13 November 1872
Theo. Sumner introduced me to Sir Geo. Vernon who is enthusiastic on the Australian Railway from Adelaide to Port Darwin and also on the second Java Telegraphic Cable. We found the Yarra River very narrow and tortuous. It is quite necessary that Melbourne should do something to improve the navigation. We entered Port Jackson, which is about 40 miles by 30, through the narrow heads formed by a sand spit. Heavy breakers and surf are almost constantly to be met with on the bar. The lights are good, but the channel inside winds about and is very long. There is a proposal to cut a Ship Canal from Melbourne to Sandridge, about 2 miles.
Melbourne is very well laid out, as far as the streets are concerned, - and the buildings good. The population is about 200,000. A large Business is done here, and it has a splendid future. The Post Office, Town Hall, Churches and some of the Banks are very good buildings indeed. The Railways were very costly in construction, being as much as £16,000 per mile and upwards. They are owned by the Government;- and acting on the advice of their Engineer-in-Chief, the Govt. alone are attempting to carry out all their Public Works, which they may find to be a great mistake. At present the Govt. have about 400 miles of Railway on hand, besides the Line which is forming page 105 to Echuca, on the boundary of New South Wales. This Railway is on the 5ft 3in gauge, and the New South Wales is on the 4ft 8 ½ in – thus between Melbourne and Sydney, there will be a break of gauge. Then again Queensland to the North is constructing its lines on the 3ft 6in gauge. This is sad, as eventually all the lines in the Country will have to be united. Melbourne must continue to progress from its position; - the fruits of the Murray Valley come to Melbourne, and when the Echuca Railway is opened, a large part of the N.S.Wales traffic will for a long time find its was thro’ Victoria.
I visited Ballarat. People think of Ballarat as if her prosperity was on the decline, and her diggings failing but I confess to a belief that the Gold mining proper is only commencing, altho’ the machinery and mining here is the best I have yet seen. Again as the Coal Mines of Gippsland and the other mineral productions are developed together with the wood supply from its mountains, - and as Railway communication extends, – all will contribute to the prosperity of Victoria concentrated in Melbourne. The people have certainly more energy and pluck that any have seen in the S. Hemisphere, and will keep the lead if they continue to carry on as they do now.