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2-256 (Original)

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author,male,Raymond, W. Odell,un addressee,male
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Private Written
Private Correspondence
Bride, 1898
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2-256.txt — 6 KB

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Melbourne, 24th August 1842.
I should have before this written to you, according to my promise, but the sameness of the country through which I travelled, where you meet nothing pleasing to the eye or interesting to relate, induced me to defer writing up to this time, in the hope that I might be able to give you some information respecting Gippsland which may not before have reached you. Count Strzelecki's description of it as an agricultural and grazing country is fully borne out. In all my travels in New South Wales for those purposes I have not seen its equal. His chart, however, gives you a very incorrect idea of the courses of the rivers, as you will see by Mr. Townsend's survey, which I suppose will have arrived in Sydney before this. That part of the country marked in the Count's chart between Gippsland and Omeo as Buckley's and Macalister's stations is a very extensive country, and better suited for sheep than Gippsland, and I have no doubt the greater portion of it will be taken up next summer. The richness of the soil in Gippsland makes it, with the exception of small portions of it, less suited for sheep, but it is capable of feeding an immense number of cattle. [242] The runs which I have selected are on the Avon River and extend to a lake into which the river empties itself, and are a fine, open, undulating country, sound to the water's edge. I, however, do not consider them equal to those I occupied at Wellington, had we the same moisture as I am led to suppose we have in Gippsland; the lake itself is a very large sheet of water, which I suppose to be in width about twelve or fourteen miles, and from what I saw of it from the mountains when coming to Gippsland, I should imagine it to be from fifty to sixty miles long. The water when I visited it was brackish, but not too much so for stock, and we were soon able to enjoy a good pot of tea made with it, after a long day's ride. I am, however, assured by Mr. McMillan (Mr. Macalister's superintendent), and the first discoverer of this country, who had visited it three times in the summer months, that he never found it so before, and the only way in which I can account for this is that I suppose the rush of water into the lake at this time of the year is so great as to break through some outlet or sand bank, leaving a passage for the salt water to enter, which passage fills up in the summer months. I, however, intend on my return to make an excursion on the lake, and examine the coast side of it as well as the soundings, the particulars of which I will give you when I return to Sydney after shearing. I have not as yet fallen in with any of the aboriginal natives, but from what I can collect respecting them, they are a wild race, and have already committed some outrages on the settlers.
There are already in Gippsland about seven thousand head of cattle, belonging to Messrs. Macalister, Macfarlane, Arbuckle, Cunningham, Pearson, Jones, Taylor and Loughnan, and some small squatters who, I understand, do not hold licenses; thirty-five thousand sheep, brought by Messrs. Macalister, Curlewis, Reeve Taylor and Loughnan, Jones, and myself; and about one hundred horses, and a population of one hundred and forty-four free men, thirty-three bond, twenty-six free women, and seventeen children - most of them in service, the remainder living, God knows how, on the beach, where they have erected huts for themselves, waiting, they say, for the town allotments to be put up for sale. [243] We feel the want of a police bench here very much. The servants do just as they like, work or walk away as they think proper, and are harboured by those people on the beach. If my father agrees to my proposition to bring down the remainder of our sheep, and to reside there, I shall willingly do my best as a magistrate to keep the district in order, if His Excellency will give me the power by granting a Court of Petty Sessions, a clerk, and a few constables; or, perhaps, a party of the border police, under the direction of a sergeant of the mounted police, would be more available in the district. Mr. Curlewis, I understand, intends to reside in the district; so does Mr. Reeve; and these gentlemen would, I think, be eligible for appointment to the Commission of the Peace, and their services as magistrates would, I have no doubt, be of great advantage to the district.
I arrived here last week after a very severe journey by way of Western Port. Mr. Albert Brodribb, Mr. Pearson, I, and my black-fellow whom I brought with me from Wellington, started on the information of a Mr. Campbell, who stated that he had ridden for three days in the direction of Western Port, and had got sight of that place. Upon this information we took with us ten days' provisions and pack-horses to accompany us for two days; we, however, owing to the denseness of the scrub, found it impossible to bring the horses farther than the first day's journey, about fourteen miles; consequently, we shouldered our pack (blessing the informer), and with great difficulty made about four miles that day; for fourteen days, during ten of which it rained without ceasing, we never could exceed eight miles in the day. On the fifteenth day we got into a lower and less broken country, the scrub still continuing, with water up to our knees, and our provisions, with the exception of a little flour and tea, were all exhausted. [244] We, however, managed to exist to the end of the journey upon what the blackfellow could get in the shape of two pheasants, five monkeys, and a parrot, a small portion of which was served out in the morning with about two table-spoonfuls of flour, which we put to boil in a quart pot of water. In the evening, by way of change, we had the monkey, and tea without sugar. In this way we lived for eight days, at times so exhausted that when we walked a mile or two we were quite done up, suffering severely from the cuts we got getting through the scrub - our clothes and boots being completely torn off of us; and it was, I can assure you, to our great joy on the eighteenth day that we made Western Port, when we were picked up by Mr. Surveyor Smyth, who is surveying the coast, and who kindly conveyed us in his boat to Mr. Jamieson's and thence to Mr. Manton's, from whence we made this place, making the journey on foot in twenty-two days.