A Draper in Australia
A DRAPER in AUSTRALIA
GEORGE WILLMER. 1856 IPSWICH/LONDON
I and my companions caught the “ gold fever,” then so prevalent not only in Australia, but also in our native land. Thousands in London were afflicted with this disease, and few could obtain a certain cure without going to the gold fields in search of it.
When on a long voyage like this, most people find the time appear long much more so than when on land. I have found, from my little experience of a sea-faring life, that the wisest plan to adopt, to destroy, as far as possible, the monotony and tedium of a long voyage, is to busy myself in reading, writing, or conversation; studying at all times to make myself agreeable to every one on board, as far as is consistent with the regulations of the ship, for there are times when it would be highly improper and even dangerous to chat with the sailors.
Maritime tradition – crossing the line: December 22nd.
This morning being fine and very warm, the sailors made great preparation for continuing the rough sports of the previous day, particularly that of shaving, which I believe is an old custom observed on crossing the line. The sailors fastened up sails, into which they put plenty of water for the purpose of plunging therein Old Neptune’s customers, after they have been shaved. The sailors are the principal actors in this play, although they compel many others to take certain parts which offtimes are not agreeable. I will endeavour to describe, briefly, how and in what manner old father Neptune has gained for himself so much popularity amongst those who have already crossed the line. In the first place, I must here state, that all those sailors who intend taking the leading parts in this ancient nautical comedy, dress themselves very carefully in whatever appears to them most uncommon. Old Neptune always takes the precedence, and gives his orders to the subordinates, who do the work. The ceremony in our case commenced just before noon. The old man was clad in garments suitable for such an occasion. I was an eye-witness of the ceremony until a certain point in the proceedings, when I deemed it advisable to beat a retreat, or I should myself have been exposed to the same barbarous rites, and, have been shaved. The sailors manage to get all particulars concerning those on board, and when the name at the top of the list is read over, if the person should fail to step forward, he is soon laid hold of and forced up to the barber’s shop extemporized for the occasion. It is here that the ceremony commences.
The unfortunate person first to be dealt with according to old Neptune’s law, has a handkerchief tied over his eyes. The old man then orders the sham doctor to feel his pulse, upon which this man of physic prescribes for him a more disgusting medicine than is to be found in any druggist’s shop in the United Kingdom, namely, sheep’s manure dissolved in water, which is at once forced down the throat of the patient. After squeezing his nose most unmercifully, and satisfying himself that the draught is in the stomach of the unfortunate patient, the doctor then orders the barber to lather his face with the preparation at hand, consisting of tar mixed with a greasy matter, commonly called slush. The operator then takes a piece of rusty iron hoop, something like a hoe in shape, and scrapes off this greasy covering, though by no means so softly as many a London shaver would do it for a penny. After this operation is performed to the entire satisfaction of the operating party, the patient is then dragged to the water already prepared for his reception. Being immersed, he is held under its surface till his breath is well nigh gone, after which he is allowed to make his escape on the opposite side, just as sheep will rush from the pool of water wherein they are washed previous to the shearing. I looked on with disgust while several were thus treated, and then I retired to my cabin.
When my turn came to be shaved, I refused to submit to such brutality ; and the sailors coming to my cabin door to force me, I immediately took up a sword to intimidate them. This posture of self-defense led to a parley. On their promising not to handle me roughly, I ventured out, and was only compelled to taste a little clean water whilst blindfolded. They did not even dip me in the water. The virtue in the steel I suppose effected all this moderation. I would not venture to affirm that all who cross the line, in all vessels, are served so bad as some of my fellow passengers ; nor should I object to a little fun myself, if conducted in a proper manner ; but when I see matters of the kind just alluded to carried to the same barbarous extent as they were centuries ago, I think it high time that this detestable custom should be exchanged for something more humane and rational. Most of the passengers had already prepared themselves for landing ; and on looking over the ship’s side we caught sight of a waterman drawing near with his boat, in which eight or ten might at once go ashore, on payment of a fare of two shillings each. On stepping into the boat I could not refrain from gazing up to those wooden walls that had so long sheltered us from the stormy blast. I seemed as though taking leave of an old friend that still claimed my attachment. I felt also truly grateful to that Divine Being whose watchful care had protected and preserved us all alive during a long voyage of no less than fourteen thousand miles across the ocean.
Early on Monday morning, the 21st of March, 1853, my little band, with horse and loaded cart, were in readiness to proceed on our journey into the interior. Our immediate destination was the Araluen diggings near Braidwood. Every one was well armed for the purpose of defence against attacks of bush-rangers, who had recently robbed several parties. We had not got out of the town, however, before our horse proved a” jibber,” and thinking it might be over- loaded, we determined to wait till the morrow, and leave some part of our load behind. On the following morning early we made another start, and managed to get on the road very well. We were just about to enter that wild region popularly known as “ the bush,” of which Captain Cook caught partial glimpses from that part of New Hol land whereon he set his foot, and which was not far from the spot whereon the city of Sydney is now built.
Little did the great navigator dream that the majestic mountains on which he gazed would ever cast their shadows on plains waving with golden treasure, and that whilst thus beholding a very small portion of this great country, a future day would reveal to the enterprising colonists a region celebrated as the new El Dorado may relate that the day was warm, which we all felt more or less while walking through the dust for twenty miles, before we reached the township of Liverpool. We here drew into the adjacent bush, to pitch our tent for the night, as is customary in Australia. The sun was descending below the horizon ere we had finished our camping work, in which all gladly united, it being our first night’s bush experience, and, no doubt, sleeping under a tent was a novelty to every one of our party. The horse being let loose to feed on the grass, and our novel dormitory ready to receive us, I went in company with another to purchase something for supper. We procured some tempting slices from a leg of mutton, which on our return we set to work to cook. Ours was quite a novel plan of cooking, as we then knew little of that business ; but as necessity is the mother of invention, we were not long before some sticks were cut to serve for toasting forks. With these simple implements our meal was soon prepared, and in a few minutes all hands were in motion. This being our first out-door bivouac, most of us felt a little delicacy about lying down, and more especially as the night proved frosty. We chatted till almost mid- night, standing round a fire to keep ourselves warm, ere we retired to rest. The reader must know that there is plenty of wood to be picked up in almost every part of Australia, except on the plains, thus costing the traveller nothing but his labour in gathering it.
We were visited by a large dog during the night. The animal boldly walked into the tent, and putting his cold nose against the hand of one of my companions, instantly woke him. This simple incident at first alarmed some of our number, who immediately cried out in an excited voice, “ To arms ! to arms ! my boys.” At dawn, some of our party renewed the camp fire, and commenced preparations for breakfast ; for our combined efforts, in this early stage of our experience, required an unusually long time to produce a few slices of mutton nicely roasted on a wooden fork, and a kettle of aromatic tea, whose clear surface would honestly reveal the well-burnt faces of two red-nosed, anxious cooks, a sight which caused all of us to laugh heartily. We did not manage to strike our tent so as to resume our journey until nine o’clock, by which hour we had over-night anticipated reaching the township of Camden, another good stage of about twenty miles. However, after striking our tents, we marched on slowly through the dust and heat of the day, and passed a little way beyond the above-mentioned town. The sun by this time being low in the heavens, our little party consented to stop at the first convenient spot where water and grass were available, which we found before the daylight disappeared.
Now, then, was the time to work again, and readily did four of our number turn to, and soon had everything in readiness for another night in the bush. It may be well, however, ere I take the reader further, to mention that we sit on the ground to take our food, and recline on the emerald turf very much as gypsies do in the mother country. Our horse browsed quietly on the grass near our tent, whilst we were all seated around the big fire, enjoying our pannicans of tea; for cups and saucers are a luxury unknown in bush travelling. The pannican is merely a tin vessel, holding about a pint. After partaking of our supper in this humble way, we sat chatting over the comfortable fire. So far as I can recall the topic of our conversation, it chiefly related to the gold fields, and the probabilities of our success. Some enjoyed their pipes of tobacco quite as well as any of the tawny tribe could possibly do in the mother country ; but the cup of tea, unhappily, had not charms sufficient to satisfy one of our little band ; he, therefore, walked to the township in quest of spirits, and returned to our camp in a state of decided inebriation, which was not a little annoying to his sober-minded comrades, especially at so early a stage of our experience in bush travelling. All, however, retired to rest on amicable terms, and slept tole- rably well, considering this to be only our second night in our tent.
All being in readiness this morning we journeyed onward once more, with fine weather to cheer us; but the roads, as we proceeded, proved much more difficult ; and as our horse failed to pull so well as usual, \ve were under the necessity of taking it out, and dragging the cart up the hills ourselves, whenever the horse failed in his attempts. Thus impeded, it took us the whole day to get over a few miles of ground ; and on coming up to a hut where the good people seemed to be pleased with our company, we were tempted to rest on that spot all the following day, which happened to be Good Friday. Here we were presented with milk, potatoes, cabbages, quinces, peaches, and other good things. Here we saw a man who never shaves ; he was called an “ old hand,” which the reader will understand the meaning of more fully by and bye. It was here that we saw for the first time some beautiful plumaged birds, and heard the noisy laughing jackass vociferating his jargon for the first time.
All hands were up by daylight; our tent was struck, and all was prepared to resume our journey soon after eight o’clock. We had not proceeded far, however, when the cart vexatiously broke down, and no blacksmith was to be got nearer us than fourteen miles.
To make the best of this misfortune, we all set about unloading it; and after patching up the broken part, onward we went once more, till we saw a paddock belonging to a widow woman, where we decided on camping for the night. This good woman informed us where we might get milk for our tea a piece of intelligence which I quickly availed myself of; but as the dogs would not let me approach near the hut, it was some time before the good man who dwelt there could be made to hear, be being unfortunately very deaf. However, 1 succeeded at last ; and eccentric as he was, there was one trait in his character no one could fail to admire, which was the singular one of refusing to take money for the milk : he expressed a wish that I would give the sum to the poor widow near our encampment a request in which I willingly acquiesced.
Whilst endeavouring to continue on our journey, the horse again evinced his jibbing propensities to such an extent that we were brought to a complete stand-stili. Finding we were necessitated to stop, I and another walked about two miles with a pail before we could find any water. On the following morning we agreed to purchase another horse, and as there happened to be one for sale within a few miles of us, we soon struck a bargain with the proprietor. This proved to be a horse that had undergone the punish- ment of having its eyes gouged out, since he could not be managed without, from his vicious habits of flying at and biting any person who ventured near him. After making this purchase, we fitted up some harness for the purpose of trying the two animals together ; but this proving a failure, we sold the Sydney horse forthwith to an innkeeper on the road. When we reached the blacksmith’s shop before alluded to, we found this adept at iron, blowing away at the charcoal, and tossing off the noblers in a very skilful manner. After waiting a considerable time, we managed at last to get the breakage of the cart patched up, by paying a very exorbitant charge.
I saw a grave near the road-side to-day; and from inquiries made, I ascertained that it contained the body of a bullock-driver, who had met with sudden death by falling from the dray whilst in a state of intoxication, the wheels running over and crushing his head. Some of the poor bullocks were starved to death in their yokes, whilst the remainder got loose, and were feeding on the grass when found. The following day, whilst trudging on our way, we saw a dray with one wheel broken, whilst in the act of crossing a stony creek : as there were two men to ac- company it, one was left behind with the property, whilst the other went in quest of another dray to take the load upon.
May \lth. We met the Sydney gold escort to-day re- turning from the diggings ; and saw a poor man on the road, ill, and returning slowly to the township of Albury, which was within a few miles of us. His heartless com- panions had left him, not caring whether he lived or died on the spot. I gave him some medicine suitable for the dysentery, with which he was then suffering ; and had the pleasure of seeing the poor fellow mounted on a dray before we left him.
The first time we tried our hands with the pick and spade was to sink a shaft to search for gold, in which attempt we were very sanguine of success. While working at the one alluded to, -we found that to begin a second would enable us all to work simultaneously as hard as our strength allowed of. By this arrangement one could rest his limbs for a few minutes, and each could have a spell of labour in in his turn. There were hundreds of shafts near us, already sunk; some were abandoned, whilst others proved re- munerative. There were also hundreds of gold- seekers around us sinking shafts, in a similar way to ourselves. Most of these shafts were nearly fifty feet in depth, which to us “ new chums” looked rather terrible to descend.
Finding that no gold was found at the bottom of the shafts sunk contiguous to ours, we thought it prudent, before going very low with this second one, to get to the bottom of one first, and on that proving a blank, to abandon the other altogether and try some new ground. We accordingly worked both early and late at our task, carrying our crust with us for dinner to save time. We had not got to the bottom, however, before the water came in, which compelled the one down the hole to send up a few buckets of water occasionally. This was done in the same manner as that by which the dirt was sent up namely, by winding up the bucket with a windlass attached to a rope, in the same way as the country people in England draw up the water from their wells. Such work as this was quite a novelty to us, and much more laborious than any thing we had before been subject to, independent of oar experience in bush travelling. We found that handling the tools produced formidable blisters on our hands, which were a source of great discomfort in carrying on our labours. The spot at the bottom of these shafts, where we had reason to expect the gold, either in the shape of dust or nuggets, was indicated by layers of large pebbles and gravel, similar to what we find in the present day covering the bed of streams and shallow water-courses. It is here that, in these dry diggings, as they are termed by way of distinction to some others, the gold is found deposited in greater or less quantities. Thousands of years ago these layers of pebbles formed the bed of a running stream or river, into which the auriferous particles were washed from the adjacent rocks, and where they were left on the subsidence of the waters.
When sinking shafts in some localities, after testing them well by driving, we often used a knife to scrape away the loose soil found in the interstices of the rocks, where small nuggets have frequently been discovered. This is termed crevising; and many miners carry a long knife in a leather case for that purpose, which to the ‘new chum’ is a source of constant conjectures. At first sight he is disposed to view these formidable things as instruments either of offence or defence, or both ; but a little experience with the gold-fields of Australia will dissipate this delusion, and he will find that there are thousands of well-disposed and honourable men at the diggings as well as amongst other mixed communities.
My companion and myself were now the only two left together of the original party which left Sydney. One of the two who had been dismissed at Araluen returned to England in the vessel that had brought him out. Thus diminished, we continued to dig day after day, but could produce only a comparatively small quantity of gold. We had not much time for rest, as we had the stores and the butcher to visit some evenings, and at other times to bake a damper, which occasionally kept us up till midnight.
Letters are always delivered to the miners on Sundays, as soon as the mail arrives from Sydney and Melbourne. After the letters are sorted out, they are all arranged alphabetically. The postmaster then opens a window, and beginning with the first letter of the alphabet, calls out loud enough for the assembled crowd to hear him ; and on any person answering to the name corresponding with the address of the letter, it is at once handed to him. After the letters have been all delivered, I have often stood listen- ing to some preacher of the gospel who took this oppor- tunity to explain and enforce some portion of holy writ, and who was generally listened to very attentively until his sermon -was ended. I have seen one of these clerical gentlemen washing for gold during the week time. There were many other professional men also who worked like labourers at these diggings.
On the following Monday night we were very much alarmed. On returning to the tent in the evening, we heard, soon after dark, a fearful noise issuing from a tent close to ours. I afterwards heard the police come up and interfere. I understood, from information gained the next morning, that the companions of one man had beaten him about dreadfully with a spade, and to finish him quite off they actually tossed him on the fire, but had not killed him, when the constables arrived and rescued him from so dreadful a fate.This evening my companion had a most unpleasant quarrel with an “ old hand.” I took no part in the affair. Most of these old hands are emancipated convicts. The person alluded to actually threatened to knock my young friend’s brains out if he hinted again that he was an “ old lag,” which I understood he had previously insinuated, though not in my hearing. There is nothing, I believe, offends them more than such allusions, and I verily believe that if they had been repeated, the threat would have been executed. I felt very nervous about the affair; but, at the same time, was fully prepared with my pistols to act on the defensive, had my companion been assailed by such a wretch. Happily, however, I had no occasion to proceed to such extremities.
I rose early enough this morning to see a white frost ; the latter part of the night proved unusually cold. I had now sufficiently matured my sluicing machine to begin working it in the latter part of the day ; but on learning that there was to be a great meeting held on the diggings, I deemed it prudent to suspend all labour by noon, as the miners were invited to attend by placards posted about in various places. About one o’clock I saw many people flocking to the appointed place of meeting ) and not long after a procession passed near my hut, with four flags, bearing the following inscriptions “ Representation for the Miners “ “ Unlock the Lands “ “ Taxation of the Miners a Robbery “ “ Miners’ Rights.” I followed the throng, to see and hear what I could at this great
assemblage of miners. I conjectured that there were not fewer than three thousand people present. I heard several speeches tending to excite the ill-disposed. The police, I understood, were all in readiness in case of any disturbance ; but everything ended peaceably, and pro- ductive of neither good nor harm. It caused a little money to be spent, and afforded a holiday to most of the miners on the various diggings known by the general term of “ the Ovens.”
Whilst sitting in my humble hut this evening, I felt more lonely than usual after the bustle and excitement of the day ; and whilst musing in my solitude, many thoughts occurred to my mind, and a retrospect of my boyhood’s days brought up the remembrance of joyous times which had long since passed almost into oblivion, and which might never again have revived, were it not for occasions similar to this, when the dull monotony of my situation, without a soul to cheer me, or one in whom I could in reality confide, threw my memory back upon the past. Thus musing, I traced over repeatedly the twelve months of the year, each one in succession ; and probably my mind wandered still more, even going over every day of the year, till I thought about the whole of the three hundred and sixty-five days of which it is composed. These reflections shaped themselves into some irregular verses, to which, with all their known imperfections, I am constrained to give a place here, just as they struck me, whilst seated by the lonely fireside of my humble bark-hut in the Australian wilderness.
This is the merry time of year,
When boys and girls from school appear ;
January make haste to see ;
All drest in snow-clad garments he.
Seasons like this will yield good cheer ;
We wish all happy this new year.
Now in this month, if we all wait,
“We shall find its days are twenty-eight,
Except in leap-year ; then’s the time
When its days number twenty-nine.
A few more words ere I have done ;
Valentine comes to cause some fun.
Now March comes in with piercing wind ;
The dust blows up enough to blind.
So cold ‘s this month that all declare
Our coursing dogs shall catch the hare ;
Then off we start a treat to get,
But ere cover’s reached, we all are wet.
A safe retreat we then did make ;
The grey-hounds, too, fall in our wake ;
Poor puss is dead, we take her home,
And joyous do we pick a bone.
All gay becomes Creation’s dress,
For April’s showers return to bless.
Then haste, my boys, to see the dove ;
The birds are warbling songs of love ;
This is the time their nests they build,
And found are they in ev’ry field :
All nature ‘s bright, the meadows gay,
And April’s showers prepare for May.
The spring is come, with children gay ;
The grass will soon be fit for hay ;
The flowers are budding, rich with bloom,
Emerging bright from winter’s tomb.
But flowers all fade and soon look plain,
Thus teaching man that all is vain.
Now May is gone, in joyous June
My wife and I will play a tune.
Parents think those the sweetest hours,
Which they enjoy in cottage bowers,
While their sweet children round them play,
The fairies of a summer’s day.
The summer ‘s come ; then let me pass ;
Now ev’ry lad will take his lass.
In this month, July, few are mute,
The boys at home they play the flute,
And merry maids do as in France,
“When lads strike up the merry dance.
The August sun now ripes the corn,
Ready for garnering in the harn ;
The men and maids, with merry lay,
Go to their work for little pay ;
Poor men and boys, too, work in pain,
To reap and house the golden grain.
September comes ; they toil away
In labours which soon end in play ;
The gladness of the harvest cheer
In cider or in strongest beer ;
While peace and plenty there abound,
The merry cup they pass around.
The master now, with heart and hand,
Drinks health to all that happy band ;
The mistress, too, delights the lass
By handing her a bumper glass.
All shout and sing, “ God save the Queen,”
More joyful than they e’er had been.
September’s past ; some birds are dead,
And many warblers, too, have fled.
October comes, with pheasants bright,
Which are shot down, both left and right,
To grace the table of some lord
Who can such luxuries afford.
All kinds of fruit on board are spread,
All sorts of wine affect the head ;
In jest and laughter all agree,
Sitting and singing, full of glee.
But how oft the dawning morrow
Sees aching head and heart of sorrow !
November now arrives at last,
We soon shall feel its chilly blast ;
Boys grow merry and get up fracas,
As they let off squibs and crackers :
Ever since Guy Fawkes’ invention,
This was caused by man’s dissension.
December’s here the weather’s cold ;
‘Tis felt by all, both young and old ;
The wind blows keen, there’s frost and snow,
And how shall I now make a show ?
At Christmas time we’ll have some fun,
As soon as the roast beef is done.
Things being arranged, on the morning of the 25th, after partaking of breakfast, we got the horses harnessed, and as soon as our luggage was all put into the vehicle, we took our leave of this famed gold-field, in quest of better fortune, in some other part of the colony. We proceeded very slowly with our horses, as the ground was for the most part wet and slippery, caused by late rains. We had not gone more than a few miles before the shaft horse sunk into the bog, together with the wheels of the cart up to the axletrees. This, however, was only a beginning of those troubles which we were prepared to expect. We had to take out the horses, and fortunate indeed were we to get them over this part at all, since it often happens in wet seasons that horses, carts, and drays sink so deeply in the stiff soil as to be quite inextricable.
We unloaded the cart, and carried the luggage on our backs part of the way up the side of a steep mountain, opposite to us. We then managed, by patience and perseverance, to lift the cart out of the bog and pull it part of the way up the mountain, till we reached the luggage. This being done, we proceeded slowly for a few miles, and finding a suitable place, encamped for the night. While we were busying ourselves with the horses, and putting our camp in order for the night, a suspicious-looking character came up, and made several inquiries in a very mysterious manner, which induced us to keep a sharp look- out upon him and his movements, as we were apprehensive that he might have some colleagues in the neighbourhood.
A short time after this encounter, two gentlemen came up whom we had known at Spring Creek. We immediately invited them to take one of the bush seats not a chair, sofa, or stool of any kind ; but one of nature’s lounges, either on a fallen tree, or on the ground covered with luxuriant grass, instead of soft downy pillows, or cushions made of horse- hair. This was the best accommodation our airy home afforded. These two friends of ours partook of tea with us. They had been a few miles farther on to purchase cattle, and were returning home. Among other topics of conversation, we chatted about the suspicious-looking person previously alluded to, whom it appeared they had seen, and had formed similar conjectures to our own respecting him.
We invited our friends to stay with us for the night, which they promised to do if the moon did not rise early, so as to enable them to proceed. They had a distance of ten miles to walk. They accordingly wrapped their opossum cloaks around them, and lay down near the fire, till the moon rose, about five o’clock the following morning, when we all arose from our slumbers. After a hasty breakfast our two friends took their departure.
It was about ten o’clock in the morning when we caught sight of these famous diggings, where, I believe, there has been more gold procured than in any other single locality in the known world. The white hills, eight in number, at first struck us very forcibly in the distance, appearing to us like mountains of snow, shining with a dazzling beauty in the splendour of a morning without a cloud, against the clear azure sky above our heads. These white hills are composed of pipe-clay, and have proved very remunerative to the miners.
When we drew nearer to them, I caught sight of some men, with a horse and cart, at the top of one of the hills. Thinking to obtain some information, I left my companions and walked up. I found these miners very civil and communicative. They informed me that they were then working the ground over the second time, and were carting the auriferous earth to a water-hole in the distance, for the purpose of washing it out in the usual way. I thanked them for their courtesy, and on joining my companions, we went at once to Iron-Bark gully and pitched our tent, in order to make a few explorations before we came to any definite decision. There were many gullies near the above-named one, among which were Eagle-hawk and Peg-leg : the latter Charley visited, endeavouring to find out a brother of his in that locality, but without success.
The water here was very brackish ; the more we drank, the more thirsty we became. We found these to be far more extensive than any diggings we had previously visited, for I understood, from good authority, that after getting to the centre, a person might travel ten miles in either direction without getting clear of them. There were about seventy thousand people present at the time of my visit; and the broken condition of the ground, and the sight of thousands of tents, gave to the whole scene a most romantic and picturesque appearance. at first sight prove rather distasteful to the English agricul- turist, although his practical knowledge would be of little value to him, unless corrected by observations on the spot. Very slight dressing is used for the crops, and in most cases none at all, although there is a tolerable quantity to be had whenever the settler will put himself to the trouble of taking it out of the stock-yard.
The settlers are habitual smokers ; and being particularly fond of horse-riding, it is an invari- able rule to carry their short pipes with them whenever they stray from home, which they will often smoke from morning till night, except during the short interval required for tea drinking. They call at most of the huts, to light a fresh pipe of tobacco, whenever they ride across the bush, all the neighbours within a score miles of each other being generally on a friendly footing ; so much so that whenever a person is seen coming, before he alights from his horse the kettle is put on the fire, and, by the aid of blazing sticks, there is soon produced a pannican of tea, which is placed on the table, together with beef and damper, thus giving the visitor a right hearty welcome. This is an excellent trait in their character. It matters not who it is that chances to look in ; whether it be one of their neighbours or kin- dred, or a stranger from a foreign land, he is sure to meet with a warm reception, and be even pressed to rest himself and renew his journey another day. During my travels, many times have I experienced such cordial hospitality, and ofttimes have I seen half-a-do/en more travellers partake of the same kindness.
From the numerous conversations which I have had with these settlers, I am prepared to state that, in most cases, those who were not possessed of ten pounds when they landed, are now worth hundreds and thousands, were they to sell out; their property consisting principally of cattle, horses, and cleared paddocks. It must be observed, how- ever, that in cases of prosperity, there is a disposition to work, though not to the extent that is common in the old country, where the poor man slaves from the rising of the sun till it sinks below the horizon.
In Australia, industry is certain to meet with a corresponding reward, the salt-bush scrub, which latter possesses such peculiar fattening properties. The fattest beef sent either to Melbourne or Sydney is produced in the part alluded to. The district is not suitable for sheep, but horses and cattle thrive there wonderfully. It is about a uniform distance between Melbourne and Sydney. I would advise persons who feel inclined to go to the gold mines of Australia, not to join any one in England, unless they are tried friends ; and if so, club together by all means ; but if you have no friend whose character you well know, leave the choice of a companion till you reach the golden land, as it will be much better not to enter into any engagement previous to emigrating than to risk separation after once beginning to labour. The right sort of men to go to the diggings are those possessed of good constitutions, and who have been accustomed to manual labour. If such are desirous of trying their luck in the lottery of gold- digging, I should say, go by all means ; and if energetic, and going judiciously to work, there is no fear of losing, while there is a good chance on their side of realising a fortune in a short time. It is no use whatever for persons to go to the diggings expecting to pick up gold without labour, or to reach that field for their exertions without encountering what the faint-hearted would term trials ; although such trivial affairs, on one’s journey in a climate like Australia, cannot be strictly called difficulties. The coward had better, therefore, stay at home, as he will never get gold without costing him too much silver to procure it; he had much better give up the idea at once, as he might be tempted to turn back after the first attempt.
I write according to my own experience, having had with me several young men whose bodily strength was adequate to much labour, but whose weak heads discouraged their strong bodies, so that they turned out no more helpful than school boys, except in the matter of eating and drinking.
It is a rough kind of life when settled down for a few months on the diggings ; but then it is an independent one,
Meanwhile matters were approaching a crisis: fifers and drummers were obtained, and flags bearing patriotic sentiments were hoisted. Fire-arms and other weapons were procured; public-houses and booths were rushed, and plenty of Dutch courage imbibed. All these preparations and precautions were considered necessary by thousands of brave men (?) in order to successfully attack a few hundred defenceless Chinese.The poor Asiatics made scarcely any resistance. All who could do so secreted their gold, and many of them lost their lives for refusing- to tell where it was; others who were not quick enough in getting out of the holes and drives were buried alive in them—just for fun;such of the tents and goods as were not appropriated by the civilisers were collected in heaps and burned, and thus the work of murder and robbery went bravely on.
Illustrated Sydney News, 5 August 1880