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2-019 (Original)

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Speaker:
author,male,Cunningham, Peter,38 addressee
ns1:discourse_type
Report
Word Count :
6725
Plaint Text :
ns1:register
Public Written
ns1:texttype
Reports
ns1:localityName
http://dbpedia.org/resource/New_South_Wales
Created:
1827
Identifier
2-019
Source
Macmillan, 1966
pages
27-48
Document metadata
Extent:
48499
Identifier
2-019.txt
Title
2-019#Original
Type
Original

2-019.txt — 47 KB

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<source><g=m><o=b><age=38><status=2><abode=08><p=nsw><r=pcw><tt=rp><2-019>
LETTER III
An elegant light-house of white freestone, with a revolving light, built upon the southern side of the entrance to Port Jackson, and called Macquarie Tower, points out, both by day and night, the precise Situation of the harbour. Beside the light-house is a signal-post, and a telegraph, to communicate to Sydney every thing relative to ships leaving or approaching the port.
The coast-line here consists of high mouldering cliffs of whitish sandstone, which arrest strongly the attention of the stranger; whilst the country in the vicinity, clothed in a livery of evergreen shrubs, presents a pleasing and refreshing picture to the eye, so long habituated to the dreary and boundless expanse of sea, spread out daily in desert magnificence. The stunted appearance of these shrubs, however, and the patches of white sand scattered among them, impress on the mind no high idea of the fertility of the soil from which they draw their subsistence.
You enter Port Jackson between two high bluff points, named the North and South Heads, about three quarters of a mile apart. Proceeding onwards, the Sweet natural scenery of our queen of harbours gradually expands upon your view. You steer nearly west to Sydney, which is distant five miles, the first glimpse you have of its situation being the tall and slender spire of St. George's church, shooting up into the clear horizon before you. The shores onwards are bold, and often precipitous, agreeably varied in their general outline by romantic little bays, which, with their white sandy beaches, open irregularly to the right and left as you sail along. On each side the land, broken and moderately high, terminates toward the shore in narrow ridges, covered with native shrubs in perpetual summer verdure, among which, rocks of varied hues peep here and there abruptly out, while slender streams of water, gurgling down the narrow valleys between the ridges, just reveal themselves at intervals, and retire again from view.
To the left, as you steer up the harbour, you first observe the pilot-houses with their clean whitewashed walls and small fairy gardens, perched at the bottom of a snug little sunny bay; then the pretty cottage called The Retreat, formerly the residence of Sir Henry Brown Hayes; and next the beautiful eastern-fashioned mansion of our excellent naval officer, Captain Piper, which, with its tastefully ornamented lawn and delightful grounds, cannot fail to impress the stranger very favourably as to the wealth and height of improvement to which the colony has in its short but prosperous career attained. [28] 
A few rocky islands, feathered lightly with scrubby brushwood, lie carelessly scattered, as it were, along the course of the harbour, but none of them realize the poetical image of Campbell, and the long isles of Sydney Cove to view: the most noted being one fronting the Cove, bearing the un-poetical name of Pinch gut, on account of its having been the primitive prison of the colony, and the spot, also, whereon male-factors were in olden times hung in chains.
Sydney Cove is formed by two ridges running out into the harbour. The one to the left terminates in Bennilong's Point, on the low extremity whereof stands Fort Macquarie, with its castellated martello towers; and that to the right in Dawes Point, with a fort bearing that name, which in like manner occupies its extremity. Down the hollow between these ridges a small rill trickles slowly into the head of the Cove, in the rocky sandstone bed of which tanks have been cut, to retain the water during the summer droughts, an arrangement which proves of material service to the town's-people.
Along this hollow for upwards of a mile, in a westerly direction, extends our main thoroughfare (George Street), which all the other streets either run parallel to or intersect at right angles, the town thus occupying the whole of the hollow, and creeping up the gradual ascents on either side.
The ridge on the left is successively crowned by the lofty-looking buildings of the horse barracks, the colonial hospital, the convict barracks, and a fine Gothic Catholic chapel. Beyond this lies the promenade of Hyde Park, flanked toward the town by a row of pretty cottages, and toward the country by a high brick-walled garden appertaining to the government.
On the ridge to the right of the Cove rows rising above rows of neat white cottages present themselves, overlooked by the commanding position of Fort Phillip with its signal-post and telegraphic appendages; following which line, we behold in succession the military hospital and windmill, St. James's Church, the Gothic Presbyterian kirk: and beyond these the military barracks, forming three-fourths of a large square and opening to George Street, with an extensive green plot in the centre for purposes of parade. [29]
The portion of the town to the right is best known by the name of The Rocks, from the ridge whereon it is built being nothing more than a bare mass of white sandstone, often rising in successive layers (like steps of stairs) from the bottom to the top of the ridge. This is considered the St. Giles's, and the division of the town to the left the St. James's, portion of Sydney; most of the superior citizens inhabiting the latter, and the lower classes chiefly the former, though the Rocks can undoubtedly boast of many handsome houses with highly respectable inmates.
A few hundred yards from the head of the Cove, toward the left, stands the governor's house, with its beautiful domain in front, ornamented by large trees of the finest and most varied foliage, scattered singly or in clumps; with a fine belt of shrubbery closing in the background: the whole occupying a space from beyond the head of the Cove to near Bennilong's Point.
Between the domain and the Cove, an agreeable walk has been formed, chiefly in the solid rock, and fenced off from the domain by a freestone wall, which being level at its top with that portion of the enclosure approaching the Point, the interior attractions may be thus pleasantly viewed. It is, in consequence of this circumstance, together with the prospect it commands of the shipping in the harbour, and its communicating with the other fine walks around, that this promenade has become the favourite of our Sunday pedestrians and fashionables. Along it they pour to enjoy the cool evening sea-breeze among the delightful scenery bordering the shores of the harbour beyond.
But the domain, beautiful as it still undoubtedly is, has lost much of its attraction since being deprived of the kangaroos and emus seen, in Governor Macquarie's time, hopping and frisking playfully about, which never failed to strike powerfully the eye of a stranger on his first sight of them from ship-board, both on account of their novelty to him and their being emblematical of the country upon whose shore he was about to debark.
On casting the eye, again, from the ship to the right shore of the Cove, you first see the handsome mansion of Mr. R. Campbell, one of our oldest and most respectable merchants, with its garden full of flowers and fruit-trees, and wharf and storehouse toward the beach: next, you observe the town-house of Captain Piper; then the government dock-yard, against the surrounding wall whereof are built the working-sheds and storehouses, with its boat-landings and little wet-docks scooped out of the adjoining shore; then, the high buildings composing the commissary stores, beyond which is the wooden government wharf, jutting out into the harbour; and, farther on, the landing warehouses of the various merchants connected with our export and import trade; a low wall, built across its head, there terminating the Cove, to prevent its being filled up by the alluvial depositions from the rivulet. [30]
Numbers of boats soon surround the ship, filled with people anxious to hear news, and traffickers with fruit and other refreshments, besides watermen to land passengers. A regular establishment of the latter description has long existed here, many of whose members formerly plied that vocation on the Thames, and among whom were a few years back numbered that famous personage once known by all, from Westminster Stairs to Greenwich, by the shouts which assailed him as he rowed along of "Overboard he vent, overboard he vent!"
King Boongarre, too, with a boat-load of his dingy retainers, may possibly honour you with a visit, bedizened in his varnished cocked hat of "formal cut", his gold-laced blue coat (flanked on the shoulders by a pair of massy epaulettes) buttoned closely up, to evade the extravagance of including a shirt in the catalogue of his wardrobe; and his bare and broad platter feet, of dull cinder hue, spreading out like a pair of sprawling toads, upon the deck before you. First, he makes one solemn measured stride from the gangway; then, turning round to the quarter-deck, lifts up his beaver with the right hand a full foot from his head (with all the grace and ease of a court exquisite) and, carrying it slowly and solemnly forwards to a full arm's-length, lowers it in a gentle and most dignified manner down to the very deck, following up this motion by an inflection of the body almost equally profound.
Advancing slowly in this way, his hat gracefully poised in his hand, and his phiz wreathed with many a fantastic smile, he bids massa welcome to his country. On finding he has fairly grinned himself into your good graces, he formally prepares to take leave, endeavouring at the same time to take likewise what you are probably less willing to part withal, namely, portion of your cash. [31] Let it not be supposed, however, that his Majesty condescends to thieve: he only solicits the loan of a dump, on pretence of treating his sick gin to a cup of tea, but in reality with a view of treating himself to a porringer of "Cooper's best", to which his Majesty is most royally devoted.
You land at the government wharf on the right, where carts and porters are generally on the lookout for jobs; and, on passing about fifty yards along the avenue, you enter George Street, which stretches on both hands, and up which towards the left you now turn, to reach the heart of the town.
Near the harbour, where ground is very valuable, the houses are usually contiguous, like those of the towns in England; but, generally speaking, the better sort of houses in Sydney are built in the detached cottage style - of white freestone, or of brick plastered and whitewashed, one or two stories high, with verandas in front, and enclosed by a neat wooden paling, lined occasionally with trim-pruned geranium hedges. They have besides a commodious garden attached, commonly decked out with flowers, and teeming with culinary delicacies. Into the enclosure immediately around the house the dogs are usually turned at night, to ward off rogues; and uncompromising, vigilant watchmen they certainly are, paying little of that respect to genteel exterior which their better-bred brethren in England are so apt to demonstrate.
The streets are wide, and neither paved nor lighted at present; but the general dryness of our climate and durable composition of our streets render paving unnecessary; while an elegant set of lamps is now actually in progress, to be placed diagonally at fifty yards distance; and by reason of the whiteness of our houses and clearness of our sky an illumination will thus be effected equalling some of the best-lighted London streets.
Although all you see are English faces, and you hear no other language but English spoken, yet you soon become aware you are in a country very different from England by the number of parrots and other birds of strange note and plumage which you observe hanging at so many doors, and cagefuls of which you will soon see exposed for sale as you proceed.
The government gangs of convicts, also, marching backwards and forwards from their work, in single military file, and the solitary ones straggling here and there, with their white woollen Paramatta frocks and trowsers, or grey or yellow jackets with duck overalls [...] all daubed over with broad arrows, P.B's, C. B's, and various numerals in black, white, and red; with perhaps the jail-gang straddling sulkily by in their jingling leg-chains - a tell a tale too plain to be misunderstood. [32] [33]
the left, consists of three two-story buildings of freestone, ranged in a line, surrounded by a high wall, and each story encircled by a veranda. [34] It is capable of containing several hundred patients; is regulated much in the same way as the naval hospitals in England; and may rank with the best of those for the excellent order in which it is kept. It is established for the admission of convicts only, and it matters not whether the convict is in the service of government or of a settler provided his case is considered a proper one for admission.
At the colonial dock-yard, on the right of the Cove, all the government vessels load, unload, and are repaired; government boats are kept; and the depot of coals for government use is situated. The naval portion of the work is performed by gangs of competent convicts from the barrack; the jail-gang being usually tasked with the lading and unlading of the vessels.
The lumber-yard is a range of workshops forming a square to the left of George Street, near the guard-house; here the government carpenters, blacksmiths, and other mechanics, are employed in their various vocations under their respective overseers.
Agreeable amusements are still much wanted, to relieve the full monotony of a town like Sydney, forming the capital of a small territory, and cut off, in a manner, from all communications with the other parts of the civilized world, excepting by the casual arrival of a vessel about once a month, bringing broken and garbled accounts of occurrences probably some six months old.
Partly on account of this tediousness and, uncertainty in receiving intelligence, together with the impossibility of any but a very few ever having access to the English prints, to keep unbroken the chain of connexion that links them to home; the affairs of the mother country soon become objects comparatively of no interest to the great body of the colonists; while colonial news, colonial politics, and conversational discussions about the private affairs and personal good qualities or failings of individuals and families, engross here the whole of the public attention.
In all small communities, where people know too much of each other's private affairs, and where consequently idle gossipings and retailings of personal scandal creep in to fill the blanks occasioned by the flagging of other subjects, some such innocent recreation as theatricals, balls and evening parties (chiming in now and then to serve for topics of pleasant discussion, and divert the mind from objects only serving to engendered feeling) are of manifest utility. [35] But in a place so long distracted with private and party feuds as New South Wales, with few subjects "of a day" either of foreign or domestic interest furnished us to talk about, such inoffensive sources of enjoyment would become objects of paramount importance, both as respects the security of the peace and furtherance of the prosperity of our infant community.
A theatre has long been wanted here, to serve such purposes; and a building is now in course of erection, which is spoken of as being intended for one, by Mr. James Underwood. No regular subscription balls have yet been set on foot; but private ones are occasionally given; and also three annual public balls and suppers, by the respective sons of St. George, St. Patrick, and St. Andrew, as their regular jubilee days arrive; while the bachelors of Sydney usually make up a splendid fourth, where "bachelor's fare" forms certainly no portion of the evening's entertainment.
Our worthy governor has now however commenced giving his public dinners; and his good lady her even more social soirees. Neither does Mrs. Darling confine her polite attentions solely to the adult, but extends them likewise to the juvenile portion of our population, who have been gratified with several youthful fêtes. This lady is also one of the most zealous patronizers of the schools for poor children, and likewise patroness of the Female Institution lately set on foot for educating twenty of our young currency females in all the requisites necessary to constitute good servants.
A subscription reading-room and library are at this moment too about to be set on foot by the upper classes here, which laudable example will doubtless be followed by the respectable shop-keepers and traders, as both instruction and amusement may be thus gained at very little cost. [36]

LETTER IV
Dressiness and gaiety of appearance are much affected among our sprightly females, and every London fashion most devoutly "bowed the knee to".
The moment a lady blooming fresh from England is known to be tripping along a Sydney street, you will see our prying fair, singly or in groups, popping eagerly out their pretty "repositories for curls", to take note of the cut of her gown, the figure of her bonnet, and the pattern and colour of the scarf or shawl she displays upon her shoulders, that they may forthwith post off to put themselves in the "dear fashion" too. Instead, however, of sighing after China crapes and India muslins, like the English beauties, our Sydney belles languish after nothing but what comes with the name of "London" stamped upon it: the products of the Eastern loom being here too common, too cheap, and too durable for them to bedizen themselves out with - three defects, either of which would be quite sufficient to condemn a dress in the critical eyes of the majority of the fair.
The keeping of a fashionable repository for ladies' dresses has, consequently, been hitherto a most gainful occupation here; and one active individual who flourished in this line has lately returned to England with a fortune which I never heard calculated at less than 12,000£ all acquired in about six short years. But the multiplication of show-rooms of this kind, of late, has dispelled the hopes of any more of these golden dreams being realized.
Neatness of dress and personal cleanliness certainly form a very marked feature among a great proportion of the Sydney inhabitants, even when moving in rather an humble sphere, which cannot but excite a pleasant feeling in the mind, particularly when coupled with the reflection, that those who delight in a good exterior are seldom either sottish or depraved.
Among the great majority of the houses, too, even of mean exterior, inside cleanliness and comfort appear most conspicuously; and in passing along one of our back streets, about the dinner-hour, you will almost uniformly observe a clean newly unfolded cloth spread upon the table, with a shining show of dinner-utensils upon it, all equally inviting. [37] These, together with the pure whitewashed wall, and the articles of comfort and even luxury ranged round it, convey a very agreeable impression to the mind.
Sobriety, however, by no means ranks among the conspicuous virtues of our general population; many, very many, of our dear citizens keeping up devoutly the religious festival of St. Patrick from year's end to year's end.
"Why, Dennis," said I to a sottish Hibernian, whom I had seen for some weeks in a state of oblivion, "surely St. Patrick could not be born on every day of the last month!"
"Och, it is only my own bad memory that makes me so particular, sir; for having a mighty love for the saint, you see, I always begin keeping his birth a fortnight beforehand, lest I should forget the day; and after it is over, why, the devil burn me but I always forget to leave off!"
A commodious market-house stands upon the right of George Street, beyond the military barracks, beside which a large plot of ground is also set apart for the display of articles that may be brought for sale on the market-day. A row of wooden sheds closes in the back-ground, where traders trick off their showy wares, while numerous stands occupy the open foreground, crowded with the various productions of English or colonial manufacture.
The whole is placed under the charge of an officer named Clerk of the Market, and good order is preserved throughout by the beneficial regulations in force. It is held on Thursdays, and attended by individuals from the distance of forty miles or more, with the produce of their agricultural industry. During the preceding day, as you journey towards the interior, you will encounter file after file of carts, loaded with wheat, maize, potatoes, pease, carrots, turnips, cabbages, fruit, pigs, calves, poultry, and indeed all sorts of commodities for culinary use, pouring along the road toward Sydney. A considerable number of oxen are usually sold at the market by auction or private contract, and horses also frequently disposed of.
Good bargains may often be got by watching opportunities - that is, if you are properly furnished, the dealings here being all for money. It must be confessed, nevertheless, that the general run of the stock realizes the dream of Pharaoh; for indeed you might almost tie your handkerchief in a beau-knot round the bellies of some, or detect a fellow picking a pocket, through the sides of others; into such delicate shapes have they been refined by the genteel fare whereupon the poor beasts had so long previously subsisted. [38] A row of commodious buildings extending on each side and up the middle of the market square has just been planned out for execution by the government, which will, when completed, confer a great benefit upon the public.
Not the least attractive novelty here, however, to the eyes of a stranger, will be the numerous beautifully-plumaged parrots exposed to sale, either young ones from the nest or old ones snared during harvest; all of which, when thus newly taken, are usually disposed of at from sixpence to one shilling each.
Sydney is divided into six police districts, with a lock-up house and a night-watch, under the orders of a conductor, attached to each. Constables are also on the alert through the town during the day to pick up offenders. The whole is under the direction of the chief constable, who again acts under the orders of the head magistrate, by whom (with the assistance of two ordinary magistrates) charges are investigated daily at the police office; the offences being either summarily punished or sent for adjudication before the criminal court, or quarter-sessions, according to their magnitude, or as committed by convicts or free men.
The jail is a most wretched structure, situated in George Street; but another commodious one is now building on the South-head road. The court-house for civil and criminal proceedings stands close to St. Philip's, fronting Hyde Park. When strolling through the streets of Sydney on first landing, very singular reflections will naturally intrude upon the mind, on perceiving the perfect safety with which you may jostle through the crowds of individuals now suffering, or who have suffered, the punishment awarded by the law for their offences; men banished often for the deepest crimes, and with whom, in England, you would shudder to come in contact. Elbowed by some daring highwayman on your left hand, and rubbed shoulders with by even a more desperate burglar on your right, a footpad perhaps stops your way in front, and a pickpocket pushes you behind, all retired from their wonted vocations, and now peacefully complying with the tasks imposed upon them, or following quietly up the even path pointed out by honest industry.
But nothing will surprise you more than the quietness and order which prevail in the streets, and the security wherewith you may perambulate them at all hours of the night, indifferently watched as they are, and possessing so many convenient situations wherein robbers may conceal themselves, ounce upon you, and make their escape with their booty without even a chance of detection. [39] I have frequently been out at very late hours, and passed through many gloomy portions of the town, but never met with a moment's interruption. Indeed, a street robbery is a most rare occurrence.
Petty thefts and burglaries are much more frequent, but these also are insignificant in amount. Even robberies of masters by convict servants are far from being common, and more is generally made of these than their magnitude intrinsically deserves. In fact, the thefts they commit are generally for the purpose of regaling themselves with spirits, and this can only be done in the vicinity of towns. They are more strictly watched, and by consequence usually more speedily detected, than such as have hitherto borne an honest character. They are more certainly punished too, because we have no previous sympathy with them; and their offences are also more liable to be construed into crimes of a deeper die, inasmuch as, knowing them to have been formerly bad, we are naturally led to believe that the robbery now brought to light is but one of a long series they have been committing. Therefore we feel little disposed to look over offences in them, for which we would possibly never think of prosecuting a free servant in England.
Brick walls however afford but a sorry defence against our expert and ingenious burglars, who will pick a hole through one of such in a very few minutes, no part of a house being safe; back, front, and gable, proving all equally inviting. They will effect their breach with a celerity and a silence which few newcomers feel disposed to give credit to, until they awake some morning vestless and bootless, and on prying round in quest of their stray habiliments, find themselves unexpectedly assisted in the search by the friendly face of daylight now peeping through a port-hole in the wall, where no daylight had peeped before. Stone walls are therefore generally preferred for warehouses and stores, where articles of value have to be deposited.
Captain Rossi, our present police magistrate, has effected most beneficial reforms in his department since his assumption of office, the whole police having been remodelled and placed upon a more respectable as well as efficient footing. His zealous efforts to chain down the demon of drunkenness, who had long been raging loose among us, deserves the very highest praise, particularly in reference to a colony like this, composed of such dissolute materials. [40] In ability on the bench, discrimination, sound judgment, and a strict undeviating sense of justice, we may never probably have one to exceed our late police magistrate, Mr. Wentworth; but he was certainly very deficient in the tact of keeping in action a strict surveillance.
Crimes, naturally enough, form, in our small community, a considerable portion of the food of our conversational circles. There is, in fact, frequently so little else to talk about that a bushranger affair, or adroit robbery or burglary, opportunely chiming in when other topics fail, serves often as well as a city procession or lord-mayor's-show to eject the demon of ennui who had quietly taken up his seat in the porch.
The rules of multiplication and addition have long been in such good practice here too, that you are often puzzled to recognise, an hour afterwards, the very entertaining robbery you yourself perhaps had been at so much pains in inventing, disguised as it has since become by the various interesting episodes of house-burnings, batteries, &c. that may have been ingeniously pinned thereto by other fingers. In fact, owing to this accumulative system, it would be wise, in all cases, to make a deduction of twenty-five per cent from the gross amount of every frightful story you hear.
Another thing worthy of observation is that so many offences are cognizable by our magistrates here, which an English bench would not or perhaps could not take notice of, that such may be fairly said to form a full half of those which occur; for instance, insolence, neglect of work, drunkenness, running away, absence without leave, and so on. In mentioning, therefore, that eight hundred individuals, exclusive of those committed to the criminal court, had passed examination before the Sydney bench during the three first months of this year (1826), I beg you will not be too much startled; but preserve your equilibrium when I tell you that forty-one police cases were decided upon one day (viz. March 30th whilst on the 12th of the same month not a single offence appeared for investigation before the bench.
Times were really looked on as becoming so stupid, from the total eclipse of crime that had now first taken place in the memory of the oldest inhabitant, that the worthy magistrates, in order to keep up the spirits of the people, issued seventy-six spirit licenses on that very day, as is duly recorded in the pages of our facetious Australian.
Although twenty constables were on March 30th actually deficient in our Sydney police (from the want of fit persons to fill these situations), yet you saw nobody look the sadder for it, nor even shake their heads and sigh on reading the following list of captives in the jail: viz, for trial, twenty-one; under transportation, twenty-five; death recorded, three; runaways from Port Macquarie, eleven; do. Newcastle, eleven; for imprisonment, thirty-eight; under transportation by magistrates, forty-four; at labour, seven; debtors, sixteen - grand total, one hundred and seventy-six. [41]
I had nearly forgotten to mention an excellent law, passed lately, subjecting to punishment all convicts found out after eight P.M. without a written pass from their master, or a lighted lantern in their hand, which lighted lantern only requires to be enforced in all instances after ten, to render the regulation most effective.
Sydney is most abundantly supplied with fish, which are caught with hooks and lines, chiefly towards the heads of the harbour, by the native blacks, and disposed of to the retailers, who hawk them about the town; the sounds of "Fish O," "Hot rolls, all hot," and many other English cries, often chiming in agreeably upon your ear "right early in the morning"; agreeably, I say, from their recalling to your remembrance, in these unmusical strains, scenes you have so newly forsaken.
King-fish, mullet, mackerel, rock-cod, whiting, snappers, bream, flat-heads, and various other descriptions of fishes are all, too, found plentifully about. Mud oysters are brought over from Botany Bay, where they are abundant; and by fitting yourself out with a few slices of bread and butter, and other requisites, and taking a pleasant stroll round any of the romantic shores of our beautiful harbour, you may quickly secure a cheap and most delicious lunch from the sweet and finely flavoured rock oysters wherewith all its tide rocks are crusted, and which are collected by poor individuals and sold shelled at a shilling a quart.
Cray-fish, lobsters, and prawns, are also commonly found, while the little bays are perfectly alive with myriads of crabs during their breeding season. These may be observed moving quickly off into the sea on your approach, in such numbers, indeed, that the beach seems as if suddenly endowed with life, while those startled hordes are hurrying onwards (in hobbling side long gait) and wheeling themselves down into the soft sand, over which the sea ripples.
It is very amusing, too, to hunt the young crabs into their element, in order to witness the way in which they are assailed by the young toad-fish. [42] These appear always on the watch to make them their prey, darting to the very edge of the water the moment they perceive the tiny swarm approach, in order to seize them before they can burrow into the sand. So eager are many of these to secure a feast that they often run aground in endeavouring to accomplish their purpose. They are rarely successful; but when an unlucky member of the crab brood falls into their clutches they cluster round, and, each seizing a limb, shake and worry their victim as eagerly as a pack of hungry beagles would a helpless hare.
It has often been a matter of wonder to me, why the mode of catching fish by means of fishing-baskets, as practised by the French, Portuguese, and Spaniards, has never been followed at Sydney; particularly, as having already been found to answer so well, from the circumstance of two fish-baskets, brought by some sailors from the Brazils, supplying not only the cabin but the whole crew with abundance of fish daily, while the ship lay in the harbour, merely by sinking these baskets over the ship's side.
The pleasure-walks and drives in the vicinity of Sydney constitute not the least of its attractions. The delightful promenade round the government domain we have already noticed. Turning to the left in your onward course down the cool shady carriage-drive, called Mrs. Macquarie's Road, which winds round the long, narrow, and closely-wooded point facing Garden Island, your pleasurable feelings will be still more sensibly excited. The abrupt shores are here romantically diversified with huge masses of rock, scattered irregularly along them, or jutting out in shelving cliffs, affording an agreeable retreat from the rays of the noon-day sun, where you may revel in the luxury of the cool sea-breeze, and enjoy the variegated marine prospect spread out before you.
Fronting the beach, at the extremity of this point, is a commodious seat, hewn out of the rock, which projects like a pulpit canopy over you, and at the back whereof is an inscription recording the year of its formation, and under whose auspices it was executed.
The South-head road is, however, the grand equestrian resort, along which gigs with well-dressed people, and spruce dandies a cheval, may be daily seen careering. Sunday is here, as everywhere else, the great gala day, when all the various equipages are most profusely shown off; when the animating bustle here displayed, the clouds of starting dust scattering abroad from behind the carriage-wheels and heels of the horses and the passing smiles and congés of the different groups, hurrying backwards and forwards, present a very lively picture. [43]
The road terminates at the tall and airy light-house, perched upon the bold headland forming the southern entrance of the harbour, and overlooking the whole southern ocean, spread out in boundless expanse before you.
Midway, a road to the left carries you to a rising ground named Bellevue, level at top, and commanding an extensive view of the ocean and all the surrounding wild natural scenery. The country on the route will afford few charms to the mere agriculturist, alive to no other attractions save fertility of soil; but to the admirer of untamed nature, in all her primeval variety, this spot, where low undulating hills (of rock and sand) lie scattered about in disorderly array, garnished with shrubs in liveries of the freshest green, and flowers of the liveliest hue, cannot fail to impress its beauty on the heart too deeply to be readily forgotten.
Abundance of gigs may be hired in Sydney at fifteen shillings a day, and riding-horses at ten shillings, so that you may readily visit every spot worth seeing in the vicinity. A four-horse stagecoach runs twice a day, and a caravan once, between Sydney and Paramatta (a distance of fifteen miles), and another coach thrice a week to Liverpool (twenty-one miles), while a third proceeds from Paramatta to Windsor (twenty-three miles) three times a week also.
You may thus travel thirty-six miles into the interior westerly, and twenty-one miles southerly, by stage-coaches alone; a proof of the goodness of the interior communications, and of the wealth and populousness to which our infant colony has attained, since it can, at this early period, support such an enterprising and expensive undertaking, in the conveniences arising wherefrom even many of the old countries of Europe are yet deficient. [44]

LETTER V
The inhabited parts of the colony cultivated by free people may be divided into four.
First, the old settled division, comprehending the county of Cumberland (in which Sydney lies), and the county of Camden, southerly, between Cumberland and Argyle. Secondly, the counties of Argyle and Westmoreland, and the unnamed country beyond, to the left, or southward of Sydney. Thirdly, the counties of Northumberland and Durham to the right, or northward of Sydney, situated upon Hunter's River; and, Fourthly, the counties of Roxburgh and Londonderry, beyond the Blue mountains, interiorly, or westward of Sydney, known best by the name of Bathurst.
The three first divisions all lie between the barrier range of mountains, stretching parallel to the coast forty miles interiorly, and the sea, consequently all their waters run into the sea easterly; while the fourth division (Bathurst) lying beyond this barrier range, consequently its waters run westerly, and terminate in the immense interior swamps, the outlet whereof is yet a mystery. Carriage roads lead from Sydney to them all, excepting the third division spoken of (upon Hunter's River to the northward), to which there is yet but a cattle track.
The main road from Sydney runs on in a line with George Street toward Paramatta; another road strikes off to the left of this, about the sixth milestone, towards Liverpool, and thence on to the southern counties of Argyle and Westmoreland. Just before reaching Paramatta, a road turns off to join that leading to Liverpool, which town it connects with Paramatta. One road turning off from the portion of the town of Parramatta situated beyond the river, runs backward along the right bank of the stream toward Sydney, to communicate with the numerous farms upon that line; while three others branch off toward the interior from near this point. The first, toward the right, runs on to the town of Windsor, situated upon the river Hawkesbury, at the foot of the Blue mountains, where, crossing that river by a punt, you join the road leading to Hunter's River. [45]
The second road, to the left of this, carries you to Richmond (twenty-one miles), situated upon the Hawkesbury, at the foot of the Blue mountains, also; and crossing the river by the punt, or at a convenient ford, you may join the Hunter's River road from this too, or proceed on to Bathurst, beyond these mountains, by the new cut now in progress.
The third road, farther to the left still, passes on to Emu Ford, likewise upon the Hawkesbury, where it crosses the Blue mountains to Bathurst, this being the original route by which that fine portion of country was first discovered. By means of these roads, Sydney is therefore connected with all the colonized portions of our territory.
A number of cross-roads in the county of Cumberland either connect these main ones, or open laterally other portions of the country. All these roads are regularly cut and levelled, and the majority of the principal ones Macadamized. In Cumberland both the main and cross roads are generally fenced too, on each side, by four-rail fences, and toll bars established upon the great thoroughfares throughout, from which a considerable revenue is collected; no less than three turn-pikes surrounding Paramatta alone.
Cumberland commences at Broken Bay, the outlet of the Hawkesbury, sixteen miles beyond Sydney, and stretches along the sea-coast to the southward fifty-six miles, counting in this line in southerly succession the harbours of Broken Bay, Port Jackson, and Botany Bay, calculated for large ships, and Port Hacking, for small craft. It is about forty miles broad, backed by the Blue-mountain range westerly, with the Hawkesbury sweeping round it, and forming its northern and western boundaries as the sea does its eastern, while the Cow-pasture river, from where it joins the Hawkesbury, extending south-easterly to an origin within thirty-five miles of the sea, forms its boundary in that direction, leaving thus only these thirty-five miles on its southern line in which it is not surrounded by water. Cumberland contains the towns of Sydney, Paramatta, Windsor, and Liverpool, all fast increasing in population and rising into importance.
Camden lies to the southward between Cumberland and Argyle, the Cow-pasture from the S. E. and Wingecarabee [Wingecarribee] from the S. W. forming by their junction with the Hawkesbury its boundaries on these lines, lying thus in the fork formed by their meeting. It extends in length sixty miles to the S. E, Shoalhaven port and river forming its boundary in that direction, thirty-five miles to the south of Port Jackson; the sea, in a direct line of thirty-five miles, constituting its eastern boundary. [46] Its breadth is about twenty-six miles. Shoalhaven is its only port, and this too calculated but for small vessels, being very dangerous of entry, even for these, from the number of its shoals. This port forms the extreme point of coast population southerly, Messrs. Berry and Wolstonecroft, two of our most eminent merchants, having a flourishing and extensive establishment here, where timber is sawed for the Sydney market, and tobacco and various other valuable products cultivated, besides a large herd of cattle maintained.
No towns have yet been founded in Camden, and it possesses no artificial cross-roads; but the openness and easy accessibility of nearly all the fertile portion render these in a great measure unnecessary at present. Camden is watered by the branches of the Cow-pasture and Wingecarabee rivers falling into the Hawkesbury, and by some stray branches of the Shoal-haven river; while Cumberland has, to supply its wants, the south and east creeks coming from the S. E. to join the Hawkesbury at Windsor, as also the S. W. arm of the latter river terminating in Broken Bay, and George's River passing Liverpool and falling into Botany Bay.
Various small streams and chains of ponds are found throughout both; but, generally speaking, these two counties are very defectively watered, and few springs are to be found I know indeed of only two within their boundaries, a circumstance chiefly owing without doubt to the impermeable nature of the clay soil, which prevails so much throughout, neither admitting the rains to filter through into the channels among the under-strata, nor permitting the water that may be contained in these strata from bursting forth. The compact nature of the understrata, the general dryness of the climate, and irregular intervals at which the rains usually fall, may all tend too toward the formation of its present character.
Numbers of gullies worn by the rains are to be found about, in which deep holes have been excavated, at irregular intervals, by the occasional torrents that pour through them, where water is generally contained for a considerable portion, or sometimes the whole of the year. This water is often brackish, and thence disliked by the cattle, though I have known sheep eagerly drink it in preference to fresh, but the nature of the saline ingredient might in this instance have been different. The brackish water has usually a nauseous sweet taste; but in the fresh-water holes the liquid is good, and much relished by the cattle, as water standing upon clay commonly is. [47] 
Digging of wells in the country has not, that I am aware of, yet been had recourse to; neither has boring been hitherto tried, although we have an apparatus here for the purpose; but both, I should think, would be found in some measure to answer. The digging deep holes however in these gullies; the puddling them well; and the covering them with a bark-shed, or planting trees round (to keep the water cool and check its evaporation, by the shade afforded) must be eligible, and would probably prove a cheaper mode than either sinking or boring, while it would certainly be more convenient for the cattle.
I travelled for twelve miles once along one of our main roads, in the height of summer, during a piping-hot north-wester, the country blazing around me, a temperature being thus kept up almost equalling a baker's oven, yet I could only obtain one solitary drink of hot muddy water throughout all that distance. Another time, in crossing through the district of Airds, on asking for a glass of water, the good dame proffered me milk, as a substitute, apologizing for the non-production of the simpler element, as it had to be brought from a distance of two miles, and even then only got in insignificant quantities.
Many fine portions of land throughout the colony are now lying unoccupied on this very account; but as population increases, and capital accumulates, their value will be so advanced, as to tempt individuals to expend a portion of that capital in supplying the lands with water, to render them habitable for both man and beast - and how many fair portions of England would at this very time have been just as badly off, if digging, boring, and pond-making, had not been had recourse to!
There is certainly a considerable portion of saline matter in most lands throughout the colony. You will see it often, in dry weather, lying like a hoar-frost upon the ground in the vicinity of ponds; while in the burning of the stumps, it covers the outside of the earth-kiln with a thin powdery efflorescence. The water in some of the ponds presented distinctly to, me the sweetish astringent taste of alum; but regarding the powder I cannot positively speak.
In Cumberland, the land immediately bordering upon the coast is of a light, barren, sandy nature, thinly besprinkled with stunted bushes; while, from ten to fifteen miles interiorly, it consists of a poor clayey or ironstone soil, thickly covered with our usual evergreen forest timber and underwood. [48] Beyond this commences a fine timbered country, perfectly clear of brush, through which you might, generally speaking, drive a gig in all directions, without any impediment in the shape of rocks, scrubs, or close forest. This description of country commences immediately beyond Paramatta on one hand, and Liverpool on the other; stretching in length south-easterly obliquely towards the sea, about forty miles, and varying in breadth near twenty.
The soil upon the immediate banks of the rivers is generally rich flooded alluvial, but in the forests partakes commonly of a poor clayey or ironstone nature, yet bearing usually tolerable crops, even without manure, at the outset. In Camden, the Mittigong [Mittagong] range runs south-easterly through its whole length, terminating close to the sea in the Illawarra mountain, fifty miles south of Sydney, down the steep side whereof passes the rugged bridle-road to the beautiful, fertile, and romantic district of Five Islands, or Illawarra. From this range occupying so much of its interior, the quantity of land in Camden capable of cultivation is not very great, though making up tolerably by its richness for deficiency of extent; but the pasture land therein is not exceeded in quality by any in the colony.
In Australia, you may always quickly tell, by the species of timber you see growing, what the quality of the land for agricultural purposes is, the apple-tree marking the good, and the spotted gum and stringy bark the bad as truly as in the American wilds the beech or maple demonstrates the one, and the pine the other. On these hungry soils however, whereupon when cleared you look but for a wretched crop, trees of the stateliest dimensions may be seen growing, manifesting that there is a species of nourishment in the ground well suited at least to the growth of some descriptions of vegetable substances; and that a proper cultivation may hereafter produce such a revolution among its constituent particles, as to make it equally suitable to all.
You will see here, too, as in England (and indeed every where else), that, as the forests become more open, so in proportion will the trees be found more short and branchy, so that on the open plains and downs, dotted thinly over with timber, the trees will be observed branching out at a very little distance from the ground, and good for nothing but fire-wood. It requires trees to grow thickly together, every where, to force them upwards into a long stem. 
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