Australian Access Federation

You are here: Home Corpora Corpus of Oz Early English 1-176 (Text)

1-176 (Text)

Item metadata
author,male,Wentworth, William Charles,29 addressee
Word Count :
Plaint Text :
Public Written
Webby, 1989
Document metadata

1-176-plain.txt — 11 KB

File contents

The harbour of Port Jackson is perhaps exceeded by none in the world except the Derwent in point of size and safety; and in this latter particular, I rather think it has the advantage. It is navigable for vessels of any burden for about seven miles above the town, i.e. about fifteen from the entrance. It possesses the best anchorage the whole way, and is perfectly sheltered from every wind that can blow. It is said, and I believe with truth, to have a hundred coves, and is capable of containing all the shipping in the world. There can be no doubt, therefore, that in the course of a few years, the town of Sydney, from the excellence of its situation alone, must become a place of considerable importance.
The views from the heights of the town are bold, varied and beautiful. The strange irregular appearance of the town itself, the numerous coves and islets both above and below it, the towering forests and projecting rocks, combined with the infinite diversity of hill and dale on each side of the harbour, form altogether a coup d'oeil, of which it may be safely asserted that few towns can boast a parallel.
The neighbouring scenery is still more diversified and romantic, particularly the different prospects which open upon you from the hills on the South Head Road, immediately contiguous to the town. Looking towards the coast you behold at one glance the greater part of the numerous bays and islands which lie between the town and the heads, with the succession of barren, but bold and commanding hills, that bound the harbour, and are abruptly terminated by the water.  Further north, the eye ranges over the long chain of lofty rugged cliffs that stretch away in the direction of the coal river, and distinctly mark the bearing of the coast, until they are lost in the dimness of vision. Wheeling round to the south you behold at the distance of seven or eight miles, that spacious though less eligible harbour, called "Botany Bay", from the prodigious variety of new plants which Sir Joseph Banks found in its vicinity, when it was first discovered and surveyed by Captain Cook. To the southward again of this magnificent sheet of water, where it will be recollected it was the original intention, though afterwards judiciously abandoned, to found the capital of this colony, you behold the high bluff range of hills that stretch away towards the five islands, and likewise indicate the trending of the coast in that direction.
if you afterwards suddenly face about to the westward, you see before you one vast forest, uninterrupted except by the cultivated openings which have been made by the axe on the summits of some of the loftiest hills, and which tend considerably to diminish those melancholy sensations its gloomy monotony would otherwise inspire. The innumerable undulations in this vast expanse of forest, forcibly remind you of the ocean when convulsed by tempests; save that the billows of the one slumber in a fixed and leaden stillness, and want that motion which constitutes the diversity, beauty, and sublimity of the other. Continuing the view, you arrive at that majestic and commanding chain of mountains called "the Blue Mountains", whose stately and o'ertopping grandeur forms a most imposing boundary to the prospective.
If you proceed on the South Head Road, until you arrive at the eminence called "Belle Vue", the scenery is still more picturesque and grand; since, in addition to the striking objects already described, you behold, as it were at your feet, although still more than a mile distant from you, the vast and foaming Pacific. In boisterous weather the surges that break in mountains on the shore beneath you, form a sublime contrast to the still, placid waters of the harbour, which in this spot is only separated from the sea by a low sandy neck of land not more than half a mile in breadth; yet is so completely sheltered, that no tempests can ruffle its tranquil surface.
The town of Parramatta is situated at the head of Port Jackson Harbour, at the distance of about eighteen miles by water, and fifteen by land, from Sydney. The river for the last seven or eight miles, is only navigable for boats of twelve or fifteen tons burden. This town is built along a small fresh water stream, which falls into the river. It Consists principally of one street about a mile in length. It is surrounded on the south side by a chain of moderately high hills; and as you approach it by the Sydney road, it breaks suddenly on the view when you have reached the summit of them, and produces a very pleasing effect.  The adjacent country has been a good deal cleared; and the gay mimosas, which have sprung up in the openings, form a very agreeable contrast to the dismal gloom of the forest that surrounds and o'ertops them.
The town itself is far behind Sydney in respect of its buildings; but it nevertheless contains many of a good and substantial construction. These, with the church, the government house, the new Orphan House, and some gentlemen's seats, which are situated on the surrounding eminences, give it, upon the whole, a very respectable appearance. There are two very good inns, where a traveller may meet with all the comfort and accommodation that are to be found in similar establishments in the country towns of this kingdom. The charges too are by no means unreasonable.
The population is principally composed of inferior traders, publicans, artificers, and labourers, and may be estimated, inclusive of a company which is always stationed there, on a rough calculation, at about twelve hundred souls.
There are two fairs held half yearly, one in March and the other in September; they were instituted about five years since by the present governor, and already begin to be very numerously and respectably attended. They are chiefly intended for the sale of stock, for which there are stalls, pens, and every other convenience, erected at the expense of the government; for the use of these pens, etc. and to keep them in repair, a moderate scale of duties is paid by the vender.
This town has for many years past made but a very inconsiderable progress compared with Sydney. The value of land has consequently not kept pace in the two places, and is at least 200 per cent less in the one than in the other. As the former, however, is in a central situation between the rapidly increasing settlements on the banks of the Hawkesbury and Nepean rivers, and the latter the great mart for colonial produce, landed property there and in the neighbourhood, will, without doubt, experience a gradual rise.
The public institutions are an Hospital, a Female Orphan House, into which it is intended to remove the orphans from Sydney, and a factory, in which such of the female convicts as misconduct themselves, and those also who upon their arrival in the colony are not immediately assigned as servants to families, are employed in manufacturing coarse cloth. There are upon an average about one hundred and sixty women employed in this institution, which is placed under the direction of a superintendent, who receives wool from the settlers, and gives them a certain portion of the manufactured article in exchange: what is reserved is only a fair equivalent for the expense of making it, and is used in clothing the gaol gang, the re-convicted culprits who are sent to the coal river, and I believe the inmates of the factory itself.
There is also another public institution in this town, well worthy of the notice of the philanthropist.  It is a school for the education and civilisation of the aborigines of the country. It was founded by the present governor three years since, and by the last accounts from the colony, it contained eighteen native children, who had been voluntarily placed there by their parents, and were making equal progress in their studies with European children of the same age. The following extract from the Sydney Gazette, of January 4, 1817, may enable the reader to form some opinion of the beneficial consequences that are likely to result from this institution, and how far they may realise the benevolent intentions which actuated its philanthropic founder.
On Saturday last, the 28th ult. the town of Parramatta exhibited a novel and very interesting spectacle, by the assembling of the native tribes there, pursuant to the governor's gracious invitation. At ten in the morning the market place was thrown open, and some gentlemen who were appointed on the occasion, took the management of the ceremonials. The natives having seated themselves on the ground in a large circle, the chiefs were placed on chairs a little advanced in front, and to the right of their respective tribes. In the centre of the circle thus formed, were placed large tables groaning under the weight of roast beef, potatoes, bread, &c. and a large cask of grog lent its exhilarating aid to promote the general festivity and good humour which so conspicuously shone through the sable visages of this delighted congress. The governor, attended by all the members of the native institution, and by several of the magistrates and gentlemen in the neighbourhood, proceeded at half past ten to the meeting, and having entered the circle, passed round the whole of them, enquiring after, and making himself acquainted with the several tribes, their respective leaders and residences. His Excellency then assembled the chiefs by themselves, and confirmed them in the ranks of chieftains, to which their own tribes had exalted them, and conferred upon them badges of distinction; whereon were engraved their names as chiefs, and those of their tribes. He afterwards conferred badges of merit on some individuals, in acknowledgment of their steady and loyal conduct in the assistance they rendered the military party, when lately sent out in pursuit of the refractory natives to the west and south of the Nepean river. By the time this ceremony was over, Mrs Macquarie arrived, and the children belonging to, and under the care of the native institution, fifteen in number, preceded by their teacher, entered the circle, and walked round it; the children appearing very clean, well clothed and happy. The chiefs were then again called together to observe the examination of the children as to their progress in learning and the civilised habits of life. Several of the little ones read; and it was grateful to the bosom of sensibility to trace the degrees of pleasure which the chiefs manifested on this occasion. Some clapped the children on the head; and one in particular turning round towards the governor with extraordinary emotion, exclaimed, "Governor, that will make a good settler, - thars my Pickaninnyr (meaning his child). And some of the females were observed to shed tears of sympathetic affection, at seeing the infant and helpless offspring of their deceased friends, so happily sheltered and protected by British benevolence.  The examinations being finished, the children returned to the institution, under the guidance of their venerable tutor; whose assiduity and attention to them, merit every commendation.
The feasting then commenced, and the governor retired amidst the long and reiterated acclamations and shouts of his sable and grateful congress. The number of the visitants (exclusive of the fifteen children), amounted to one hundred and seventy-nine, viz, one hundred and five men, fifty-three women, and twenty-one children. It is worthy of observation that three of the latter mentioned number of children (and the son of the memorable Bemni-long, was one of them) were placed in the native institution, immediately after the breaking up of the congress, on Saturday last, making the number of children now in that establishment, altogether eighteen; and we may reasonably trust that in a few years this benevolent institution will amply reward the hopes and expectations of its liberal patrons and supporters, and answer the grand object intended, by providing a seminary for the helpless offspring of the natives of this country, and opening the path to their future civilisation and improvement.