there as weatherbeaten, useless memorials, until a few years ago. Offices and buildings for the accommodation of the soldiers were gathered round. Near Strawberry Hill the convicts cleared some rich land of timber, and The Farm on the middle part of the hill, afterwards known as Strawberry Hill House, was erected by prison labour. The convicts performed other useful work at King George's Sound. But now free men went there, and, it must be said, eked out a precarious existence for some years.
A private expedition left the Swan River on 24th January, 1831, to further explore the Collie River. Mr. W. K. Shenton was the leader, and he was accompanied by such notable settlers as Messrs. Bryant, S. Henry, and Camfield. The party made the distance in a boat, and while passing down was nearly suffocated by smoke arising from huge bush-fires on Garden Island. Mr. Shenton described the conflagration as "grand" and "awful." Nothing new was discovered by this party, and their report of the immediate value of the Collie apparently retarded settlement there for some time.
Shortly after the celebrated exploits of Captain Bannister and party, the country between Augusta, Leschenault, and Swan River was traversed by pathfinders. John Dewar and Andrew Smith performed this feat with the least possible expense, and in a manner which suggests that they had a thorough acquaintance with bushcraft. They did not burden themselves with provisions, nor did they even possess a compass. Starting on the 15th March with 10lbs. of bread, 4lbs. of beef, one canteen of water (half a gallon), 4lbs. of sugar, ½lb. of tea, they crossed over the Conical Hills to the north, and then held to the sea throughout the whole distance. Each had a gun and ammunition. On the first day they marched some twenty-five miles, and camped at night by a fresh-water lake, surrounded by inferior land. They did not spare themselves in any way, but pushed onward as rapidly as their apparently vigorous strength would allow them. Before sunrise each morning they were pursuing their way, and sometimes they travelled even in the moonlight. On the second day they walked over a good class of land that had recently been burnt, probably by native fires. "Burns, or brooks," containing excellent water, were observed running to the sea. During the next two days they walked on the beach, and occasionally killed some sea-birds. The head with part of the body of a "sea-horse" was found on the beach, as also was a stranded whale. Projecting points blocked their progress on the third day whereupon they struck inland, only to return to the sea a little later. A deep bay was made, upon whose shore a heavy surge roared and beat over dark rocks. Here the explorers saw the jolly-boat and other parts of a ship named the Cumberland, which, evidently a whaler, had been wrecked in those parts. The land near the coast was observed to be superior, undulating into fine valleys, covered with a silky grass, and watered by capital springs. They considered this country to contain excellently-situated meadows, suitable for farms. About three miles from the Cumberland wreck a river, some 30 or 40 feet wide, obstructed their path; inland, it was wider still. Near the mouth, about forty yards from the sea, was a bar of naked sand, over which they walked. The prospect on the way was relieved by the rather picturesque blackboy, but the country soon became rough and rocky. On the sixth day out (Sunday) they reached and passed Cape Nauraliste. A single native accosted them, and after leading them to a spring of brackish water in a swamp, appeared not to wish to sever company with them. His subsequent attentions did not please the explorers, for he tried to elbow them off the rocks, an even to steal from them. Parallel with the coast from the Conical Hills to Cape Naturaliste was a low ridge of hills, which rose from a deep extensive valley, leading to in the east to a gentle ascent. Lofty fresh-looking gum and mahogany trees grew in the valley.
When by Cape Naturaliste the hardy men found that their provisions were finished, even though they had been on short allowance for two previous days. Until they reached Leschenault on the eighth day they ate nothing but "hottentot figs" and a sturgeon, which they killed with a ramrod. A raft was made, by which they crossed the rivers at Leschenault, and after searching, they found some provisions which had been left there by the Lieut.-Governor's party. The country traversed up to the Murray and Swan Rivers was already known, and Dewar and Smith accomplished the distance in safety. They were put to some suffering for want of fresh water, but obtained ample food by shooting birds and boiling periwinkles. The date of their arrival at Perth is not mentioned in the record, nor is their report to be wholly relied on.
His Majesty's ship Sulphur was still attached to the settlement, and while not anchored in Cockburn Sound, cruised round the coast. A wider knowledge was obtained of the bays and harbours in this way, especially those of the south-western and southern mains, near the settlements which had been formed. Early in 1831 the Sulphur was coasting in the south, and when near Ramé Point two officers and several men went off in a whale-boat to examine the coast. Ample provisions were taken in the boat. The country from Ramé Point to King George's Sound was fairly well known by the explorations of Captain Bannister and Dr. Wilson, but it was desired to closely search the bays and inlets from there to Augusta, and on to Swan River, for suitable ports and anchorages.
On 18th April the whale-boat left the Sulphur and stood in shore. A heavy land breeze and swell impeded its progress, and it was only after severe exertion that the men were able to round the Point. The further they went the more the wind and swells increased, and when nearing the shore its rocky surf-crowned front had small attraction for the mariners. Finally they found a large estuary, which they entered. Although the entrance was narrow, the estuary supplied an excellent anchorage for coastal vessels drawing 7 feet of water. Seas broke over a rock on the left shore, and a constant roar came off the whipped beach beyond. Some time was employed in cruising about this large estuary. Their larder was materially increased by the hospitality of natives met on the shore, who brought them broiled fish. The reception of the explorers on this and previous expeditions by the natives was most friendly, and shows the encouragement generously given by black to white in South Western Australia. The party did not leave the estuary that night, but rested opposite a sand spit at the entrance.
In the morning they breakfasted at five o'clock; nor were they hardly risen from their bivouac before the natives appeared on the opposite spit with lighted firebrands in their hands—it was not yet daylight—and beckoned them across. Mr. Skottowe, one of the officers, and two men went over and held friendly commmunication with them, and afforded them noisy delight at the ease with which they caught small schnapper in the sea; a delight which was even more demonstrative when the natives were presented with the greater share of the takings. Then the party pulled out and sailed close inshore to the east. Breakers roaring and dashing over black rocks made a fine picture for many miles along the coast, but offered no welcome to them; moreover, their boat needed to be "particularly lively" to keep close in. At eight o'clock Point Nuyts was rounded. The breezes were now fresh and squally. By the Point they observed an island not marked in the charts of navigators, not even in that excellent chart compiled by Peter Nuyts, the discoverer, whose name is perpetuated at Point Nuyts. The shore thence on to Cape Chatham was unsafe and bedecked with foam. Beyond were little bays, where landing was possible. Ahead the leader—whose name is not mentioned in the records, but evidently it was Lieutenant Preston—observed an opening, bounded by heavy breakers, and after hauling a little distance towards it, he bore off for the island off D'Entrecasteaux Point. To seaward were several suspicious-looking glistening breakers, and in front foam-clad rocks. The mariners beached the boat on the mainland about four miles east of the island, making a course through a slight surf, with breakers on the left. Their camp was fixed upon a low sand-hill, near which was a calm sheet of fresh water, covered with swans, ducks, and other game, and filled with seaweed. Smoke rose from native fires about a mile from camp.
Breakfast was eaten at four o'clock on the morning of the 20th, and soon after daylight they launched the boat and passed inside an island off D'Entrecasteaux Point, finding a very good channel for small vessels. A suitable anchorage was believed to exist under Flat Island. After rounding D'Entrecasteaux Point the weather became so rough that the boat took more water forward than the men could bale out. They were then two miles from land, and lowering the sail, proceeded to pull inshore. So powerful was the sea that it took three hours to accomplish the distance. On what appeared the beach was a very heavy surf, but as the weather showed no signs of moderating, and they were in an awkward predicament, they boldly pulled in. When the first breakers were lifted they found, to their utter astonishment, these roaring breakers to extend half a mile from the shore, so seething and strong that they had never known a boat to land in the like. It was impossible to turn back with safety, and they were compelled to keep the boat directly before the breakers. She bounded over several most satisfactorily, but when she reached an outer beach the furious surge lifted the boat and threw her upon her bottom. The craft Was filled and nearly turned over. Before another ponderous wave could reach her she righted herself and floated. The next breaker carried her much nearer the shore, and while it receded and before the next oncoming, the men jumped out and held the boat from being sucked back. Another surf hove her on shore. Had the men not kept their places upon the first striking, the chronicler says, all must have been lost. As it was, their perishable provisions were ruined; the rest were got out and dried.
For the two following days the party waited at this place in hopes that the weather would enable them to again launch the boat. But the storm and surf were, if anything, fiercer than when they landed, and they deemed it impossible to make further use of their favourite craft. During these two days she was pulled to what appeared a safer launching-point, but upon running her into the water a heavy wave struck the boat, and drove it with force against one of the sailors, nearly costing him his life. A native came from among the sand-hills and neighbouring brushwood, and when the leader descried him afar off, he went to meet him. A mutual welcome was extended, the native warrior handed his three spears and throwing-stick to the mariner, and the latter allowed the other to carry his gun. Thus they returned to the boat, and the aboriginal appeared astonished when he was made to understand that she was landed in the surf. After putting clothes upon him, giving him a stocking full of sugar, a little bread, and as much cloth as he wished to take, he departed.
With improvised knapsacks—blankets, one gun, ammunition, an axe, spirits, and other provisions—the sailors regretfully left the boat at 3.20 a.m. on the 23rd, and proceeded towards Augusta. About sunrise they passed over one river, and crossed a second a few hours later. They walked twenty miles, and at 5.30 in the evening stopped, and slept heavily until two o'clock on the following morning. Again shouldering their knapsacks, they recommenced their march while it was yet dark. At times they were compelled to take to the land by reason of projecting points, and in the dim light they found some difficulty in making headway over rising ground. They kept to the hills until break of day, when they once more trailed along the white beach. Sufficient good water was discovered, and later in the day the sight of Black Point at Flinders Bay raised their spirits. Stranded on a strange shore line, their position had not been enviable. The soft sand compelled them to take to high hills, which abutted on the coast; where after going some distance they struck a native path which led to the beach, and what was more desired just then, a spring of fresh water. They were now able to see Cape Leeuwin, a sight which gave them much relief, for Mr. Skottowe and the carpenter were greatly fatigued, and suffering from weak ankles and sore feet. They camped the night by the spring.
The journey was continued at half-past two on the morning of the 26th. The coast was rocky to pass, and they had to ascend a high hill. The moon occasionally shone out to show them the way, but quickly the clouds obscured its light. At daylight they returned to the beach, but held to it only for a short distance, for the sand was again soft, and the surf beat over it. Noon arrived. The carpenter was thoroughly exhausted, and Mr. Skottowe suffered keenly. After a light meal from their impoverished provisions, the knapsacks of the two weakened men were divided among the rest, and all plodded slowly along, hoping greatly to reach Augusta by night. At seven o'clock they came upon the banks of the Blackwood River, after walking about thirty-three miles during that day. They were kept waiting upon the banks for some time, for the settlers on the other side apparently believed they were convicts escaped from King George's Sound. Captain Molloy was informed, and quickly went over to them. Hearty hospitality was extended to the party by the settlers at Augusta, and all were anxious to supply their wants. The sick men were attended to, and soon recovered from their indisposition.
The settlers at August had by this time made some progress on the land. A detachment of military was stationed there, and had accompanied the first bands, but their presence was not required to keep the natives in check. Most of the settlers' habitations were situated near the barracks, and the pioneers had industriously built their dwellings and cleared parts of their grants. They were apparently happy and contented, and looked hopefully to the future. The land, they believed, would soon repay their labour, and enable them to glean affluence from its resources.
The officers from the Sulphur were anxious to return to Perth at once. On the 28th the leader, with Captain Molloy, Lieutenant McLeod, and Mr. Bussel, visited land included in Mr. Turner's grant, and walked as far as Turner's River, through thickly-wooded country and over good soil. The journey to Swan River was not begun until the 30th, when, Mr. Skottowe and the carpenter having completely recovered, the company embarked in a boat lent by Mr. Earl, a settler, and sailed up the Blackwood, intending to go overland from the head. Two labouring men, who wished to go to Swan River, joined the party. Lieutenant McLeod and Mr. Bussel, with soldiers, intended escorting them as far as Port Leschenault. On the morning of 1st May the party reached the head of navigation on the Blackwood, after passing excellent soil on either side. They there made final preparations for their long journey and set out. No water was obtained during the afternoon, and every one suffered from thirst. So famished were they next morning that, starting betimes, they were fain to suck the dew from the leaves of the surrounding shrubbery. Several swamps were hurriedly inspected, without avail, until their dog found an old native well, from which nearly a gallon of water was secured. Another native well an hour's walk further on gave them ample water, and now they were able to traverse an irregular country containing red sand, ironstone, and fine forest trees. To discover their position one of them climbed a tree, and to the north-west Cape Naturaliste was sighted, while below them was an extensive plain, containing a large glistening sheet of water. They moved forward. The plain, where good pasture was plentiful, was inhabited by many large-sized kangaroos. Mr. Bussel was so fatigued after the long marches that he was not able to proceed, and there he, Lieutenant McLeod, and the soldiers bid adieu to the other travellers, and returned to Augusta without mishap. The estuary at Vasse was reached. The intervening country, where large trees shaded rich verdure, "was very beautiful," and contained splendid pastoral land, the trees not reckoning more than five or six to the acre. During the day two rivers were crossed, and seven natives were interviewed.
On the next day the leader writes that he passed "the finest land" he had seen in the colony. The grass was from three feet to four feet high, and a farmer, named Jenkins, from Augusta, remarked that he "had never seen better land in his life; and, indeed, he passed very little bad land since he left the Blackwood." It was calculated that this good land extended for more than twenty miles around. The weary travellers were disappointed in their hopes of reaching Port Leschenault that day, and, suffering acutely from fatigue and cold, they camped. The Preston was made early next day, where they rested, subsisting on birds and fish. Heavy rain spoilt their night's sleep. The Collie was crossed on the day following, whereupon several natives joined them and recognised the leader immediately, telling him that he had previously been there "in a boat pulling." Soon numerous natives gathered round them. Lieutenant Preston, after walking some distance with them, observed two women, and turning to the aboriginals, pointed to the females, at which the men were very pleased. A little later he was presented to the ladies, after his companions were ordered to remain at a distance. He was about fifty yards off the track, where were congregated some fifty or sixty women and children—"some fair-looking, and others horrible to behold." The children were good specimens, and Preston gave them momentary pleasure by presenting them and their parents with necklaces and rings. Then he proceeded on his way, with the men and boys following him closely, and the women and small children bringing up the rear. After a little fishing, and when the top of the estuary was left, the main body of the blacks regretfully parted with their white visitors. Eight men accompanied them an hour's walk from the estuary. Numerous kangaroos and emus were seen on the way to the Murray, and the hills were reported to afford excellent pasture for sheep. Much privation was endured before the river was sighted, and everyone was wearied by the long journey. They had walked two days almost without provisions, and the feet of some were severely lacerated. But the settlement, which had by this time been well started on the Murray, was reached in safety, and a boat was procured from Lieutenant Erskine, who was in charge of the military detachment, and their further progress to Fremantle was rapid and devoid of incident. Thus ended a journey which, although fraught with many dangers and hardships, had the desired result of supplying the Government with much appreciated information.
While Lieutenant Preston was performing this exploration his old companion, Dr. Collie, made an extensive tour from King George's Sound. The military station there was now taken over by the local Government, and Dr. Collie was probably the surgeon to the settlement which had been established in its place. With Mokare, the native who previously accompanied Dr. Wilson, and two privates of the 63rd Regiment, Dr. Collie left the Sound on the 27th April, and proceeded by boat through Oyster Harbour. He rowed up the Kâlgan (French River), and dilated in his report on the goodness of the soil which generally lined its banks, and the streamlets which, flowing from the surrounding heights, joined with the larger waterway. Bars of rocks and fallen trees so obstructed navigation that Collie soon abandoned the boat, and struck out for the north-east hills from the right of the river. He was quickly among the mahogany, casuarina, and low shrubs which grew upon the elevated lands, and from one apex obtained a view of Porrong-u-rup. The depressions among these hills were composed of black sod and sand, and produced a rank grass suitable for cattle, but not possessing the soft succulency of good grass. From north-east he went more westerly, and then again north-east, traversing gently inclining slopes, sandy elevations, rushy hollows, and the dry channels of winter streamlets. Exposed granite, in solid blocks, or bold fragments, arose in his path, around which lay a fine crop of withered and beaten-down grass. He winded among what he deemed the higher levels of the French River, past poor land, elevated plains, and slopes rising gradually from the water, unshaded by a large tree, but bearing luxuriant grass and the green wattle. Among them the granite still protruded. Here was Noor-ru-bup, of the natives. He now followed a light descent to a ravine, and on to a level surface, whence an unobstructed view was had of almost every point of the compass. Such features stood boldly out as Mount Manypeak, Mount Gardener, Porrong-u-rup, and two conspicuous hummocks to the south by east by west; while opposite them in the northern distance were Maggenip, Mondyurup, Kowr-u-larrup, Tood-ye-ver-up, a remarkable conical hill, and the peak of a rugged mountain. All the mountains, from Maggenip down, rose high above a continuous grouping of moderate hills clustered at their bases, and were mantled in green, but apparently destitute of trees.
The intelligent Mokare told Collie many things about this country, giving its native names, and spasmodically exclaiming on the recommendations and productiveness of the land. No water, he said, was to be found to the north-east or north, and hence Collie directed his step to the more inviting vale of Kâlgan. He proceeded along a low plain, whereon were winter marshes, a short and thin grass, and a few shrubs. White gums skirted a gentle elevation on the northern side, but were in thicker array in front, and from their grouping demonstrated the course of the river. To the river Collie went, and reached the banks at what Mokare called Kamballup. The stream was here about sixty yards wide, but a little further on neither water nor channel could be found, for the latter was filled with tall burnt shrubs. Still further on over indifferent soil—gravelly and stony—the stream was met again, but the water was brackish. The north-west part of the plain between the smaller range of Porrong-u-rup in the south, and the grand range of Porrong-u-rup in the north, presented interesting features. The higher elevations had a rocky formation—the claystone partook of a ferruginous nature, and was agglomerated with fragments of quartz, felspar, and granite. The lower elevations exposed both a perpendicular and an excavated front of fine and friable clayey sandstone bearing a cream colour. Proceeding up the river over a grassy inclined plain, ornamented with white gum, Collie and his men came to a piece of good soil, where the sharp-eyed Mokare detected the footprints of horned cattle and a horse. Collie examined them, and saw that they bore the form attributed to them, and Mokare explained that natives had informed him that they saw two bullocks and a horse near there some months before.
Still higher up the river they came to favourite haunts of the King George's Sound natives, which Mokare called Moor-illup, but no member of the dusky tribe was met with. Not only did the aborigines affect these parts, but by every pond were the marks of innumerable birds and beasts, and, says Collie, "the great numbers of kangaroo and several emu, not to mention a fair proportion of ducks, cockatoos, pigeons, &c., seen daily at this place, show that both the hunter and sportsman would find abundant amusement, and the settler no slight acquisition to his larder." Open forests characterised the neighbouring country, rich in the hollows, gravelly on the heights, and well grassed.
The north and easterly course was changed on 1st May, when the party wended to the south-east by south, up a moderately inclined plain, upon which a broad belt of good soil was observed. Wattle was here the patramount growth. Then they left a rich, low, grassy, and clear level space on their left, where herds of kangaroos browsed, and ascended an eminence of Yakkerlip. Tall straight red gums rose on the sides and beneath was fresh and succulent verdure. From the apex Collie obtained a view of mountains all around him; some were rugged and bold, while some ranges presented only their shoulders to his view. There were Tood-ye-ver-up, a conical peak near Porrong-u-rup, the western shoulder of Porrong-u-rup, Willy-ung-up, Moor-illup, Pwakkenbak, and Lake Kai-mirn-dy-ip, besides some unnamed heights. In descending the south side of the hill a "romantic ravine" was crossed, where the specimens of red gum excelled those in the neighbourhood of King George's Sound. But this fine timber was soon succeeded by stunted mahogany and thick scrub, where the stony surface was composed of agglomerated lumps of clay, ironstone, quartz, and felspar. The travellers were now in some need of water, and Mokare led them to a deep channel, which he was astonished to find dry; but nothing daunted, he turned to the south-west, and three-quarters of a mile away showed them a commodious native well. In this way the aboriginal led them over the places familiar to him from birth and he proved an indispensable and agreeable agent in their explorations.
A party of natives joined them on 2nd May, and after skirting some streams, they all ascended rising ground, and descended to a small meadow, where natives and Europeans bivouacked together. Next day they kept in company, the natives evidently pleased to show the visitors their picturesque domains. The casuarina was now mixed with the mahogany. The soil was hardly eligible for farming, yet well grassed. Then they returned on 4th May to Oyster Harbour, and several subsequent days were passed in examining the hills and valleys in the neighbourhood, and the reaches of the King and French Rivers. The boat carried them to vantage points, whence they made their excursions. Collie made several small excursions around King George's Sound during ensuing weeks, but inspected few patches of soil suitable for cultivation, the most offering better opportunities to the pastoralist. These were the chief explorations in 1831.
The richer settlers congregated on the Swan, Canning, and Helena Rivers were beginning to surround themselves with many more conveniences than had hitherto existed. Although they were not able to produce nearly sufficient wheat for their own consumption during the harvest of 1830, yet they instituted some comfort in their homes, and with the good growth of vegetables obtained more varied and healthful food. Lieut.-Governor Stirling, in his report on part of the year 1830, wrote that the progress, although attended with many adverse circumstances, had been as rapid as could be expected or desired: He continued—"A greater increase than that which has taken place, of ships, persons, and property, would probably have been disadvantageous to the welfare of the settlement while struggling in its infancy." With that bright hope and confidence which characterised his whole career in Western Australia, he added, that "although individuals may have suffered in the undertaking, the settlement is now securely established, and its future prosperity no longer doubtful. Much has yet to be accomplished for its advancement, and there will probably be much individual disappointment and distress; but with a healthy climate, abundance of good land, an advantageous position for trade, and some valuable indigenous products, I trust the issue of the undertaking will not disappoint public expectation."
The poverty engendered by original rashness had not diminished, and the numbers of dissatisfied people were being continually augmented by new arrivals, whose impossible hopes rapidly vanished. There was a slight decrease in immigration in 1831. The majority of the people had still to live on their capital, and the prices of supplies alternated in unison with the arrival or non-arrival of ships. With no local supply, and no regular vessels to bring provisions to the colony, there was often the danger of a famine. The first vessel arriving after a long period of waiting commanded the market, and sold her cargo at enormous prices. The accusation was frequently made that the ships' masters held long-expected letters until their cargo was cleared, so as to coerce settlers into early buying. In their remote situation and practical banishment from their friends, settlers were almost as anxious for their letters as for their food, and the mortification and heartthrobbings attendant upon disappointment or unnecessary waiting made them complain. On the other hand, a settler, some time separated from his home in Great Britain, wrote :—"The receipt of a packet is a great and happy event; its arrival an epoch, anticipated with anxiety, hailed with excitement, and referred to as a period from which one dates the lapse of time."
Some ships held a most remunerative monopoly in the supply of provisions, and were wont to time their arrival at Swan River when supplies were scarcest. Prices were bound to fluctuate until a settled line of ships was established. At the end of 1830 they were moderate, occasioned by several vessels putting into Fremantle within a short period, all ladened with food supplies. Sugar sold at 7d. per lb., rice at 2½d., coffee at 8d., and arrack at 6s. 6d. per gallon. Flour was cheap. Two months later prices had risen, but in March, after the arrival of different ships, they were lower than before, and flour was bought at 3d. a lb., sugar 3d. to 5d., tea 4s. 6d., rice 2d., salt beef and pork 6d. to 8d., and rum at 6s. a gallon. A half-ton of flour cost £27; fresh meat was 1s. 6d. a lb. Soap was an expensive and much-prized article of the toilet, for which 2s. 6d. a lb. had to be paid. In December, 1831, no vessels had put into port for some time, and prices rose in consequence. The unfortunate settlers who had expended all their money in useless machinery, furniture, and ornaments, were brought exceedingly low by the high prices, while the poorer people suffered considerably in not having their wonted variety of food. At times ordinary articles of food were unprocurable, even for money, and for weeks and months the delicate palates of ladies, bred in luxury at home, had to take tea and coffee without sugar or milk, and perhaps do without tea and coffee altogether. Flour was dealt out with scrupulous care when supplies were depleted, and many people had to do without the primary article for weeks together. Coming out of a land of plenty to such privation occasioned useless regret and bitter complaint, for it was not the precarious supply alone which placed them in their unfortunate position. In November and December flour was 7d. a lb., and American pork £8 a cask, while other foods were hardly to be obtained. The outlook began to assume a serious aspect.
The chief source of satisfaction during this period was the possession of a sufficiency of vegetables, and the foods obtainable by the hunter. Settlers planted all sorts of vegetables as experiments, and, to their great surprise, those who had tilled carefully witnessed a rapid and large growth. Cabbages, turnips, peas, lettuce, carrots, potatoes, in short, nearly every vegetable, thrived and gave them a plenitude. But not all the settlers were wise; some planted at the wrong time and in the wrong place; some planted carelessly, and did not watch over and assist growth—they were rewarded by a lesser variety of eatables than their neighbours. So necessary an article of diet did kangaroo flesh soon become, that the bush and hills were daily scoured for the timid marsupial. Much time was spent in the hunt with gun and dogs, and the gentry formed many parties, and found great delight in catching the game. The single lonely hunter had to exercise the greatest care not to lose his way. Wandering through the decidedly monotonous bush, now in this direction, now in that, he was apt to forget his bearings. Such a sameness characterised the Swan River country scenery that landmarks were not discernible, and the hunter could hardly tell that he had advanced at all, except for the wave-like undulations of the land. Dogs fast enough for kangaroo hunting were exceedingly scarce, and enormous prices were paid for a good animal. Greyhounds sold at £15 and upwards in 1831, and lucky holders were able to turn their canine friends to considerable profit. Some people got their livelihood by hunting kangaroos and selling the flesh to settlers, 1s. 6d. a lb. often being paid. When other provisions were plentiful, the table of pioneers was as varied and delectable as could be wished. With mutton, they obtained such delicate dishes as fish from the river, kangaroos, ducks, turkeys, quails, pigeons, cockatoos, &c., which not only delighted the appetite, but supplied entertainment in securing from their native haunts. When these were served with vegetables, pastry, and occasionally with wine, the table was attractive as any in the Old World, minus, however, the luxurious surroundings. The well-to-do pioneers on the rivers did not always live on hard fare, but those in the outer country lived not so well.
The crops of 1831-2 gave renewed encouragement to the farmers. From their slight and not altogether satisfactory experience of 1830-1, several farmers were pessimistic of the potentialities of the soil, but the more experienced were now quite sure that it would produce any grain, fruit, vegetable, tree, or shrub common to the same latitude. They believed the earth needed little preparation, and in the more sandy country merely ploughed in the grain. Moreover, they were convinced that the country was capable of producing two crops a year, which with returns from such indigenous plants as tobacco, hemp, flax, eringo, celery, and parsley, would rapidly give them agricultural prosperity. But they made the mistake of being over-experimental, and instead of planting crops which would supply them with immediate subsistence, they tilled seeds of all kinds merely to discover what variety of potentialities lay in the soil, and in what crops their future success was to be found. It was surely possible to the community congregated in the colony with sufficient wheat for their own consumption, but they devoted so little thought to this, and so much time to experimental crops, that they were compelled to live on their capital much longer than was necessary. Hence in 1831 such crops as maize (Indian corn), tares, flax seed, rye, castor oil, lucerne, red and white clover, trefoil, and hay seeds were tilled to the detriment of the more necessary wheat. The largest farmers cultivated little more than twenty acres, while the most tilled from one to eight. Agriculturists generally did not consider it would pay to carefully prepare the soil for crops, but others went to the other extreme, and trenched their fields elaborately.
The grants of several settlers comprised slopes which needed little clearing, and contained only sufficient trees for ornament. These slopes they cultivated. In the spring it was calculated that 200 acres were tilled, which, according to political economists of those days, should produce sufficient to subsist 800 people for one year. The early rains of May so rapidly changed the appearance of the country from a dry to a beautiful green that settlers were astonished, and they were pleased when many of their crops showed above ground. A belief was held by numerous people that the country was visited by fearful storms. The experience of 1830 seemed to deepen the conviction. When a gale of wind sprung up they were in fear lest a deluge would soon follow. On the 23rd June, 1831, a gale of wind startled every settler, and alarming reports were circulated of immense losses in different places. But these were proved untrue, and the only damage done was that sustained by a small vessel of 35 tons being driven ashore, and by the loss of a small boat. This fright of storms of wind was evidently caused by the strange roar which even a gentle breeze makes in the sheoak (casuarina) trees.
The farmers, therefore, watched daily for devastating storms and floods which never came. In October the fields looked promising, and in the harvest, while there were some failures, the general returns were satisfactory and encouraging. Mr. G. F. Moore, who was a farmer with the rest, wrote :—“The excellent crops that have been harvested this year (equalling, if not exceeding, the best in England) have inspired us all with confidence, but . . . . few have cultivated extensively.” There was also a good crop of hay. The prices for this commodity were:— At Guildford £5, at Perth £8, and at Fremantle £10 per ton.
The want of live stock was pressing. Great stretches of excellent pastoral country were scattered over different parts of Western Australia, and yet all the cattle and sheep and horses in the colony could depasture on a few thousand acres. There was little need of a shepherd, and only about twelve flocks were sufficiently large in 1831 to demand one. The land was there, but not the labour to systematically till it and the capital to stock it. So serious did this question seem that the authorities and leading settlers communed together, and decided to petition the English Government, notwithstanding the repeated assurances of the Imperial authorities in public circulars that they would render no help. All the local officials believed that the colony would be prosperous could the settlers obtain a little assistance in their now unfortunate condition. Some advance had been made in every respect in the settlement, but a wise system had not been inaugurated, and the colony suffered in consequence. Mr. G. F. Moore was requested to draft a memorial which solicited advances from the State Treasury to enable stock to be procured, and which guaranteed eventual payment. The petition was approved of, and was in course of signature during the latter part of 1831. Most settlers did not think it advisable to obtain stock from England, except a few of the best strains for stud purposes, but advocated purchase in neighbouring settlements, where sheep and cattle were then fairly cheap. The scab evil had been overcome, and the flocks and herds thrived exceedingly, although their bad management caused loss and annoyance. They broke into crops and destroyed the wheat. Van Diemen’s Land cattle were particularly troublesome, and needed most careful watching to prevent their scampering into the bush to the hills and the unsettled parts of southern rivers. At the same time that sheep were sold in Western Australia at £3 each late in 1831, they could be purchased in South Africa for 5s.; cattle ranged from £20 upwards, a cow and calf selling for £32.
Settlers very wisely determined during 1830-1 to firmly establish an Agricultural Society, which should at once disseminate useful information among agriculturists, and watch over the general interests of the agricultural and pastoral industries. So admirable an institution was bound to prove useful, and at the regular meetings, which were held four times a year, members were brought together to discuss all-important matters relating to the settlement. It was, indeed, their Parliament. Special meetings were convened to discuss subjects of importance connected with the land, the system of administration and alienation. Annual reports were issued describing the progress made during the year, announcing the results of the harvest, total of area cultivated and what applied for, classification and total of stock, and offering advice to settlers. Members were admitted by ballot. Mr. G. F. Moore was appointed secretary in 1831. A pregnant value was obtained from this institution, and the early reports were comprehensive and didactic, and, perhaps more than anything else, stimulated the development of the agricultural and pastoral industries.
The burning of the wooden house of a settler in Perth, in December, 1830, caused many more brick and a few stone buildings to be erected in 1831. In this way a more pretentious class of dwellings arose, and a comfortable air was given to Perth and the farms on the Swan. In place of the wooden structures, with the bare earth for floors, so general in 1830, was a fair proportion of brick. The residence of Captain Irwin was particularly ambitious. It was a two-story brick structure, with tiled floors. There was an unfortunate lack of stones for building purposes on the Upper Swan, and where brick was not used, mud and wood were brought into requisition. Remains of the old “daub” houses are still existent. The Lieut.-Governor possessed comfortable quarters in Perth, and in 1831 he built a roomy residence on his grant at Guildford—the Woodbridge Estate. There he entertained many of his guests, and applied himself to agriculture and horticulture on a moderate scale. He introduced excellent strains of sheep, cattle, and horses, conferring much benefit on the colony thereby.
Guildford quickly became a prosperous centre. Only one store existed there in December, 1830, but early in the following year numbers of people took up their residence in that pretty village. This was largely caused by settlers occupying their grants on the Upper Swan. At the termination of 1830 there were but ten settlers in that district, while in March, 1831, there were ninety-seven. They all proceeded on a more or less satisfactory scale to improve their grants, and for some time the Upper Swan was the most progressive portion of the Swan River country. The Canning, near the head of navigation, was also developing, and it was decided to form a town there late in 1830, and a charming site was fixed upon. The surrounding country was described by one settler as “beautiful, covered, or rather studded, with magnificent trees.” While there were good patches of soil, much was a heavy unmanageable clay, with a substratum of ironstone. The town was named Kelmscott, and nestled on delightful meadows on the Canning. In June, 1831, Thomas Middleton took up the first lots at Kelmscott—9 to 12; and in September, T. T. Ellis the second—19 to 22.
At about the same time the town of Kingston was declared open to allotment. This was situated on Rottnest Island, which it was then believed would eventually he cultivated. There was an early rush for town lots at Kingston. On 5th March R. M. Lyon (15), Charles Norcott (20), and D. Scott (26) received the first lots. Numerous others were taken up during the following months of 1831. No houses were, so far as is known, erected, and Kingston did not get beyond the paper stage.
The Lieut.-Governor gave instructions that the site of a town be laid out at King George's Sound soon after the settlement there was taken over by him. This was soon done, and about the middle of 1831 the pretty town of Albany was established, and now reclines on the slopes of Mount Melville and Mount Clarence, where Major Lockyer formed the first settlement in 1826. Only one lot was apportioned in 1831, that to J. Lawrence Morley on 17th December—Lot S 17. Messrs. A. Robertson, Thomas Bannister, W. Lamb, P. H. Dod, H. E. Henderson, D. Geake, J. Molloy, H. Bull, and J. S. Roe were awarded allotments early in 1832.
Augusta was declared open for distribution in lots late in 1830, but John Herring was the only grantee (December) in that year. Messrs. C. Bussel, J. Molloy, O. Smith, R. Heppingstone, T. Will, R. A. Green, K. Dewar, W. Henry, J. Langdridge, J. Welbourne T. J. Cook, F. Ludlow, H. and J. Kellan, and Janet McDermott were each granted allotments in 1831.
Fremantle was by this time possessed of about fifteen houses. A few stores for the receipt of goods had been erected there, and from that time the port became the distributing centre of the colony. The houses were not yet pretentious. On the beach and fringe of bush were several tents of new arrivals. Boats were owned by most of the residents at Fremantle, who let them out to people wishing to convey goods up the river. Messrs. Leake, Shenton, and Samson were the chief storekeepers; in fact they, in a manner speaking, were the pioneer distributors and retailers of goods. The settlers were convinced of the necessity of owning boats, and had ordered some from home, while those who could not afford that constructed small skiffs out of native wood. These boats plying up and down the river were an almost daily sight, and did Perth residents wish to visit settlers on the Swan towards Guildford, they commonly made the journey by boat. As they went by the quiet cottages on the banks they would hail their friends in hearty strains, and break the silence of the bush. A monthly service of boats was established to Guildford in 1831 for the carriage of supplies for settlers, and proved of much advantage. A plan was in progress to deepen the river over the flats, but was not carried out until some years later.
The life of Settlers in 1831, although their condition was little more hopeful, was rendered bearable and even enjoyable by an open-hearted hospitality. The genial currents of good-will permeated the social sphere, and the quiet routine of isolated settlers was often pleasantly broken in upon by visits from neighbours. Visitors would either walk through the bush in the evening to see their friends or call on them by day when returning from Perth or Guildford, or from the hunt. More often they arrived by boats, and after mooring them on the shore, the welcome visitors ascended the banks and slopes and were sure to be heartily received at the cottage. The humble bush fare was placed before them, and if they would stop all night they were welcome, and were given a bed on an old case, or a rough mattress was thrown on the floor by the fire, where they found it easy to obtain a good sleep. When there was no mattress the visitor merely rolled himself in rugs or blankets on the ground. Belated travellers were sure to receive a night's shelter at a stranger's door up the Swan, nor were drunk men turned away.
The higher grades spent many an evening well remembered at each other's cottages. The military and civil officers and settlers gave dinner parties, and pioneers write that several evenings in a week were sometimes spent in this way, when opinions were exchanged on matters inportant to the community, or conversation turned to what was transpiring in the old country as announced in back files of newspapers. The richer people were nearly all accompanied by their wives and families, and it was no unusual delight to pass a happy evening listening to classical representations on the plano, with violin or flute accompaniments.
Taken altogether, life was not so demi-savage and romantic as was anticipated by many pioneers. It was often civilised and ceremonious. These pleasant evenings were the more enjoyable because of the infinite silence and loneliness of the West Australian bush and woodlands. On ordinary days and nights when no visitors approached the awfulness of this solitude oftentimes pressed heavily and begot an enervating melancholy. Particularly on the pastoral grants the effect was so depressing as to unnerve and undermine the constitution, and even to cause an unhealthiness of mind. Towards the end of 1831, and in later years when the inland country was opened up—when the settler was scores of miles from his kind, shrouded by the sombre somnolent woods—he murmured loudly against his lot, and pined for the home circle more and more. The half savage natives were his daily companions, the immense unornamented plain his daily prospect; the spirit of them permeated his mind and made ingenuous simplicity his dominant characteristic.
On the grants at Swan River the life was occasionally primitive enough. We have the instance of a barrister, turned agriculturist, who brought his sick cow into the cottage at night to sleep in the apartment adjoining his bedroom. Moreover, it was no uncommon sight to observe the same barrister, who occupied a high civil position, walking from near Guildford to Perth with a basket on his arm or shoulder filled with dirty linen or vegetables for sale, or conveying his products to market astride a horse. During his welcomed respites from departmental duties he laboured constantly in the fields, and was imbued with a splendid determination to develop his grant. Nor did he confine himself to civil or pastoral walks, but in the absence of clergymen conducted divine service in huts or military barracks, and performed on occasion the burial ceremony. He was active in agricultural, pastoral, literary, temperance, journalistic, and exploration pursuits. This was Mr. G. F. Moore, whose excellent letters to his relatives at home, which happily have found publication, throw invaluable light on the life of pioneers, and simply and truthfully tell the stories of development and progress, success and disappointment, from 1830 to 1840, and offer poetical sentiments for local pastoral lays.
Captain Irwin was also imbued with the true spirit of colonisation. He closely studied farming and pastoral matters, applied his knowledge to his own estates, and gave advice to all worthy of receiving it. An "amiable and religious man," as Mr. Moore writes, he interested himself whole-heartedly in the colony, and advocated its cause with some success in London. He, too, often filled the office of chaplain.
In addition to the church established in 1829 in Perth, others were soon opened in Fremantle and Guildford, with a Sunday School in the capital. Services were occasionally held in the different soldiers' barracks scattered over the more populated farming centres of Swan River, and were well attended by the settlers. Captain Irwin was exceedingly active in securing these privileges, and in the absence of clergymen personally conducted service in the barracks on Sundays.
A literary society was inaugurated in 1830 or 1831, and proved a great attraction and source of pleasure to the educated, who discussed ancient and modern literature as calmly at Swan River as they would have done at home. A journal was issued by this society, which fulfilled many of the functions of a newspaper. Another splendid institution—a hospital—was also opened in Perth, but except for accident cases was not largely attended. Dr. Milligan, M.D., who was attached to the civil establishment, in his report on diseases in Western Australia in 1831, states that under the natural conditions of the atmosphere fevers were almost impossible and other ailments comparatively unknown. The climate and the general habits of settlers' life were inimical to bad health. In 1830 a manuscript newspaper was issued, and continued to intermittently appear throughout that and following years. On one side of two sheets of paper half the size of foolscap were advertisements, shipping, and commercial news, and the remainder was taken up by news of the day, quaintly written, tersely and at times strongly put. A charge of 3s. 6d. was made for this pioneer effort. In 1831 the first newspaper—The Western Australian—was published. It was similar in character to its predecessor, the manuscript. In this year also a book on Western Australia was issued in London, written by the Rev. J. G. Powell, M.A., price 8s. 6d.
The first Governor's ball was given at Government House, Perth, on September 2, 1831, and was attended by a fashionable and spontaneously happy assembly. Such entertainments had long been unknown to the settlers, and dancing was vigorously prosecuted until six in the morning. A meeting of the Agricultural Society was held earlier in the day, when the petition to the English Government was read and approved of. A banquet followed prior to the evening's entertainment. Several gentlemen had just arrived in a small brig from India, and their presence added piquancy to the gathering. These gentlemen—particularly Quarter-Master-General Colonel Hanson, Lord F. Beauclerk, and Captain Parker, R.N.—together with Western Australian notables, helped to form a select party. Government House was crowded with 180 ladies and gentlemen; four rooms and an arcade were filled. Supper was served in an ornate tent, decorated and festooned with naval flags. Dancing was continued almost without interval all night long, and the centre dances, quadrilles, Spanish dances, and gallopades were conducted with such verve as had never been experienced before by those present. The supper, says one record, was "an elegant and superb one." The gentlemen from India, who had heard the most gloomy reports of the Swan River country, proposed to send provisions, "as a preventive against starvation," to the Governor, believing that the menu would be meagre; but their amazement was great "at seeing ample supplies of butter, eggs, vegetables, poultry, and butchers meat." One of them was an invalid, but so delighted was he that "he was actually frolicsome all the evening." Colonel Hanson returned to India and wrote very interesting and useful pamphlets on the Swan River Colony, which combated the many injurious reports abroad.
The native question continued to absorb much of the attention of Lieut.-Governor Stirling. He recognised that if the depredations of 1830 were repeated a very serious difficulty lay before settlers and the Administration. So awkward was the situation that he debated long without deciding on any definite course of action. His humanity would not allow him to shoot down thieving natives in cold blood, nor was he anxious to place the struggling colony at the expense of imprisoning and feeding them for long periods. The settlers were so isolated, by reason of large grants, that the expenses and difficulties of providing military protection were largely increased. In fact, this matter of distance was an immense source of trouble to the Administration, who could not possibly protect and satisfy all alike.
The military was soon scattered. A barracks was opened on the Murray, another at Augusta, another at King George's Sound, while the country contiguous to the extensive grants on the Swan, Canning, and Helena Rivers demanded more protection just then than all the others put together. Soldiers were stationed at the head of navigation on the Swan, on the Canning at Kelmscott, and at several other points. It was their special duty to be ready for any emergency, to even visit the different grants, and to perform the ordinary duties of police.
As to the natives, it was soon recognised by most settlers that they were not so despicable a race as was at first supposed. Their intelligence, and particularly their shrewdness, was often demonstrated, and when attacked they seemed to offer the most dogged and determined resistance. Such onslaughts were weekly being made on their kangaroo and other foods, that even so early as 1831 they were compelled to either hunt beyond the boundaries of their own tribal district, or subsist on purely vegetable foods with an occasional change to animal, or prey upon settlers' flocks and herds. As a tribe they did not kill stock, for a few of them appear to be specially to blame for such outrages. Most of them could beg and steal, and often when the settler was out his hut was entered, and flour, damper, biscuits, and meat were removed, and provided the thieves with much enjoyed feasts.
A murder or two was committed in 1831, and stock was killed. In September and October a party of natives made sad havoc among the flocks on the Upper Swan. They destroyed eleven sheep in Mr. Brown's flock, and even speared his cow. The delinquents were detected and were fired at, but seem to have escaped injury. In return for the indignity they stealthily approached Mr. Brown's estate and killed his shepherd. Becoming bolder they drove away sixty-seven of Mr. Bull's sheep. Numbers of settlers were soon in hot pursuit, but before a rescue could be made forty-seven sheep were slaughtered.
Governor Stirling, after these serious attacks, appointed magistrates to act with the military upon sudden emergencies. It was proposed to raise a body of yeoman cavalry, and several prominent people offered themselves as officer or privates. An additional party of soldiers was stationed on the hills near Guildford. So the position remained until the end of 1831.
After the discoveries of Dale in 1830 and the allotment of grants on the Avon, it was decided to postpone settlement until the spring of 1831. The route over the Darling Ranges was known to offer difficulties to the transport of stock and provisions, and so far away was the goodly land that the Lieutenant-Governor believed that strong protection was necessary before settlement was safe. During the year 100,124 additional acres were alienated in thirty-four grants. The largest of these were 14,223 acres to Lewis, Yule, and Haughton, and 12,513 acres to Alfred Waylen, both on the 22nd January. The others ranged from 50 to over 7000 acres.
The expedition to settle the country left the Swan on 6th September, and comprised, according to one statement, about twenty persons. They were the pioneer settlers of the Avon valley, but, unfortunately, a complete list of their names does not exist. Numerous spectators gathered at Guildford to witness their departure, and acted as a convoy to them for some little distance. Captain Stirling gave instructions as to what should be done, and desired that an effort should be made to explore the country N.N.W. and S.S.E. of Mount Bakewell. The explorer Dale was very properly placed in charge of the party. The Governor himself rode a whole day's journey with the band. He led the van and behind him there streamed a procession whose quaint picturesqueness could be more graphically conveyed by the artist's pencil than by the journalist's pen. The Governor's cart rumbled along the rugged bush track drawn by five horses; in close proximity an unusual though pleasing spectacle was witnessed in the peculiar combination of two horses and two cows yoked and harnessed, two and two, to the waggon of Messrs. Clarkson and Hardy, pioneers of the settlement. Bringing up the rear was the rustic cart of Mr. Hales, where two cows did ample substitution for the more favourite steed. Three packhorses, bearing provisions and clothes in sacks, and numerous men on foot, completed the company. Messrs. Bland and Moore were prominent members of the band. Harbingers of spring, in delicately painted wild flowers, ornamented the way, and twittering birds sang joyously to the travellers. Rains had but lately fallen, and the track was washed into ruts by many swollen streams. The caravan was obstructed by the larger rivulets, and brushwood had to be collected and placed in the channels before the vehicles could proceed. Seven miles from Guildford they reached the foot of the Darling Ranges, and the ascent was begun. The Governor now took his departure, and amid three hearty cheers from the pioneers began his homeward ride. Then the company halted, and under a large gum tree prepared the evening meal. It was a fine evening. The huntsmen killed a kangaroo, and its simmering flesh roasting on a roaring fire perfumed the air. All enjoyed the passing moment, thinking not of the labours before them. Hammocks were slung from the blackboy trees, and each man composed himself to rest. Near by stood the dim forms of two rustic native huts. The scene was delightful, but the intense cold of morning broke in rudely on their enjoyment.
The after progress was tedious. The pass was rocky and difficult, the day was rainy and cold, and a path had to be chosen by Dale and his companions before the carts could pursue their way. So obstructed was their route that only three miles were accomplished on the second day. Mr. Dale went in advance with a companion and marked the trees. Then followed a number of men with axes, who hewed them down. After that came the carts themselves. The second night's camp was little beyond the first resting-place. Heavy rain fell, and it was some time before a fire could be lighted. Hammocks collapsed during the night under the wind and rain, and the pioneers had to draw near the fire and there sleep in the wet as best they could. The route on the 8th was more accessible, extending through an open mahogany forest interspersed with a few blue gum trees. They made their bivouac in a picturesque vale, but claps of thunder and heavy rain disturbed their slumbers. Thus was the first part of their journey passed, and for them it was no happy augury of the success of inland settlement. Even through their severest trials there was one among them who was ever merry. He was an old soldier named Sheridan. It was his particular duty to wheel a perambulator, or instrument for measuring distances, and, as one of the company wrote, he sang and talked incessantly, whether wet or dry, busy or idle. After a miserable wet night he would seize the handles of the instrument in the morning, "singing with stentorian voice the old drum beat—'Tither, row, dow, dow, dow; and tither, ither, row, dow; tither, ither, row, dow,'"
The inclement weather prevented rapid travelling, and each night found them but a few miles away from their starting point of the morning. Streams had to be bridged with trees and spars to allow the vehicles to pass over, and good pasture to be chosen for the horses and cattle. On the 12th the casuarina country was entered, and three days later a party of natives was surprised, who hurried out of sight, hurling furious gesticulations and vociferations at this advance-guard of civilisation, The dogs ran down a kangaroo, in whose pouch was found a young one, a "beautiful black-eyed creature." This was tenderly lifted by one of the party, who put it in his pocket and carried it away for a domestic pet. After a few days the "pretty, affectionate creature," which soon recognised its master's voice and hopped after him, pined away and died. A distant glimpse of Mount Bakewell was obtained on the 15th September, and was joyously hailed with three cheers and a volley of guns. A picturesque sight soon stretched before them, for there were the valleys where their work was to begin, and where some day they hoped to see rural prospects of farms, houses, haystacks, barns, and rich bearing gardens.
'They came upon the Avon River on the following day, and camped the night on its banks at the foot of Mount Bakewell. Next morning they bathed in the stream, and after breakfast each man washed his limited store of linen, and dried it on convenient shrubs and limbs of trees. The horses were rested for some days, and excursions were made on foot to different grants. Messrs. Bland, Dale, Clarkson, and Hardy chose the site of the first settlement, and Mr. Dale set out on the 20th to carry out Stirling's instructions to explore neighbouring country. He had as companions Mr. G. F. Moore, Mr. Thompson, and Sheridan, the merry old soldier. All rode horses, but Moore and Sheridan were not so comfortably equipped as the others. Having no saddles, they had to content themselves with their cloaks doubled under them for protection against the bony horses. Each man carried his provisions and a gun. Under these conditions they rode 300 miles—a trying experience. The country between the Mount, or the site of York at its feet, and the designed site of Beverley, supplied splendid pasture. The latter was the furthest point south, of Dale's previous explorations, and it was expected that the land beyond improved in richness. They went into the south over barren-looking plains of whitish clay, covered with white gum trees having a rusty tinge on the bark. Not seeing much rich country, although areas were well grassed, they turned to the N.N.W on 23rd September, when some sixty miles from Mount Bakewell. They passed through casuarina and acacia country, and came to a small waterfall over a granite rock. Acacias, bearing flowers like the laburnum, surrounded the little dell wherein it plashed, and bright buttercups decorated the green pasture. Country to the south of York was inspected and reported on as irregular, good soil alternating with bad, and on the evening of 26th September they returned to the infant settlement at the foot of Mount Bakewell. During following days Mount Shole was discovered and named. On the way a native family was come upon, consisting of a man, woman, girl, and infant. These raised a sad outcry upon discovering their visitors and the man lit a fire evidently as a signal to other members of the tribe, for answering smoke soon rose responsive from two distant places. The white men went away without coming into collision with the natives.
After the horses were sufficiently rested at Mount Bakewell, the same party started out north-west. For eighteen miles they went some distance from the Avon over pastoral lands, and then again struck the river and continued along its course for twelve miles. Numerous blacks were met and communicated with. The valley of the Avon became contracted and the hills more precipitous. Finally, after crossing a rocky district, they reached a ridge which abruptly sank into a "large and beautiful valley." "This view," says one recorder, "elevated our spirits again. 'Worcestershire,' cried one; 'Shropshire,' cried another; 'Kilkenny for ever,' roared Sheridan. Headlong we rushed into the valley, through grass to the horses' knees, hoping to find the river, but this valley proved to be only an extensive swamp of soil not so good as it appeared at a distance." Thus were entered and discovered the valleys of Toodyay (Newcastle) and Culham. There were marks of cattle observable in the valley, which showed that escaped stock were led by instinct to these luxuriant pastures. When, according to their reckoning, they were fifty miles from Mount Bakewell, they turned to the west. Lennard Brook, where Mr. Lennard possessed a grant, was crossed, and on the 8th October the party arrived at Guildford.
Messrs. Hardy, Clarkson, Bland, and other settlers had taken charge of their grants during this while. To every isolated settler the Government allowed two soldiers as a protection against the natives. The pioneers proceeded to erect huts and prepare for the reception of their stock. The place specially chosen for the first settlement was nearly two miles south of the summit of Mount Bakewell. Mr. Johnston had charge of the Government party. The results of opening up the Avon River country were wide-reaching, and finally affected to a considerable extent the destinies of the Swan River Settlement. It was not at first intended to devote attention so much to agriculture as to pastoral pursuits and one and all, from the Governor down, believing Western Australia was more suited to the latter industry, drifted towards it, to the detriment of farming.
In this year a change was determined on in the land system. Since the inception of settlement that progress in development had not been made which was anticipated. The colony was projected on fulsome hopes, not on definite and mathematical lines. The surmounting of the heavy burdens of the first few months, the after influx of people, the discoveries of additional expansive fertile tracts, and the munificent liberality of grants, begat little real prosperity, and as a colony Western Australia was in the deepest depression. The local Administration, the energetic and thoughtful settlers, and the Imperial Govermnent at home, agreed that there must be serious causes for such an unhappy result.
The causes, they soon recognised, were not far to find. No system, no principle, was woven into the original constitution. In order to save expense the British Government offered to present great areas of land indiscriminately to anyone willing to introduce petty investments to the colony. No distinction was made between the fit and the unfit, the sluggard and the toiler, the enterprising and the impotent. Magnificent prizes were tendered to all and sundry who took the trouble to migrate to Western Australia. A general was appointed to allot awards to an army which might be composed of the veriest raw recruits, men who had never shouldered the spade or handled the plough, for all the British Government cared. Instead of having well-drilled hardy soldiers, experienced in battle, ready to fight and force the earth to yield forth its fruits, to whom he could apportion individual work, this general was merely able to present his gift, and watch what each man did with it. Colonisation under such circumstances was risky, and wholly depended on the chance of the best men being attracted, who would apply their bodily vigour and brains to the most practicable ends. A company would not have made so many mistakes, and would have concentrated capital and strength to secure quick returns and permanent prosperity. Combination of labour was quite unknown in the settlement.
Moreover, the Lieutenant-Governor and his civil officers were confronted with administrative difficulties that were not at first apprehended. Although the population was small, the expenses of governing were comparatively large. The unlimited size of grants, and the regulations, were baneful in several ways. The settlers were dispersed over large areas, and the cost of military protection and of conferring requisite privileges on each remote farmer or pastoralist was enormous. Hundreds of miles separated the settlers of Swan River, Augusta, and King George's Sound from each other. Had the community been concentrated within a small radius of Perth, and had each man been doing effective labour, different results would have been attained. The regulations by which the Surveyor-General was compelled to mark out the country in counties, hundreds, towns, &c., occasioned great confusion and waste of time. It was impossible to perform so comprehensive a task as this without a large staff, and each year the Surveyor-General's Department became larger. Nor was it possible in so unknown a country, and amid so many unpropitious circumstances, to carry out this work with any degree of success. The amount of bills drawn on the Imperial Treasury in 1829 was £3,140 4s. 4d.; in 1830, £17,485 9s. 7d.; and in 1831, £20,379 12s. 9d., which, considering the limited assistance the State allowed to Western Australia, is large.
Again, by the system of large grants, a comparatively poor man could take up, and many did, vast stretches of country. There was no hope that he could ever properly cultivate them, and he was as one with a fertile field to labour in without implements to begin with. He could not apply capital or labour, hence the land was valueless to him, and contributed nothing to the general prosperity. Several people of substantial means, such as Mr. Peel and Colonel Latent, introduced armies of servants, but through want of organisation or practical experience in colonisation, they did not put the land to its best use. At the end of 1831, over one million acres were allotted to settlers, but of this enormous tract, only the ridiculous area of 200 acres was cultivated. No more convincing proof against a liberal land grant system without picked labour could be required by the authorities than this.
The short history had shown the number of inexperienced men that had been attracted to the Swan River, and the result. The implements introduced were not at all suitable for the settlers; capital was lavishly invested in articles of no possible value to the colony; and there was no ready money to tide colonists over unremunerative toil. A settler, writing a few years after the foundation, asserts that this was caused by Government regulations admitting of the assignment of land only on the introduction of property and labourers. As a consequence, people invested nearly to the full extent of their capital so as to obtain a large grant, which they anticipated would soon rise in value and bring them immense profits by sale. Experiences of a few people elsewhere led them to expect this. When they reached Western Australia and required ready money, they were compelled to sell some of their property, and because of nearly everybody else being similarly situated, they had to sacrifice at a great loss. The abnormal prices paid for provisions was one of their most important expenditures.
Dissatisfied people from the east received large grants, and, not successful elsewhere, they failed here, and laid the blame on the quality of the land. Several easterners also took up country for speculative purposes, hoping to benefit by an "unearned increment." Added to this, by the Imperial regulations, land was granted to numbers of officers of the Army and Navy in lieu of their pay. They were men, most of them, who knew nothing of agriculture, or of colonisation, for that matter. Several of these officers were evidently imbued with the speculative instinct, and thinking that by obtaining thousands of acres of land for their pay they could soon increase their hundreds of pounds to many thousands, they took up large tracts, but very few improved them in any way. Grants were made to people who were never in the colony, and to the captains of the Challenger and Sulphur, "and all the officers, to the captain's clerk, and to others." The Lieutenant-Governor received 100,000 acres, two other persons received over 100,000 acres, ten 20,000, eighteen 10,000, and fifty-two 5,000 acres each. The injurious principle of unlimited grants was the great cause of the whole depression, and although there were regulations providing for the nominal improvement of the land, they were not generally obeyed, and the soil remained idle. Lord Glenelg, in a despatch in 1837, admitted that the system of grants retarded the prosperity of the colony.
The three great forces in colonisation were not kept in due proportion—capital, land, and labour. Land was not apportioned according to the capital and labour the settler could concentrate upon it. Also, land was not only obtainable on the introduction of labourers and certain investments, but it could be procured on the application of capital to the land to the extent of one and sixpence per acre. While large numbers of servants were introduced into the colony they were in no way proportionate to the areas of land held, and were not placed on that class of work which ensured quick profits. Some of those who seriously wished to hold their land, merely improved it to all appearances so as to obtain the fee-simple of the grant at the expiration of the periods mentioned in the regulations. The Literary Gazette, issued by the Perth Literary Society, in November, 1831, asserted, that "to the want of labour, and to that alone, may be traced all the evils that have afflicted this infant settlement." This statement, in view of the numerous servants that were introduced during 1830 and 1831, was doubted by many settlers. A writer on South Australian colonisation, in instituting a comparison with Western Australia, voices these views when he says of this colony that the evils "may be traced, not to labour absolutely, for plenty of workmen were taken to the colony by the first emigrant capitalists; but to the want of arrangements for having constancy and combination of labour." The enormous size of some grants, the want of co-operation between settlers and their friends at home, the absence of the true colonising spirit, the inability of many to apply their capital and labour to the right channels, the speculative instinct which was so predominant, the lack of ready money, the injurious reports circulated far and wide, and the sins of many of the servants themselves, combined to retard progression and to precipitate distress.
Servants early became dissatisfied with their lot. At Swan River they suddenly found themselves in positions of power, for they recognised that success depended on their efforts. They took advantage of this, and, says Mr. Nathaniel Ogle, F.G.S., in 1839, were influenced by caprice and whim, and conducted themselves with much swagger. They were not allowed to take up land until released from their indentures, which extended from two to five years and more. Most of Mr. Peel's servants received wages at the rate of three shillings per day, from which food and clothing were deducted. The free men received much better pay; labourers earning from five shillings upwards, and artificers from eight to ten shillings per day. As a consequence, the indentured servants were not satisfied, and made frequent complaints against their masters, and if it were proved that the latter did not fulfil the necessary obligations, such as in wages, food, or other stipulations, they were released from their indentures. In 1831 they talked of forming a club. The masters repeatedly complained of the insolence of servants and of the impossibility of obtaining a fair day's work from them. They accused them of refusing to obey orders, of carelessness in the use of their employers' property, of striving to give annoyance so as to obtain their freedom. The Lieutenant-Governor often had to settle these disputes. Already there was a serious evil existing among servants, and among masters also—that of intoxication. It was provided that so much rum be allowed each servant once a day; before many months were passed, however, they demanded rum three times a day, and an allowance of beer as well. The unbalanced spent much of their wages at the inns, and cases of drunkenness became frequent in 1831. To such dimensions did this evil attain that the Lieutenant-Governor mentions it in his despatches, and Mr. G. F. Moore in that year refers to drink as "the bane of this country." In December, 1831, two men were drowned in Melville Waters while under the influence of drink. In the absence of good-fellowship and a proper spirit of mutual help between master and man, the community was bound to suffer, the more because of their isolated and dependent position.
The injurious reports circulated concerning the Swan River Settlement in 1829 and 1830, were even more pronounced in 1831, and did the colony material harm. Few of those leaving Western Australia, or who were compelled by indigence to remain here, were willing to admit that their failure was caused by their own want of exertion, lack of persistence, and unsuitability for colonisation. They laid the whole blame upon the quality of land. Settlements in other colonies encouraged these reports, and inflated them most consistently. Indeed, great jealousy existed between the young settlements of Great Britain, and, too often at the risk of truth, one tried to do as much harm as possible to the other. Captain Irwin, in his useful work on Western Australia, published in London in 1835, gives two instances, which are the cause and effect. An early settler, who had sold a good business in London, opened as a merchant at Swan River. He purchased no land, but devoted his whole attention to business; meeting with little encouragement, he became addicted to intemperance, squandered some, and sold the remainder of his property, and removed to the Cape of Good Hope. Although he had probably not seen more than the sandy districts of the coast, he there disseminated the worst reports of Western Australia, and industriously sought out those emigrants who touched at the Cape, giving them such a description of the colony as was calculated to deter them from coming here. An intending Swan River settler put into the Cape about this time in a ship chartered by himself, by which he was conveying about seventy persons, stores of all kinds, and choice breeds of live stock to Western Australia. He there heard such damaging reports of the colony, that he sold his goods and most of his stock, discharged his ship and numbers of his people, and took passage on another vessel bound for Van Diemen's Land. This vessel touched at the Swan on her way, and the emigrant examined the country. So pleased was he with its prospects that he resumed his purpose of settling here, and at once landed, although his sale at the Cape had lost him several thousand pounds. The persistent misstatements made in other Australian colonies, India, at the Cape, and in Great Britain, were a very pregnant cause of stagnation.
The local authorities and the English Government decided that the system of land alienation demanded radical alterations. The Colonial Circular issued in July, 1830, circumscribed the size of grants by one-half, giving instead of forty acres for every £3 invested, only twenty. This did not come into force until 1831, and meanwhile the Imperial Government considered the advisability of substituting quite new land regulations for the old, hoping, apparently, to secure more practical results in the colony. On the 1st March, 1831, the doom of the munificent land grant system was knelled in another Colonial Circular, but it was many months later, in 1832, before the new system came into effect in Western Australia. The crucial clause of this Circular was the second, which set out that "All the lands in the colony not hitherto granted, and not appropriated for public purposes,will be put up for sale. The price will of course depend upon the quality of the land and its local situation, but no land will be sold below the value of 5s. per acre." The system of alienating land by public auction, which became so general throughout Australasia, was thus inaugurated. Other clauses of this Circular provided that those persons wishing to purchase land not advertised for sale must transmit a written application to the Governor, on a prescribed form obtainable at the Surveyor-General's office for 2s. 6d. An intending purchaser was allowed to select within certain defined limits any land he wished to acquire. This area was to be advertised for sale for three calendar months, whereupon it was sold to the highest bidder above the minimum 5s. A deposit of 10 per cent. upon the whole value of the purchase was required at the time of sale, the remainder to be paid one calendar month later, failing which the sale was void, and the deposit confiscated. On the payment of the money, a grant was made in fee-simple. Fees of 40s. for preparing the grant, and 5s. for enrolling it, were payable to the Colonial Secretary. Land, it was stated, was to be put up in blocks of one square mile, or 610 acres, but upon a written application to the Governor, with explanations, for a smaller area, the circumstances were considered, and, according to merit, decided on. The Grown still reserved to itself the right of making and constructing such roads and bridges, and to the possession of such indigenous timber, stone, and other materials, as they might think proper on these lands, and also reserved to itself all mines of precious metals.
So as to encourage the introduction of labour, the ninth clause provided that "those settlers who may incur the expense of taking out labouring persons to the settlement will be entitled to an abatement of the price at which the land may have been purchased, at the rate of £20 for the passage of every married labourer and his family." But "persons claiming such an abatement from the price paid for land will be held responsible for any expense the colonial authorities may be compelled to incur for the maintenance during the first year after the arrival of the labourer in respect to whom it has been allowed."
Voluminous instructions were issued by His Majesty on 5th March, 1831, to Captain Stirling concerning these land regulations, and also requiring still more detailed divisions of Western Australia into "counties, hundreds, towns, townships, and parishes," which cast a tremendous undertaking on the Surveyor-General and his department. Special terms were offered to officers of the Army, which were warranted to encourage them to settle in the colony. This order was issued on 24th February, 1831, when it was determined to alter the Australian land system. Only the colonies of New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land are mentioned in these terms, but Western Australia, as one of the "Australian Colonies," was included in the privileges offered. Officers were to obtain land only by purchase at public sales, but remissions were granted to those who had served 20 years and upwards, of £300; from 15 years, £250; from 10 years, £200; and from 7 years and less than 10 years, £150, on the total purchase money. There was a proviso, however, that officers who obtained this remission would be required to reside at least seven years in the settlement, and provide for their own passages to the colony, and also for those of their families.