Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

traversed, as also some of the geographical positions of its principal points; and what is not the least important to the settler, have pointed out the direction in which a line of practicable route could be opened to the districts they have visited. Small as have been these individual exertions (compared with what an ample means in the directing hands of talent and enterprize may ere long shew of those distant regions of our continent, over which the veil of obscurity at present hangs), still the little done, in the way of advancing the knowledge of the geographical positions of places, and thereby furnishing the matériel to embody the skeleton-chart of our diffusely-settled colony, as well as the opening of the country, with a view of bringing in direct communication groups of settlers, till lately separated from each other by unknown unexplored tracts, and thereby shewing the local government in what direction its labours could be advantageously bestowed in the construction of roads, -are surely acts not unworthy of the acknowledgment of a community other. wise actively and no less worthily engaged in husbandry and grazing. It was in tours of this description that the various country north from our western settlement, Bathurst, to that tributary stream of the Macquarie, named the Cugeegang, and the Mudgee country, on its banks, were discovered; and it was by a subsequent advancement on that northern line of route that the country interjacent to Bathurst and Liverpool Plains has become known, and their communication (as direct as the structure of the country would admit) been opened to the grazier.

It will doubtless be remembered that Mr. Cunningham, the King's botanical traveller, had, with considerable difficulty, in the winter of 1823, discovered a passage through the lofty dividing mountainous ranges that separate the Bathurst and Coal River countries from the extensive levels of Liverpool Plains; but that the reduced state of his provisions, and his distance from Bathurst, did not permit him to descend the pass to examine them at that particular period. He has lately returned from an important botanical tour of twelve weeks in those interesting regions, and the following epitome of his journey will mark his plan of procedure: its outline, which has traced an extent of nearly 700 miles, forming on the chart a rhomboidal figure.

Proceeding from Richmond north on the present rugged and, in parts, dangerous tract, of Mr. Howe, he intersected Hunter's River, at Patrick's Plains, in 100 miles; thence advancing N. W. up its stream about 40 miles, at which distance its channel, taking a bend from the N.E., he was induced to leave it, in order to pursue his route to the westward towards a singularly rounded hill, formerly named Mount Danger, whose elevated summit overtopping the surrounding country, forms a striking feature in the landscape of those regions. Taking a fresh departure to the N.N.W. from Mount Danger, which is situate in latitude 32° 18′ 51′′ S., and longitude (reduced from the meridian of Richmond) about 150° 27′ 30′′ E., he at length, in seventy miles, intersected those beautifully undulated tracts of sheep-pasture formerly explored, and which are bounded by the hilly country connected with the mountainous range, which, lying about east and west, forms the southern boundary of Liverpool Plains, and divides our eastern and western waters. At this stage of his journey he crossed the parallel of 32° S., and identified (from an opposite approach) all the principal points of the country, verifying generally the geographical observations he had made thereon in a former tour. Pursuing his journey west in the parallel of 32° S., he crossed without difficulty a minor lateral range, which is sheltered southerly from the main collection of mountains, and separates the streams of the Coal River from those waters that fall

into the Macquarie, particularly those that form its tributary rivulet, the Erskine of Mr. Oxley. Thence continuing a western course, about fifteen miles of interesting grazing country, alternately plain and forest ridge, he intersected his former line of route when on his return to Bathurst from the pass he had then discovered through the northern main dividing range to Liverpool Plains.

This mountain gap, a defile, which is situate almost under the meridian of 150°E. in latitude 31° 43′ 30′′ S., and on his former tour marked his northernmost point of penetration, he has now passed, descending on the 2d of May last (1825), with his pack-horses, on the south-western parts of Liverpool Plains.

To give some idea of this passage through the mountains, it may be observed, that its approach from the Bathurst and Mudgee country is by a valley eight miles in extent, which closes at its north-eastern extreme in the main ranges. From the level of this valley (named formerly Hawkesbury Vale) the acclivity through a rising open forest to the pitch of the pass, distant two miles, is singularly gradual, considering the elevated points of the barrier range by which it is bounded on either side; the northern declivity, although somewhat less easy, being not more than a mile in length to the grazing forest at the foot of the range, proving also very practicable-the entire pass from the head of Hawksbury Vale to the bank of Bowen's Rivulet of Mr. Oxley, at the northern base of the dividing range, and not exceeding three miles in extent, requiring simply the well-directed hand of industry two or three weeks in the construction of a few small bridges over the narrow but deep-water channels, grooved by the rains, in order to permit the team of the grazier to pass northerly to the extensive open country before him. As Mr. Cunningham had devoted a period of three weeks to the examination of portions of these singularly-featured regions of our interior, and had penetrated to the northern parts of Camden Valley of Mr. Oxley, in latitude 30° 47′ S., in a line bordering on the above-mentioned meridian from south to north, he is enabled to speak briefly of their feature, presumed extent, capabilities, and value to the colonist.

Liverpool Plains, which were discovered by Mr. Oxley in 1818, who entered them on their north-western side, upon emerging from our internal marshes, are vast tracts of level country, comprehended between the meridians of 150° and 150° 50′ E., and within the parallels of 30° 45′ and 31° 30′ S. They are disposed in elongated strips, which vary in breadth from five to ten or more miles, for the most part clear of timber, with the exception of a few straggling trees of acacia pendula, or weeping wattle, and eucalyptus mannifera, or white gum, which are scattered singly at long distances on the general surface; one uninterrupted patch of level plain (stretched from south to north) proving, by actual odometrical admeasurement, to exceed fifty miles in extent; whilst another portion, crossing it from W.N.W. to E.S.E., and extending to the distant part of the main dividing range, formed a base that could not be estimated at less than fifty, and probably sixty miles. From these two principal branches, lateral ramifications stretch themselves north and south, of which the vallies of Camden and Barrow are of the former direction; the ridges and rounded mounts, which are remarked to interrupt the plane of the country, appearing by these minor branches to be perfectly isolated, and thereby to form detached elevations of various figure and picturesque appearance on the common level of the plains, whose entire area, admitting of its inclusion within the above-mentioned meridional and parallel lines, will comprehend a

million

million and a half of acres; of which four-fifths may be considered, in seasons not decidedly wet, available as rich and inexhaustible grazing lands for cattle; many dry situations on the acclivities of the detached rising grounds, and more especially along the southern side of the plains in the immediate vicinity of the dividing range, being perfectly beyond the reach of water (at a period when the level lands are more or less subjected to a partial flooding by a rainy season) furnishing healthful sound walks for sheep. Those parts of Liverpool Plains that approach their western wooded margin, are watered by a stream,* which, originating in the dividing boundary range, winds northerly through them, and, after a short course of fifty miles, unites with the Yorke River, which latter stream, becoming governed by the obvious dip of the plains at N.N.W., makes its escape to a singularly declining country at that point of bearing. We know of no tract of timberless open country in New South Wales that (laying aside its vast area) forms so nearly a level as these remarkable lands of our interior; the natural consequence is, that ordinary rains falling on the southern mountains cause an overflow of Bowen's Rivulet, and as their surface was observed to be in many parts somewhat lower than the outer banks of this stream, the greater portions of the North-western Plain, and the whole of Camden Valley,† together with the boundary forests on the same level, are laid under water; of which fact, the wrecks of floods on the outer bank of the rivulet, the little pools in the concavities of the general surface, the clodded nature of the surface-soil, and consequent heaviness of travelling, together with the uniform rottenness of these marginal forests, afforded an awful striking proof. Rising from these lower sides of Liverpool Plains, over which Mr. Cunningham had prosecuted his journey, and extending the view south-easterly, it was gratifying (whilst travelling those less favourable portions) to the colonist, to contemplate the undefined extent of grazing lands, whose varied surface, whether of timberless inclined plane, moderate undulation, or elevated detached ridge, appeared fully adequate to the views of the grazier or agriculturist. Among the indigenous vegetation of those parts of the plains that were traversed, the following European genera of plants were particularly remarked, namely, a species of plantago, or rib grass; scorzonera, or viper's grass; lotus, or bird's-foot trefoil; centaurea, or centaury; ajuga, or bugle; campanula, or bell-flower; acana, or burnet; rumex, or dock; galium, or goose-grass; epilobium, or willow-herb; which were blended with eight distinct species of grasses, among which a late danthonia, or gigantic oatgrass, was most remarkable.

The soil of those parts of the plains not liable to be flooded by any overflow of Bowen's Rivulet, is of a rich loam, darkened by the fertilizing decomposition of the trap-rocks, of which the high lands in the vicinity are formed. The timber trees of the boundary ridges are stately stringy-bark, box, and some white-gum; whilst those of the lower forests on the western skirts of the

Bowen's Rivulet of Mr. Oxley.

Camden Valley, which may be considered the north-western branch of the Great Plains, was found, in the month of May last, to be, throughout its whole extent of twenty-five miles, exceedingly wet and boggy; and, as the dip of the country is evidently at N.N.W., in the direction of the extreme parts of the vale, and not only the Yorke River, but also certain partial drainings of the more considerable south-eastern patches of the plain (upon a somewhat higher level) are allowed slowly to escape to a lower western country, the surface of the valley throughout Mr. Cunningham's last stage northerly towards Hardwicke's Range, proved a perfect mire, abundantly saturated with water, which could not escape by percolation, the immediate sub-soil being a stiff tenacious clay. The plants of this part of Camden Valley are of those species that usually exist on lands constantly wet; and, as the surface of its lower or northern extreme was found covered with water to the depth of ten or twelve inches, no doubt can exist of the permanency of its marshy character.

the plains, are not only the two last kinds, but also iron-bark, and a species of callitris, or cypress; which latter will, doubtless, be found fully applicable to most of the purposes of rural economy. In a land, whose interior unfortunately does not afford us the means of a distant communication by navigable rivers, and consequently where an expensive land-carriage must ever be resorted to in the conveyance of the produce of the interior to the coast, the ease or difficulty of passing intermediate tracts of country, as well as the brevity or length of any new line of route between one portion of the country and another, will always be matters of consideration and moment with the farmer, whose possessions and stock are stationed in the interior, remote from our sea-port. To such it will be interesting to learn, that the distance from the settlement of Bathurst north to Liverpool Plains, by the way of Mudgee to the pass, is 160 miles; whilst from Patrick's Plains, on Hunter's River, those extensive level tracts may be visited by a remarkably easy line of country at N.W., through the same mountain gap, in 140 miles: the route recently discovered by Mr. Danger, the indefatigable surveyor of the Coal River (by which those extensive northern plains are said to be entered considerably to the eastward of Mr. Cunningham's tract), being possibly much shorter.

As much has been gleaned from a late tour (professedly of botanical research) of those tracts of our north-western country over which the party had travelled, as will generally interest the farmer; and, on the whole, we may now say, that our present knowledge of the interior has put us in possession of such an abundant store of grazing lands, as will be at least more than doubly commensurate to the aggregate number of acres at present in request, however considerable may be the demands that have, of late, been made upon our unlocated lands by the proprietors of large grants; and, notwithstanding the applications of a growing farming community, long since established in the colony, for further stations to sustain its rapidly increasing stock, in the numerous requisitions of European families, whom salubrity of clime, and the hopes of realizing, in the afternoon of life, a comfortable independence, have invited to our shores.

DISAPPOINTMENT.

Is love a phantom of the brain,
Usurping reason's dress?

Is love an imp of Fancy's train,
That potent sorceress?

Alas! more trausient its delights,

More deep, more keen its woes,
Than such as wait on Fancy's flights,
Or wildest Frenzy knows.

What is the rack, the bed of steel,

That firmest nerves can move ;-
What are the pangs the guilty feel,
To those of slighted love!

Asiatic Journ, VOL. XXII. No. 127. D

H.

SLAVE-TRADE AT THE MAURITIUS.

THE motion of Mr. Fowell Buxton in the House of Commons, on the 9th of May last, introduced by a speech containing very grave accusations against the Local Government at the Mauritius, with respect to the slave-trade in that quarter, has attracted our attention to the official documents* on this subject which have recently issued from the press. These documents are, however, by no means sufficient to enable us to form a judgment as to the probability of the charges against the Mauritius Government being established, when they are formally brought before Parliament next session; so that we shall do little more than lay the substance of the papers before our readers for their information.

[ocr errors]

It has been our firin conviction that there existed, on the part of the Local Government in that island, an earnest desire to promote the wishes of the British Legislature, with respect to the extinction of the traffic in the human species. The documentary evidence before us does not destroy that conviction on the contrary, the government seems to have exerted itself to check the traffic; but it is with considerable surprise that we read, in one of the earliest despatches from Governor Farquhar, passages which excite a suspicion that at the period when they were written, the mind of the writer was not altogether disinclined to advocate the expediency not only of upholding the system of slavery in the colony, but of tolerating the slave-trade itself. In his letter to Lord Liverpool,† dated 15th February 1811, the Governor observes, that slavery is the very soul of the existence of Mauritius and Bourbon, where every labourer and domestic servant and almost every artizan is a slave;" that "universal torpor and poverty must reign without it;" that" without a fresh importation of slaves these islands must become deserts;" that the laws, customs, and usages existing therein, and confirmed to the inhabitants by the capitulations, recognize not only slavery, but the slavetrade; and that "without that trade, or some other substitute or remedy, these colonies promise shortly to be annihilated." Such arguments, which time has shown the futility of, though offered from a feeling of duty towards the colonists, we should rather have expected from a French than an English governor; and the feeble declaration which follows,-" I am not disposed to be a supporter of slavery,"-is not calculated to reconcile us entirely to the person who employs them. The pointed reply of the Earl of Liverpool,‡ to this despatch, and to the proposition of permitting a modified trade in slaves, which Mr. Farquhar seems to have suggested, deserves insertion:

It would be improper for me to lose even a single day in taking notice of that part of your despatch which respects the slave-trade. I cannot sufficiently express my surprise that you should have supposed it possible that, when the Parliament of the United Kingdom had thought proper, upon general principles, to abolish the slave-trade with respect to all the ancient colonies and estalished settlements of Great Britain, it could have been in their contemplation that this trade should be suffered to exist with respect to those islands or foreign possessions which the fortune of war might place under his Majesty's dominion. You have been entirely misinformed as to the fact that there is any foreign colony in his Majesty's possession, in which the slave-trade has been tolerated

* Papers and Communications relative to the slave-trade at the Mauritius, Bourbon, and the Seychelles, ordered to be printed 20th April 1826. Correspondence touching the Slave-trade at Mauritius, ordered to be printed 2d May 1826. Correspondence relative to the Registration of Slaves, &c. in the Mauritius, ordered to be printed 5th May 1826.

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinua »