source: Excursions & Adventures in NSW
Capt Henderson 78th Highlanders
London Vole 1 & 2, 1854
DSM/981/37B Vols. 1 & 2
SITE SOURCE: GOLD, EMIGRATION AND FREE SELECTION
Being a Guide to Emigrants.
On the ship Fortune from Scotland to Sydney.
The diggings take their name originally from a tribe of American Indians called Diggers, who live upon roots, and whose territory, on the track from the US to California, is called the diggins. It is most extraordinary that the gold in Australia, being so plentiful, lying even on the surface occasionally, in the midst of sheep runs, and abounding even in the stones of which some of the bridges are built, was not discovered till Mr. Hargraves went to look for it; and though the settlers and shepherds overlooked it, it is strange that the natives, who pick up and carry about with them anything glittering, such as bits of rock crystal, should not have stumbled upon it.
The wind becoming foul, we were obliged to tack about off the heads till five in the afternoon; and during this tedious and anxious time, many were the speculations as to what the land of promise would turn out. Among other, I endeavoured to give an imaginary sketch of the place, to the tune of ‘The King Of The Cannibal Islands’ It is hoped, however, that no one will take it for a ‘full, true and particular account’, though, I must confess, it wasn’t far wide of the mark in some respects, as subsequent events proved.
Poultry of all kinds thrive very well; but are not in general much attended to, especially at squatting stations. Dogs abound in the colony, though it is not easy to get hold of good ones. In Sydney, more particularly, they swarm;
Both mongrel, puppy, whelp, and hound,
And curs of low degree.
The only kinds, however, that are esteemed, are the kangaroo-hound for hunting, the bulldog as a watch, and the collie, which, when well trained, is invaluable to the shepherd and stockman. Cats are plentiful, and a good mouser is invaluable. Indeed, when an establishment is left for any length of time without this useful animal, it becomes overrun with rats, who devour or destroy everything.
Give me again my hollow tree, my crust of bread, and liberty.
Of money and lack of it. The old settlers used to be blamed for taking in, and ruining all the young men who arrived with money in the colony, by showing them great hospitality and keeping them at their houses, till they managed to get all their cash out of them, for scabby sheep, or stunted cattle, but it would appear that some of the young arrivals, at least such adventurers as before alluded to (clever dicks) have been too much even for the crafty squatters.
There is something wrong when the value of rum alone imported exceeded that of the staple export, wool; and that at a time, too, when it is doubtful if the wool paid the cost of production and transmission; and when the colony had not (as it never has done) grown bread enough for its own consumption.
He eats and drinks and sleeps; what then?
He eats and drinks and sleeps again.
I confess that, notwithstanding its vast extent and population (considering that it is but fifty-six years since its foundation), I was somewhat disappointed with the appearance of Sydney. It was too like home; I had looked for something foreign and Oriental in its appearance; but found that, excepting a few verandahs, and the lofty and stately Norfolk Island pine, it coincided much with a second or third class town in England. A closer intimacy did not make a more favourable impression. It is et down in a sandy-desert, is infested by mosquitoes and other troublesome insects and vermin, and is subject to high winds, called, in colonial parlance ‘brick-fielders’, which bear with them clouds of dust, rendering it impossible to go out while the blast continues, or to keep a door or window open, unless one would wish to be suffocated.
Although the middle of winter (Aug) when I arrived in Sydney, I found the weather extremely warm. The dust, heat, and glare from the houses were annoying to a newcomer; and, finding it most oppressive to wear a black hat, I was very soon glad to adopt the straw.
On Coach Travel
A coach (so called, but actually nothing more than an open car) runs on this road (To, and who dislike being jolted to a jelly, prefer the mode of travelling on horse. Nothing can be done in NSW without that useful animal.) Goulburn); but the apology for a road is such that all who would avoid broken bones
Here may be seen gallant naval and military officers, elegant parsons, learned lawyers, acute and once opulent bankers and merchants, ‘et id genus omne’. There is also a sprinkling of aristocracy – of brothers and sons of lords, right honourable, baronets, etc, and some claiming such titles, or succession to them for themselves. From these are found all grades, down to the London Jew and the Tipperary murderer.
When circumstances favour them, gentlemen convicts and others, are assigned to be made constables. Jailers. Wardsmen of the prisoner’s barracks, overseers, or storekeepers of road-parties etc. Some of them, as well as many of the invalids, are lent out to settlers, who thus obtain slaves for their keep, but in general they are not of much use. I have seen lawyers and bankers tending sheep, soldiers and parsons acting as stockmen, and gamblers and pickpockets filling the capacity of hutkeepers; but it is not to be expected that they will be found well adapted to a mode of life so different from that to which they have been accustomed. It is wonderful, however, how soon some of them learn to be useful; and I well remember a gentleman pointing out to me his best shepherd, and stating that he had formerly been a notorious London pickpocket.