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The Diary of James Brogden, August 1871 – December 1872

Australia: November 12 1872 - December 14 1872

Australia: November 12 1872 - December 14 1872

12 November 1872

Next day, I found out Theophilus Sumner, who at once received me as if I were his brother, - and asked after all home friends and news. In the afternoon we page 104 Went to the Houses of Parliament and I was introduced to Mr Casey and some other Members. The Council Chamber is a very good building, but the Lower Parliament House is very bad to hear in.

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.

14 November 1872

We found an Exhibition was opened for the reception of things for the Vienna Exhibition of 1873. It appeared like new life to find a Band playing, and ladies walking in holiday costume. We were struck with the quality of the Australian Wines, but much choicer qualities are to be page 106 Produced by care in selection and mixture by Wine Merchants, especially if the processes I have seen in Germany, but more particularly at Bordeaux and at ?, are adopted. I have no doubt the Wines can be blended to a uniform quality – at present every grower makes his own and nothing is sure. The manufacture of cheese and butter in diary produce is spoiled exactly in the same way. The application of the process of butter making as in Holland would remedy this and be of enormous value to the Agriculturalist. The price of labor for 8 hours (the legal day) is rather higher than in New Zealand.

The Yarra River above Melbourne runs alongside the Public Gardens, which are very pretty and afford a lounge for the people which would be most enjoyable but for the mosquitoes.

15 November 1872

The Govt. have recently erected a Mint for Coinage, which is beautifully perfect and has saved some £60,000 per annum to the Colony. Mr P.J.Comber kindly shewed us the whole process, - but as this is well known, I need not describe it. The process by which the silver is extracted is known as the chlorine process and is exceedingly simple and efficacious. There is also a large Museum, which is not yet arranged. The collection is valuable and includes rich specimens of Copper and Iron obtained in the Country; gold specimens which are very good; also a collection of native birds, snakes, kangaroo &c. &c., but I observed that they had no collection of New Zealand birds, Mr. O’Grady, M.H.R., introduced me to Mr Gillies, the page 107 Commissioner of Railways, who gave us free Railway passes during our stay.

16 November 1872

Mr Fitzgibbon, Town Clerk to whom I had letters, introduced me to the Mayor, a Mr O’Grady (but no relation of yesterday’s acquaintance). We had a long chat about Tramways, for the streets, the Town Sewage, the Canal to Sandhurst and sundry other Public Works, after which we went to the Public Hall, where the Mayor let me play the large organ. It is a very large instrument by Hill & Co and is almost if not quite equal to the one in the Crystal Palace at Sydenham. We afterwards drove down to the Cricket Ground and boated on the Yarra, where a boat race was going on, and in the evening attended an Organ recital.

17 November 1872

On Sunday after Church at St Peters, I went to dine with Theo. Sumner, who resides about 3 ½ miles out in a very nice place with good grounds &c.

18 November 1872

Next day to Ballarat by train. The Railways have been very expensively constructed, some portions costing as much as £32,000 per mile. We went to the Black Hill Mine, which was the first alluvial digging, and is now being worked on a produce of 2 dwts. gold per ton of washings (or “mullock”). We afterwards visited the Band and Albion Consols, where we saw the operation of Gold melting. I went down the shaft and thro’ the workings. The machinery was very good. Next to Winter’s Freehold which is well found in first-class machinery:- but as yet has not earned any dividends. The North Clunes Mine page 108 at first lost money; - thus it began with

10,000 Shares at £10-£100,000
400 preference do £50-£20,000= £120,000
In 1863 it was sold – the new Purchase being
2,500 shares at £20 (amount called up £18)£50,000
Since July /68 the new Shares have been purchased for £121 each, and are worth £85 per share today.

In Crombie, a fellow passenger in the “Albion”, shewed us round in the absence of the “Warden”, to whom I had letters.

19-20 November 1872

On Tuesday & Wednesday, in the intervals between letters and interviews, we visited the Botanical Gardens and the Printing Offices of the Govt. - and left for “Meredeth” at night. On arrival our hosts of the “Royal”, Messrs Gosling & Nugent, had prepared all for us, and we began to discuss the nest days proceedings, - how we should go, how many horses we should require, what number of dogs to take &c. &c. We were to be in our saddles at daylight, and take a buggy with provisions as far as we could travel.

21 November 1872

True to time we start early, - our horses rather the worse for wear, but not bad ones to go, except the one I had, which had a propensity to stumble. A ride of about 12 miles brought us into the native bush, - where we arranged the resting-place of the “frog” leaving our guns also in charge of the driver. We picked up three other men on the way, old hands at a Kangaroo hunt, and then rode silently along with 2 Greyhounds only. Suddenly one of the men put spurs to his horse, and cried “Who-oop”, and away went a Boomer Kangaroo, the dogs in full chase. page 109 Then came a charge through the trees, - madly riding as if it were clear space, - but the horses knew the bush, and dexterously swerved to avoid the trees. While thus in pursuit we had to keep a sharp look-out for the direction, rabbit holes, and branches, as well as the safety of our head. My brute had no fore legs worth the name;- three times she came down with me, and it was as much as I could do to hold on. It was a sharp run, but unfortunately just as the dogs were coming up to the Kangaroo, another (a small one) jumped up, and drew off the dogs to follow it. Soon it was caught and skinned, the hams and tail being eatable were taken home as game. We then rode away a considerable distance, say four miles to get into undisturbed ground. By and bye, we sighted 6 or 7 more with their heads high up among the fern. Our huntsman had a splendid sight. We rode as far as possible under cover to approach them, but they got wind and bolted. Altho’ we separated one from the rest, we could not get near it. As we rode along, we picked up two pretty little Bandycoats, and some of the “Moa-porks” Birds flew away as we rode but these we could not get. When Lunch-time arrived, we found that the circuit we had made had brought us near the place, - and we then discussed the chances for the afternoon, which were considered poor. Dunny stayed with Mr Gosling to shoot Parroquets, Honey birds, Miners, &c. and had a loaded rifle ready for larger game. We had not got more than half a mile away before we started 8 or 9 kangaroos page 110 When we had separated one, and had got the dogs fairly on the run, away it bounded and turned to go close to Dunny, who was by a Creek some 20 to 25 feet wide. We soon gained on it, as did also the dogs. “Bang” went Dunny’s rifle as by one prodigious bound, the animal cleared the brook. The fire swiped, and the dogs, left far below, lost him in the fern. We looked for him a long time, and as there was no time for another start, we hastened to find our way out of the Bush, no easy thing for a stranger to accomplish. So after Tea we took Train again for Melbourne.

23-26 November 1872

On Saturday Nov 23 we left Melbourne by the S.S. “Blackbird” for Sydney, arriving on Tuesday the 26th and staying at Royal Hotel. The Harbour of Sydney is very fine indeed, - near the entrance, on Sydney Heads, lies the famous Botany Bay. The Town is not very well laid out. The story goes that Sydney people are half asleep, that there is plenty of money, but no energy; - but now since the discovery of the tin and copper mines on the borders of Queensland, a change has come over the scene. At this moment there are excellent chances for picking up mines at low rates, for few people know the value of mines and minerals. The Coal Mines of Newcastle afford cheap fuel, and there are also discoveries of Coal on the Blue Mountains.

27 November 1872

Next day we presented our letters to the Hon H Parkes, Colonial Treasurer and the Hon. Butler, Attorney General, and others in high office. In the afternoon at the Botanical Gardens, we saw many of our page 111 hot house plants growing in the open most luxuriantly. There is something peculiar in the climate which prevents the arrangements of flowers such as we can command in our Gardens. The atmosphere is dry for so long that even the Colens is obliged to be sheltered under grass. We fell in to-day with our old friends of H.M.S. Blanche, who had been 3 months cruising in the South Sea Islands.

28 November 1872

I had long interviews the following day with the Govt. Ministers, and the Mr Whittage the Chief Engineer in company with Mr Higgins, the Contractor, who made part of the zig-zag over the Blue Mountains;- and also visited the PS “Paterson” recently bought for New Zealand service. The revenue of this Colony has increased £500,000 in the last year, - and the Government are contracting for large extensions in Railway and other Works to develop the mines and mineral fields. Two hundred miles of Railways will be open for tender within 3 months from this date. The celebrated zig-zag passes over a height of 3,700 feet which is ascended at a grade of 1 in 40.

29 November 1872

The Works are exceedingly good and well worth a visit. The scenery is very fine also, - but unfortunately it was rather cloudy, so that we did not get the full benefit of the views, which rather reminded me of the Rocky Mountain Scenery in America, altho’ the trees are not so large nor so beautiful The Gum tree, of which there are several varieties, is the principal tree in the bush; - then the he-oak, and the she-oak are also found – the one with its leaf turned up and other down. Orange groves and vineyards have page 112 been planted in quantity, and do very well. It is said there is a good opening for an educated and experienced Wine-blender, as each grower makes his own wine, and the quality is never certain. The Bush is quite open, and you can ride through it easily; - in fact it has the appearance of a gentleman’s park, – it is full of beautiful birds, and the chirp of the cricket and the croak of the frog are continuous; - quite different from the deal silence of the New Zealand Bush. After ascending the Zig-Zag on the Sydney side we passed along at high elevation for some distance, and then descend another Zig-Zag to the plains, on which is some good land, and nearly cleared. A notch is cut round the trees which are to be destroyed. The Gum trees spread their roots so far about, that the growth of grass is increased by their removal – altho’ for the sake of shade to animals and the dews which condense on the trees it is not advisable to carry out on the work of destruction to an indefinite extent.

1 December 1872

On Sunday we attended a very nice Service at the Cathedral, which is only partly-finished. An elaborate Town Hall in course of erection stands next to it, - the façade of which is complete. We went up the Paramata River in the Steam Boat, and walked thro’ the Bush to the Railway Station. The sides of this River are covered with Mangrove Trees, - and Orange Groves are planted all the way up the River on each side.

2 December 1872

Next day I had long interviews with the Minster of Public Works, and the Engineer-in-Chief Mr Whitton, C.E. and afterwards secured our Passages by the R.M.S. “Behar”

3-4 December 1872

page 113

for Venice, and left at 12 o’clock Dec 3rd.

We had a fair passage and the weather was fine off Cape Howe, which is the division between N.S. Wales and Victoria. It is said the Aborigines on the sea coast at this part are rather dangerous and numerous, - and besides stealing and killing the cattle, do not respect the life of the white man. As a consequence they are not esteemed as neighbours; - and the first thing a run-holder does is to clear the land of these Blacks, altho’ the penalties are very severe for maltreatment of them; - they do not make a favorable impression upon one, and are far inferior to the Maori Race.

5-6 December 1872

We arrived in Melbourne at 7.30pm on Thursday evening, where I found a Telegram from England waiting for me; - and on the next day received letters by the New Zealand and English Mail to which I had barely time to reply as we left by the “Behar” at 2 o’Clock. The New Zealand Newspapers don’t seem disposed to let us or our Contracts alone.

12 December 1872

After six day’s sailing we arrived at King George’s Land 1164 miles from Melbourne, at 5 o’Clock. The Town is very small, and the Country seems poor indeed. Several natives came around us. The women were dressed in skins, and seemed such wretched looking beings; - their appearance and walk remind one of the Emu – which is of itself not a ill-favoured bird, - but let it be imitated by dressing a scarecrow with its feathers, giving it a monkey head and face, motion and plenty of dirt, and the resemblance, to some extent to these natives to some extent will be apparent. After page 114 buying some seeds, and looking round for anything to be seen or learned, we had tea, and arranged for a “Korobero”, among the natives. A fire was lighted, and a dance and song commenced. Clothing skins were thrown aide – and women and men began to dance and howl, - when all at once in dashed a wretch streaked all over his naked body with stripes of white, looking ugly and ghastly – this was followed by more howls and striking of bodies with a sort of dance, forming in the light of the fire and the outside darkness a complete demoniacal exhibition.

13-14 December 1872

We left on Friday morning Dec 13 at half past seven. Sir James Ferguson, late Governor General of South Australia, was a Passenger. Governor Weld, of Western Australia came on board, and we had a few minutes chat together. I bought, before leaving, some specimens of Plants. We had a voyage before us of 3047 miles to Galle during which we devised sundry methods of enabling us to pass the time pleasantly. In conversations with a Mr D.P.Keogh, he informed me of the good quality of the land in Gippsland, and that the Railway there was easily made. He also said that the purchase of by a Company of the Melbourne Water Works would be a good speculation – and referred also to the Water Works at Sydney.

19 December 1872

On Thursday Dec. 19th an event of considerable interest occurred. Our attention had been occupied for a few days previously in getting up a Breach of Promise Case which came off the evening. My little Harmonium had been in requisition on Sundays for our services; - and page 115 In the week evenings to singing, and in accompaniment to a violin we managed a Band for dancing. The Captain and Officers kindly gave us lamps and cleared the deck, so that we enjoyed the evenings greatly, laughing very much, - some times, to add to our amusement, by the ship’s roll we were all thrown in a heap at the side of the decks. Mr Thornton proved to be a great acquisition in singing and music, - and altogether we were a happy lot of Passengers.

The Programme of the Trial was

Victoria Regina
A Trial for Breach of Promise of Marriage will take place on the Quarter Deck of the S.S.Behar, at 8.15 p.m. on the evening of the 21st inst.
Court of Rolls and Lurches
Before His Honor Mr Justice Shallow
Jones v Brownsmith

Plaintiff:Miss Aromenta Arabella Jones
Defendant:-Mr Thomas Olephule Brownsmith
Counsel for Plaintiff,Sergt. Gammon & Mr Wrangle
“ DefendantSergt. Bluster & Mr Tangle
Witnesses for Plaintiff:-Dr Esculapius Squills, ASS. M.U.P.H.
Mr Golightly Jones.Ye Father
Mrs LirriperLodging House Keeper
Chas. WhitebaitGreenwich Waiter
for Defendt.: -Miss May Anne MiggsPerfidious Friend
Sammy SnaffleRejected Addressee
Court Crier - Brawler

Some page 116 Some fun was created, - as only the outlines of the Programme were given to the performers, who were expected to fill up the parts at the time. Miss Jones (Aromenta Arabella) permitted the Courtship of Sammy (Snaffle) and they were to be married, but during a visit to Margate, being fond of tea and shrimps, she made the acquaintance of May Anne Miggs, who kept a refreshment stall, and to whom she confided her love affairs. While at Margate, she stayed at Mrs Lirriper’s Lodgings, and while walking out they met T.Olpehule Brownsmith, and a case is ultimately trumped up by means of Chas. Whitbait, the waiter. Letters pass between them, and the poor Brownsmith finds the heartless Arabell Aromenta his very own, his adored, who throws over the faithful Sammy to gain his hand – and his money.

The outline is not very brilliant but we had great fun in detail - a theatrical professional on board, assisting at the getting up, which in itself was first-rate, considering the appliances and the short notice.