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2-275 (Original)

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addressee author,male,Backhouse, James,49
Narrative Discourse
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Public Written
Ward, 1969
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Our luggage was sent on shore, by a large boat, at the charge of £3! We obtained lodgings at a tolerable inn, at Freemantle [sic], to which we were recommended by Thomas Bannister, with whom we became acquainted, when he was Sheriff of V.D. Land, and from whom we received much kind attention, both at that period, and during our sojourn at the Swats River. Western Australia.
The town of Freemantle is situated behind a little promontory of limestone, at the mouth of an estuary, called Melville Water, into the head of which, near Perth, the Swan and Canning Rivers flow. These rivers form an inland navigation, to a considerable distance, but the opening of Melville Water into the sea, is so choked with rocks, that it is only passable for boats, in fine weather. [290] Vessels discharge their cargoes at a jetty, in a small bay on the south of the town. A tunnel is formed through the promontory, to a place where boats can land with more security, in stormy weather. The houses of Freemantle are of limestone. Many of them have been left unfinished, in consequence of the seat of Government having been removed to Perth: these, as well as others that are occupied, are going to decay. Freemantle resembles some of the little coast-villages, on the limestone of the county of Durham, but it is even whiter than they, and it is greatly inconvenienced by the drifting of sand. Fresh water is obtained in shallow wells, in the limestone. The population is about 200.
Having learned that the Governor, Sir James Stirling, was likely to make an exploratory voyage, to Port Leschenault, we concluded to pay him a visit before he set out, and for that purpose, proceeded to Perth, in a passage-boat, which reached that place in about two hours. A fine sea-breeze made the sail up Melville Water very pleasant, the weather being hot. This estuary widens, in many places, into large bays. The limestone hills on its margin are covered with trees and scrub, and are broken here and there, into picturesque cliffs. On landing, we were welcomed to the Colony, by Major lrwin, a pious, military officer, who invited us to his house. After tea, we called upon the Governor, who, with Lady Stirling, received us kindly. We were also introduced to the Colonial Chaplain, and to several other persons; and the Governor gave us leave to hold a meeting for public worship, in the Court House, which is a neat building, conveniently fitted up, and used as a place of worship, by the Episcopalian congregation. The windows have white calico, in place of glass, and are fitted with Venetian shutters, outside.
At Perth, we became lodgers, in the homely dwelling of the widow of a Colonial Surgeon; in whose house, several other persons were also inmates. The bedrooms were without plaster on the walls, or glass in the windows, and fleas were very numerous. Circumstances like these are not uncommon in newly-settled countries. in warm climates. But we had learned to put up with inconveniences of this kind. and gratefully acknowledged the endeavours of our landlady, to do her best to accommodate her guests.
The town of Perth consists of several streets, in most of which there are but few houses. Some of these, as well as the fences about the gardens, appear to be going to decay. The streets are of sand, mixed with charcoal, from the repeated burning of the scrub, which formerly covered the ground, on which the town stands. The principal street has a raised causeway, slightly paved, by which the toil of wading through the grimy sand may be avoided. Many beautiful, native shrubs grow in the borders of the gardens, most of which are in a neglected state. A few, on the slope to the head of Melville Water, have the advantage of being moistened, by filtration, from some lagoons, at the back of the town; these are well cultivated, and produce fine crops of Grapes and Melons. The lagoons are much filled with the Cats-tail Reed, Typha latifolia, the root of which is eaten by the Natives. [291] They are margined with blue Lobelias, and various species of Drosera and Villarsia; and other pretty plants. Moschettos are numerous, and very troublesome in the evening.
We met a congregation of upwards of two hundred persons, a large number for the place, the population being only about six hundred. Several of the influential inhabitants were present. I had an open season of religious labour, and endeavoured to turn the attention of the audience to 'the gift of God', and to Him who is able to give the 'living water', 'which they who drink of, shall never thirst'.
In conversation respecting the Aborigines, with a medical man, from the country, he stated his opinion to be, that they were a people who deserved no consideration, but whom it would be best to destroy whenever they were troublesome! To this sentiment, we replied, that neither Christianity, justice, nor even common sense admitted such an idea; and that though, according to the notions of these people, blood was required for blood, yet that persons who voluntarily settled in a country which the British Government had usurped, ought, with that Government, to labour for the civilization of the Native Inhabitants, and to bear patiently the inconveniences resulting from their customs, until these could be changed. There is reason to fear, that many other persons entertain similar sentiments, but the Colonial Chaplain, with whom we dined, at the table of the Governor, said, he believed that in almost every case, where any of the white people had been destroyed by the Blacks, the Whites were the faulty party.