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Title:      Western Australia: a history from its discovery to
              the inauguration of the Commonwealth
Author:     J.S. Battye (1871-1954)
eBook No.:  0500301.txt
Edition:    1
Language:   English
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Date first posted:          March 2005
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Title:      Western Australia : a history from its discovery to
              the inauguration of the Commonwealth
Author:     J.S. Battye (1871-1954)














In view of the prominent part taken by Australia in the recent war, and
the enthusiasm which the achievements of the Australian Forces have
aroused throughout the Empire, the story of one of the great States of
the Australian Commonwealth may not be without some general interest.

The work has been the result of over twenty years' research, undertaken,
in the first instance, in conjunction with the Registrar-General (Mr.
M.A.C. Fraser) and his Deputy (Mr. W. Siebenhaar) for the purpose of
checking the historical introduction to the Year Book of Western
Australia. It has since been continued in the hope that it may prove a
contribution of more or less value to the history of colonial
development. In the prosecution of the work, the files of the Public
Record Office, London, were searched, and copies made of all documents
that could be found which related to the establishment and early years of
the colony. These copies are now in the possession of the Public Library
of Western Australia, which contains also most of the published matter in
the way of books and pamphlets dealing with the colony, as well as almost
complete files of the local newspapers to date, and the original records
of the Colonial Secretary's Office up to 1876. All of these have been at
my disposal.

I have had, further, the opportunity of consulting official documents of
the Government, and, by permission of the Right Honourable the Secretary
of State for the Colonies, secured through the kindness of his Excellency
Sir F.A. Newdegate, have had access to all dispatches from the Colonial
Office to the colonial authorities up to the year 1901. So far as
possible every statement has been verified by documentary evidence, and
every care exercised to make the whole work strictly accurate.

In addition to those mentioned, I have to express my obligation to the
heads of Government Departments, more especially to the Under Secretary
for Lands, Mr. C.G. Morris, and the Surveyor-General, Mr. H.S. King; to
the Honourable J.W. Kirwan, M.L.C, for information concerning the federal
movement in Western Australia; to Professor Ernest Scott and Dr. R.C.
Mills for much helpful criticism; and to Miss M.E. Wood, of the Public
Library of Western Australia, for invaluable assistance in checking
references and in preparing the manuscript.


September 30th, 1921.








































   30TH DECEMBER, 1828.











Translation of the original inscription: On the 25th of October, 1616,
arrived here the ship Eendracht, of Amsterdam: The first merchant, Gilles
Milbais van Luyck: captain, Dirk Hartog, of Amsterdam; the 27th ditto set
sail for Bantam; under merchant, Jan Stins; upper steersman, Pieter
Dockes, of Bil; A.D. 1616.



Translation of the original inscription: On the 4th of February, 1697,
arrived here the ship Geelvinck, of Amsterdam: Captain commandant,
Wilhelm van Vlaming, of Vlielandt; assistant, Jan van Bremen, of
Copenhagen; first pilot, Micheel Bloem Van Estight, of Bremen; the hooker
Myptangh: Captain, Gerrit Collaert, of Amsterdam; assistant, Theodorus
Heermans, of the same place; first pilot, Gerrit Gerritz, of Bremen.
Sailed from here with our fleet on the 12th to explore the South Land and
afterwards bound for Batavia.



Duyfken in Gulf of Carpentaria. First authenticated voyage to Australia.

Dirk Hartog in the Eendracht. First authenticated voyage to Western

Discovery of Abrolhos Islands by Houtman.

Voyage of Leeuwin.
Wreck of Trial.

Nuytsland discovered.

Discovery of De Witt Land.
Voyage of Pelsart in Batavia.
Pelsart wrecked on Abrolhos Islands.

Voyage of Tasman to North-West and North coasts.

Dampier in the Cygnet.

1696 to 1697:
Discovery of Swan River by Vlaming.

Dampier's second voyage.

Voyage of St. Alouarn.

Discovery of King George's Sound by Vancouver.

Voyage of D'Entrecasteaux.

Flinders' voyage in the Investigator.
Voyage of Geographe and Naturaliste.

Geographe joined by Casuarina.

Voyage of Freycinet in Uranie.

1817 to 1822:
Lieutenant King's survey voyages on the North-West coast.

Occupancy of King George's Sound by convicts from Sydney under Major

Examination of Swan River by Captain Stirling in H.M.S. Success.

Syndicate formed in London for colonisation of Swan River.
Decision of British Government to found colony.
Captain Fremantle in H.M.S. Challenger dispatched to take formal
  possession of Swan River.
Captain Stirling appointed Lieutenant-Governor.

February. Parmelia leaves England with officials and first settlers.
May. Formal possession taken by Captain Fremantle.
Act 10 George IV ch.22, authorising establishment of Legislative Council.
June. Arrival of Parmelia. Proclamation of colony.
August. Foundation of Perth and Fremantle.

Legislative Council constituted by Order in Council.
Executive Council constituted by Instructions under Sign Manual.

Lieutenant-Governor Stirling appointed Governor.
Convict settlement at King George's Sound withdrawn.
Agricultural Society established.
First newspaper issued.

Executive Council, Legislative Council, Civil Court established.
Duel between Clarke and Johnstone.

First issue of Perth Gazette--now West Australian.

First definite petition for convicts (from Albany).
Native disturbances--Battle of Pinjarra.

Bank of Western Australia established.

1837 to 1840:
Lieutenant Grey's explorations.

End of Governor Stirling's administration.

Arrival of Governor John Hutt.

Western Australian Company constituted to form settlement at Australind.

Eyre's overland journey to King George's Sound.
Bank of Western Australia amalgamated with Bank of Australasia.
Western Australian Bank founded.
Arrival of first Australind settlers.

1845 to 1848:
Expeditions of A.C., F.T., and C. Gregory.

Retirement of Governor Hutt.
Arrival of Governor Clarke.
Discovery of coal.
New Norcia Mission established.

Death of Governor Clarke.

Arrival of Governor Fitzgerald.
Discovery of lead and copper.

1843 to 1849:
Petition for the introduction of convicts.

Western Australia constituted a penal settlement.

Arrival of first convicts.

Commencement of pearling industry.

Austin's expedition to the Murchison.

Retirement of Governor Fitzgerald.
Arrival of Governor Kennedy.

A.C. Gregory's expedition from the Northern Territory to Victoria Plains.
Anglican Bishopric established.

1857 to 1858:
F.T. Gregory's survey of the Murchison and exploration of Gascoyne.

F.T. Gregory's expedition to the North.

1861 to 1868:
Settlement of the North-West.

Dr. Hampton succeeds Sir Arthur Kennedy as Governor.

Roebuck Bay Pastoral Association.
Camden Harbour Pastoral Association.

Denison Plains Association.

Hunt's expedition to Hampton Plains.

Cessation of transportation.
Resignation of Governor Hampton.

Arrival of Governor Weld.
First telegraph line erected.
John Forrest's expedition in search of Leichhardt.

Representative Government established.
John Forrest's overland journey to Adelaide.

Municipalities Act passed.
Elementary Education Act passed.
First railway built.
A. Forrest's journey to Esperance.

1872 to 1873:
Expeditions of Giles, Gosse, and Warburton.

John Forrest's expedition to the north.
Departure of Governor Weld.

Giles' overland expeditions.
Arrival of Governor Robinson.

Escape of Fenian convicts.

Sir Harry Ord succeeds Governor Robinson.

Exploration of Kimberley district by A. Forrest.

Kimberley district opened up.
Sir William Robinson succeeds Governor Ord.

Sir Frederick Broome succeeds Governor Robinson.

Federal Council Act passed.

Kimberley Goldfield proclaimed.

Yilgarn Goldfield proclaimed.
Pilbara Goldfield proclaimed.

Great Southern Railway opened (built on land-grant system).

July. Imperial Act conferring Responsible Government passed.
October. Sir William Robinson succeeds Governor Broome.
Responsible Government inaugurated.
December. First ministry appointed, John Forrest Premier.

Murchison Goldfield proclaimed.

Coolgardie Goldfield discovered.
Fremantle Harbour commenced.

Hannans (Kalgoorlie) Goldfield discovered.

Menzies Goldfield discovered.
Midland Railway opened (land-grant railway).

Great Southern Railway purchased by Government.

Goldfields Water Supply commenced (completed January 1903).

July. Federal referendum taken.

Commonwealth of Australia inaugurated 1 January.




Although a large amount of research into the documentary annals of the
world's history has taken place during the past half-century it is still
not possible to assign, with any degree of accuracy, a definite date to
the discovery of Australia.

From earliest times there have been traditions, probably engendered more
by the spirit of prophecy than by fact, of the existence of a Great South
Land. Aristotle, Strabo, and others have expressed the opinion that there
existed south of the Equator areas of land at least equal in extent to
those above it, and in the Astronomicon of Manilius (1:238 to 239) we
find the lines:

"...Austrinis pars est habitabilis oris,
Sub pedibusque jacet nostris."

These statements, however, were merely essays into the region of
probabilities, and had not any known basis of fact. But to come down to a
later period, it is possible to show from early manuscript maps and other
sources that this belief in a southern continent was entertained long
before the discoveries made during the sixteenth century. The Vicomte de
Santarem, in his Essai sur l'histoire de la cosmographie et de la
cartographie du moyen age, gives a list of these maps, upon which are to
be found vague markings of an inhabited country described as the
"opposite earth," which could not be reached owing to the torrid zone;
and he points out that "the cartographers of the Middle Ages have
submitted that as a reality which, even to the geographers of antiquity,
was merely a theory."* Unfortunately, every effort to discover
manuscripts that would bear out the assertions of these maps has so far
been without success. Marco Polo, in the thirteenth century, as the
result of his travels, certainly did advance the claims of the Chinese to
the discovery of a Great South Land, and there is perhaps some
justification for the statement, as we know that for centuries prior to
the European advent that nation had established extensive trade relations
with the islands of the East Indies. That the country mentioned was
Australia is, however, out of the question. Marsden's** explanation is
probably the right one--that it refers to a portion of Cambodia, the
products of which are gold, spices, and elephants.

(*Footnote. Major, R.H, Early Voyages to Terra Australis pages 14 to 15.)

(**Footnote. Marco Polo, Travels: translated by Marsden (Bohn's Library)
Book 3 chapter 8 note.)

From the beginning of the sixteenth century, however, evidences of a more
definite character are available. By this time the Portuguese and other
navigators had found a way by sea round the Cape of Good Hope to the East
Indies, and were opening up avenues of trade in all directions. This
meant the continual passage of ships to and fro, and it is not unlikely
that many ships on their way to Java or other islands of the East came
within sight of portions of the western Australian coast.

A claim to the discovery of Australia has been made on behalf of
Magalhaens or Magellan, a Portuguese,* who sailed from San Lucar in 1519
by order of the Emperor Charles V, on a voyage round the world which
lasted until 1522, and during the course of which Magellan himself was
killed. Descriptions of this voyage were published by Maximilianus and by
Pigafetta in 1536, and the information contained therein was used by
Fernando Vaz Dourado in his atlas made in 1570.** In one of the maps in
this atlas there is shown a coastline which is stated to have been
discovered by Magellan in 1520 and which is claimed to be that part of
Australia. This claim has been examined by Major and Dr. John Martin, and
the result of that examination published by Major.*** Dr. Martin came to
the conclusion that the coastline was not part of Australia, but was
really part of New Guinea. He was strengthened in this belief by an old
map of Mercator, upon which he found some names upon the coast of New
Guinea similar to those upon Dourado's map. In Major's opinion the tract
laid down as discovered by Magellan "is, in fact, a memorandum or
cartographical side-note of the discovery by Magellan of Tierra del Fuego
and, from its adopted false position on the vellum it was subsequently
applied to New Guinea by Mercator."**** He admits that this surmise may
possibly be incorrect, but considers that the only alternative is that
the tract laid down is New Guinea and is clearly not Australia.

(*Footnote. Ayala, A. compendio geographico estadistico de Portugal,
Madrid 1855 page 482. Quoted by Major Early Voyages page 21. See also
ibid page 22 to

(**Footnote. Major, R.H. Early Voyages to Terra Australis page 21.)

(***Footnote. Ibid pages 22 et seq.)

(****Footnote. Ibid page 26.)

Further support to the Portuguese claim, though not to Magellan, was
given by M. Barbie du Bocage in a paper read before the French Institute
in 1807 concerning an atlas drawn at Dieppe in 1547 by Nicholas Vallard,
an extract from which paper is given by Major.* Having compared this
atlas with other contemporary atlases, Barbie du Bocage came to the
conclusion that all must have been copies from original Portuguese maps,
and consequently that the discovery of the continent of New Holland
belonged to the Portuguese. When, at a later date, Major considered the
question of the discovery of Australia, six maps bearing upon the matter
were known. Of these, four were in England and two in France.** Upon
these there is shown a large coastline to the south and south-east of
Java, separated from that island by a narrow strait, and to which the
name Java la Grande is applied. A portion of this coastline bears a
distinct resemblance to the north-west coast of Western Australia. This
forms presumptive evidence, as the maps are all sixteenth-century maps,
that navigators of some nationality had come within sight of the mainland
of Australia during the first half of the sixteenth century.

(*Footnote. Ibid pages 35 to 45.)

(**Footnote. Ibid pages 26 et seq.)

In many respects the maps are similar, and give evidence of having been
derived from the same source. From the fact that although admittedly
French they contained names that looked like gallicized Portuguese, Major
argued,* following Barbie du Bocage, that in all probability the original
discovery was Portuguese because the Portuguese predominated at that time
in those seas, and also because the French were not likely to have given
Portuguese names to territories which they had themselves discovered.
These considerations led him to "regard it as highly probable that
Australia was discovered by the Portuguese between the years 1511 and
1529, and almost to a demonstrable certainty that it was discovered by
the Portuguese before the year 1542."**

(*Footnote. Major, Further facts relating to the Early Discovery of
Australia page 6. Archaeologia volume 44.)

(**Footnote. Major, Early Voyages to Terra Australis page 44.)

A seventh map, by Pierre Desceliers of Arques, dated 1550, which came
into the possession of the British Museum in 1861, appeared to bear out
this contention.* Upon this map there is shown an island, occupying the
position of the Abrolhos Group off the west coast of Australia. Mr.
Delmar Morgan, in a paper on the discovery of Australia read at the Berne
Congress of Geographical Sciences in 1891 and reprinted in the
Proceedings of the New South Wales branch of the Royal Geographical
Society of Australasia for 1892, referring more particularly to these
islands, stated:

"The Portuguese navigator, Menezes, is commonly reported to have visited
this part of the Australian coast in 1527, but it is most unlikely that
he ever did so. Some authorities go so far as to declare that he actually
charted these islands and reefs. They were charted, however, if not
before, soon after his voyage, as they are marked on all these old
Australian charts, although the word Abrolhos appears on Pierre
Descelier's chart alone (1550). When the Dutch undertook their voyage to
the East Indies by way of the Cape of Good Hope, in 1595, Frederick
Houtman, although merely commercial chief of the expedition, assumed the
title of Captain-General, and history falsely conferred on him the glory
of having conducted the first Dutch expedition to the East Indies. In the
same way his name was prefixed undeservedly to the Portuguese discovery
on the western coast of Australia, but at what period it would be
difficult to determine."

(*Footnote. Major, Further Facts in the History of the Discovery of
Australia page 3.)

There are two points about this statement which detract from its value as
evidence of the Portuguese discovery. Menezes, during his voyage in the
year 1526 or 1527, from Malacca to the Spice Islands, was carried by
currents to the coast which has since been recognised as the north coast
of New Guinea,* but there is no allusion in any reference which we
possess regarding this voyage to a discovery of a great southern land.
Secondly, the name marked against these islands on Descelier's map is
Arenes and not Abrolhos. Collingridge** attempts to establish Arenes as a
corruption of Abrolhos, which is a Portuguese term for rocky projections
arising from the sea. This suggestion, which is scouted by Heeres,*** can
scarcely be regarded seriously. It certainly does not in any way add to
the merit of the Portuguese claim.

(*Footnote. Major. Early Voyages to Terra Australis page 44.)

(**Footnote. Collingridge Discovery of Australia page 192.)

(***Footnote. Abel Janszoon Tasman's Journal by J.E. Heeres Amsterdam
1898. Life and Labours of Tasman page 97 note 1.)

The conclusion reached by Major was accepted by geographers and, as he
says, "passed into history."* It was upset by Major himself in 1873 after
an examination of an engraved map of the world by Orontius Finaeus, dated
1531, which had recently come into the possession of the British Museum.
In the light of this new discovery he reexamined the names on the six
maps referred to and decided that they were in Provencal French and not
in gallicized Portuguese. This led him to "the inevitable conclusion that
Australia was discovered by Frenchmen, and chiefly by the men of
Provence, in or before the year 1531."**

(***Footnote. Major. Supplementary Facts in the History of the Discovery
of Australia page 15. Archaeologia volume 44.)

(****Footnote. Major. Further Facts relating to the Early Discovery of
Australia page 8. Archaeologia volume 44.)

On the whole, whilst the evidence points towards the acceptance of
Major's conclusion that the French were the first discoverers, it is not
sufficiently strong to enable it to be laid down as a fact. It does,
however, seem to establish the point that something was known of the
Australian coastline prior to what is regarded as the first authenticated
discovery, which was made by the Duyfken in 1606. This contention is
strengthened by the statement to be found in Cornelis Wytfliet's
Descriptionis Ptolemaicae Augmentum, published in 1598:

"The Australis Terra is the most modern of all lands, and is separated
from New Guinea by a narrow strait. Its shores are hitherto but little
known, since after one voyage and another that route has been deserted,
and seldom is the country visited except when sailors are driven there by
storms. The Australis Terra begins at 2 or 3 degrees from the Equator,
and is maintained by some to be of so great an extent that if it were
thoroughly explored it would be regarded as a fifth part of the world."

The remainder of the sixteenth century was allowed to pass without any
definite step being taken to increase the knowledge of the new country.
That there were courageous spirits imbued with the thirst for discovery,
who sought fame rather than the mere accumulation of wealth, is not to be
doubted, but there is no record that Australia ever claimed their
attention. The great majority of the adventurers, of whatever
nationality, found more than sufficient occupation in exploiting the
treasures of the Indies, and preferred rather to gather in the riches
that were certain than undertake the search for those which were vague
and chimerical. Those who were not content with the mild excitement of
profitable trade found ample outlet for their buccaneering tendencies in
looting one another.

Still, the spirit of discovery was not dead. The seventeenth century had
scarcely opened when the tail was once more taken up, and resulted in the
discovery of Cape York Peninsula by the Dutch vessel Duyfken about March
1606, followed by the discovery of Torres Straits and a portion of the
mainland by Torres in a Spanish vessel, the Almirante, about August of
the same year.* From this time we may safely say that the existence of a
southern continent was definitely known, although its coastline was still
indefinite and unexplored.

(*Footnote. Major. Early voyages to Terra Australis pages 74 to 75 and

Western Australia was, and indeed from its geographical position must
have been, the first part of the continent to become actually known,
lying as it does just off what was then the main trade route to the East.
No better evidence can be found of this statement than a study of the map
showing the prevailing winds. We notice that south of the Tropic of
Capricorn the general direction of the wind is from the west, while just
above the tropic we meet the south-east trades and monsoonal
disturbances. Mariners but doubtfully acquainted with the seas in which
they were sailing would have a tendency, after rounding the Cape of Good
Hope, to go east as far as possible before bearing northward to Java and
Timor, thus hoping to secure the benefit of the wind in both directions
and to avoid, if they could, the area of disturbance. This would apply
particularly to the Dutch, whose information of the route was first
gained by the study of navigation and not by its actual practice; and it
explains in great measure the frequency of Dutch names on the west coast
of Australia. It is more than probable that the first knowledge of the
new continent many of them had was when they felt it under their keels.

It is curious to note how great a part the struggle for the control of
the East Indian trade played in the gradual determination of the
coastline of the continent. Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, English, and
French in turn endeavoured to come from the commerce and resources of
those regions of marvellous wealth, and from the possible discovery of
the Abrolhos by Menezes in 1527 we have the same procession of
nationalities in the progress of Australian discovery.

Early in the seventeenth century we find important changes taking place
in the political conditions of Europe. The great naval strength of Spain,
and the mighty influence consequent upon it, had made her, in the
sixteenth century, the dominant power in the Low Countries, and a
successful rival of Portugal in the trade of the world. With the new era,
however, the glory of Spain was rapidly to wane, and the nation so long
trodden under the Spanish heel was not only to become free but to
challenge both her naval and commercial supremacy.

The long-striven-for and hardly-won independence of the Netherlands had
roused all the strength and energy of the people, and the dogged
determination that had ended Spanish oppression found continued
opportunity in the desire to lift Holland to a proud position among the
nations. The northern provinces were free, but Spain had for the time
regained control of the southern, and had made her implacable hatred felt
by repeated acts of cruelty, from which many of the inhabitants sought
relief in flight. Among these were a number of Antwerp merchants who had
for many years been indirectly connected with the trade to the Indies.
The opposition of these men was strengthened by two of the most potent of
human passions--the bitter hatred of exiles and the fanatic attachment to
religious faith. They saw that Spain could best be crippled by curtailing
her overseas trade or by depriving her of it altogether, and that in the
result the southern provinces might be freed and the Protestant faith

This, at first the idea of a few, gained general support when the
Spaniards forbade Dutch traffic with Spain, which even during the wars
had never altogether ceased. Geography, hydrography, and navigation
became subjects of earnest study, and schools were formed with the
express purpose of endeavouring to find a way to India and other Spanish
possessions. The outcome of this movement was the foundation in 1602 of
the Dutch East India Company, under whose flag many important voyages and
discoveries were to be made.*

(*Footnote. Major. Early Voyages to Terra Australis pages 76 to 78.)

Of the Dutch voyages prior to this time no certain information is
available. The English Ambassador at the Hague in the time of Charles II,
Sir William Temple,* gave it as his opinion that "a southern continent
has long since been found out," which he said was "as long as Java and is
marked on the maps by the name of New Holland, but to what extent the
land extends, either to the south, the east, or the west, we do not
know." To the same authority we are indebted for the declaration that the
Dutch East India Company "have long since forbidden, and under the
greatest penalties, any further attempts at discovering that continent,
having already more trade than they can turn to account, and fearing some
more populous nation of Europe might make great establishments of trade
in some of these unknown regions, which might ruin or impair what they
have already in the Indies."** This statement has been vigorously denied
by the Dutch, but the fact remains that of the voyages made by the
Company little was known until the publication of the instructions issued
by the Governor-General at Batavia to Tasman, on his second voyage in
1644. This curious document was found by Sir Joseph Banks in 1770 when
turning over the old archives at Batavia, and was published by Sir
Alexander Dalrymple in his Collections Concerning Papua. From it we learn
that in 1606 the Duyfken made the first AUTHENTICATED discovery of that
great land*** which at the instance of the famous navigator, Matthew
Flinders, is now designated Australia. The Captain of this vessel, Willem
Jansz, prepared a careful chart of the voyage, showing that he sailed
along the coast of New Guinea, then went southward along the coast of
Cape York Peninsula to Cape Keer-Weer (Turn again) but was prevented from
landing even for water owing to the cruel and treacherous nature of the
savages, who murdered some of the crew. The results of Torres' voyage not
being known at the time, the captain considered that the whole coast
traversed was a portion of New Guinea.

(*Footnote. Temple, Sir W. Works, London 1720 volume 1 page 163.)

(**Footnote. Ibid volume 1 page 163.)

(***Footnote. Heeres. Part borne by the Dutch in the Discovery of
Australia page 3.)

The second voyage, according to the Book of Dispatches, was that made in
a yacht from Batavia by order of the Fiscal d'Edel in 1617. Of this,
however, nothing certain is known, as the journals and remarks could not
be found.*

(*Footnote. In the portion relating more particularly to the Dutch
voyages, the author is chiefly indebted to the following authorities:
a. Major, R.H. Early Voyages to Terra Australis.
b. Heeres, J.E. Part borne by the Dutch in the Discovery of Australia,
1606 to 1675, London 1899.
c. Historical introduction to the Official Year Book of Western
Australia, 1902 to 1904.
The last named was submitted to Dr. W.G.S. Byvanck, the Chief Librarian
of the Royal Library at the Hague, who made various corrections which
have been incorporated in the text. Dr. Byvanck's original letter is
filed in the Registrar-General's Department of Western Australia.

No further attempts at discovery were made from Batavia until 1623, but
in the meantime outward-bound ships touched at various portions of the
coast in 1616, 1618, 1619, and 1622. Of these voyages but little
information is now available. The most important of them all, from a
romantic as well as from an historic point of view, is that of Dirk
Hartog in 1616, commanding the ship Eendracht, of some 360 tons burden.
Having entered the roads leading into Shark Bay (so named at a later
period by Dampier) this navigator discovered and named Dirk Hartog
Island. The large island at the entrance to the bay then, or
subsequently, named Dorre Island was also discovered by him, as well as
the portion of the mainland opposite which, if not then named, was
certainly known as Eendrachts-Land as soon afterwards as 1618.* On the
north end of the island bearing his name Hartog left a tin plate as
witness to his visit. This was nailed to a post and remained in position
for nearly a century before being again seen by the eye of civilised man.
It bore the following inscription:

"On the 25th of October, 1616, arrived here the ship Eendracht, of
Amsterdam: The first merchant, Gilles Milbais van Luyck: captain, Dirk
Hartog, of Amsterdam; the 27th ditto set sail for Bantam; under merchant,
Jan Stins; upper steersman, Pieter Dockes, of Bil; A.D. 1616."

(*Footnote. Heeres. Part borne by the Dutch in the Discovery of Australia
page 8. Some doubt as to the authenticity of Dirk Hartog's voyage, based
chiefly upon researches by Mr. George Collingridge, has been raised by
the Reverend J. Bryant in the Scottish Geographical Magazine for March
1917 volume 33 pages 120 to 121. Mr. Collingridge's argument, however,
scarcely seems to combat the evidence of Heeres (Part borne by the Dutch
in the Discovery of Australia) or the fact that Eendrachtsland is marked
on the chart of Gerritz made in 1627.)

To continue the history of this plate, it may be said that when Van
Vlaming, captain of the Geelvinck (of whose voyage it will be necessary
to speak later) visited the island in 1697--the first visit, so far as we
know, after the erection of the plate--he took the original plate away to
Batavia, replacing it by a new one, on which the old inscription was
copied and the following new one added:

"On the 4th of February, 1697, arrived here the ship Geelvinck, of
Amsterdam: Captain commandant, Wilhelm van Vlaming, of Vlielandt;
assistant, Jan van Bremen, of Copenhagen; first pilot, Micheel Bloem Van
Estight, of Bremen; the hooker Myptangh: Captain, Gerrit Collaert, of
Amsterdam; assistant, Theodorus Heermans, of the same place; first pilot,
Gerrit Gerritz, of Bremen. Sailed from here with our fleet on the 12th to
explore the South Land and afterwards bound for Batavia."

(The above are translations of the original inscriptions. See Plates 1
and 2.)

Still another century later, in 1801, during the French voyage of
discovery made by Baudin in the Geographe and Naturaliste, Van Vlaming's
plate was seen. The two vessels became separated, and Captain Hamelin, of
the Naturaliste, sent three men onto Dirk Hartog island for the purpose
of signalling the other ship. The boatswain on his return from the island
brought back the tin plate, which he had found on the north point half
buried in the sand and close to an oaken post to which originally it
seemed to have been attached. Hamelin copied the inscription and then
replaced it in position on a new post. He also placed on the north-east
of the island a new plate giving the name of his ship and the date of
arrival.* The old plate remained for a while longer, but was not to be
found when King** made a careful search for it in 1822. It afterwards
transpired that Freycinet had removed it in 1818 and had deposited it for
safekeeping in the museum of the French Institute at Paris. This fact is
recorded in the minutes of the Institute for 1821, but apparently the
plate has been lost, as every effort since made to discover it has been
futile.*** The same fate was believed to have befallen the original plate
of Dirk Hartog, which had been carried to Batavia. Fortunately, however,
it was found in 1902 in the State Museum at Amsterdam by Mr. F.F.L. de

(*Footnote. Peron. Voyage de decouvertes aux Terres Australes 1801 a
1804; Historique volume 1 pages 194 a 195.)

(**Footnote. King, P.P. Narrative of a Survey of the Inter-tropical and
Western Coasts of Australia 1818 to 1822 volume 2 page 180.)

(***Footnote. See letter from Dr. A. Grandidier, Secretary of the
Institute (filed in Registrar-General's Office, Western Australia.)

(****Footnote. Western Australia Year Book 1902 to 1904 page 4.)

Reverting now to the historical narrative, it would appear that in July
1618 the outward-bound ship Mauritius* made some discoveries on the west
coast, more particularly of "Willem's River" (probably the Ashburton)
near the North-West Cape. As the journals and remarks were lost, no
further particulars of this voyage are available.

(*Footnote. Heeres. Part borne by the Dutch in the Discovery of Australia
pages x, 12 to 13.)

In the following year, 1619, a fleet of eleven vessels under the command
of Frederick Houtman, in the Dordrecht, claims to have discovered a
series of reefs lying off the west coast, to which the name Frederick
Houtman's Abrolhos* was given. These consist of a cluster of rocky islets
with surrounding reefs, and are situated west and north-west of Champion
Bay. It is very doubtful whether this was really the first discovery of
these islands.** It will be remembered that on at least one map of the
sixteenth century they are vaguely defined, and the term Arenes given
them. Major*** is of opinion that there is no evidence that Houtman ever
visited the group at all, but that the islands were named after him, in
1619, by Jacob d'Edel, to whom their discovery was really due. This view,
however, must give way before the researches of Professor Heeres,**** who
prints two letters from Houtman, both dated Jacatra, 7 October 1619, the
one to Prince Maurice and the other to the managers of the East India
Company. In these he describes his visit to the islands. "On the 29th"
(July) he writes, "deeming ourselves to be in open sea, we shaped our
course north-by-east. At noon we were in 29 degrees 32 minutes southern
latitude; at night, about three hours before daybreak, we again
unexpectedly came upon a low-lying coast, a level country with reefs all
round it. We saw no highland or mainland, so that this shoal is to be
carefully avoided as very dangerous to ships that wish to touch at this
coast. It is fully ten miles in length, lying in 28 degrees 46 minutes."

(*Footnote. The term Abrolhos is a contraction of the Portuguese abri
vossos olhos (keep your eyes open) a most necessary precaution, and a
term applied by them to outlying coastal dangers.)

(**Footnote. See supra.)

(***Footnote. Major. Early Voyages to Terra Australis page 86.)

(****Footnote. Heeres. Part borne by the Dutch in the Discovery of
Australia pages 14 to 16.)

The supercargo of the Amsterdam, one of Houtman's fleet, was Jacob
d'Edel, or Dedel, after whom the portion of the coast between Shark Bay
and Champion Bay, then discovered, was named Edel Land. The letter
forwarded by this supercargo from Jacatra to the managers of the East
India Company, bearing the same date as Houtman's, has perhaps a peculiar
interest for Western Australia, as it contains the suggestion, certainly
the first, that the new land from its general appearance might prove to
be gold-bearing. In it, inter alia, d'Edel writes, after describing his
meeting with Houtman at the Cape and their journey together till they
"came upon the south lands situated behind Java":

"We anchored in 14 fathom in 32 1/2 degrees latitude, the bottom being
level and hard; in full sight of the land the sea was 100 fathom deep. We
used our best endeavours to make a landing, which, however, could not
conveniently be done owing to the steep coast...We then made all sail,
and the wind coming round a little we stood out to sea, not deeming it
advisable to continue longer inshore in this bad weather with such large
heavy ships and such costly cargoes as we had entrusted to our care, and
with great peril to lose more precious time; but being contented with
having seen the land, which at a more favourable time may be further
explored with more fitting vessels and smaller craft. We have seen no
sign of inhabitants, nor did we always keep near the coast, since it
formed large bays which would have taken up much time. Still, we kept
seeing the coast from time to time until 27 degrees we came upon the land
discovered by the ship Eendracht, which land in the said latitude showed

(*Footnote. Heeres. Part borne by the Dutch in the Discovery of Australia
page 16.)

The next voyage of interest was that of the Leeuwin in 1622. This vessel
rounded the cape since known as Cape Leeuwin at the south-west corner of
the continent, and continued along the coast as far east as King George's
Sound. The name Leeuwin's Land was applied to the portion then examined,
and on Gerritz' map it is said to consist of "dunes with trees and
underwood at the top" and "lowland seemingly submerged by the tide."*

(*Footnote. Ibid page 17.)

On 5 July of the same year there arrived at Batavia a boat containing ten
men, who formed part of the crew of an English ship, the Trial; this was
followed some few days later by the pinnace of the same ship with
thirty-six men on board. The men stated that they had lost and abandoned
their ship with ninety-seven men and the cargo on some rocks in 20
degrees 10 minutes southern latitude and in the longitude of the western
extremity of Java, that the ship ran on the rocks at night time in fine
weather, and that they had met with the accident through following the
course of Dutch ships.* It is probable that while right as to latitude
the sailors were considerably at fault in their longitude, as the rocks
have since been identified as the south-west portion of Monte Bello Reef,
which runs north and south to the north of Barrow Island. A Dutch yacht,
the Hasewint, was instructed to search for the place, but for some reason
it never made a start. The instructions given to the commander of the
yacht are of a most interesting nature, and had the voyage been carried
out in accordance with them, the history of Australia, or at least the
western part of it, might have been entirely different. The captain
received orders to give names fitting and worthy from a Dutch point of
view to the places he should visit, and to take possession of them in the
name of the United Provinces. That of course, had it been done, would
have meant annexation by the Dutch of practically the whole of Western
Australia, as the orders embraced the whole coastline south if necessary
to 50 degrees southern latitude, and eastward as far as possible if the
coast turned in that direction. From the standpoint of future British
settlement it is perhaps fortunate that the voyage never took place.
Apart from that phase of the question, however, the voyage would have
been productive of great results, and a more or less definite knowledge
of the possibilities of Western Australia would have been known to the
world nearly two centuries earlier. The thoroughness with which the
voyage was conceived and the advantages hoped to be gained may be
gathered from the following extract from the instructions:**

"The main object for which you are dispatched on this occasion is that
from 45 or 50 degrees, or from the furthest point to which the land shall
be found to extend southward within these latitudes, up to the
northern-most extremity of the South Land, you will have to discover and
survey all capes, forelands, bights, lands, islands, rocks, reefs,
sandbanks, depths, shallows, roads, winds, currents, and all that
appertains to the same, so as to be able to map out and duly mark
everything in its true latitude, bearings, and conformation. You will,
moreover, go ashore in various places and diligently examine the coast in
order to ascertain whether or not it is inhabited, the nature of the land
and the people, their towns and inhabited villages, the divisions of
their kingdoms, their religion and policy, their wars, their rivers, the
shape of their vessels, their fisheries, commodities, and manufactures,
but specially to inform yourselves what minerals such as gold, silver,
tin, lead, and copper, what precious stones, pearls, vegetables, animals,
and fruits these lands yield and produce."

(*Footnote. Heeres. Part borne by the Dutch in the Discovery of Australia
page 18.)

(**Footnote. Heeres. Part borne by the Dutch in the Discovery of
Australia page 19.)

Farther on they were directed to inquire as carefully as possible into
the question of whether the land would yield gold, as had previously been
suggested, and also to endeavour to procure and bring back to Batavia
some of the natives.*

(*Footnote. Heeres. Part borne by the Dutch in the Discovery of Australia
page 21.)

The expedition failed to set out owing, it is said, to unforeseen
causes,* but the existence of the instructions is particularly valuable,
giving as they do a complete and comprehensive statement of the Dutch
colonial policy of the time. The principal end in view may have been, as
was stated, that of discovery, but there is ample evidence that
commercial interests were not lost sight of, nor were possible political
results altogether overlooked.

(*Footnote. Ibid page 21 note 1.)

The next mention we have of the new land was that made by the captain of
the Wapen van Hoorn in the same year, 1622. This vessel had left Texel
for the east in the previous December, and on arrival at her destination
reported having been "in extreme peril near Eendracht Land."*

(*Footnote. Ibid page 15.)

The knowledge of the west coast was extended during 1623 by the Leyden
and the Tortelduyff, both of which reported having sighted the South
Land. In the same year Arnhem Land, including the present Northern
Territory of the Commonwealth, was discovered by Jan Carstensz. During an
attempt at exploration some members of the party were killed, and the
expedition returned with the information that "in this discovery were
found everywhere shallow water and barren coasts; islands altogether
thinly populated by divers cruel, poor, and brutal natives, and of very
little use to the Company."*

(*Footnote. Major. Early Voyages to Terra Australis page 45.)

Nothing further is known until 1627, when the Gulden Zeepaard, under the
command of Francois Thyssen, sighted the south coast just beyond Cape
Leeuwin and made an exhaustive examination of the coastline for about one
thousand miles eastward, giving to the part explored the name of Nuyts
Land,* in honour of the chief passenger, Pieter Nuyts, who was afterwards
Ambassador to Japan and subsequently Governor of Formosa. In Nuyts Land
was embraced all that territory lying at the head of the Great Australian

(*Footnote. Heeres. Part borne by the Dutch in the Discovery of Australia
page 51.)

In the second half of the same year, on 22 July 1627, the
Governor-General of the Dutch Indies sailed from Table Bay with the ships
Galias, Utrecht, and Texel. All went well up to 10 August, when the
rudder of the Galias broke, and the ship becoming unmanageable, the other
vessels passed out of sight. Repairs being effected, the next day she
proceeded on her course alone, and on 5 September came suddenly upon the
Land of Eendracht, which by the reckoning of the chart should have been
nearly 350 miles farther east. The Governor's experience on this voyage
and his nearness to shipwreck led him to request the Company to give
particular attention to correcting the miscalculations in the chart--a
work that seems to have been very urgently required. Accuracy of
observation and charting was therefore enjoined upon succeeding captains,
with a result beneficial alike to navigation and geography.* Towards the
end of 1627 the Wapen van Hoorn, which had been in peril near the coast
of Eendracht Land in 1622, again sighted the same portion of the coast,
although, according to the chart, the land should have been in quite a
different direction. This fact led to observations being taken which
helped to make the chart more correct.**

(*Footnote. Ibid page 52.)

(**Footnote. Ibid page 53.)

Early in the following year Captain de Witt in the Vianen, homeward
bound, touched the shore on the north-west coast in the neighbourhood of
the present town of Roebourne, and after making a cursory examination for
some fifty miles gave it the name of De Witt Land.*

(*Footnote. Ibid pages xi, 54.)

The same year, 1628, was also to witness the commencement of one of the
most important and exciting voyages made to the new land. On the whole,
the history of early Australian discovery is a calm and quiet story,
without trace of adventure, recording nothing of an eventful nature
beyond the sighting and superficial examination of stretches of isolated
and uninteresting coast. But there are some exceptions, and perhaps the
greatest of these is the tragic voyage of the Batavia, whose passengers
and crew formed the first white settlers on Australian soil, albeit
involuntarily, and for many of them with dire results.

The relation of this voyage, probably compiled from Pelsart's Journal,
was first published in Dutch at Amsterdam in 1647, and was repeatedly
republished during the succeeding few years. It was used by Thevenot in
1663 in compiling a French version for his Receuil de divers voyages
curieux, and all English accounts were merely abridgements of this until
1897, when Mr. W. Siebenhaar, of Perth, undertook a complete translation
of the Dutch account. The description of the voyage is taken from that
document.* Pelsart's Journal was recently published by Professor Heeres,
but the fact and particulars of the shipwreck were omitted as being
already sufficiently known.

(*Footnote. This was printed in the Western Mail (Perth) Christmas Number

In 1628 General Pieter Carpentier returned safely from the East Indies
with five richly-laden merchant ships, and this, combined with the fact
that the Government had recently succeeded in releasing three ships from
an embargo laid upon them by the English a year previously, led the
authorities to determine to send another fleet of eleven ships to the
East, with which General Jacob Specks was to sail. Two ships and a yacht
being soon ready to sail, the senate sent them to Texel so as to lose no
time. These vessels were the Batavia (under Francois Pelsart) the
Dordrecht (under Isaac van Swaenswyck) and the Assendelft (under Cornelis
Vlack). They left Texel for their destination on 28 October 1628. With
the details of the first part of the voyage we need not concern
ourselves. Nothing out of the ordinary happened except that the ships
became separated, which was so usual an occurrence as to cause little
excitement. The Batavia continued her course alone, and on Whit-Monday, 4
June 1629, reached southern latitude 28 degrees 28 1/3 minutes, about
nine miles from the mainland. Here the ship was amongst the perilous
banks of the Abrolhos, and shortly before sunrise she struck the reef.
The usual trials and tribulations attendant upon shipwrecks occurred,
intensified by the drunkenness and lawlessness of the soldiers and
sailors, but eventually the whole company was landed on two small islands
situated about three leagues from the ship. After considerable
difficulty, provisions and merchandise, including treasure, were landed,
but it was impossible to secure sufficient water. The forty people on the
smaller island had only eighty cans, and the 180 refugees on the larger
had even less, so that from the beginning the scarcity of water had to be
faced. On this account a great deal of dissatisfaction arose,
particularly as there was no water to be found on the islands, and very
little hope of securing any until rain came, or unless the ship went to
pieces and some of the barrels were to float to the islands. Some of the
crew desired to take the boat and search the other islands and the
mainland, but Pelsart was not at first favourable to this idea, feeling
that he was responsible for the safety of both the people and the
merchandise. Ultimately after much pressure he yielded, and it was
decided that they should try the mainland for water, and if they found
none to continue the voyage to Batavia to seek assistance for those left
on the islands.

Before carrying this resolution into effect, the commodore (Pelsart)
wished to sail across to the other island to acquaint the people there
was the decision arrived at. The crew at first objected to this, but at
length were induced to start. When nearing the other shore, however, they
renewed their objections and definitely refused to land, evidently afraid
of some untoward result. Pelsart was therefore compelled to return to the
first island. The next morning, in company with some others, he set out
early, after leaving a note of their intentions, to search for water. For
three days they sought among the islands, but without success. Such fresh
water as there was in the rocky holes of the islands round about had been
spoilt by seawater during the storm. Then, on 9 June, they steered for
the mainland, but were not able to land owing to the roughness of the
coast and the persistence of the storm. Many efforts were made to effect
a landing, but without avail, "for the breakers were too strong and the
coast too steep and jagged, without any foreland or inlet, as is usually
found on other coasts, so that it seemed to them a bare and cursed
country, devoid of green or grass." The current bore them farther to the
northward than they desired, and on the 14th, on approaching the coast,
they observed a good deal of smoke, and endeavoured to run in, hoping to
find men and water. To land being impracticable on account of the
breakers, six men determined to swim for the shore, and all succeeded in
reaching it. A day's search left them exhausted and unsuccessful. In the
evening "they happened upon four people, who were creeping toward them on
their hands and feet." These fled upon the approach of the sailors, who
on their return to the boat described them as "black savages, quite
naked, leaving themselves uncovered like animals." The next day they were
fortunately able to land, and managed to collect about twenty gallons of
water. They next resolved to go farther inland in the hope of securing
more in the mountains, but the search was vain, as there was no
appearance of water, "for behind the mountain chain the country was flat
again, bearing neither trees nor vegetation nor grass, and being
everywhere covered with high anthills built of earth, which in the
distance were not unlike Indian huts. There were also such multitudes of
flies that one could not keep them out of one's eyes." They next saw
eight black people, each carrying a stick in his hand. These approached
them to a musket shot's distance, but "when they saw our people coming
toward them they took to their heels and would neither speak nor stop."

Oppressed by a sense of his own danger and fearing for the safety of
those left on the islands, Pelsart followed the coastline in the hope of
reaching the river of Jacob Remmessens,* which according to his charts
was close at hand. North-easterly winds prevented him from reaching it,
and finally he determined to try to make Batavia for assistance. This
difficult task he accomplished and after sighting Java on 27 June,
reached Batavia on 5 July. The next day he made his appearance before the
Court, and having informed the Governor-General and Council of his
misfortunes, requested speedy help to save the shipwrecked people, and to
secure as much as possible of the merchandise. In a few days the frigate
Sardam was assigned to him, and after manning and victualling her he left
on his return to the Abrolhos on the 15th of the month.

(*Footnote. No definite date can be assigned to the discovery of this
river. As Heeres points out, it must have been known before 1628 or 1629
as it is mentioned by Pelsart, but could not have been much earlier as
the name is not found on Gerritz' charts of 1618 and 1627. Modern maps
show no river of any size at that point. It is possible that Exmouth Gulf
was mistaken for the mouth of a river. J.S.B.)

In the meantime, however, there was great trouble among those left behind
on the islands. After the shipwreck the supercargo, Jerome Cornelisz,
with several accomplices, had formed the intention of refloating the ship
and using her for piracy, a trade which in those days was far from being
unremunerative. To this end they remained on the vessel for some ten
days, until, in fact, she began to fall to pieces, and they had
considerable difficulty in gaining the shore. Cornelisz then, as
supercargo, took command of the company, which at that time was spread
over three islands. This distribution on three islands rose from the fact
that a few days previously some of the men, in charge of a soldier,
Webbye Hays, had gone off to a third in search of water.

Realising that the Batavia could not now be used for their purpose,
Cornelisz and his associates determined upon the murder of all those
opposed to their schemes, and upon the seizure of the yacht in which they
expected Pelsart to return from Batavia. Selecting those upon whom he
could depend, a contract was made out to which they agreed. The wording
of this bond, really an agreement to commit wholesale murder, is so
curious that it may be interesting to insert it in full:

"We, the undersigned, in order to take away all distrust that exists or
might exist amongst us, bind ourselves herewith, ON THE SALVATION OF OUR
promising not to do each other any injury whatsoever in person or
possession without first verbally declaring to each other the breach of
the peace, in knowledge thereof we have signed this contract on the 12th
July, 1629, on the island Bataviae's Kerkhof."

The signatures followed. They then proceeded to murder all those on the
island with the exception of thirty men and four boys, so that the name
of the island as set down in the contract--Batavia's graveyard--was both
sinister and significant.

Meanwhile, Webbye Hays and party, who were away looking for water, were
after twenty days successful in finding it, and made three fires as a
signal. As this happened to be on the day of the general murder,
Cornelisz and his friends were probably too busy to notice them. Some who
escaped the carnage managed to get across to Hays on rafts and take him
the dreadful news. Having with these reinforcements some forty-five men
under him, he resolved to place himself in a position of defence from
attack. Those on the remaining island, either not being aware of what had
transpired or being too weak to defend themselves, were attacked by a
party of Cornelisz' ruffians, and all but seven boys and six women were
murdered. The chests of merchandise were then opened, and the worthy band
attired themselves gaudily in scarlet cloth, with gold and silver

The ringleader, however, recognised that there could be no safety for him
until Webbye Hays and party were put out of the way. Consequently, having
assumed the title and authority of Captain-General, he sent an expedition
of twenty-two armed men against them. These were successfully repulsed by
the practically defenceless band. Cornelisz then had recourse to
strategy, and by letter secretly offered some of the men large rewards in
return for treachery. These letters were shown to Hays, and a trap was
accordingly laid. Cornelisz was induced to come to the island to settle
the terms, and on arrival he himself was taken prisoner and some of his
men killed.

At this stage, 13 September, the Sardam with Pelsart arrived at the
Abrolhos, the commodore being pleased to find from the presence of smoke
that some at least of his people were still alive. Before he could land,
Webbye Hays and three others came on board and gave him an account of the
whole tragedy, further informing him that the ruffians were already on
their way to surprise and seize the ship. These, when they arrived, were
captured, a fate which also quickly befell the remainder of the band. An
examination into all the circumstances was then and there made, and as
carrying the miscreants back to Batavia would have meant crowding the
frigate too much, Cornelisz and those closely associated with him were
put to death on Seal Island, after being subjected to the refinements of
what one almost feels compelled to admit was well-merited torture. Among
them they had murdered no fewer than 125 innocent people. The frigate
then returned to Batavia, stopping her course to maroon two of the
conspirators on the coast near Champion Bay. These two men were the first
white inhabitants of the continent so far as is known. It is curious that
the first white settlement in Australia also consisted of persons largely
of the same class.*

(*Footnote. The instructions issued to the commanders of the yachts Klein
Amsterdam and Wesel, which were sent out in 1636 for further
investigation of the north coast of Australia, contained the direction to
grant a passage home to the two Dutch criminals put ashore on the west
coast by Pelsart. See Heeres, Part borne by the Dutch in the Discovery of
Australia page 66.)

During the years following, particularly in 1629, 1632, and 1635, various
places on the west coast were either touched at or sighted by Dutch
ships, but these did not contribute anything new in the way of
information.* The next important voyage was that of Abel Janszoon Tasman
(who had discovered Van Diemen's Land in 1642) and Franz Visscher, with
the yachts Limmen, Zeemeeuw, and De Brak. It was for this voyage, which
took place in 1644, that the Dutch Book of Dispatches, previously
referred to, and from which much of our knowledge of the voyages of the
Dutch East India Company is derived, was compiled. The object of the
expedition was to explore the north-west and north coasts of the new
continent, and to proceed eastward to determine whether New Guinea was a
separate island or part of the mainland. Tasman's Journal of this voyage
had unfortunately been lost, so that such information as we possess about
the voyage is rather meagre, and is taken from a work published in 1705
by Burgomaster Witsen, who quotes Tasman as the authority for his
statements. These refer chiefly to the natives, who are described as
"possessing rude canoes made of the bark of trees, but no houses; to live
poorly, go naked, and eat yams and other roots."**

(*Footnote. Heeres. Part borne by the Dutch in the Discovery of Australia
page 62.)

(**Footnote. Major. Early Voyages to Terra Australis page 98.)

From the map published by Thevenot in 1663, which it is said was forgery
taken from that done in inlaid work on the pavement of the new Stadt Haus
in Amsterdam, we may get a fair idea of his route. He certainly did not
ascertain whether New Guinea was separated from the mainland,* but he
examined the northern coastline from Arnhem Land to Exmouth Gulf, taking
in De Witt Land and part of Eendracht Land, and embracing the districts
now known as the Kimberleys and the North-West. He also appears to have
landed in what we call Carnot and Roebuck Bays. To him we owe the name
New Holland, which was applied by the Dutch only to the western portion
of the continent, the coastline of which had been fairly accurately
determined. The part to the east, which was still thought to be connected
with New Guinea, continued to be called South Land.**

(*Footnote. Tasman, Abel Janszoon. Journal edited by Heeres Amsterdam
1898 page 117.)

(**Footnote. Ibid page 118 and Chart Number 1; also Heeres, Part borne by
the Dutch in the Discovery of Australia page 12.)

From this time to the end of the century the interest of the Dutch in
coastal exploration seems to have flagged. The sterile nature of the
country promised but little in the way of wealth, and though the
territory was still included in the lands of the Dutch East India
Company, it was left undisturbed to the occupation of the savages. An
exploratory voyage was made by the Leeuwerik in 1648, and in 1649 the
Vergulde Draeck, laden with rich merchandise and money, was wrecked in
latitude 30 degrees 40 minutes and 118 lives were lost. In the hope of
securing assistance, seven of the survivors managed to reach Batavia,
leaving sixty-eight behind them to protect the cargo and treasure. Relief
ships were dispatched in 1657 and 1658, but many of these met with
disaster of one kind or another, and all returned from the search
unsuccessful. The first of these vessels, the Witte Valck and Goede Hoop,
sailed down the coast for some distance, but returned after losing a boat
and eleven men. The Vinck, from the Cape to Batavia, was instructed to
search, but also failed. The Waeckende Boey and the Emeloort visited the
mainland in 1658 on the same mission, but with abortive results.* The
first of these vessels foolishly abandoned a boat and fourteen men during
bad weather, and only four of them got back to Batavia, the remainder
succumbing to incredible suffering and privation. In the same year the
Elburg joined in the search with the same negative result. Many of these
ships observed wreckage of various kinds floating about, which evidently
came from the Vergulde Draeck, but nothing was ever heard of the
unfortunate castaways. There was, however, some result from the attempts
in improved charts of the coastline.**

(*Footnote. Rottnest Island was discovered during this voyage of the
Waeckende Boey (see Heeres page 79) but was not named.)

(**Footnote. Major. Early Voyages to Terra Australis pages 105 to 106;
Heeres. Part borne by the Dutch in the Discovery of Australia pages xii,
73 to 76 and 81.)

Some twenty years later the Vliegende Swaan* coasted the north-west of
the continent on her voyage from Ternate to Batavia.

(*Footnote. Ibid page 82.)



Up to the end of the seventeenth century English maritime enterprise in
the Pacific Ocean and Southern Seas had been almost a negligible
quantity, confined chiefly to occasional voyages of adventure; and any
English interest in, or even knowledge of, the new South Land could
scarcely be said to exist. Curiously enough, that English interest was in
the first place stimulated by one who at that period of his life was in
every respect a buccaneer--William Dampier. But pirate though he
practically was, he had some of the qualities of a hero, and he possessed
that faculty for accurate observation that made his remarks and opinions
on places visited of special value to his country.

Born in 1652 of a respectable family in Somerset, Dampier as a young man
gained some experience of the sea both in the merchant service and in the
navy. In 1674 he went to Jamaica to assist in the management of a
plantation, but the life was so devoid of adventure that in the following
year he went back to sea. In 1697 he joined the buccaneers and made
various expeditions in the Pacific with the avowed object of plundering
the Spanish settlements. Some four years later he took service with one
Cook on a cruise round the world. Finding that the vessel was too small
for the purpose, they ran along the coast of Africa in the hope of
meeting a more suitable craft. At sierra Leone they fell in with a Dutch
ship carrying thirty-six guns, and without qualms of conscience forcibly
took possession of her and ran out to sea.* Dampier's narrative says
nothing of this, but would lead us to believe that the voyage was one of
discovery only, instead of being, as it really was, one of piracy. Cook
died in 1684, and Davis, who took his place, joined forces with a Captain
Swan of the Cygnet, and for twelve months they scoured the South American
coast in company. After that they parted, as Swan wished to try the
Mexican coast and then go across the Pacific towards the East Indies.
With him went Dampier, filled, according to his narrative, with a desire
for discovery. Reaching the Philippine Islands in June 1686, they
remained there until early in the following year, when dissatisfaction
became rife among the crew, owing partly to the prolonged inactivity and
partly to the methods of Captain Swan. In the end Captain Teat, the chief
mate, with a number of the crew, amongst whom were the surgeon and
Dampier, sailed away with the ship, leaving Swan and about thirty-six men
stranded on Mindanao.** After a course of piracy in the China Seas and
the East Indian Archipelago, they decided to turn to the south, intending
to touch at New Holland in order to "to see what that country would
afford us."***

(**Footnote. Dictionary of National Biography sub nomen Dampier.)

(**Footnote. Dampier. New voyage round the World third edition London
1698 pages 372 to 374.)

(***Footnote. Ibid page 461.)

The landing took place in the north-west corner of King Sound, at the
spot now known as Cygnet Bay. Here the ship was beached for cleaning and
repairs, and it is curious that apparently by accident the captain found
the one place on the whole north-west coast suitable for that purpose.
During the stay there, lasting until 12 March, Dampier appears to have
found the society of his fellow-buccaneers uncongenial, and to have
occupied his time in making a careful exploration of the surrounding

"New Holland," he tells us, "is a very large tract of land. It is not yet
determined whether it is an island or a main continent; but I am certain
that it joins neither to Asia, Africa, nor America. The part of it that
we saw is all low, even land, with sandy banks against the sea; only the
points are rocky, and so are some of the islands in this bay."*

(*Footnote. Ibid page 463.)

Dampier's observations on the country and the natives are singularly
correct, and have a particular value as giving the first definite and
accurate information known concerning any portion of this vast continent.

The soil he describes as dry and sandy,

"destitute of water, except you make wells; yet producing divers sorts of
trees. But the woods are not thick nor the trees very big. Most of the
trees we saw are dragon-trees, as we supposed, and these, too, are the
largest trees of any there. They are about the bigness of our large apple
trees...and the rind is blackish and somewhat rough...The other sorts of
trees were not known to any of us. There was pretty long grass growing
under the trees, but it was very thin. We saw no trees that bore fruit or

(*Footnote. Dampier. New voyage round the World third edition London 1698
page 463.)

Of the natives, whom he must have observed with very great care, he

"The inhabitants of this country are the miserablest people in the world.
The Hodmadods of Monomatapa, though a nasty people, yet for wealth are
gentlemen to these, who have no houses and skin garments, sheep, poultry,
and fruits of the earth, ostrich eggs, etc., as the Hodmadods have; and
setting aside their human shape, they differ little from brutes. They are
tall, straight-bodied, and thin, with small long limbs. They have great
heads, round foreheads, and great brows. Their eyelids are always
half-closed to keep the flies out of their eyes, they being so
troublesome here that no fanning will keep them off...They have great
bottle noses, pretty full lips, and wide mouths. The two fore teeth of
their upper jaw are wanting in all of them, men and women, old and young.
They are long-visaged...Their hair is black, short, and curled.

"They have no sort of clothes, but a piece of the rind of a tree tied
like a girdle about their waists, and a handful of long grass, or three
or four small green boughs full of leaves, thrust under their girdle to
cover their nakedness.

"They have no houses, but lie in the open air without any covering, the
earth being their bed and the heaven their canopy...They do live in
companies, twenty or thirty men, women, and children together. Their only
food is a small sort of fish which they get by making weirs of stones
across little coves or branches of the sea, every tide bringing in the
small fish, and there leaves them a prey to these people, who constantly
attend there to search for them at low water...There is neither herb,
root, pulse, nor any sort of grain for them to eat that we saw, nor any
sort of bird or beast that they can catch, having no instruments
wherewithal to do so.

"I did not perceive that they did worship anything. These poor creatures
have a sort of weapon to defend their ware or fight with their enemies,
if they have any that will interfere with their poor fisheries...Some of
them had wooden swords; others had a sort of lance. The sword is a piece
of wood shaped somewhat like a cutlass. The lance is a long straight
pole, sharp at one end and hardened afterwards by heat. I saw no iron nor
any other sort of metal."

(*Footnote. Dampier. New Voyage round the World third edition London 1698
pages 464 to 466.)

After leaving Cygnet Bay, Dampier desired to proceed on a voyage to
England, but this did not meet with the approval of his companions. A
quarrel occurred, and in the result he, with two others, was put ashore
on the Nicobar Islands.* Here they suffered many trials and privations,
but ultimately succeeded in getting away, and in 1691 Dampier arrived
back in England after an absence of nearly nine years.

(**Footnote. Dampier. New Voyage round the World third edition London
1698 pages 482 to 483.)

Some years passed without incident until the Dutch became anxious about
the fate of a missing ship, the Ridderschap van Holland, and in 1696
Willem van Vlaming was instructed by the East India Company to proceed
with the Geelvinck and two other vessels to examine carefully the South
Land or the Land of Eendracht and also to inquire into the fate of the
Ridderschap van Holland, which had left the Cape for Batavia in 1694.* On
Christmas Day, 1696, they sighted land, and on 29 December anchored off
the shore of a large island, upon which they landed on the following day.
On exploring it they were struck with the large number of rats'
(wallabies) nests to be seen, and gave it the name of Rottenest Island.
Some pieces of wreckage were discovered, but there was nothing by which
they could identify the vessel they were endeavouring to trace. From the
higher parts they could see the mainland distinctly, and from the smoke
rising here and there from among the trees they gathered that natives
were present. On 5 January 1697, Vlaming with eighty-six well-armed men
landed on the shore somewhere in the neighbourhood of Cottesloe Beach,
and going eastward came upon what they described as "a large basin of
brackish water." On the banks of this they met with traces of natives in
the shape of footprints, a fire still burning, and a hut that would have
disgraced a Hottentot, but the aborigines themselves were not to be seen.
They camped near the fire, and on the following day separated into three
parties for exploratory purposes and went off in different directions.
They met again at night having made no discovery of any importance beyond
proving that the "basin of brackish water" was really a river. On the 9th
they brought the ships in and anchored just off the mouth of the river,
which Vlaming and a party explored on the following days for a distance
of some fourteen or sixteen leagues. They were rewarded by the discovery
of numbers of that hitherto unknown prodigy of Nature, the fabulous black
swan mentioned by Juvenal. Several specimens were examined, and three
were taken alive to Batavia. From the presence of these birds Vlaming
named his discovery the Black Swan River. However, having, according to
the narrative, "found neither good country nor seen anything worthy of
note," Vlaming continued his voyage northward, examining the shore
carefully for traces of the lost ship, and occasionally landing to make
some exploration of the coast. On 4 February they reached Shark Bay, and
on Dirk Hartog Island found the plate previously referred to. This they
took away, leaving another in its place. Resuming the voyage they reached
the North-West Cape, and on the 21st of the month set the course direct
for Batavia, after firing guns "as a signal of farewell to the miserable
South Land."** To Vlaming thus belongs the discovery of the Swan River,
the most important so far of all the discoveries on the mainland.

(*Footnote. Heeres. Part borne by the Dutch in the Discovery of Australia
page 83 note 1. Also Major. Early Voyages to Terra Australis page 107.)

(**Footnote. Major. Early Voyages to Terra Australis pages 120 to 133
extract from Vlaming's Journal. Vlaming's Journal was not printed by
Heeres because it had already been printed in 1701 and a translation was
included in Major's Early Voyages to Terra Australis.)

Meanwhile Dampier had not been idle. For some years after his arrival in
England he was engaged in preparing a record of his voyage and adventures
from 1683 to 1691. This was published in 1698 as A New Voyage Round the
World. From it the English gained their first accurate knowledge of these
new South Lands. At this time the Government had decided to fit out a
ship for an exploratory voyage round the world, and Dampier was
recommended for the command. He was accordingly directed to draw up
proposals for such a purpose, and suggested that as little was known of
the Terra Australis an examination of that territory should be included.
The suggestions were approved, and Dampier was appointed to the command
in 1698.*

(*Footnote. Dictionary of National Biography volume 14 page 4.)

Dampier left England in the Roebuck on 14 January 1699, and after
touching at the Canary and Cape Verde Islands directed his course to
Bahia in Brazil. From that port he made a long sweep round the Cape of
Good Hope towards the west coast of Australia.* His first intention was
to proceed westward through the Straits of Magellan or round Tierra del
Fuego, in order to begin his discoveries upon the eastern and least-known
side of the Terra Australis. He found, however, that it was not possible
to go that way, as owing to the time of the year in which he left England
he would have been compassing South America in a very high latitude in
the depth of winter.** He therefore went eastward round the Cape. The
same reason, the fear of severe winter weather, made him decide to go
northwards along the coast of New Holland instead of southward.*** It is
interesting to note that if Dampier had adhered to his original intention
it is more than probable that he would have had the credit of discovering
the eastern coast of Australia.

(*Footnote. Dampier. Voyage to New Holland in 1699 London 1703 pages 2 et

(**Footnote. Dampier. Continuation of a Voyage to New Holland in 1699
London 1729 page 124.)

(***Footnote. Ibid page 125.)

On 1 August Dampier sighted land, and on the 5th anchored in the bay to
which, owing to the prevalence of sharks, he gave the name Shark's Bay
(now known as Shark Bay).* Some eight days were spent in making trips to
the mainland in search of water, but without result. During this time he
surveyed a portion of the Bay and collected a good deal of valuable
information about the coastal country, as well as interesting data
concerning the fauna and flora. He tells us that the land was gently
undulating, with stretches of sand along the seaboard, changing to a
reddish soil of sandy nature farther inland. Upon this grew plants,
grass, and shrubs, but no trees above ten feet in height. Of the tree
blossoms blue was the predominating colour, and small and beautiful
flowers of various hues, different from anything he had previously seen,
abounded everywhere.** The only large birds were some eagles, cormorants,
pelicans, gulls, and ducks. The land animals were few in number,
consisting in the main of kangaroos and lizards. The kangaroos were new
to natural history, and Dampier's description of them is the first known.
"The land animals," he writes, "were only a sort of raccoons, different
from those of the West Indies, chiefly as to their legs; for these have
very short forelegs, but go jumping upon them as the others do, and, like
them, are very good meat.*** The only other animals he saw were large
lizards (or guanos, as he terms them) against which, as food, the
sensitive stomach of a buccaneer appears to have rebelled.

(*Footnote. Dampier. Voyage to New Holland in 1699 London 1703 page 124.)

(**Footnote. Dampier. Voyage to New Holland in 1699 pages 121 and 122.)

(***Footnote. Ibid pages 122 to 123.)

Water not being available, he decided on the 14th to continue his voyage
north, keeping as close to the shore as he could in the hope of finding
more fertile country and an abundant supply of water.* From time to time
he sent the boats ashore for supplies, but only once did he obtain
sufficient to replenish the casks. On the 21st he reached some islands,
now called Dampier Archipelago, situated off the present town of Cossack,
and on the 31st again landed some 150 miles south of his former anchorage
in Cygnet Bay. Here he had a small brush with some natives, in the course
of which a sailor was speared and a native shot.

(*Footnote. Ibid page 129.)

Being still greatly concerned about the shortage of water, and disgusted
with the sterile nature of the land, Dampier felt compelled to abandon
any further exploration of the coast.* In accordance with this resolution
he set sail early in September for Timor and New Guinea. On the voyage
home the Roebuck was wrecked on the island of Ascension, but the
navigator succeeded in reaching England, and in 1703 published an account
of his voyage.

(*Footnote. Ibid page 154.)

His observations with regard to the coast and the information he brought
back concerning the country and its inhabitants have been proved to be
remarkably reliable, and may be regarded as some compensation for his
failure to achieve fully the actual objects of his mission. Whether the
new land was a succession of islands or a continent was a question yet to
be solved, and the passage between New Guinea and Australia was still

His unfavourable reports about the land and his opinion of its wretched
inhabitants, whom he described as "the miserablest people in the world,"*
did not give any encouragement to the Government to pursue its
investigations. Consequently we hear of no further voyages under the
English flag until 1770, when Captain Cook discovered and took possession
of the more fertile country on the east coast.

(*Footnote. Dampier. New Voyage round the World London 1698 page 464.)

A remark made by Dampier when seeking a passage among the islands of the
archipelago that bears his name, that "among so many islands we might
have found some sort of rich mineral or ambergris,"* has given rise to a
curious inaccuracy in many official and other publications concerning the
gold discoveries of Western Australia. It is stated that Dampier, a DUTCH
buccaneer, discovered gold on the north-west coast in 1688, and that on
account of this discovery the Dutch charts of the region were marked
Provincia aurifera.** Though the region is so marked on some of the
sixteenth-century charts, it is really the result of a geographical
blunder, due to a misreading of part of Marco Polo's De regionibus
orientalibus." This actually refers to Lower Siam, but was ignorantly
transferred by early geographers to an imaginary great southern
continent.*** Dampier was not Dutch. Neither does he make any mention in
his narrative of a discovery of gold. Had he done so it is scarcely
probable that English interest in the new country would have ceased after
his report.

(*Footnote. Dampier. Voyage to New Holland in 1699, London 1703 page

(**Footnote. Western Australian Year Book (official) 1902 to 1904 page
10. The statement is made in Western Australia in 1891 by F. Hart page

(***Footnote. Letter from Mr. C.H. Cook, Department of Maps and Drawings,
British Museum, to the Registrar-General of Western Australia--quoted in
Year Book previously mentioned.)

In 1718 one Hans Purry of Neufchatel, published a work in which he
proposed the establishment of a Dutch colonial settlement in the
south-west corner near Cape Leeuwin. This idea was submitted to the
authorities of the East India Company at Batavia and Amsterdam, and being
declined by them was unsuccessfully urged upon the West India Company.*
The inducements offered were not commensurate with the expense, and the
frugal Dutch mind was not prepared to spend money on something that
offered little or no prospect of return.

(*Footnote. Major. Early Voyages to Terra Australis page 115.)

Probably owing to the unpromising reports brought back by navigators,
Dutch interest may from this time be said to have ceased, though, as the
century progressed, Dutch vessels either sighted or touched at isolated
portions of the coast, and some had the misfortune to be wrecked there.
In 1711 the Zuytdorp* was supposed to have struck somewhere on the
Abrolhos, that area of extreme danger to early navigators, and in 1727
the Zeewyck came to grief on a reef in the same Group.** Of this vessel
numerous relics have from time to time been found by various explorers
and others, and they now form an interesting exhibit in the Western
Australian Museum.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Year Book 1902 to 1904 page 11.)

(**Footnote. Heeres. Part borne by the Dutch in the Discovery of
Australia page 91.)

In 1755 and 1765 casual Dutch visits were recorded, but they were without

(*Footnote. Ibid page 91.)

Almost coincidentally with the cessation of Dutch enterprise France
became active in the Southern Seas. Thenceforward, up to the time of the
actual annexation and settlement of Western Australia by Great Britain,
the competing nations in these waters, as in so many parts of the world,
were the English and the French.

The first French ship to touch at any portion of the Australian coast was
Le Gros Ventre in March 1772, under the command of Captain de St.
Alouarn,* in whose honour the St. Alouarn Islands were named at a later
date by D'Entrecasteaux.**

(*Footnote. Western Australian Year Book 1902 to 1904 page 11. Note.
Doubts have been expressed as to the authenticity of St. Alouarn's voyage
in Australian waters. It is included here on the authority of Dr. A.
Grandidier, Secretary of the French Institute, who revised the portion
relating to the French voyages of discovery which was included in the
historical section of the Year Book. See also Proceedings of the Royal
Society of Tasmania 1921 pages 152 to 153.)

(**Footnote. D'Entrecasteaux. Voyage redige par Rossel Paris 1808 volume
1 page 177.)

For some years after this there is no record of any navigator visiting
the western shores. The discoveries of Cook in 1770, and his favourable
reports on the fertile nature of the country, had turned attention to the
eastern side of the continent, and whatever efforts were made in the way
of exploration were directed toward that part.

In 1789 the British Government decided to send out an exploring
expedition to the South Seas with the object of adding to the knowledge
gained by Captain Cook. Captain Henry Roberts was placed in charge of the
proposed expedition, with Lieutenant George Vancouver as second in
command.* Both these officers had served under Captain Cook. A vessel
then being built was purchased, named the Discovery, and fitted out under
Vancouver's superintendence.** In April 1790, when the vessel was almost
ready to proceed on her voyage, news was received that the Spaniards, who
in 1775 had extended their researches northward along the north-west
coast of America, had interfered with British commerce on that coast, and
had seized English vessels and factories in Nootka Sound. In consequence
of this the fleet known as the Spanish Armament was organised, and the
officers and men who had been appointed to the Discovery were placed on
active service. This caused the postponement of the proposed voyage. The
rapid equipment of the fleet seems to have had an effect upon the Spanish
authorities, who offered restitution for the depredations and an
acknowledgment of equal trading rights with Spain in seas over which that
nation had previously claimed exclusive rights.*** "It was deemed
expedient that an officer should be sent to Nootka to receive back in
form the restitution of the territories on which the Spanish had seized,
and also to make a correct survey of the coast from the 30 degrees of
north latitude north-westward of Cook's River; and further to obtain
every possible information that could be collected respecting the natural
and political state of that country."**** Vancouver, who had been
promoted to the rank of commander, was selected for this duty and was at
once appointed to the Discovery, to which was attached the armed tender
Chatham under the command of Lieutenant Broughton. His commission*****
directed him to proceed forthwith to the Sandwich Islands and there to
remain until the end of January 1792, awaiting further instructions with
regard to the Nootka Sound matter. If such instructions should not be
received by that time he was to proceed to the north-west coast of
America for the purpose of acquiring a more complete knowledge of it,
particularly with regard to water communications with the eastern side of
the continent and also with regard to settlements made by any European
nation within the area to be examined (latitude 60 North and 30 North).

(*Footnote. Vancouver. Voyage of Discovery 1790 to 1795 volume 1 page 7.)

(**Footnote. Dictionary of National Biography volume 58 page 96.)

(***Footnote. Vancouver. Voyage of Discovery 1790 to 1795 volume 1 page

(****Footnote. Ibid pages 10 and 11.)

(*****Footnote. Ibid pages 17 et seq.)

Vancouver and Broughton left London at the end of January 1791, and as
the choice of route was left to Vancouver's judgment* they went by way of
the Cape of Good Hope, and on 26 August 1791 they had their first view of
Australia--that of a conspicuous promontory with high cliffs dropping
almost perpendicularly into the sea. This they named Cape Chatham, after
the earl of that name, who at that time presided over the Admiralty.
Though describing the promontory as a cape, Vancouver was in some doubt
whether it was not really an island,** a doubt afterwards proved to be
well founded. Passing this and following an eastward course, while
keeping as near the shore as possible in the hope of discovering a safe
anchorage, they entered a fine natural harbour on the 28th and bestowed
upon it the name of King George III Sound. Landing on the 29th, they
noticed that there was a further inner harbour and a second extension
toward the north-east. The day being the birthday of the Princess Royal,
they named the inner portion Princess Royal Harbour. Vancouver then, in
the name of the king, took formal possession of all the country "from the
land we saw north-westward of Cape Chatham so far as we might explore its
coasts." On the same day the narrow entrance to the north-eastern
extension was discovered and the had been renamed Oyster Harbour, on
account of the number of oysters found there.***

(*Footnote. Dictionary of National Biography volume 58 page 96.)

(**Footnote. Vancouver. Voyage of Discovery volume 1 page 30.)

(***Footnote. Ibid volume 1 pages 35 to 36.)

The ships remained at anchor for about a fortnight, during which a close
examination of the harbours was made, and the coastline for some distance
inland explored. The land in places seemed barren or covered with a
"deadly green herbage, with here and there a few grovelling shrubs or
dwarf trees scattered at a great distance from each other.* This,
Vancouver admits, might not have originated from sterility of the soil,
but as the result of a bushfire which it was evident had recently passed
over it, especially as the surrounding country presented a far more
fertile and pleasing aspect. Fresh water was abundant, and kangaroos,
ducks, and fish not scarce. The climate was temperate and agreeable. Of
shrubs and plants a great variety was found, which "afforded Mr. Menzies
(the naturalist of the expedition) much entertainment and enjoyment."**
Natives they did not actually meet, but one or two deserted villages were
seen, as well as single habitations, giving them the impression that the
aborigines were a wandering people, trusting greatly to the natural
products of the soil for food, and not expert either at hunting or

(*Footnote. Vancouver. Voyage volume 1 page 34.)

(*Footnote. Ibid volume 1 page 51. Note. In 1883 a wooden tablet was
erected by the Governor, Sir William Robinson, over an old well on the
beach by the channel connecting Middleton Bay and Oyster Harbour. This,
it is believed, marks the spot where "George Vancouver, an illustrious
navigator, watered H.M.S. Discovery in October 1791.")

Before leaving the Sound, Vancouver deposited on the mainland opposite
the anchorage a sealed bottle containing a parchment record of his visit,
and a second bottle containing a similar record on Seal Island, where he
thought the natives would be less likely to get it.* Flinders, during his
visit to King George III Sound in 1801, made a search for these bottles,
but was unable to find either of them. On the mainland, however, he found
a piece of sheet copper inscribed "August 27, 1800. Chr. Dixson--ship
Elligood," from which he inferred that the bottle had been previously
discovered and removed.**

(*Footnote. Vancouver. Voyage volume 1 page 40.)

(**Footnote. Flinders. Voyage to Terra Australis volume 1 pages 54 to

After leaving King George III Sound, Vancouver and Broughton continued
their voyage eastward along the south coast until they reached an island
to which the name Termination Island was given, owing to the fact that
through want of time they were compelled to terminate their researches
along the Australian coast at this point, and to proceed "without further
delay towards the Pacific ocean."*

(*Footnote. Vancouver. Voyage of Discovery pages 42 to 44.)

In addition to the places mentioned, Point Possession, Cape Howe, Mount
Gardner, The Eclipse, Breaksea, Seal, and Michaelmas Islands, and nearly
every prominent headland or island from Cape Leeuwin to 122 degrees east
longitude owe their names to this voyage, which, from the standpoint of
accuracy of observation and attention to detail, was one of the most
important made to the shores of Western Australia.

About this time the French Government began to be anxious about the fate
of the expedition under La Perouse, which had not been heard of since
leaving Botany Bay in 1788. The general impression was that the
expedition had met with disaster, but in order to have the matter cleared
up two ships, the Recherche and the Esperance, were fitted out for a
search and placed under the command of Admiral D'Entrecasteaux.* Leaving
France in September 1791, D'Entrecasteaux proceeded by way of the Cape of
Good Hope and reached the coast of Tasmania, anchoring in Storm Bay on 21
April 1792. From there he went to the Solomon Islands, the Moluccas, and
the East Indian Archipelago, and then turned southward down the coast of
Western Australia. He did not, however, sight the Australian coast until
December 1792, when he came within hail of a point which was named
D'Entrecasteaux Point, lying north-west of Chatham Island. Continuing his
course to the eastward, he skirted the coast as far as Termination
Island, where he sheltered from a storm, and then turned off to Tasmania
again.** Several places on the south coast were charted and named on this
voyage, to which the discovery of the Recherche Archipelago is due.***

(*Footnote. D'Entrecasteaux. Voyage (Paris 1808) volume 1 page 19

(**Footnote. Ibid volume 1 pages 177 et seq and Atlas Chart Number 1.)

(***Footnote. Ibid volume 1 page 180. Note. Labillardiere, the botanist,
who was one of the naturalists attached to the expedition, also published
an account of the voyage.)

English maritime activity in the Southern Seas was now in full swing, and
English association with the new South Land definitely established.
Perhaps no one did more to bring about an accurate knowledge of, at any
rate, the coastal districts of the continent than Matthew Flinders, to
whom we owe its present name. Though we are concerned only with his
connection with the west, he was responsible for the discovery of
practically the whole of the south coast. In many respects Flinders was
not unlike Dampier--if we except the latter's buccaneering proclivities.
Bold and intrepid as an explorer, he was at the same time a careful
observer, shrewd and painstaking, as well as accurate in detail, so that
the information he procured proved of the greatest value in extending the
vague knowledge then existing concerning this still practically unknown

Flinders left Spithead on 18 July 1801, in the Investigator, the old
Xenophon, a sloop of 344 tons. On 7 December he reached what he termed
Cape Leeuwin,* as being the south-western and most projecting part of
Leeuwin Land, and from there to King George III Sound, where he arrived
on 9 December, he carefully surveyed the intermediate coast, naming
various points. He remained at the Sound for some days, which were spent
in charting Princess Royal and Oyster Harbours, and in establishing
friendly relations with the aborigines. A short vocabulary of the native
language was prepared, and information collected as to their habits.
Their manners he describes as "quick and vehement and their conversation
vociferous, like that of most uncivilised people. They seemed to have no
idea of any superiority we possessed over them. On the contrary they left
us, after the first interview, with some appearance of contempt of our
pusillanimity, which was probably inferred from the desire we showed to
be friendly with them.**

(*Footnote. Flinders. Voyage to Terra Australis volume 1 page 49.)

(**Footnote. Ibid volume 1 page 56.)

Flinders left King George III Sound on 5 January 1802,* and proceeded
upon his voyage eastward. In the course of his voyage he completed the
discovery of the south coast and made careful charts of the whole.

(*Footnote. Ibid volume 1 page 74.)

On board the Investigator with him were Robert Brown, well known as a
botanist, and William Westall, the famous painter; while one of his
officers was (Sir) John Franklin, afterwards Governor of Tasmania and a
famous explorer, who ended his career amid Arctic snows.

For one thing Flinders will always be remembered--that he gave to
Australia her present name. Various appellations had been bestowed upon
her--Magellanica, Java la Grande, Great South Land, and Terra Australis.
After Tasman's voyage in 1644 the western portion was called New Holland,
the eastern still retaining the name of Terra Australis. Subsequent to
Cook's discoveries the eastern part received the name of New South Wales,
the remainder being still New Holland. The meridian dividing the two,
according to the patent to the first Governor of New South Wales, was 135
degrees east longitude,* almost identical with the old line of separation
laid down after Tasman's voyage. Having proved the east and west to be
parts of one continent, Flinders readopted the name of Terra Australis
for the whole, including New South Wales and New Holland, and, in its
most extensive sense, Van Diemen's Land as well. At a later date, in
1814, in the published account of his voyage, he suggested the name
Australia, which he had previously used in correspondence, "as being more
agreeable to the ear, and an assimilation to the names of the other great
portions of the earth."** After this the name came into general use for
the continent, though in official documents, even up to 1851, it
sometimes included Tasmania.***

(*Footnote. Historical Records of Australia series 1 volume 1 page 1
Governor Phillip's first commission.)

(**Footnote. Flinders. Voyage to Terra Australis volume 1 page 3 and
note. See also Professor Scott's Life of Matthew Flinders chapter 30, in
which the use of the word before Flinders' time is discussed.)

(***Footnote. Scott. Life of Flinders pages 428 to 429.)

Following upon the knowledge gained through the voyage of
D'Entrecasteaux, the French Government determined to send out a further
expedition, which left Havre in October 1800, with the object of more
fully exploring the coast of New Holland and collecting scientific
information concerning its natural history and inhabitants.* This
consisted of two vessels, the Geographe under Commodore Nicholas Baudin
and the Naturaliste commanded by Captain Hamelin, with whom was
associated Lieutenant Louis de Freycinet. The ships reached the
south-west coast in 1801, and many of the topographical features of that
portion of the continent bear names which identify them with this
voyage.** Having been driven out of Geographe Bay by a storm, the vessels
became separated. Baudin in the Geographe went to Shark Bay and from
there worked northward as far as Cape Leveque, leaving the coast at that
point for Timor. Here they were joined by the Naturaliste, which,
according to Freycinet, had waited at Rottnest for a time expecting the
arrival of the other vessel. Whilst waiting they had devoted some days to
the exploration of the Swan River with the intention of tracing its
source. They seem to have reached the junction of the Helena with the
Swan when the leader, M. Heirisson, felt compelled to return, as the
provisions were running short. The name of a member of the party being
Moreau, the title Moreau Inlet was bestowed upon the Canning River, while
the islands upon which the present Perth Causeway stands were called the
Heirisson Islands. The view from the top of Mount Eliza was described as
particularly striking and beautiful, and the fertile nature of the soil
about Guildford was commented upon. At the point where they abandoned
their journey up the river, about sixty miles from the mouth, the stream
was narrow, only about eight feet deep, and the water salt.*** Leaving
Rottnest they made a further investigation of the entrance to Shark Bay,
and on Dirk Hartog Island Captain Hamelin found the plate left by Vlaming
more than a century previously.****

(*Footnote. Biographie universelle (Paris 1811) volume 3 page 538 and
Nouvelle biographie universelle (Paris 1853) volume 4 page 771. See also
Peron, F. Voyage de decouvertes aux Terres Australes 1800 a 1804 (Paris
1807) volume 1 chapitre 1.)

(**Footnote. Peron. Voyage volume 1 pages 66 et seq.)

(***Footnote. Ibid volume 1 pages 178 to 184.)

(****Footnote. Ibid volume 1 pages 194 to 195.)

In November 1801 the two vessels left Timor for a more detailed
examination of the Australian coast, and after a survey of a portion of
Tasmania and the islands of Bass Strait, arrived at Sydney during the
latter part of 1802. A small ship, the Casuarina, was chartered there and
placed under the command of Freycinet.* Baudin then, with the Geographe
and Casuarina, explored that part of the south coast known to the French
as Terre Napoleon and proceeded onwards to Western Australia, making
detailed examination of most of the western side of the continent from
King George's Sound in the south to the Holothuria Banks in the extreme
north. The care bestowed upon this work may be gauged by the number of
prominent features of the west coast which still bear French names.**

(*Footnote. Ibid volume 1 page 417.)

(*Footnote. Peron. Voyage volume 2.)

No further record exists of any voyage to Western Australia until the
year 1817, when the French Government dispatched Captain Freycinet in the
corvette Uranie on a voyage of discovery and scientific investigation. In
the course of this cruise Freycinet anchored in Shark Bay (called by the
French le Baie des Chiens Marins) towards the end of 1818. He then
proceeded along the north-west coast on his way to the islands of the
South Seas, calling at Sydney on his return. Judging from the letters of
M. Arago,* one of the members of the expedition, the Western Australian
coast failed to meet with their approval. "Its outline," he says, "is
uniform, without breaks, almost without difference, and always very low.
At the first view you take in an immense distance; but beware of looking
for any enjoyment. This search would be merely wasting your strength,
without finding the least relief."

(*Footnote. Arago. Narrative of Voyage round the World 1817 to 1820
Letter 53.)

The number of French expeditions that touched at one part or another of
the western coast of Australia began to arouse something like suspicion
in the English mind, and consequently the British Government started to
take a livelier interest in that part of the continent. The completion of
the survey of the whole coastline, so ably begun by Captain Flinders, was
deemed to be of utmost importance, and in 1817 the Admiralty in
conjunction with the Colonial Office decided upon an expedition for that
purpose.* Lieutenant Philip Parker King was appointed to the command,**
and from that date until 1822 was busily engaged in carrying out the
work. In pursuance of his instructions King left Sydney in December 1817,
in the cutter Mermaid, of only 84 tons, having with him Allan Cunningham
as botanist, and as officers Lieutenants Bedwell and John Septimus
Roe,*** the latter of whom afterwards became the first Surveyor-General
of the colony. The cutter reached King George III Sound on 20 January
1818. Here King remained twelve days, which were spent in procuring wood
and water and making various excursions into the surrounding country,
giving Roe his first experience of what was afterwards to be his life's
work--the survey of Western Australia. The usual directions led down by
the Admiralty about the planting of seeds were carried out, but without
permanent effect, as three years later not a trace of the garden was to
be found. Leaving the Sound, King was prevented by sickness among the
crew from making any further examination until he reached the north-west
coast.**** This was then accurately charted and various points named. At
the same time excursions to the mainland were made at various places, and
friendly intercourse, wherever possible, established with the natives. On
4 March he anchored in Nicol Bay***** for the purpose of making
researches, and then went along the north coast and on to Timor, after
leaving which he made all speed back to Sydney to replenish the stores.
Two important questions had been set at rest by this voyage--the openings
behind Rosemary Island and the nature of Van Diemen's Gulf.****** Owing
to the loss of the anchors, King found it impossible to make a detailed
examination of Exmouth Gulf or land upon Depuch Island,******* so
favourably noticed by Peron. Many rivers, bays, and ports had been
discovered, and the exploration of the interior had revealed good
pastoral country. "The thickly-wooded shores of the north coast," says
King, "bore a striking contrast to the sandy, desert-looking tract we had
previously seen, and inspired us with the hope of finding at some future
time a still greater improvement of country between the two

(*Footnote. Earl Bathurst to Governor Macquarie Dispatch Number 87 8
February 1817 Historical Records of Australia series 1 volume 9 page

(**Footnote. Ibid.)

(***Footnote. King, P.P. Narrative of a Survey of the Inter-tropical and
Western Coasts of Australia 1818 to 1822 volume 1 page 38.)

(****Footnote. Ibid volume 1 page 20.)

(*****Footnote. Ibid volume 1 page 52.)

(******Footnote. Ibid volume 1 pages 144 to 145.)

(*******Footnote. Ibid volume 1 page 145.)

(*******Footnote. Ibid volume 1 page 149.)

The Mermaid left Sydney on the second voyage in May 1819, and in the
following September reached Cambridge Gulf, so named after the Duke of
Cambridge.* Here King thought he had made a great discovery, believing
that it must terminate in a river of some kind. Instead of that he found
it barren and useless, the surrounding country being devoid of
vegetation, the soil sandy and salt, the water undrinkable, and the gulf
itself tailing off on all sides into a series of mud flats. Leaving there
he sailed westward along the north coast, examining and naming as he
passed Sir Graham Moore Islands, Eclipse Islands (from an eclipse of the
moon taking place while there) Vansittart Bay, Admiralty Gulf, and Port
Warrender.** At this point King decided to leave the coast for the time,
the scarcity of water and the absence of provisions having caused
sickness among the crew. He therefore set sail for Timor, and thence
returned to Sydney, having examined on his trip a further 540 miles of
the northern coastline. In the following year a third voyage was
undertaken for the purpose of extending the survey to Warrender, and in
the course of this York Sound (after the Duke of York) Careening Bay
(where the ship was repaired) Prince Regent River, and many other places
were named and examined.*** A serious leak in the cutter compelled King
to abandon the work, and he returned again to Sydney, arriving there at
the end of the year, having narrowly escaped shipwreck at the entrance to
the Heads. Unfortunately, owing to the unseaworthiness of the cutter, the
amount of work done on this survey was but small. King's desire to
complete his labour was, however, unabated, and in 1821 he again left
Sydney for the north-west coast, this time in the brig Bathurst,
purchased for the purpose by the Government. With a larger vessel and an
increased crew, the expedition was much better equipped, and the
commander was able to spend a longer time at the scene of his operations.
The coast, as far down as Cape Latouche Treville,**** was examined and
surveyed, after which King sailed across to the Mauritius to refit,
returning at the end of 1821 to King George's Sound.***** From there he
sailed along the west coast, checking many points of previous surveys
until he arrived at the Swan River, where he anchored for a while.
Resuming his voyage he examined, with a good deal of accuracy, the
intervening shore until he reached the Abrolhos, and finally Dirk Hartog
Island. Here he landed and searched without success for Vlaming's
plate,****** and then proceeded northward to Cape Leveque, thus
practically completing the survey of the whole Western Australian coast
from King George's Sound to Cambridge Gulf, with the exception of that
part lying between Depuch Island and Cape Villaret. What Cook, Bass, and
Flinders had done for the eastern and southern coasts, King, following
upon the earlier Dutch, French, and English navigators, had done for the
western and northern, so that the Admiralty was in possession of fairly
comprehensive charts of the whole Australian coastline.

(*Footnote. Ibid volume 1 pages 306 et seq.)

(**Footnote. Ibid volume 1 chapter 8.)

(***Footnote. Ibid volume 1 pages 412 et seq.)

(****Footnote. Ibid volume 2 chapter 2.)

(*****Footnote. Ibid volume 2 page 119.)

(******Footnote. Ibid volume 2 page 181.)

With Lieutenant King the long line of discoverers may be said to have
ended. Practically everything in the way of interior exploration had yet
to be undertaken, but the few voyages that afterwards took place to these
shores were in the nature of looking for satisfactory places of
settlement rather than of discovering new territory, or else were for the
purpose of checking and correcting existing surveys.



Although the existence of the western side of the continent had been
known for certainly two, and possibly three, centuries, it was not until
the third decade of the nineteenth century--some forty years after the
foundation of the colony of New South Wales--that the British Government
decided to take steps to found a settlement there. That the matter had
not previously engaged the attention of the Home authorities was in all
likelihood due to the unsatisfactory reports of the new territory brought
back by navigators, who, confining themselves to the uninviting
coastline, seem to have had neither the time nor the inclination to make
any examination of the interior, and so missed the fertile inland
districts. When, however, a strong suspicion arose that other nations
were casting their eyes towards the Southern Seas, the English Government
seems to have realised that a few settlements on the eastern coast would
be deemed scarcely sufficient, in the opinion of others, to establish a
claim to the whole of this vast continent as British territory. There is
very little doubt that the settlements at King George's Sound and the
Swan River were, in the first place, due to the activity being displayed
by the French in Australian waters.

It was rumoured that Captain Baudin had contemplated establishing a
settlement on the southern coast or in Tasmania in 1802,* and an
exhaustive examination of the north-west coast had, it will be
remembered, been made by Freycinet in 1818. In 1825 we find that another
expedition consisting of the Thetis and Esperance, commanded respectively
by De Bougainville and Du Camper, was cruising along the southern coast.
These voyages gave rise to the belief that France, recognising that
maritime power depended greatly on the possession of suitable colonies,
was looking for the opportunity of establishing a settlement in
Australia. The belief may have been further strengthened by a suspicion
that in the minds of Frenchmen the Napoleonic dream of an Indian conquest
had not, perhaps, altogether vanished. In that case a colony on the west
coast of Australia would, in conjunction with the Mauritius, have formed
a strategic base of some value. Such a colony would also have been the
means of introducing a formidable competitor into the trade relations
then being fostered between India and the newly-established penal colony
in New South Wales. Whatever the reasons may have been, there is no doubt
that they aroused in the minds of members of the British Government a
fear that the French were looking for suitable places of settlement on
the western coast of Australia. The Secretary of State, Lord Goderich
(afterwards Earl of Ripon) writing in 1833 with regard more particularly
to Western Australia, said:

"The present settlement at Swan River owes its origin, as you may perhaps
be aware, to certain false rumours which had reached the Government of
the intention of a foreign power to establish a colony on the west coast
of Australia. The design was for some time given up entirely on the
ground of public economy, and would not have been resumed but for the
offer of a party of gentlemen to embark in an undertaking of this nature
at their own risk, upon receiving extensive grants of land and on a
certain degree of protection and assistance for a limited period being
secured to them by this Government."**

(*Footnote. Rusden, G.W. History of Australia volume 1 pages 326 et seq.)

(**Footnote. Dispatch to Governor Stirling 8 March 1833 Number 21 filed
in Governor's Office, Perth. See also Accounts and Papers 1840 volume 33
page 69.)

Further, Lord John Russell* tells us that, during his tenure of the
Colonial Office, a gentleman attached to the French Government called
upon him and asked what part of Australia was claimed by Great Britain,
to which he replied, "the whole." As Russell was Secretary of State for
the Colonies from 1839 to 1841, it seems strange that that question
should have been asked at so late a period, though it is possible that
scientific researches of French navigators at the beginning of the
century may have been present in the Frenchman's mind.

(*Footnote. Russell. Recollections and Suggestions 1875 page 203.)

Unfounded as the suspicions have since been proved to be, they were
undoubtedly strong enough at the time to move the British authorities to
take action. The movements of the French were closely watched, and at the
same time settlement both in Australia and New Zealand was pushed on, so
as to deprive France of the chance of gaining a foothold on Australasian

The fear of such a possibility caused General Darling to draw the
attention of the Secretary of State for the Colonies to the matter and
ask that steps be taken to avert it. Recognising that in case of dispute
Great Britain would have difficulty in establishing her claim to the west
coast, he forwarded a letter in which he said:*

"It will not be easy to satisfy the French, if they are desirous of
establishing themselves here, that there is any objection to their doing
so on the west coast, and I therefore beg to suggest that the difficulty
would be removed by a commission describing the whole territory as within
the Government."

(*Footnote. Rusden. History of Australia volume 2 page 6. Probably
contained in a letter to Under Secretary Hay, dated 9 October 1826. See
Historical Records of Australia volume 12 pages 639 and 700.)

(The territory of New South Wales, it may be mentioned, extended westward
only to the 135 degrees east longitude.) On 1 March 1826, the Secretary
of State, Lord Bathurst, addressed one dispatches upon the subject to
Governor Darling, and, at the same time, wrote a more or less private and
confidential communication.* The first of these dispatches instructed the
Governor to commence immediate preparations for the formation of a
settlement at Western Port, using whatever means he might think best. In
the second dispatch Darling was instructed to endeavour to procure
correct information respecting the country immediately adjoining Shark
Bay, ostensibly for the purpose of establishing a base to which convicts,
reconvicted of lighter crimes at Botany Bay, might be sent and "that
possession may be gained of a port which it may hereafter be found
important to have retained." In the private communication the secretary

"The sailing of two French ships on a voyage of discovery have [sic] led
to the consideration how far our distant possessions in the Australian
seas may be prejudiced by any designs which the French may entertain of
establishing themselves in that quarter, and more especially on that part
of the coast of New South Wales which has not as yet received any
colonists from this country. I allude to that line of coast which extends
to the westward from the western point of Bathurst Island in 129 degrees
east longitude...As this tract of shore is understood to be for the most
part barren and devoid of all circumstances which could invite a
settlement, it is probable, if the French Government should entertain any
serious intention of forming an establishment on that side of the
continent, any island with so advantageous a port as Western Port would
not be overlooked by them...In giving those instructions you will observe
that I have carefully avoided any expression which might be construed, in
the event of the instructions being hereafter referred to, as an
admission of there not having been a preoccupancy by us before the French
may have admitted to establish themselves there, and you will regulate
your language accordingly. The establishment to be formed at Shark Bay,
is, as you are aware, partly for a different object, but it is equally
necessary that our projects in that quarter should not be anticipated."

(*Footnote. Published in Historical Records of Australia series 1 volume
12 pages 192 to 194.)

The advice of Darling to regulate his language probably explains why
there was no public proclamation of any intention on the part of the
Government to establish a settlement.

On 11 March a further dispatch* was sent to the Governor asking him also
to have an examination made of the country around King George's Sound, as
it might possibly prove a better locality than Shark Bay. In all
probability these dispatches were forwarded by the same ship. At any
rate, they were answered by Darling on 10 October 1826,** who stated that
in his opinion King George's Sound was totally unfit for the purpose even
of a penal settlement, as the communication would be at all times tedious
and difficult, and during a part of the year hardly practicable.
Communication with Shark Bay would be still more difficult and very
expensive. He added that he was informed that the country around both
Shark Bay and King George's Sound was perfectly barren and destitute of
vegetation, and concluded, "the French would, therefore, find it
difficult to maintain themselves at either of these places."

(*Footnote. Published in Historical Records of Australia series 1 volume
12 page 218.)

(**Footnote. Ibid series 1 volume 12 pages 639 to 641.)

Notwithstanding his expression of opinion, however, he took immediate
steps for the purpose of carrying the instructions of the Home Government
into effect. Three sites for occupancy were determined upon--at Raffles
Bay, Western Port, and King George's Sound--and on 9 November H.M.S. Fly,
accompanied by the brigs Dragon and Amity, sailed from Sydney to
establish settlements at Western Port and King George's Sound.* The
contingent for the Sound was on the Amity, and was under the command of
Major Lockyer, of the 59th regiment, who had with him Captain Wakefield
and a detachment of the 39th Regiment, as well as twenty-four convicts.
In the instructions given to Lockyer** he was told "to avoid any
expression of doubt as to the whole of New Holland being within this
Government, any division of it which may be supposed to exist under the
designation of New South Wales being merely ideal, and intended only with
a view of distinguishing the more settled part of the country. Should
this explanation not prove satisfactory it will be proper in that case to
refer them to this Government for any further information they may
require." If it should so happen that a landing had already been effected
by the French, "you will, notwithstanding, land the troops agreeably to
your instructions, and signify that their continuance with any view of
establishing themselves, or colonisation, would be considered an
unjustifiable intrusion on his Britannic Majesty's possession." The party
arrived at King George's Sound on Christmas Day, 1826, and landing on the
following morning proceeded to select a position for the settlement. The
exact spot where the British flag was hoisted, from which the whole of
Western Australia was claimed as belonging to the Crown, is unfortunately
not precisely known. It was somewhere at the base of either Mount
Clarence or Mount Melville, near both of which there still exist some
indications of the early settlement. Very meagre information concerning
the little colony is available beyond the diary kept by Major Lockyer***
during the first four months of its existence. From this we learn that
the Sound was used largely by American and other sealers and whalers, who
plied their vocation among the islands along the south coast and as far
up the western coast as Rottnest Island. With these Lockyer had, from
time to time, a good deal of trouble owing to their ill-treatment of the
natives. From the condition of the settlement in 1831, when the convicts
were withdrawn and the establishment placed under the Swan River
Government, it is apparent that very little progress was made during the
four years of its existence. This was probably due to the fact that it
was far removed from civilisation, and was wholly dependent for supplies
and information upon occasional visits of ships from Sydney. The soil
does not appear to have lent itself to such desultory attempts at
cultivation as were carried on. The poor results from tillage may be
gauged from the fact that on more than one occasion the colonists were
reduced to privation owing to the delayed arrival of vessels with food
supplies. Lockyer returned to Sydney in April 1827, leaving Captain
Wakefield in command. This officer was succeeded in turn by Captain
Barker, who retained control until the convicts were withdrawn, and the
idea of a penal settlement abandoned. This took place by proclamation
dated 7 March 1831. The withdrawal of troops and convicts was due to
various causes. One of the conditions laid down by the Government in 1828
regarding the then proposed settlement at Swan River was that no convicts
were to be sent there. Those who entered upon the scheme did not
consequently relish the presence of a convict establishment within the
borders of the territory. Then the commission issued to Captain Stirling
as Governor, and which was dated 5 March 1831, described the colony as
that portion of Australia lying west of the 129th meridian of eastern
longitude, and therefore settlement under other control could scarcely
continue to exist. Further, Governor Stirling wished to settle colonists
in the southern portions of the State (as may be seen from part of a
dispatch to the Secretary of State dated 30 January 1830). In this he

"In obedience to instructions directed to me under date of December 30 I
am desirous of attracting settlers to occupy the country in the southern
districts of this territory, and I intend shortly to submit for public
selection and occupation lands situated in the direction of King George's
Sound. At present a military post is maintained there, and which is under
the command of General Darling. I therefore take the liberty to suggest
that the present Commandant and his party should be removed, and the
duties of that station be committed to an officer and a small party of
soldiers from the detachment serving under the Officer Commanding the
troops in this settlement."

(*Footnote. Dispatch Number 95 Darling to Lord Bathurst 24 November 1826
published in Historical Records of Australia series 1 volume 12 page

(**Footnote. Secret instructions to Major Lockyer 4 November 1826. See
Historical Records of Australia series 1 volume 12 page 701.)

(***Footnote. This diary is in the possession of the Public Library of
New South Wales and a typed copy is filed in the Public Library of
Western Australia.)

This course was approved by the Home authorities, and Stirling was
informed, in a dispatch dated 20 July 1830, that General Darling had been
so instructed. These instructions were carried out early in the following
March, and on the 7th of that month, as stated above, the settlement at
the Sound was brought under the control of the Western Australian

Almost immediately after the departure of Lockyer from Sydney, the
arrival there of the corvette Astrolabe, which had spent the greater part
of the month of October at King George's Sound, considerably accentuated
the fear of French annexation. In Governor Darling's opinion this new
fact made the necessity for some definite British settlement on the west
coast more insistent. Fortunately the opportunity of taking the initial
steps towards that end was ready to hand.

Reports had been received by the Secretary of State in England to the
effect that the settlement founded at Melville Island on the northern
coast in 1824 was unlikely to realise expectations. In consequence Lord
Bathurst directed the Governor of New South Wales to send a man-of-war to
the spot, with orders to the captain to remove the settlement, if
necessary, to a more suitable site, preferably one further eastward.* The
man-of-war at Sydney when the dispatch arrived was H.M.S. Success,
commanded by Captain Stirling. Governor Darling, so far as the records
show, appears to have communicated Lord Bathurst's wishes to Captain
Stirling in an informal, unofficial way, for the first intimation we have
of their receipt is in the form of two letters from Stirling to the
Governor, in the first of which--dated 8 December 1826--it was pointed
out that the north-west monsoonal rains would interfere with the removal
of the Melville Island settlement until after April; in the other--dated
14 December**--Stirling suggested that he should employ the ship during
the interval in making an examination of the Swan River, which had been
surveyed by the French in 1803 and 1804. In the prosecution of these
considerations, he says, "Certain ideas have been suggested to me by
professional observation, relative to the necessity of immediately
seizing a possession upon the western coast of this island near Swan
River." He concludes his letter with this statement:

"Finally, Sir, at a time when we have one French vessel of war with
objects not clearly understood, and with one American vessel of war being
also in this neighbourhood seeking a place for a settlement, it becomes
important to prevent them from occupying a position of such value,
particularly as you were pleased to say that His Majesty's Government is
desirous of not being anticipated in such views by any foreign power."

(*Footnote. Dispatch from Bathurst to Darling, 7 April 1826, and Under
Secretary Hay to John Barrow, Secretary to the Admiralty, 6 April 1826
published in Historical Records of Australia series 1 volume 12 pages 224
et seq.)

(*Footnote. These two letters are published in the Historical Records of
Australia series 1 volume 12 pages 775 to 780.)

On 18 December the Governor forwarded a dispatch to Lord Bathurst,*
stating that he had agreed to Captain Stirling's proposal, "as it is of
great importance that so advantageous a position should not be taken
possession of by the French...At the same time if the French meditated a
settlement in New Holland, Swan River, from the accounts given of it by
Captain Stirling, should not be neglected."

(*Footnote. Stirling to Lord Bathurst ibid pages 773 to 775.)

On 17 January, therefore, the Success, under command of Captain Stirling,
and having on board Mr. Charles Fraser, the Colonial Botanist, left
Sydney with a view of making up the French survey deficiencies, and of
examining thoroughly to country in the vicinity of Swan River. During the
early part of the voyage she was accompanied by a cutter, whose sailing
qualities, however, turned out to be inferior; consequently the vessels
parted company, the smaller craft being instructed to make for King
George's Sound, for the settlement at which she was carrying provisions.
On 4 March Stirling sighted land and rounded Cape Leeuwin. "The first
appearance of the coast we were now to explore," he writes,* "presented
nothing attractive; the monotony of its outline and the dusky hue of the
meagre vegetation it supported at once accounted for the sterile and
hopeless character attributed by early navigators to this region." On the
following day Rottnest Island was reached and explored, and on 6 March
1827 the Success anchored off the south head of Swan River. Early on the
morning of the 8th, Stirling started to carry out the real objects of the
expedition, which were "to proceed, if possible, to the source of the
river--to examine the banks and the depth of the water, to fix on an
eligible spot for a settlement, to ascertain the productions of the
country, the nature of the soil, and the practicability of forming a
harbour for shipping."

(*Footnote. Report to Governor Darling dated 18 April 1827; forwarded to
Secretary of State for the Colonies enclosed in Darling's dispatch of 21
April 1827, Number 56.)

For the purpose of fulfilling these instructions, the ship's gig and
cutter were provisioned for a fortnight and well armed, after which,
under the command of Captain Stirling, they proceeded up the river. Mr.
Fraser formed one of the party. No difficulties were met with until they
reached the flats above Heirisson Islands (the site of the present Perth
Causeway) where the water was too shallow to float the boats, which had
to be unloaded and drawn across. After that, the way was tolerably easy,
and on the 13th they arrived at what they deemed to be the source.

During the course of the trip two gardens were planted about fifteen
miles from the mouth, and after some trouble friendly intercourse was
established with the natives. The soil along the banks was examined, and
an abundance of fresh water found. An ascent of the hills, to which the
name General Darling Range was given, was made by Mr. Fraser. The cutter
then returned to the ship, leaving the gig, with Lieutenant Belches in
charge, to make a hurried examination of a tributary river (the Canning)
to which the French had given the name Moreau Inlet. After her return,
the crew of the frigate was employed surveying the islands of Rottnest,
Berthollet (now Carnac) and Buache, as well as the adjacent rocks. On
Buache a garden was planted (from which probably the present name Garden
Island was derived) and some cattle and sheep left there. The Success
sailed for Geographe Bay on 21 March. Here Stirling remained until the
25th, when he set his course for King George's Sound, which was reached
on April 2. He remained at the settlement, which did not come up to his
expectations, until two days later, when he left for Sydney, arriving in
Port Jackson on the 15th of the same month, having been absent about
three months.

So far as their reports go,* both Captain Stirling and Mr. Fraser seem to
have been greatly impressed with the possibilities of the newly-examined
country. The latter, who had certainly greater experience in judging,
was, if possible, the more pronounced in his good opinion, and there is
no doubt that his opinion was largely relied upon when the question of
colonisation was under discussion. In concluding his report upon the
natural history, soil, etc, of the Swan River district, he says:**

"In delivering my opinion on the whole of the lands seen on the banks of
the Swan, I hesitate not in pronouncing it superior to any I have seen in
New South Wales eastward of the Blue Mountains, not only in its local
situation, but in many existing advantages which it holds out to
settlers, namely:

1. The evident superiority of the soil.
2. The facility with which settlers can bring their farms into a state of
culture from the open state of the country, the trees not averaging more
than ten to the acre.
3. The great advantage of freshwater springs of the best quality, and
consequent permanent humidity of the soil, two advantages not existing
eastward of the Blue Mountains.
4. The advantage of water carriage to their own doors and the
non-existence of impediments to land carriage."

(*Footnote. It may be interesting to note that Stirling suggested the
name Hesperia for Western Australia, as indicating a country looking
towards the setting sun.)

(**Footnote. Observations on the soil, etc, of Swan River enclosed with
Stirling's report of 17 April 1827.)

These favourable reports so impressed General Darling that he forwarded,
on 21 April 1827, a dispatch (Number 56)* in which he strongly advised
the Home Government to establish a settlement at Swan River as quickly as
possible. In this dispatch he pointed out the advantages which Swan River
appeared to possess. Its climate made it suitable as a convalescent
station for invalids from India, and the distance to it from that country
could be covered in a comparatively short time. It possessed amongst
other natural advantages good water and excellent soil, whilst, although
the entrance to the river itself was shallow, there were good external
anchorages at Gage Roads and Cockburn Sound. As Captain Stirling's report
might find its way into the French papers, he urged that if the
Government had any intention of forming a settlement at Swan River no
time should be lost in taking the necessary steps.

(*Footnote. Published in Historical Records of Australia series 1 volume
13 page 264.)

Stirling's report and the Governor's dispatch appear to have been
conveyed to England by Stirling in person, and were forwarded by the
Colonial Office to the Admiralty for an opinion in regard to the
formation of a settlement at Swan River. The Secretary to the Admiralty,
whilst admitting the physical advantages detailed by Captain Stirling and
Mr. Fraser, was of opinion that the anticipations of commercial
intercourse with India were fallacious, and that it was questionable
whether it was advisable to form a settlement on the west while so many
millions of acres of rich country remained unoccupied on the eastern
side. The report concludes with this statement:

"No other motive, I conceive, than the political one of preventing other
nations, as the French or Americans, of possessing themselves of the
south-west corner of New Holland, should induce us to anticipate them;
and even in the event of its falling into the hands of the one or other
of these powers, it would be a long series of years before they could
give our other colonies much annoyance."*

(*Footnote. Letter from Secretary to the Admiralty to Mr. Under Secretary
Horton 15 October 1827.)

After consideration of the various reports and opinions dealing with the
question, the Secretary of State for the Colonies wrote to Governor
Darling on 28 January 1828,* reviewing the adverse report from the
Admiralty, and concluding:

"Under these circumstances I am of opinion that it would be inexpedient,
on the score of expense, to occupy this part of the coast, and that it is
unnecessary, with a view to any urgent interest, to attempt any new
settlement at present in that quarter...I shall not fail, however, to
apprise the East India Company of the circumstances attending the
discovery of Swan River in case they should consider it advisable to make
any settlements there, but, I am not away of any sufficient motive to
induce them to embark in an undertaking of this nature."

(*Footnote. Published in Historical Records of Australia series 1 volume
13 pages 739 to 740.)

Two days later another dispatch* was forwarded in which it was hinted
that the same causes would probably induce the Government to withdraw the
settlement which had been formed at King George's Sound, but that if it
were finally decided to maintain that settlement, then, in all
probability, the decision not to found a colony at Swan River would be
reviewed. In this dispatch the Secretary of State mentioned that he had
asked the East India Company whether there was any disposition on their
part to undertake the colonisation of Western Australia. The Company,
however, was not prepared to fall in with the idea,** and for the time
being the proposal to found the colony was shelved on grounds of
economy.*** This decision was conveyed by the Colonial Office to Captain
Stirling, but it does not appear to have dissuaded him from continuing
his solicitations for the establishment of the new colony.

(*Footnote. Published in Historical Records of Australia series 1 volume
13 pages 741 to 742.)

(**Footnote. Public Record Office Swan River Papers volume 1.)

(***Footnote. Hay to Stirling 2 January 1833. Note. Mr. Horace Twiss was
member for Wootton-Basset from 1820 to 1830, and from 1828 to 1830 was
Under Secretary for War and the Colonies in the Ministry of the Duke of

In May and June 1828, a reconstruction of the British Government took
place, under which Sir George Murray replaced Mr. Huskisson as Secretary
of State for War and the Colonies, and Mr. Horace Twiss became Under
Secretary. The last-named appears to have been to some extent a personal
friend of Captain Stirling, and it was probably through him that Stirling
was induced once more to approach the Government with the idea of forming
a colony. On 30 July 1828,* he addressed a long letter to the Colonial
Office, in which he said, inter alia,

"The French, under the command of M. Baudin, at the beginning of this
century, visited that shore (that is, Western Australia) and rendered an
account of it more circumstantial, but equally that of
the Dutch. The report which I had the honour to make last year to His
Majesty's Government differs so widely from that of the preceding Dutch
and French navigators, that it will scarcely be believed that we
undertake to describe the same country. For while they report the country
as sterile, forbidding, and inhospitable, I represent it as the land out
of all that I have seen in various quarters of the world that possesses
the greatest natural attractions."

(*Footnote. Public Record Office Swan River Papers volume 1.)

He went on to describe the character of the country, and concluded:

"The above-mentioned recommendations point it out as a spot so eligible
for settlement that it cannot long remain, by its
position, it commands facilities for carrying on trade with India and the
Malay Archipelago as well as with China, and as it is, moreover,
favourably circumstanced for the equipment of cruisers for the annoyance
of trade in those seas, some foreign power may see the advantage of
taking possession should His Majesty's Government leave it

On the receipt of this letter, Stirling's original report was apparently
looked up, and the whole question resubmitted to the Admiralty. The
Secretary to the Admiralty, after a conversation with Captain Stirling,
more particularly concerning the merits of Swan River as compared with
King George's Sound, exhibited a complete reversal of the previous
Admiralty opinion, and in reply to the Colonial Office (under date 2
August)* said:

"I think there requires no hesitation in transferring the establishment
at the former (King George's Sound) to the latter place (Swan River) and
perhaps the sooner the better, as the publication of the chart containing
so fine an anchorage, entirely overlooked by the French navigators, may
induce that nation, or the Americans, who are prowling about for some
detached settlement, to assume possession of the only spot on the western
coast of New Holland that is at all inviting for such purpose, to which
we could have no right to offer any resistance."

(*Footnote. Public Record Office Swan River Papers volume 1.)

On 21 August Captain Stirling and Major Moody of the royal engineers
forwarded a communication to the Colonial Office, in which is given the
first hint of the possibility of the formation of an association for the
purposes of colonisation.* They asked whether, under such circumstances,
the association could secure a proprietary charter upon the principles
similar to those adopted in Pennsylvania and Georgia. The Government
would not agree to consider any proposal along these lines, "as it was
deemed desirable to exercise a more immediate control over the settlement
by government than by such an arrangement it would possess."** The
Colonial Office and the Admiralty combined suggested, however, that
Captain Stirling should make further inquiries with regard to the
question of an association, and that he did so is evident from a letter
dated 22 October,*** part of which reads:

"But, notwithstanding this favourable inclination, objections are made
against the enterprise at present, upon the following points. In the
first place there is no information extant, under authority, either as to
the precise intentions of the Government, or of the nature of that
territory, nor do any preparations exist there for the reception of
settlers. In the second place, His Majesty's right to that country has
never been declared, and as it is reported that the French Government
contemplates the formation of a settlement in New Holland, the
apprehension is entertained that an expedition proceeding there might
find, on its arrival, the best positions occupied, and its aim defeated,
to the total ruin of the property engaged in it...I take the liberty of
suggesting that (the difficulties) may be obviated by dispatching at once
a ship of war to that quarter. Possession might thus be taken of the
country, surveys commenced, and arrangements made for the reception of

(*Footnote. Stirling and Moody to Hay. Public Record Office Swan River
Papers volume 1.)

(**Footnote. Sir George Murray in the House of Commons 1 May 1829.
Hansard new series volume 21 page 913.)

(***Footnote. Stirling to Twiss Public Record Office Swan River Papers
volume 1.)

The latter suggestion bore immediate fruit, as, on 5 November, the
Admiralty was instructed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies* to
order the officer commanding the naval forces at the Cape to dispatch one
of the ships of war under his command, without loss of time, to the coast
of New Holland, with directions to take formal possession in His
Majesty's name, and with the further direction that the spot should be at
or near the Swan River, and that uninterrupted possession be maintained
until the arrival of further advices.

(*Footnote. Secretary to Admiralty In-letters Number 4242.)

These instructions were immediately put in hand, and directions were
forwarded to Commodore Schomberg, the officer commanding the naval forces
at the Cape, to detail H.M.S. Tweed for the purpose of carrying them
out.* Some weeks later it was decided to alter that arrangement, and
Commodore Schomberg was informed that if the Challenger arrived at the
Cape before the Tweed had left there for Swan River, she was to carry out
the instructions in place of the latter vessel, but that if the Tweed had
already sailed, then the Challenger should remain at the Cape in her
place.** In accordance with instructions, the Challenger, under Captain
Fremantle, left London in December 1828, and upon arrival at the Cape in
the following March she was directed to proceed to Swan River, and
reached Cockburn Sound on 27 April 1829.*** On the morning of 2 May
"Captain Freemantle [sic] and Lieutenant Henry went with a party to Swan
River and took formal possession of the west coast of New Holland in the
name of his Brittanic [sic] Majesty."****

(*Footnote. Letter sent from Secretary to the Admiralty to Commodore
Schomberg dated 7 November 1828. This letter also stated that H.M.S.
Challenger would be sent out to the Cape to replace H.M.S. Tweed.
Secretary to Admiralty Out-letters Number 1589.)

(**Footnote. Two letters from Secretary to Admiralty to Commodore
Schomberg both dated 2 December 1828. Admiralty Out-letters Number 1589.)

(***Footnote. Journal of the Proceedings of H.M.S. Challenger from 10
March to 29 August 1829 Captains' Journals Number 3096.)

(****Footnote. Ibid under date 2 May 1829.)

Although this action set at rest the question of actual possession, there
does not appear to have been at that time (November 1828) a definite
decision to establish a colony forthwith. Such a step was, however,
decided upon within the following month, and was accelerated by the fact
that Captain Stirling's suggestion to form a syndicate had taken definite
shape in the meantime.

At present we are only concerned with the offer of this syndicate to the
extent that it seems to have provided the additional factor necessary to
enable the Government to make up its mind on the question. On 12 November
the Secretary of State for the Colonies addressed a letter to the
Admiralty* asking that a ship be provided for the purpose of conveying a
detachment of troops and other persons to the western coast of New
Holland, "where it is intended to form a British settlement"; and on 29
November the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Lord Hill, was asked to
provide a detachment "to be held in readiness for embarkation for the
western coast of New Holland, where His Majesty's Government judge it
advisable to establish a British settlement."** Judging from a letter,
dated 28 December,*** Captain Stirling was personally informed that he
was to be appointed to the command of the new settlement, but the formal
appointment was not made until the 30th.**** On the following day the
administrative establishment was appointed.*****

(*Footnote. Admiralty In-letters Number 4242.)

(**Footnote. Quoted in letter from Lord Hill to Sir George Murray 3
December 1828 Public Record Office Swan River Papers volume 1.)

(***Footnote. Stirling to R.W. Hay Public Record Office Swan River Papers
volume 1.)

(****Footnote. Sir George Murray to Stirling 30 December 1828 Colonial
Office Western Australian Entry Books volume 1.)

(*****Footnote. Hay to Stirling 31 December 1828 ibid.)

Although the proposal of the syndicate seems to have given just that
additional weight necessary to tip the scale in favour of colonisation,
the principal reason, according to the documentary evidence, was a
recrudescence of the fear of French annexation, because we find that when
the decision had been arrived at and the arrangements completed, the
Commissioners of the Treasury were asked to provide the necessary
financial assistance on that ground alone. A letter from the Colonial
Office to the Treasury, dated 31 December 1828, states that:

"Intimation having been received that the French Government are prepared
to colonise some part of the west coast of New Holland, and especially
that portion adjoining to the river lately explored by Captain Stirling,
the Secretary of State has thought it expedient to send out that officer
to form a small settlement in that quarter, to which such persons may
advantageously resort as may be desirous of establishing themselves in a
climate as favourable as New South Wales, and a soil as promising,
without the disadvantages which attach to a penal colony."*

(**Footnote. R.W. Hay to G.R. Dawson 31 December 1828 Public Record
Office Swan River Papers volume 1.)

Additional evidence of the fact may also be found in the dispatch
forwarded to Governor Darling of New South Wales on 12 January 1829.*
After drawing the Governor's attention to a previous dispatch of January
1828, in which he was informed of the grounds which induced the
Government at that time to relinquish all idea of colonising the west
coast of New Holland, the Secretary of State goes on to say,
"Circumstances have since occurred to render the occupation of the
position desirable."

(**Footnote. Colonial Office New South Wales Entry-books volume 10.)

It seems perfectly clear, therefore, that practically the only reason for
colonisation was the fear of French annexation, though it is doubtful
whether that fear would have been sufficiently strong to cause the
Government to come to a decision had there not been the offer of the
syndicate. This proved that there were, in England, men of financial
stability who were confident that a new colony on the west coast could be
made successful. We may perhaps add to these reasons a further motive
which seems to underlie all the correspondence, namely, the knowledge
that existed in the minds of the members of the Government that one or
two small settlements on the eastern side of this great island could not,
according to the canons of international law, be deemed to be sufficient
to enable Great Britain to maintain successfully a claim to the whole of
the continent.


Dispatches prior to June 1829, passing between the Secretary of State and
the Governor of New South Wales, relative to the colonisation of Swan
River, are printed in the Historical Records of Australia, published by
the Commonwealth Government. The originals of those from the Secretary of
State to the Governor of Western Australia subsequent to June 1829 (the
foundation of the colony) are filed in the office of the Governor at
Perth. The duplicate copies of dispatches from the Governor of Western
Australia to the Secretary of State up to 1856 are in the possession of
the Public Library of Western Australia, in which Institution are also
filed copies of letters other than dispatches, the originals of which are
in the Public Record Office or the Colonial Office.

CHAPTER 4. 1829 TO 1830.


The British Government having decided to proceed with the settlement at
Swan River, it became necessary to draw up the conditions under which the
new colony was to enter upon its existence. It is more than probable--in
fact, according to Lord Ripon's statement it is certain--that the framing
of these conditions was both influenced and expedited by a proposal made
by the syndicate mentioned in the preceding chapter. This consisted of
Mr. Thomas Peel (a relative of Sir Robert Peel, the then Home Secretary)
Sir Francis Vincent, Mr. E.W.H. Schenley, and Colonel T. Potter MacQueen.

These gentlemen appear to have been led to formulate their scheme through
the favourable reports of the country given by Captain Stirling. By a
memorial dated 14 November 1828,* they offered to send out and settle in
the neighbourhood of the Swan River 10,000 persons chosen from England,
Scotland, and Ireland, and to find them in provisions and other
necessaries usually allowed to emigrants; also to bring to the settlement
1000 head of horned stock, and to arrange for three small vessels to run
subsequently between Sydney and Swan River as occasion might require, the
undertaking to be completed within four years. In payment of their
expenses, which they estimated at 30 pounds per head of the people taken
out, they expressed themselves willing to take grants of land at a
valuation of 1 shilling and 6 pence per acre, and they further promised
to provide proper surveyors for the purpose of allocating to every male
not less than 200 acres of land from the quantity they were to receive.
The objects which the syndicate had in view, and for which such large
tracts of land were required, were said to be the cultivation of cotton,
tobacco, sugar, flax, and various drugs for which the climate was suited;
the rearing of horses for the East Indian trade; and the establishment of
large herds of cattle and swine for the purpose of supplying His
Majesty's or other shipping with salt provisions.

(*Footnote. Accounts and Papers 1829 volume 24 Swan River Settlement
pages 3 to 4 Memorial from Peel and others to Sir George Murray. Note.
The date of the memorial is given in the Parliamentary Paper as 4
November but in the Colonial Office reply to the memorial dated 6
December it states that it is an answer to a "memorial dated 14th of last

The English Government looked favourably upon the proposals, but was not
inclined to accede to the whole of the requests made by the syndicate.
After some delay through further correspondence, a reply to the memorial
was sent by the Colonial Office to Mr. Peel on 6 December 1828,* in which
it was pointed out that the Government was averse to any experiment upon
such a large scale as that proposed, on account of the extensive distress
which would be occasioned should the undertaking fail. For that reason it
was considered necessary to limit the grant requested to a maximum of one
million acres (instead of the four million acres applied for by the
syndicate). Half a million would be allotted as soon as the first vessel
sent out by the syndicate arrived in the new colony, such vessel to
contain not less than 400 persons of both sexes, in the proportion of not
less than five females to six males. Provided this grant should have been
covered by investments in accordance with the regulations of the new
colony before the expiration of 1840, the remaining 500,000 acres would
be allotted by degrees as fresh settlers and further capital were
introduced. Priority of choice to the extent of 100,000 acres would be
allowed to Captain Stirling, upon whose reports it had been determined to
establish the settlement.

(*Footnote. Accounts and Papers 1829 volume 24 Swan River Settlement page
6 Hay to Peel and others.)

The regulations* referred to were those contained in a circular dated 5
December, setting forth the terms on which the Government was prepared to
assist colonists:

"Although it is the intention of His Majesty's Government to form a
settlement on the western coast of Australia, the Government do not
intend to incur any EXPENSE in conveying settlers or in supplying them
with necessaries after their arrival.

"Such persons, however, as may be prepared to proceed to that country, at
their own cost, before the end of the year 1829, in parties comprehending
a proportion of not less than five female to six male settlers, will
receive grants of land in fee simple (free of quit rent) proportioned to
the capital which they may invest upon public or private objects in the
colony to the satisfaction of His Majesty's Government at home, certified
by the Superintendent or officer administering the Colonial Government,
at the rate of 40 acres for every sum of 3 pounds so invested, provided
they give previous security; first, that all supplies sent to the colony,
whether of provisions, stores, or other articles which may be purchased
by the capitalists there, or which shall have been sent out for the use
of them or their parties on the requisition of the Secretary of State, if
not paid for on delivery in the colony, shall be paid for at home, each
capitalist being held liable in his proportion; and, secondly, that in
the event of the establishment being broken up by the Government or
Superintendent, all persons desirous of returning to the British Islands
shall be conveyed to their own home at the expense of the capitalists by
whom they may have been taken out. The passages of labouring persons,
whether paid for by themselves or others, and whether they be male or
female, provided the proportion of the sexes before mentioned be
preserved, will be considered as an investment of capital, entitling the
party by whom any such payment may have been made to an allowance of land
at the rate of 15 pounds--that is, of 200 acres of land for the passage
of every such labouring person over and above any other investment of

"Any land thus granted which shall not have been brought into cultivation
or otherwise improved or reclaimed from its wild state, to the
satisfaction of the Government, within twenty-one years from the date of
the grant shall, at the end of the twenty-one years, revert absolutely to
the Crown.

"All these conditions with respect to FREE grants of land, and all
contracts of labouring persons and others who shall have bound themselves
for a stipulated term of service, will be strictly maintained.

"It is not intended that any convicts or other description of prisoners
be sent to this new settlement.

"The Government will be administered by Captain Stirling, of the Royal
Navy, as Civil Superintendent of the settlement; and a Bill, in the
nature of a civil charter, will be submitted to Parliament in the
commencement of its next session."

(*Footnote. Ibid page 7 copy of old terms.)

The modified offer made by the Colonial Office, and contained in the
letter of 5 December, differed materially from the original proposal of
the syndicate. Their request for four million acres was cut down to a
maximum of one million, and even that was made subject to conditions. The
terms offered were the same as those proposed for the public at large.
Priority of choice of land over all settlers, Captain Stirling alone
excepted, was not granted in this offer. Correspondence regarding this
point resulted in the Colonial Office allowing priority to the extent of
250,000 acres.* In the opinion of members of the syndicate, the
restrictions imposed by the Colonial Office upon their original plan
rendered the success of the project impossible, and ultimately all
withdrew with the sole exception of Mr. Peel.** His faith in the venture
was so great that on 28 January 1829*** he informed the Government that
he was desirous of carrying on and completing it by himself on the terms
approved by the Colonial Office for the syndicate. To this the Secretary
of State consented, allowing him the same priority of choice as had been
offered to the syndicate, but requiring that at least 400 settlers should
be landed before 1 November 1829. If he fulfilled this condition, further
investment of capital would entitle him to the remaining 750,000 acres.
If he failed to land any settlers before the date specified, his priority
of choice was to lapse and he was to be on the same footing as other
settlers. At a later date it was provided that if he landed some settlers
before 1 November 1829, he was to receive a portion of the reserve
according to capital and settlers landed, conditionally upon the rest
being landed before 1 May 1830; in that case, however, he would not
receive a further grant of 750,000 acres.****

(*Footnote. Accounts and Papers 1829 volume 24 Swan River Settlement page
8 memorandum made by Hay 23 December 1828.)

(**Footnote. Ibid page 9.)

(***Footnote. Ibid page 9 Peel to Twiss.)

(****Footnote. Dispatch from Murray to Stirling 29 July 1829.)

In the meantime new regulations, not quite so favourable, had been issued
on 13 January 1829,* allowing only ten years, instead of twenty-one as
originally set forth, for bringing the land under cultivation. By a
special permission, however, this part of the regulation was held not to
apply to Mr. Peel.**

(*Footnote. Public Record Office Swan River Papers volume 1.)

(*Footnote. Accounts and Papers 1829 volume 24 Swan River Settlement page
10 Twiss to Peel 28 January 1829 PS.)

Under these new regulations invested capital was to comprise stock of
every description, all implements of husbandry and other articles
applicable to the purpose of the productive industry or necessary for the
establishment of the settler on the land where he was to be located, and
the amount of any half-pay or pension received from the Government. Under
the word "person" no child under ten years of age was to be included, but
40 acres were allowed for every child under three years of age, 80 for
every child under six, and 120 for every child exceeding that but under
ten. The fee simple of the land was not to be granted in any case until 1
shilling and 6 pence per acre had been expended in cultivation or
permanent improvement. At least one-fourth of the land was to be
reclaimed from its wild state within three years, or a fine of 6 pence
per acre incurred; and if nothing had been done at the end of ten years
in all, the whole was to revert to the Crown. These conditions were to
hold only until the end of 1830.

The Government agreed to bear the cost of the civil and military officers
necessary, but allowed them to take land in lieu of pay.

When the decision to establish a colony was made known, there were
numerous applications from persons desiring to emigrate. Some of these
were people of means prepared to go out at their own expense, but others
required free passages. These latter, in the absence of an emigration
fund, and in face of the Government's determination to avoid all expense
for emigration, were refused.* In addition, there was apparently a second
proposal to establish a settlement on a large scale in the new colony
made by Mr. Nathaniel Ogle, who stated that he was desirous "from private
information he had received, to emigrate, with nearly 1000 well-selected
companions, to Leschenault and La Vasse. A frigate of nearly 1700 tons,
built at Archangel for the Greeks, was selected: the capital ready was
ample: it was deemed necessary to require the use of the ship on the
coast for three years, to supply the colony with labourers, cattle, and
provision. The Government, after much correspondence, refused them
permission to use their ship for that period, because she was
FOREIGN-BUILT (!); which caused the expedition to be abandoned--to his
great and lasting regret."**

(*Footnote. Mills, R.C. Colonisation of Australia 1829 to 1842 London
1915 page 59. Dr. Mills had the opportunity of examining many of these
letters in the Public Record Office.)

(**Footnote. Ogle, N. Colony of Western Australia London 1839 page 251.)

Concurrently with these negotiations with private parties, the Government
pushed on the official arrangements for the inception of the new colony.
Owing to the personal knowledge of the country which he possessed and the
enthusiasm he showed in advocating its claims, it was felt that the
administration could not be entrusted to any other than Captain Stirling.
A Scotchman by birth and a naval officer of many years' standing, he had
gained a good deal of colonial experience in the colony of New South
Wales, and had been instrumental in forming the settlements in the north
and south of that territory. He was therefore peculiarly fitted to
undertake the duties attendant upon the control of the new venture. At
first it was a matter for consideration whether he should be merely a
Civil Superintendent or should have the larger powers of a
Lieutenant-Governor. By the time the conditions of settlement were laid
down, the latter title was decided upon as being the more suitable, and
it was also decided to award Stirling a priority of choice of 100,000
acres as some recompense for the services he had already rendered. This
choice was exercised over the whole of Garden Island, with the exception
of such portions as might be required for Crown purposes, together with
sufficient land in the neighbourhood of Cape Naturaliste necessary to
make up the full grant.*

(*Footnote. Accounts and Papers 1829 volume 24 Swan River Settlement page
11. Note. Stirling did not ultimately take the area of land which is
marked on the chart inserted in the Parliamentary Paper referred to. In
place of it he took a long strip of land extending from below Bunbury
down to Wonnerup Inlet, as shown on the map attached, which has been
prepared by the Lands Department of Western Australia from the

At the time he received no definite commission as Lieutenant-Governor. In
place of that he received a letter of appointment and instruction, which
was dated 30 December 1828, and which held good for something over two
years, until, in fact, 5 March 1831, when the first commission was issued
appointing him Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Western Australia. The
reason for the adoption of this course was explained in a dispatch
forwarded to Stirling by the Secretary of State for the Colonies at the
same time as the letter of appointment. This document clearly laid down
the course to be followed in establishing the new settlement, and the
full text of it will be found as Appendix 1.

Upon receipt of these instructions Captain Stirling at once set about the
preparations for inaugurating the settlement. Stores and other
requirements of value in the undertaking were rapidly secured, and the
civil officers necessary for the control and government were chosen and
appointed. These on the whole were admirably suited for the task of
colonisation. The Colonial Secretary, Mr. Peter Brown (afterwards Broun)
was a man who already possessed administrative experience; the duties of
Harbourmaster were entrusted to Commander M.J. Currie, a naval officer of
long standing; Dr. Charles Simmons was the medical officer, Mr. James
Drummond the botanist and naturalist, and Mr. John Morgan the
storekeeper, a position of no little moment in the new settlement. The
most important office after that of Lieutenant-Governor was
unquestionably that of Surveyor-General. This was conferred upon
Lieutenant (afterwards Captain) John Septimus Roe, who had previously
gained an intimate knowledge of the Western Australian coastline during
the expeditions of Lieutenant King in 1818 to 1822. The officers and
artificers were engaged at rates of salary and wages approved by the
Secretary of State for the Colonies, Sir George Murray. In the matter of
securing artificers some difficulty was encountered, and only three were
obtained in time to leave by the first ship.*

(*Footnote. Letter from Stirling to Twiss 5 February 1829 in Public
Record Office Swan River Papers volume 3.)

The Parmelia, a vessel of 449 tons register, Captain J.H. Luscombe, was
chartered to convey the officials and their families, with the necessary
supplies, to the Swan River, and H.M.S. Sulphur was commissioned* for the
purpose of transporting thither a detachment of the 63rd Regiment, which,
under the command of Captain F.C. Irwin, had been detailed for the
security and protection of the colonists.**

(*Footnote. Admiralty to Commander Dance 24 January 1829 ibid volume 3.)

(**Footnote. Lord Fitzroy Somerset to Captain Irwin 1 January 1829 ibid
volume 3.)

The necessary preparations being completed, the Parmelia sailed from
Spithead on 6 of February with the first band of colonists to make a home
in the new settlement of Western Australia.

On the 9th she was joined by H.M.S. Sulphur from Plymouth, with the
detachment of soldiers on board, and the two vessels sailed in company
for their destination, with hope strong in the hearts of all that the
mission would result in a further successful expansion of the Empire of
Great Britain.

Shortly after the departure of the expedition, a Bill was presented to
the English Parliament "relative to the Government of His Majesty's
settlements in Western Australia on the western coast of New Holland."
This was passed on 14 May (10 George IV c.22) and provided that the King,
with the advice of the Privy Council, might make, or might authorise any
person or persons resident in the colony to make, such laws and
ordinances as might be necessary for the peace, order, and good
government of His Majesty's subjects within the settlement; that such
laws, orders, etc., were to be laid before both Houses of Parliament as
soon as practicable thereafter; that no part of the colonies of New South
Wales and Van Diemen's Land was to be included in the new colony or
settlements, and that the Act was to continue in force until the end of
1834. This period of continuance was extended by the various Acts from
time to time until it was formally repealed by the passage of 13-14
Victoria c.59, which dealt with the government of the whole of the
Australian colonies.

Almost coincidentally with the introduction of the Bill, there appeared
in the Quarterly Review for April 1829 an article which strongly
emphasised the advantages of colonising Swan River, and the "impression
got abroad that the colony was to be founded by the Government or at any
rate with its approbation and cooperation"; so much so, in fact, that the
Quarterly Review article was suspected of being official.* The article
seems to have attracted public attention to the proposed settlement, and
more especially to the tentative grant of land that had been made to
Thomas Peel. It was stated that there was little inducement for any
settler who did not obtain land from Peel, a statement which the
Secretary of State denied by giving in the House of Commons the detailed
history of the negotiations between Peel and the Government.**

(*Footnote. Mills, R.C. Colonisation of Australia page 58.)

(**Footnote. Mills, R.C. Colonisation of Australia page 60. Dr. Mills
refers to the suggestion that Peel's grant had been obtained through the
influence of Sir Robert Peel, and points out that he had only asked Sir
George Murray to give his relative "any facilities that he consistently
could." Dr. Mills also refers to one of the caricatures against Peel
which appeared about that time. Another one, a copy of which is in the
Public Library at Perth, represents him with an open box, on the inner
surface of the lid of which is drawn a swan, with the superscription, "A
job for my country cousin." Out of the box are hanging long strips of
orange peel. Peel is saying, "Peel! peel! wonderful peel! Swan River
peel! family peel--good for everything--warranted Daddy's OWN
manufacture, fresh, fresh from the jennies." The title reads: Peel, peel,
Swan River peel! very fine peel!!! published in colour 6 June 1829 by J.

Meanwhile, the two vessels were proceeding on their way. Nothing of any
moment occurred until they reached Cape Town. There, through an
unfortunate accident, Dr. Daly (the Assistant-Surgeon for the colony) and
his eldest daughter were drowned while returning to the ship from the
shore. After remaining in Table Bay for about a fortnight, during which
some necessary repairs to the Sulphur were effected, the expedition left
that port on 30 April for the Swan River. The warship, possessing poorer
sailing qualities, was unable to keep up with the Parmelia, which
proceeded on her course as rapidly as circumstances allowed in order to
reach her destination before the wet season was too far advanced.* During
this latter part of the voyage the Lieutenant-Governor made all necessary
arrangements for the administration and control of the settlement, so
that as little time as possible might be lost after arrival in the
organisation of the Government. Instructions were issued to the Civil
officers, giving in detail the necessary directions for the management of
their departments. On 16 May a document was issued constituting, without
salary, a "Board of Counsel and Audit in the management of the property
of the Crown, and of public property within the settlement." The members
of the Board were Commander Currie, Lieutenant Roe, and Mr. William
Stirling. Among the other duties assigned to this Board was that of
valuing the stock and other property brought by colonists, so that the
proper amount of land might be allotted to them. On the same date Mr.
James Drummond was appointed as Superintendent (honorary) of Government
farms and gardens, Mr. G.W. Mangles as Superintendent of Government
stock, Mr. H.W. Reveley as Civil Engineer, Mr. William Stirling as
Registrar, and Mr. H.C. Sutherland as Assistant Surveyor.** In most cases
no salary was attached to the appointment, a lack that was afterwards
remedied. On 31 May land was sighted, and on the following day the
Parmelia moved toward an anchorage in Cockburn Sound.*** In doing so she
grounded on a bank between Carnac Island and the mainland, and was
extricated only after considerable difficulty, and no little damage, by
the exertions of the crew of H.M.S. Challenger, which had remained at
Swan River to protect the flag until the settlers arrived. The winter
season having commenced, and the weather being boisterous and stormy,
Captain Stirling decided to land on Garden Island and there erect
necessary buildings to protect the stores.**** On 8 June H.M.S. Sulphur
put in an appearance,***** but it was not until the 16th that the
detachment could disembark on the mainland and relieve the crew of the
Challenger.****** This latter ship then determined to sail for India, but
was prevented from doing so through the services of her artificers being
required for the purpose of repairing the Parmelia, which had been
rendered unseaworthy through grounding on Parmelia Bank. It was not until
28 August that H.M.S. Challenger finally departed, leaving H.M.S. Sulphur
as protection for the settlement.*******

(*Footnote. Roe, J.S. Log of voyage of Parmelia manuscript in possession
of Mrs. J.B. Roe, Perth.)

(**Footnote. Stirling to Sir George Murray 10 September 1829 enclosure
Number 9 Swan River Papers volume 3.)

(***Footnote. Stirling to Twiss 25 August 1829 and Stirling to Sir George
Murray 10 September 1829 Swan River Papers volume 3.)

(****Footnote. Ibid.)

(*****Footnote. Ibid. See also Journal and Proceedings of H.M.S.
Challenger 10 March to 29 August 1829 Captains' Journals Number 3096.)

(******Footnote. Ibid.)

(*******Footnote. Journal and Proceedings of H.M.S. Challenger quoted
above. See also Captain Fremantle to J.W. Croker Admiralty 8 October 1829
Swan River Papers volume 7.)

On 18 June Captain Stirling and party landed on the mainland at Rous Head
and issued a proclamation (Appendix 2) thus effecting the actual
settlement of Western Australia.

The proclamation was published both on the mainland (by Captain Irwin)
and on Garden Island, and on the same day orders were issued confirming
the appointments which had been made on the course of the voyage.*

(*Footnote. Brown, Peter (Colonial Secretary) Journal of Events connected
with the Public Service. Attached to Stirling's dispatch of 10 September
1829 Swan River Papers volume 3.)

The strong winds and rough seas consequent upon the season of the year
made regular and continual communication with the mainland both difficult
and dangerous. It was therefore deemed wise to postpone the work of
selecting permanent town-sites, and in the interval temporary buildings
to house the colonists and stores were erected on Garden Island, some of
which continued in occupation even after the removal of the settlement,
as it was thought safer to house the bulk of the stores on the island,
bringing them across from time to time as necessity required. A portion
of the scrub was also cleared, and the seeds brought from England and the
Cape were planted, so that, though late, they might have the advantage of
the portion of the season still remaining.*

(*Footnote. Stirling to Twiss 25 August 1829 Swan River Papers volume 3.)

During the month of July two exploring parties were sent out in order to
secure all the information possible concerning the districts within easy
reach of the Swan River. The first of these, under the control of
Lieutenant Henry of the Challenger, proceeded to discover the source of
the Canning River, and to examine the country lying between the mountains
and the sea. The party covered altogether a distance of over one hundred
miles, and found that, with trifling exceptions, the soil was well
adapted to agriculture.* The second expedition, under Commander Currie,
explored the country south and south-east of the Swan for a distance of
about ten miles, finding a river and several freshwater lakes, and
further extending the area of possible cultivation.**

(*Footnote. Cross, J. Journals of Expeditions made in Western Australia
1829 to 1832 London 1833 pages 1 to 5.)

(**Footnote. Stirling to Twiss 25 August and Stirling to Sir G. Murray 10
September 1829 Swan River Papers volume 3.)

Meanwhile, Captain Stirling and his officers having decided to found two
towns, one at the mouth of the river to serve the purposes of a seaport
and one farther inland as the seat of government, landed on the mainland
to select suitable sites.* That for the port was quickly chosen on the
south bank of the Swan, at its mouth, and was named Fremantle in honour
of the captain of the Challenger. The other selection proved more
difficult, but after closely following the course of the Swan for some
miles they finally fixed upon a spot just above the junction of the Swan
and the Canning as the best position for the seat of government, to which
they gave the name of Perth, out of compliment to the Secretary of State
for the Colonies, who was the member for Perth in Scotland.**

(*Footnote. Ibid.)

(**Footnote. Extract from letter 12 September 1829 from H.M.S. Sulphur
published in the Glasgow Courier 13 February 1830.)

That the site chosen was admirable in every way must be admitted, even
though for the time being it was difficult of access from Fremantle,
which was on the south side of the river. Overshadowed by Mount Eliza,
with a broad expanse of water before it, and the river flats, where
Stirling had experienced difficulties in 1827, stretching out beyond it,
it made an ideal spot for what was to become the capital of a great
State. No doubt the existence of these flats, which seemed to promise
well for agricultural development, in part at any rate led to the
selection of that particular place. The site having been settled, notice
was given that the first stone of the new town of Perth would be laid on
12 August, the date of King George IV's birthday. The ceremony was
performed by cutting down a tree on the allotment set a part for the
military barracks.*

(*Footnote. Stirling to Twiss 25 August and Stirling to Sir G. Murray 10
September 1829 Swan River Papers volume 3.)

During August other vessels arrived with settlers and stock. These new
colonists, as well as the first arrivals, were all anxious to receive
locations of land as quickly as possible, for though there was little or
no opportunity of doing anything in the way of cultivation at the time,
they were desirous of making preparation for the following season. The
Surveyor-General and his assistants were kept busy making rough but
fairly accurate surveys of locations applied for. All these applications
made the issue of land regulations imperative, and on 28 August* the
first land regulations for the colony were proclaimed. These provided
that the territory should be divided into counties, hundreds, townships,
and sections; each section to be 640 acres in extent, each township 25
sections, each hundred 4 townships, and each county 16 hundreds. In each
county 600 sections were reserved by the Government for public expenses,
educational support and endowment, cost of public works, and the
administration of justice. Land was not to be open to location until
surveyed, and was then to be granted only in complete sections. No
allotment was to have river frontage of more than one-fourth its exterior
boundary. No second location was to be granted to any person who had not
fulfilled the conditions of improvement with regard to the first, and no
grant was to be made to indentured servants or to persons coming to the
colony at the expense of others. Three square miles were reserved as the
site of the town of Perth. These were to be split up into allotments of
nine to ten acres each, to be held, according to instructions from the
Colonial Office, on a twenty-one years' lease, with the right of the
Government to resume if necessary for public purposes upon paying
compensation, these leases to become freehold if not resumed within the
period stated, and to carry at all times the right of sale or assignment.
They were also to be subject to such rates as the Government might deem
necessary to impose. The same conditions were to prevail with regard to
Fremantle. Persons possessing land in the settlement at large were to
have the right to a free grant in the vicinity of a township in the ratio
of one acre for every 1000 acres held by them. The general conditions as
to the assessment of property upon which land would be granted and the
quantity to be so granted, as laid down in the Colonial Office circular
of January 1829, were incorporated, and the following mode of procedure
for taking up grants was laid down:

"All persons who may be desirous to receive allotments of land are to
make application to the Lieutenant-Governor according to the form which
will be furnished to them at the office of the Colonial Secretary. If the
application be admissible, it will be referred to the Board of
Commissioners for the management of Crown property, who will report to
the Lieutenant-Governor the extent of land to which the applicant may
appear to be entitled, upon a strict examination of property imported by

"The kinds of property on which claims may be founded are only such as
are applicable to the improvement and cultivation of land, or necessary
in placing the settler on his location; and the value thereof will be
estimated by the Commissioners according to such fair standard of
reference as they may see fit to adopt.

"On receiving the report of the Board, the Lieutenant-Governor will
accord permission to the applicant to proceed to select such land, to the
extent recommended, as may suit his particular views, and having
selected, the applicant is to make his selection known to the
Surveyor-General by filling up the form which may be attached to the
permission to select. This report of selection will be examined by the
Surveyor-General and transmitted by him to the Lieutenant-Governor, with
such remarks as may be necessary to enable the Lieutenant-Governor to
decide on the propriety of the allotment being made, and if no prior
claim to the land in question or other objection exist, the applicant
will receive a grant thereof, in the usual form of a primary conveyance.

"Land thus granted will belong in perpetuity to the grantee, his heirs,
and assigns, to be held in free and common socage, subject, however, to
such reservations and conditions as may be stated in the conveyance."

(*Footnote. Stirling to Sir G. Murray 10 September 1829 enclosure Swan
River Papers volume 3.)

Then follows the description of the liabilities in the way of rates and
taxes to which the land was subject, as well as the provision that no
settler could, without special permission, sell his land until he had
improved it to the extent of 1 shilling and 6 pence per acre.

The surveys of the town sites of Perth and Fremantle were quickly
completed, and on 5 September the first allotments were taken up. In
Perth the purchasers, either on leasehold on in fee simple, were F.C.
Irwin (the officer commanding the troops) Reverend J.B. Wittenoom (the
Colonial Chaplain) May Hodges, George Leake, and P.P. Smith; in Fremantle
the first allotments fell to William Lamb, John Hobbs, Lionel Samson, and
Thomas Bannister.* There was only one other lot sold in Fremantle in
1829, the purchaser being John Bateman, but in Perth there was more
demand. There we find that during the remaining months of the year land
was either leased or sold to John Septimus Roe (the Surveyor-General) Dr.
Simmons, William Shaw, John Morrell, John Tichbon, Thomas Davis, William
Hoking, Thomas Bannister, James Henty, James McDermott, Samuel Cox,
Richard Jones, Hugh Macdonald, David Paterson, George Embleton, William
Leeder, Henry Trigg, William Nairne, Robert M. Lyon, and C. Browne.**

(*Footnote. Year Book of Western Australia 1902 to 1904 page 32; see also
Records of Lands Department Perth.)

(**Footnote. See Records of Lands Department Perth.)

In addition to making the necessary surveys in Perth and Fremantle,
Lieutenant Roe was able, during the first three months after his arrival,
to make surveys of the surrounding country sufficiently accurate for the
purpose of making grants in accordance with the regulations. The first of
these, as shown by the records, were made on 29 September to the
following grantees:* R.H. Bland, 8000 acres; Peter Brown (Colonial
Secretary) 5000 acres; Charles Boyd, 640 acres; W.T. Dance (captain of
the Sulphur) 5000 acres; William Dixon, 2268 acres; Sir James Hume, 2666
acres; George Leake, 14887 acres; Colonel P.A. Lautour, 10,000 acres; Dr.
John Whattley, 1500 acres; John Septimus Roe, 3100 acres; Lionel Samson,
4696 acres; and Charles Ridley, 1750 acres. All these grants were close
to the Swan River, many of them with river frontage. The reasons for this
were that the soil seemed more promising and the river afforded an easy
method of transit. Other assignments on account of capital invested that
were made during 1829 were C.H. Fremantle (captain of the Challenger)
5000 acres in the interior; Thomas Bannister, 2000 on Canning River;
Henry Camfield, 1000 on the Swan River; M.C. Carew, 100 on the Helena;
John A. Dutton, 3600 on the Canning; P.H. Dod, 2000 on the Swan; John O.
Davis, 7026 on the Canning; R. Dawson, 1280 on the Canning; James
Drummond (the botanist) 1000 on the Swan and 100 on the Helena; Joshua
Gregory, 1000 on the Swan; John Hobbs, 4000 on the Canning; William Lamb,
8119 on the Swan; Colonel Lautour, 100 on the Helena; R. Wardell, 1000 on
the Swan; Daniel Scott, 4000 on the Swan; William K. Shenton, 100 on the
Helena; W.H. Mackie and F.C. Irwin, 200 on the Swan; and P. Rogers, 4000
on Canning River.** According to the official statistics 525,000 acres
were granted by the end of the year, including the original grant of
100,000 acres to Captain Stirling and the 250,000 conditionally granted
to Mr. Peel, who arrived with his immigrants about the middle of

(*Footnote. Ibid.

(**Footnote. Note. In order to secure land in accordance with the
Regulations, each settler was required to submit to the Board of Counsel
and Audit a sworn statement setting out the property brought by him,
together with the cost of his own, his family's, and his servants'
passages. The Board then determined, (a) the property that could be
deemed to be usable for the purposes of the colony, and (b) the value to
be placed upon it. Upon that value was assigned to the applicant in
accordance with the conditions on the basis of forty acres for every 3
pounds. The original statements of many of the settlers are still to be
found filed in the Records of the Colonial Secretary's Office, Perth. It
is interesting to note that Benjamin Goodman, one of the dissatisfied
settlers, who wrote to the Secretary of State from Hobart on 1 December
1829, claimed land to the value of 220 pounds in cash, which he possessed
on arrival at Swan River. In his affidavit of property, however, he set
down 75 pounds as the amount of cash in his possession. The value of the
property upon which land was granted amounted to 21 pounds.)

But all these vast areas of land were at that time virgin forest, and
though the possessors were potentially rich, they were actually suffering
all the privations and discomforts incident to settlement in a new
country. They were even without homes, with the exception of such rude
shelters as they could make for themselves, and they had practically no
means of subsistence beyond the supplies they had brought and such
further provisions as ships expected to arrive from time to time might
bring. Their condition was certainly not one to be envied. Though many of
them were of first-class family "and possessed of considerable
property,"* they were in great measure unprepared for the trials they had
to face, and were not inured to the privations that must necessarily
befall those who hope to wrest a livelihood from the wilds of nature.**
Their difficulties were greatly increased by the fact that they arrived
at the height of the winter season, and were prevented by the cold and
rain from making much headway for some considerable time. But all their
trials were borne with stout hearts, and they struggled manfully forward,
strong in their determination to succeed. The state of the settlement
during the first few weeks of its existence may be fairly well estimated
from the dispatch forwarded by the Lieutenant-Governor to the Secretary
of State on 9 September 1829:

"Exposure to the winds and rain of a boisterous winter," he said, "has
been the most serious evil we have encountered, but that and other
privations incident to such an undertaking have been borne with
cheerfulness and overcome with proper spirit by all the individuals
forming the civil and military establishment. Among the settlers since
arrived, some disappointment has arisen in consequence of their being in
general but little accustomed to encounter hardships, and in all cases
too sanguine in the expectations they have entertained respecting the
country. But as the weather has improved they have been enabled to extend
their explorations and attain more comfort, and I believe there is now
existing among them a cheerful confidence in the qualities of the country
and a general belief in its future prosperity...Up to the present period
no event of a nature wholly unexpected or very important has occurred in
the prosecution of the service, except that the western coast of New
Holland was taken possession of in His Majesty's name by Captain
Fremantle, and that the settlement has subsequently been commenced and
proceeded in. The progress made in the erection of storehouses and
temporary buildings for the civil establishment, in landing the stores
and provisions, and in exploring the country has been very considerable
when viewed with reference to the season of the year and to the means at
the disposal of the local government. The weather at the period of my
arrival being extremely boisterous, I was forced to disembark the people
and stores on Garden Island, the communication between the ships and the
mainland being too unsafe and uncertain during the winter season to admit
of their being placed at any other point. Since then as the weather has
improved I have removed such persons and stores as have been necessary to
the sites of the towns of Perth and Fremantle, but I intend to keep the
principal depot of provisions and stores still at Garden Island, carrying
over as they are wanted the articles therein deposited. The arrival of
two other ships with settlers making it necessary to have locations
prepared for them, I have been under the necessity of interrupting the
general survey of the surrounding coast and country for the purpose of
laying out the town of Fremantle at the entrance of Melville Water as a
landing port, and also the town of Perth near the island on the Swan
River, with a view of its being in the neighbourhood of those who may
wish to cultivate the rich lands immediately above it on the river...The
settlers have already made selection of town lots in each place and are
proceeding with alacrity in the preparation of buildings."

(*Footnote. Further returns from Swan River Settlement House of Commons
Papers 1831 Number 66.)

(**Footnote. Stirling to Twiss 26 January 1830.)

During September the civil establishment was removed to Perth and the
settlement began to acquire something of a permanent appearance. A
cottage for the Lieutenant-Governor was erected not far from the present
site of Government House, and the various departmental offices were built
in close proximity to it, so that the work of administration could be
carried on more easily. Houses of more or less permanent character began
to arise, and the first place of worship--for the Church of England--was
erected through the earnest solicitation as well as by the actual
assistance of the Colonial Chaplain, the Reverend J.B. Wittenoom.

Between then and the end of the year several ships arrived with settlers,
stock, and provisions. Among these was the Gilmore, with Thomas Peel and
his party of immigrants and servants on board, which arrived early in
December. As Peel had not carried out his agreement with the Government,
his priority of choice over 250,000 acres lapsed,* but he was granted a
location extending from Cockburn Sound to the Murray River, being viewed
by Governor Stirling as a common settler meriting an equal extent of
property, in accordance with the Secretary of State's instructions of 29

(*Footnote. The land held under priority was thrown open to settlers
early in November. See Extracts of Letters from Swan River third series
London 1830 pages 1 and 13.)

The conditions under which Peel's venture was entered upon were liberal
enough to have ensured success for any capably managed expedition, but
Peel seems to have been utterly incompetent. Owing to lack of management
on his part, and to his failure to provide those whom he had brought out
with food and clothing according to his contract with them, most of them
deserted and struck out for themselves. In fact, almost from the date of
their landing it was evident that the project was doomed to failure.*
Writing to Under Secretary Hay in July 1830, John Morgan, the Colonial
Storekeeper,** stated that Peel was a ruined man unless some competent
person arrived speedily to manage his affairs, that he was totally
incapable of conducting the establishment himself, and had no one
competent to do so for him. In consequence his people were wretchedly
provided for, and thirty-seven of them had actually died. Beyond merely
bringing the people out, Peel did not fulfil any of his conditions with
the Government, and, in consequence, protracted correspondence ensued.
Finally, on 25 September 1834, he made formal application to the Governor
for a grant of 250,000 acres of land on conditions of general
improvement.*** In compliance with this request he was granted, on 25
November following, the fee simple of the land now known as Cockburn
Sound Location 16 "in consideration of certain location duties performed
to the satisfaction of Governor Stirling."**** Here he settled down in
solitary grandeur, an embittered and disappointed man, doing little or
nothing to improve his vast estate, and died at Mandurah some thirty
years latter in comparatively indigent circumstances.*****

(*Footnote. Stirling, E. Brief History of Western Australia pages 4 and

(**Footnote. Morgan to Hay 14 July 1830 Swan River Papers volume 7.)

(***Footnote. Colonial Secretary's Office Records Western Australia filed
in Public Library Perth.)

(****Footnote. Western Australian Year Book 1902 to 1904 page 23. See
also Map attached.)

(*****Footnote. Stirling, E. Brief History of Western Australia page 5.)

A vivid and interesting, but not altogether accurate, account of Peel's
failure and the causes of the straits to which the colony was reduced in
its early days was given by Edward Gibbon Wakefield before the Committee
of the House of Commons on Waste Lands in 1836, on the authority, he
stated, of one of Peel's agents:

"That colony, which was founded with a general hope in this country,
amongst very intelligent persons of all descriptions, that it would be a
most prosperous colony, has all but perished. It has not quite perished,
but the population is a great deal less than the number of emigrants; it
has been a diminishing population since its foundation. The greater part
of the capital which was taken out (and that was very large) has
disappeared altogether, and a great portion of the labourers taken out
(and they were a very considerable number) have emigrated a second time
to Van Diemen's Land and New South Wales. The many disasters which befell
this colony (for some people did actually die of hunger) and the
destruction of the colony taken out to the Swan River, and the second
emigration of the people who went out, appear to me to be accounted for
at once by the manner in which land was granted. The first grant
consisted of 500,000 acres to an individual, Mr. Peel. That grant was
marked out upon the map in England--500,000 acres were taken round about
the port or landing place. It was quite impossible for Mr. Peel to
cultivate 500,000 acres, or a hundredth part of the grant; but others
were, of course, necessitated to go beyond his grant in order to take
their land. So that the first operation in that colony was to create a
great desert, to mark out a large tract of land, and to say, "This is
desert--no man shall come here; no man shall cultivate this land." So far
dispersion was produced, because upon the terms on which Mr. Peel
obtained his land, land was given to the others. The Governor took
another 100,000 acres, another person took 80,000 acres; and the
dispersion was so great that, at last, the settlers did not know where
they were; that is, each settler knew that he was where he was, but he
could not tell where anyone else was; and therefore, he did not know his
own position. That was why some people died of hunger; for though there
was an ample supply of food at the Governor's house, the settlers did not
know where the Governor was, and the Governor did not know where the
settlers were. Then, besides the evils resulting from dispersion, there
occurred what I consider almost a greater one; which is, the separation
of the people and the want of combinable labour. The labourers, on
finding out that land could be obtained with the greatest facility, the
labourers taken out under contracts, under engagements which assured them
of very high wages if they would labour during a certain time for wages,
immediately laughed at their masters. Mr. Peel carried out altogether
about 300 persons--men, women, and children. Of those 300 persons, about
sixty were able labouring men. In six months after his arrival he had
nobody even to make his bed for him or to fetch him water from the river.
He was obliged to make his own bed and to fetch water for himself, and to
light his own fire. All the labourers had left him. The capital,
therefore, which he took out, namely, implements of husbandry, seeds, and
stock, especially stock, immediately perished; without shepherds to take
care of the sheep, the sheep wandered and were lost; eaten by the native
dogs, killed by the natives and by some of the other colonists, very
likely by his own workmen, but they were destroyed; his seeds perished on
the beach; his houses were of no use; his wooden houses were there in
frame, in pieces, but could not be put together, and were therefore quite
useless, and rotted on the beach. This was the case with the capitalists
generally. The labourers, obtaining land very readily, and running about
to fix upon locations for themselves, and to establish themselves
independently, very soon separated themselves into isolated families,
into what may be termed cottiers, with a very large extent of land,
something like the Irish cottiers, but having, instead of a very small
piece of land, a large extent of land. Everyone was separated, and very
soon fell into the greatest distress. Falling into the greatest distress,
they returned to their masters, and insisted upon the fulfilment of the
agreements upon which they had gone out; but then Mr. Peel said, 'All my
capital is gone; you have ruined me by deserting me, by breaking your
engagements; and you now insist upon my observing the engagements when
you yourselves have deprived me of the means of doing so.' They wanted to
hang him, and he ran away to a distance, where he secreted himself for a
time till they were carried off to Van Diemen's Land."*

(*Footnote. House of Commons, Accounts and Papers 1836 volume 2 page 499
answer to question 591.)

Although the success which it was hoped would attend the colony from its
inception was far from realised, its failure was not so complete as
Wakefield would have us believe. It is more than probable that the fact
that he was interested in securing a fixed price for colonial crown
lands, and was endeavouring at that time to found a colony in the south
of Australia based upon his principles of colonisation, may have induced
him to overstate the case, but it need not have led him into definite
misstatements. Peel's grant did not comprise 500,000 acres, nor was it
located as marked on the map of 1829.* The actual grant extended "from
Cockburn Sound to the Murray River near Cape Bouvard and thence up that
river twenty-five miles from its source."** This was some miles to the
south of Fremantle. Stirling's grant also occupied a different position
from that marked on the map mentioned, and the nearest point of it to
Perth was over 120 miles distant. The assertion that some settlers died
from hunger was denied by Captain Irwin, who was Commandant of the Forces
when the colony was established,*** but against that denial we should
perhaps place the Colonial Storekeeper's statement that thirty-seven of
Peel's people had actually died,**** from one cause or another, an
unusually large number in so small a community. There is abundant
evidence, both in the Governor's dispatches and in private letters and
diaries, that indentured servants caused a considerable amount of
trouble, that they were continually asking for more than their indentures
provided, and that, at times, they deserted.***** They were, however,
usually punished for any failure to fulfil their contracts. Peel's
servants were either discharged by him or liberated by the magistrates by
the middle of 1830,****** the few who remained being assisted with
provisions from the government stores.******* Wakefield's statement that
desertions occurred because the servants could easily obtain land for
themselves was not true, for the land regulations of 28 August 1829
especially provided that indentured servants or assisted persons must
fulfil their agreements before they could obtain land. The whole position
with regard to indentured servants was perhaps not inaptly summed up in a
letter to the Secretary of State: "Indented servants are of no use.
Almost every settler is obliged to dismiss his indented servants for
idleness, disobedience to orders, or drunkenness, and so soon as they
obtain their liberty they embark for either Hobart or Sydney. I have been
ruined by laying out money in the way recommended by the Government in
their public regulations."******** Peel's failure was due partly to his
absolute ignorance of pioneering difficulties, and partly to his lack of
ability to manage an undertaking of such magnitude. To these may be added
the difficulties caused by his impetuous nature and lack of

(*Footnote. Ibid 1829 volume 24 map attached to correspondence regarding
Swan River settlement. See also Map.)

(**Footnote. Stirling to Twiss 26 January 1830.)

(***Footnote. Irwin, F.C. State and Position of Western Australia London
1835 page 37.)

(****Footnote. Morgan to Hay 14 July 1830.)

(*****Footnote. Stirling to Sir George Murray 12 March 1831; Colonists'
Memorial to Secretary of State 2 September 1831; Irwin, F.C. State and
Position of Western Australia page 35; Moore, G.F. Diary of Ten Years'
Eventful Life of an Early Settler in Western Australia London 1884 pages
60, 86 to 89, 142, 176, 197, etc.)

(******Footnote. Stirling to Secretary of State 18 October 1830.)

(*******Footnote. Ibid.)

(********Footnote. Lyon, R.M. to Secretary of State 11 February 1831 Swan
River Papers volume 9.)

(*********Footnote. Mills, R.C. Colonisation of Australia page 68.)

Another emigration scheme, concerning which there is very little record,
appears to have been entered upon by Colonel P.A. Lautour, whose agent,
Richard Wells, arrived in the colony with eighty-five servants and
considerable stock on 5 August 1829,* and who received a grant of over
100,000 acres. The only record of the fate of this scheme, beyond
occasional letters asking for loans which are filed in the Colonial
Secretary's Office, appears to consist of a statement made by Stirling to
the Secretary of State in his dispatch of 18 October 1830, in which he
states that the establishment has been broken up and the servants
discharged "as the schemes (Peel and Lautour) had been undertaken without
a proper provision of funds and stores in this country for their
maintenance." At a later date** Lautour suggested that he should be
allowed to take out 300 of those convicts who had lately been convicted
of riots in England. The suggestion was not accepted.***

(*Footnote. Stirling to Sir George Murray 20 January 1830 enclosure
Number 2.)

(**Footnote. Colonel Lautour to Lord Howick 9 January 1831. A similar
proposal was made to the Secretary of State on 17 January 1831 by James

(***Footnote. Note. Two other proposals for emigration on a large scale
were laid before the Colonial Office during the early years of the
settlement: one made in May 1829 by Richard Badnall (Badnall to Twiss 29
May 1829 New South Wales volume 207) and a second by Edward Merrell in
December 1832 (Merrell to Hay 19 December 1832 Swan River Papers volume
11). Neither of these proposals appear to have gone beyond the tentative

The alluring prospects held out to emigrants induced many besides those
included in the above schemes to try their fortunes in the new colony. In
order to have land ready for these, and at the same time to increase the
knowledge of the country lying outside the immediate settlement, several
exploring expeditions were sent out in the latter part of 1829.
Lieutenant Preston of H.M.S. Sulphur and Dr. Collie examined during
November the coastline and adjacent country between Cockburn Sound and
Geographe Bay, paying particular attention to the rivers and to the
suitability of the soil for cultivation. In December, Ensign Dale of the
63rd Regiment, who had previously endeavoured to trace the source of the
Helena River, made a further attempt. He followed the stream until it
became a mere chain of ponds, and then returned bringing back the
information that the country toward the coast did not give much promise
in the way of agriculture, though it offered fairly good pasture for
sheep. In the same month Dr. Wilson, R.N., left the settlement at King
George's Sound with a small party, intending to proceed toward the Swan
River. Though he did not go far in the direction aimed at, he passed
through some of the best country from a scenic point of view in Western
Australia, and in the course of his wanderings discovered the Denmark
River. Dr. Wilson's report of the trip spoke highly of the character of
the soil in general, though some of it he admitted was "as miserable and
useless as any to be found in New South Wales."*

(*Footnote. Cross. Journals of Several Expeditions in Western Australia
1829 to 1832 pages 6 et seq.)

The total population of the colony at the end of the year was 1290, of
whom 850* were permanent residents, the greater part of the remainder
forming the complement of the ships then at anchor, one of these being
H.M.S. Success, which grounded on entering Challenger Passage and
received injuries that took twelve months to repair. To carry out these
repairs she was beached at that portion of Cockburn Sound since known as
Careening Bay. The value of the property brought by the settlers up to
this time was about 45,000 pounds, the proportion of which that was
applicable to the improvement of land, and upon which land was granted
according to the regulations, being 41,550 pounds.**

(*Footnote. Stirling to Sir George Murray 20 January 1830.)

(**Footnote. Ibid. From 29 October 1829 to June 1830 the amount of
property brought was 73,260 pounds, of which 52,239 was applicable to the
improvement of land. Stirling to Secretary of State 18 October 1830
enclosure A2.)

On 20 January 1830, Captain Stirling addressed a dispatch to the Colonial
Office embracing a report of the various matters we have already referred
to, and giving, in addition, some important information as to the class
of people arriving in the colony. Those who came as settlers, having a
certain amount of capital, were on the whole highly respectable and
independent persons, but the same could not be said of their workmen and
servants. In many cases these seemed to have been recruited from parish
outcasts, or engaged without any reference to character, and had
consequently caused great inconvenience by their drunken and disorderly
habits. So troublesome had these people become, the Governor reported,
that he had found it necessary to appoint a magistracy, whose chairman,
Mr. W.H. Mackie, was "a gentleman bred to the law," and to engage a
number of constables, for the purpose of preserving order in the
settlement. We also gather from the document that even at this early
stage depression had made itself felt in the affairs of the young colony.

"Among so many settlers there could not be a great number with minds and
bodies suited to encounter the struggles and distresses of a new
settlement. Many, if not all, have accordingly been more or less
disappointed on arrival either with the state of things here or their own
want of power to surmount the difficulties pressing around them...From
this depression, however, the active and stout-hearted have now
recovered, and ten or twelve of the leading men of the settlement having
occupied their grounds, and having declared themselves fully satisfied
with the quality of the soil and the condition of their cattle, I
consider the undertaking is now safe from the effects of a general
despondency, which at one time threatened to defeat the views of His
Majesty's Government in this quarter."

The dispatch then went on to discuss the climate and the general
prospects of the settlement. The climate, of which the
Lieutenant-Governor had had practically a year's experience, he found
"favourable to health in an uncommon degree," though owing to the heat of
December and January "the workmen have not been able to work in the sun
from 10 to 3 o'clock!" In regard to the general prospects, the opinion
was expressed that the land suitable for tillage was somewhat limited in
area, but that there ought to be a good future both for pastoral pursuits
and fruit culture, more particularly of temperate and sub-tropical
fruits. The position of the settlement, he considered, was an excellent
one for developing an eastern trade in British manufactures. But though
on the whole the prospect was a favourable one, Captain Stirling was
careful to point out that practically everything depended on the right
class of immigrant being secured. "The greater part," he said, "incapable
of succeeding in England, are not likely to prosper here to the extent of
their groundless and inconsiderate expectations. Many of the settlers who
have come should never have left a safe and tranquil state of life; and
if it be possible to discourage one set of people and to encourage
another, I would earnestly request that for a few years the helpless and
inefficient may be kept from the settlement, while to the active,
industrious, and intelligent there may be assured with confidence a fair
reward for their labours. This country may at no distant period absorb,
with advantage to Great Britain and herself, an immense migration of
persons, any great portions of which if sent forward too soon will ruin
her prospects and their own."

In a semi-private letter* which was forwarded by the same vessel as the
preceding dispatch, the Lieutenant-Governor ventured the opinion that the
rush of settlers had been due to the exceedingly liberal land laws, and
also to the fact that no convicts were to be sent to the colony. As to
the class of people arriving, he was still more emphatic than in his
official utterance upon the point that there are "many who will be ruined
by their own groundless expectations and helpless inefficiency."
Discussing in this letter the future prospects of the colony, Captain
Stirling urged that his experience during the first six months of his
administration had convinced him that the English Government must either
decide to give up the settlement altogether or else must establish it
definitely as a Crown Colony, with a regular commission to the Governor,
proper machinery for enacting ordinances, and a system of finances with
provision for raising revenue and expending money, subject, of course, to
revision by the Home authorities. The arguments used in this
communication appear to have had considerable weight, as in reply Captain
Stirling was informed that a commission was in course of preparation
which would contain the authority in matters of administration that had
been sought.** In this dispatch the Secretary of State agreed with
Stirling's view that the helpless and inefficient type of emigrant should
be discouraged, but every inducement held out to the industrious and
intelligent. He pointed out, however, that it would be difficult to make
this discrimination, as the tide of emigration seemed to set strongly
towards the settlement at Swan River notwithstanding some unfavourable
accounts which had reached England.

(Footnote. Stirling to Twiss 26 January 1830.)

(**Footnote. Sir George Murray to Stirling 20 July 1830.)

The history of the colony up to the end of 1830 is practically confined
to a record of the early struggles of the pioneers, of the alienation of
land under the system of grants, and of exploration of the country. Even
though, at the beginning of the year, the reports of the inefficient
section of the community were beginning to reach England, there was no
diminution in the stream of immigration. In fact, so great was the influx
that the local Government found it necessary to import provisions and
stock from the Cape, the East Indies, and the other Australian colonies
in order to prevent the possibility of famine occurring before the
colonial lands and stock commenced to make some return. The result of
this importation was not, however, satisfactory. In the absence of proper
storehouses, much of the grain was spoilt by exposure to the weather or
ruined by white ants and other vermin, while a number of the cattle
wandered away into the bush and either died or became wild.*

(*Footnote. Irwin, F.C. State and Position of Western Australia page 45.)

While those who arrived later missed many of the hardships which the
first arrivals had to undergo, they had the same strenuous battle to
fight when their grants were apportioned. Among them, however, were
practical farmers from the agricultural counties of England, all
possessed of at least moderate capital, and these soon began to show
actual results for their labour. In fact, a more hopeful air began to
pervade the whole community. Many were engaged in clearing their grants
and sowing crops, employing their spare time in attempts at brickmaking,
so as to improve their general condition by the erection of more
comfortable houses.* Their want of knowledge of the climate, however,
caused a good deal of suffering during the wet season. The winter rains
of 1830 were particularly heavy, so much so that the river overflowed its
banks and brought considerable loss and damage to those who were
temporarily residing on the flats waiting for their grants, or who had
elected to build permanent homes on the lower levels. The shipping at
Fremantle also suffered in no small degree. Four vessels broke loose from
their moorings and were driven ashore, one of them, the Rockingham,
becoming a total wreck on that part of the coast which has since borne
the name.**

(*Footnote. Ibid pages 52 to 60.)

(**Footnote. Stirling, E. Brief History of Western Australia volume 1
page 5.)

Much trouble was also experienced with the cattle and sheep during the
year. Many of the cattle got away into the bush, and the scab disease,
introduced by some flocks brought from Tasmania, greatly lessened the
small number of sheep in the colony.

Meanwhile the alienation of land was proceeding apace, and among those
recorded as having received grants during the year we find many--J. and
J.W. Hardey, J.S. Roe, Stephen and James Henty, W.L. Brockman, E. Barrett
Lennard, J.H. Monger, A.H. Stone, J.S. Clarkson, Robert Dale, W.K.
Shenton, and others*--whose names have been graven deep in the annals of
their adopted country. There being very little available land remaining
on the banks of the Swan or within reasonable reach of Perth or
Fremantle, it became necessary, in order to accommodate many of these
applicants, to extend the boundaries of the settlement. With that end in
view a further examination of the country southward along the coast was
made by the Lieutenant-Governor.** This resulted in the establishment of
a military station at Port Leschenault, where the present town of Bunbury
stands. A new county was thus added to the colony, and by Government
notice every endeavour was made to induce those applying for land to
select it in that district. Unfortunately for its progress, enormous
areas were taken up by Colonel Lautour, the Henty Brothers, and others,
but no immediate use made of the land, so that for many years the
district made no headway at all. The settlement became little more than a
name; even Captain Stirling seems to have been disheartened, as the
military detachment stationed there was withdrawn before the end of the
year.*** It is worthy of note that the grant, 103,000 acres, made to
Colonel Lautour formed the location upon which an attempt was made at a
later period to establish the town of Australind.

(*Footnote. See records of Lands Department and Colonial Secretary's
Office Perth.)

(**Footnote. General report on the progress of the colony up to March
1831 enclosed in Stirling's dispatch to Sir George Murray 13 March 1831.)

(***Footnote. Ibid.)

About the same time (April 1830) the country near King George's Sound was
thrown open* under the name of Plantagenet County. Here grants were made
to Dr. Collie, Captain Bannister, Lieutenant Preston, and J.L. Morley,
but, as in the case of Port Leschenault, no attempt at immediate
cultivation was made.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Year Book 1902 to 1904 page 32.)

Partly in order to do something in the way of assisting discharged
servants, who had completed their term of service, to become good
settlers, the town of Guildford was surveyed in the following month, and
blocks of four and five acres each were granted to these people, with the
intention that they should assist one another and eventually form a
cooperative settlement.*

(**Footnote. General report on the progress of the colony up to March
1831 enclosed in Stirling's dispatch to Sir George Murray 13 March 1831.)

From the fact that Captain Stirling desired 90,000 acres of his original
grant to be at Cape Naturaliste, it is more than probable he was
convinced that the neighbourhood offered great promise. The pressure of
his administrative duties had prevented him from paying any attention to
the matter up to that time, but in May 1830, accompanied by a band of
settlers, he set out to examine the locality with a view to establishing
a new township. The party landed at the mouth of the Blackwood in
Flinders Bay, and marked off the site for a township, to be named
Augusta.* The settlers, under the leadership of Captain Molloy and
Messrs. Bussell and Turner, selected grants and set about the cultivation
of them. Though the soil was good, the labour of clearing was very great,
and consequently but little progress was made. The heavy forest baffled
all their attempts to pasture stock, and to add to their difficulties
supplies ran short time after time owing to their isolated position. For
four years they struggled along with indifferent success, finally
removing in 1834 to the less heavily-timbered plains of the Vasse, which
seemed to offer greater opportunities.

(*Footnote. Ibid Document B.)

While these attempts, not on the whole successful, were being made to
establish communities along the south-west coast, attention was also
being paid to the portions of the interior eastward of Perth. Ensign
Dale, who had previously penetrated some distance in that direction,
pursued his investigations farther inland* and brought back such glowing
accounts of the new country that Lieutenant Erskine was dispatched to
obtain still more definite information.** So completely did his opinion
agree with that formed by Dale that the Lieutenant-Governor decided to
make a personal tour of inspection.*** Being satisfied with what he saw,
arrangements were at once made to throw the land open for selection, and
before the end of the year many large tracts were taken up. Sites for the
towns of York, Northam, and Beverley were also marked out at this time,
but no allotments were apportioned in any of them, the first town lots,
at York, being sold in 1835.****

(*Footnote. Cross. Journals of Several Expeditions etc. page 51.)

(**Footnote. Ibid page 92.)

(***Footnote. Private letter from Stirling to Mr. John Barrow in Journal
of the Royal Geographical Society volume 1 1831 pages 255 to 257 and
General report on the progress of the colony up to March 1831 Stirling to
Sir George Murray 13 March 1831.)

(****Footnote. Western Australian Year Book 1902 to 1904 page 34.)

Thus by the end of 1830 the colony had extended its boundaries to include
(apart from the military station at King George's Sound, which still
remained under the Government of New South Wales) settlements at Swan
River, Port Leschenault, Guildford, and Augusta, in addition to which
areas of land had been assigned in Plantagenet County and in the
York-Beverley district. In most of these places little work had been
done, but marked progress had been made in Perth and on the holdings
along the Swan, Helena, and Canning Rivers, though as yet the returns
were insufficient to provide for the sustenance of the community without
importing provisions. Fremantle had made but little advance. At the end
of the year it was still practically a camp, and though there were many
good citizens who were straining every nerve to develop their properties
and improve the condition of things generally, a great part of the
inhabitants were of the class that is always afraid of work and
particularly loud in expressing disappointment and dissatisfaction. A
number of these, most of whom were utterly incompetent as settlers, and
some of whom held grants of land, left the colony during the latter half
of the year,* either abandoning their holdings or arranging for incoming
settlers to take them up.

"Few who abandoned the settlement...were willing to admit their failure
was the result of their own want of exertion or their unfittedness for
the enterprise in which they had embarked; accordingly, wherever they
went, and in their letters home, the blame was laid on the country. Thus,
many of the evil reports respecting it which were current at home and in
the neighbouring colonies may be traced to those sources."**

(*Footnote. General report on the progress of the colony up to March 1831
enclosed in Stirling's dispatch to Sir George Murray 13 March 1831.)

(**Footnote. Irwin. State and Position of Western Australia page 43.)

Many of these derogatory reports seem to have come from Hobart and the
Cape,* and may be classed within the category mentioned by Irwin, and
might have been disregarded, but, unfortunately, others of a more
responsible type reached London. These said that the want of money had
already reduced many of the settlers to a state of pauperism, that
gentlemen who moved in the first circles of society at home were
destitute of the common necessaries of life, and that unless assistance
should come from some quarter the colony must remain for many years an
"aristocratical desert";** that the colony was in a state perilous in the
extreme;*** that livestock died within a few days from poisonous herbage,
that the roadstead was unsafe for shipping, and that the place must be
abandoned;**** that the soil was not nearly so fertile as had been
represented, but was of a light, sandy nature, in consequence of which
the heavy rains had washed away a great part of it, and the settlers were
almost in a state of starvation;***** and that settlers were most
distressed and were leaving the colony for Van Diemen's Land.****** There
is no doubt that for many years the colony suffered from the effect of
these reports.

(*Footnote. Goodman, B. to Sir George Murray from Hobart 1 December 1829
see note above; William Tanner to Stirling 11 July 1832 in Stirling to
Lord Goderich 23 July 1832; Irwin, State and Position of Western
Australia pages 43 to 44; Moore, G.F. Diary of Ten Years in Western
Australia pages 92 and 100; Western Australian Chronicle 5 March 1831.)

(**Footnote. R.M. Lyon to Secretary of State 11 February 1831.)

(***Footnote. John Morgan to R.W. Hay 8 March 1832.)

(****Footnote. Letter from a settler quoted in Morning Chronicle
reprinted in Hansard third series volume 1 page 1345.)

(*****Footnote. Solomon & Co St. Helena to Sir Francis Freeling 27
November 1829 forwarded by him to the Right Honourable H. Goulburn 25
January 1830 Swan River Papers volume 7.)

(******Footnote. Hansard third series volume 5 pages 301 to 304. See also
Thomas Henty to Secretary of State 7 September 1831 Swan River Papers
volume 9.)

The fact that some of the colonists were totally unsuited to the task
which they had undertaken considerably hindered the progress of the
community. The settlers depended for food and other necessaries upon two
sources of supply--upon cargoes brought by incoming ships, and upon what
they could grow. Drones in the hive could not be treated after the manner
of bees; they had at least to be kept from starving. Lengthy intervals
between the arrival of vessels and small production owing to ignorance of
climatic and agricultural conditions caused on more than one occasion
scarcity of food, and cast a feeling of depression over the settlement.

Another factor which retarded progress was the hostile attitude of the
natives. This has been said to have been the result of cruel treatment at
the hands of the white people, but the published letters of George
Fletcher Moore,* who filled the office of Advocate-General at Swan River
during the early years of the colony, scarcely seem to bear out that
statement. That there were isolated instances of cruelty towards the
natives is probably true, but there is also evidence that the Colonial
Government used every endeavour to protect them from injury and to
benefit them wherever possible. Official action indeed seems, at first,
to have erred on the side of leniency,** and severe measures were not
adopted until the attitude of the natives made it necessary to do so in
order to protect the lives and property of the colonists. At the
beginning the relations between the natives and the white settlers seem
to have been of a distinctly friendly nature, and every effort was made
to secure the goodwill of the aborigines by the distribution of food and
clothing. This, as usually happens, turned them into persistent beggars,
and, when it became impossible through shortness of supplies to continue
the gifts, into equally persistent thieves. Lonely settlers were
practically at their mercy. In his dispatch of 30 November 1831, the
Governor reported:

"that the only annoyance which has been experienced has arisen from the
hostile conduct of certain native tribes inhabiting the district around
Swan River. The pertinacious endeavours of these savages to commit
depredations of property having called forth the determined resistance of
the settlers (and in cases where they are repelled by force it being the
rule with them to resort to revenge) they have in three or four instances
succeeded in sacrificing the lives of white persons to their fury. In
such attempts they display great patience and determination, and it
requires the utmost diligence to guard against their attacks, while with
the small military force at present in the settlement, it has been found
impossible to afford protection to every point."

(*Footnote. Moore. Extracts from Letters and Journals London 1834 pages
31, 49 and 108 to 109.)

(**Footnote. Irwin. State and Position of Western Australia page 25.)

Stirling's statement was strengthened by the opinion expressed by Captain
Irwin,* the Commandant of the troops in the colony, which was the more
valuable as he recognised clearly the responsibility which rested upon
civilised nations to protect the native tribes whom they dispossessed.

(*Footnote. Irwin. State and Position of Western Australia pages 25 to

The Home Government* admitted the goodwill of the settlers, and, at the
same time, laid down the course of action to be followed. "It will
require," said the Secretary of State, "all the attention which your
active vigilance and humanity can bestow in order to restore confidence
between the settlers and the natives. The subject is so important in
itself and so essential to the prosperity of the settlement that I hope
you will be able to convince those under your Government that it will be
only by observing uniformly a great degree of forbearance that they can
expect to relieve themselves from further annoyance."

(*Footnote. Lord Goderich to Stirling 28 April 1831.)

There is every indication that the policy laid down was followed by
Captain Stirling, but it appears to have been taken by the natives as a
sign of weakness. So daring did they become that in 1830 an attack was
made in open daylight upon the house of a settler in Perth itself.* This
was quelled at the time by the soldiers, but it did not lead to a
cessation of the disturbances. Soon afterwards a settler on the Murray
River** was murdered, for what reason is unknown; and before the end of
the year a second was killed by way of retaliation for shooting a native
caught in the act of stealing. Most of these acts of violence were
committed under the leadership of two well-built natives named Yagan and
Midgegooroo, and it was not until the death of both of them in 1833 that
the colonists had any respite from native aggression.

(*Footnote. Irwin to Stirling 18 May 1830 in Stirling to Secretary of
State 18 October 1830.)

(*Footnote. Irwin to Lord Fitzroy Somerset 8 January 1831.)

CHAPTER 5. 1831 TO 1838.


Up to the close of 1830, and indeed for some little time after, the
government of the colony was vested solely in the hands of Captain
Stirling, who had nothing to guide him in his duty save the meagre letter
of instructions forwarded with his appointment and occasional dispatches
conveying further instructions from the Colonial Office. That he
succeeded so admirably is a tribute both to his enthusiasm for the task
and to his judgment in the execution of it. Certain alterations had been
determined upon by the Home authorities before the end of the year, but
notification of these did not reach Western Australia until late in 1831.

With this year the colony may be considered to have emerged from the
experimental stage and to have entered upon a permanent existence. For
many years afterwards its history was necessarily little more than a
record of constructive development such as is common to all new
communities, interspersed with periods of depression and frequent attacks
and depredations on the part of the natives, but all along the line there
was distinct growth, gradual indeed for some time, but in the main
healthy and progressive.

One of the chief events of importance was an alteration in the land
regulations. Early in 1830 it had become evident to the Home authorities
that in the interests of the colony generally, and in order to stem the
influx of settlers, many of whom were totally unsuitable, it was
necessary to make some restriction on the further alienation of land by
means of grants.* New regulations were therefore drawn up under which the
quantity of land obtainable was reduced by one-half--20 acres instead of
40 for every 3 pounds invested, and 100 acres instead of 200 as formerly
on the passage of every servant.** These came into operation at the
beginning of 1831 and continued in force throughout the year, during
which the English Government further considered the whole question of
land grants in the Australian colonies and ultimately decided to adopt
the American principle of sale. The chief reason for adopting this course
was that it had been found that the system of granting land had had the
effect, in New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, of encouraging the
dispersion of settlers over too wide an extent of country, which, apart
from other inconveniences, greatly increased the expenses of
administration in every branch of the Public Service.*** This decision
was arrived at and published in England in March 1831,**** but owing to
the length of time then occupied in conveying the information to the
colonies, it did not come into operation until 1 January 1832.***** By it
the principle of granting land according to the property brought by the
settler was entirely discontinued, and in its place it was provided that
"all the lands in the colony not hitherto granted and not appropriated
for public purposes will be put up for sale. The price will, of course,
depend upon the quality of the land and its local situation, but no land
will be sold below the value of 5 shillings per acre." The method adopted
in carrying this system into effect was that an intending purchaser was
allowed to select, within defined limits, the land he desired to acquire.
The area was then advertised for three months, at the end of which it was
sold to the highest bidder above the minimum of 5 shillings. The
transaction had to be completed within one month thereafter. The minimum
area was 640 acres, but the Governor could, if he deemed it advisable,
allow a smaller quantity. The maximum, however, which was 2560 acres,
must not be exceeded. Land which could not be sold might be let on
grazing lease from year to year, it being understood that if at any time
its purchase was applied for, it must be put up for sale in the ordinary
way. It will be remembered that under the regulations previously in force
persons sending out labourers were allowed to reckon the passage money of
such labourers as part of the capital on which they could secure grants.
As the colony had not the advantage of convict labour, it was felt that
nothing should be done that might affect the supply of free labourers,
and therefore 20 pounds was allowed in the purchase of land for every
MARRIED labourer and his family landed in the colony. The bounty was
restricted to married labourers to prevent, as far as possible, that
excess of males over females which had been so injurious in the two penal

(*Footnote. Stirling to Sir George Murray 28 July 1830 enclosure.)

(**Footnote. Ibid.)

(***Footnote. Lord Goderich to Stirling 28 April 1831 enclosing
regulations of the Colonial Office regarding alienation of land dated 1
March 1831.)

(****Footnote. Stirling to Lord Goderich 17 January 1832.)

In the same year (1831) the change in the method of administration,
forecast in the Secretary of State's dispatch of 20 July 1830, bringing
the settlement definitely into line as a Crown Colony, was effected. The
Act (10 George IV c.22) enabled the King, with the advice of the Privy
Council, to make, and to authorise any three or more persons to make, all
necessary laws and to constitute all necessary courts for the peace,
order, and good government of the settlement. No steps were taken under
this Act until 1 November 1830, when an Order in Council was issued
constituting the Governor, the Senior Military Officer next in command,
the Colonial Secretary, the Surveyor-General, and the Advocate-General to
be a Legislative Council to discharge the functions entrusted to them by
the Act, subject to a provision for disallowance by the Secretary of
State, and further that any law or ordinance made by the Council must
have been first proposed by the Governor or officer administering the
Government. This Order-in-Council was forwarded to Western Australia by
dispatch dated 28 April 1831, with which were enclosed the formal
commission to Captain Stirling as Governor and Commander-in-Chief, and
also a lengthy document under the King's Sign Manual containing
instructions as to procedure. In the second clause of these instructions
the same officers who had been appointed a Legislative Council were also
appointed as an Executive Council for the assistance and advice of the
Governor. The reason that the two Councils were appointed by different
methods lay in the fact that while the King could by virtue of the
prerogative establish an Executive Council, the Royal authority was not
competent, without the aid of Parliament, to create a Legislature except
by popular representation, or to establish Courts on lines that differed
from those of Westminster. In the dispatch of 28 April the diverse
methods of appointment were pointed out and the Governor's attention
drawn to the fact that, although composed of the same individuals, the
two bodies were separate and distinct, and separate accounts must be kept
of their proceedings. It may be noted that there were three subjects upon
which power to legislate was specifically withheld--the naturalisation of
aliens, the granting of land-titles to unnaturalised aliens, and all
questions of divorce. It was late in 1831 when the information concerning
these alterations in the administration reached the colony, and
consequently the Councils were not appointed until February 1832.*

(*Footnote. Stirling to Lord Goderich 14 February 1832.)

The year 1831 cannot be considered to have been one of any great
progress, nor did it afford much in the way of incident. Owing to the
adverse reports concerning the condition of things in the settlement,
assiduously spread abroad by those who had been unable to grapple with
the difficulties, the influx of people showed a distinct tendency to
abate, and many of those who did come were of little value as colonists,
serving only to augment the already considerable number of the
dissatisfied and disappointed. Those, however, who recognised the wisdom
of doing their best in the new surroundings were beginning to see signs
of reward. Though fearful of a recurrence of the disheartening conditions
of the previous winter, they persevered in their endeavours to clear and
cultivate their land, and by the end of the year had 200 acres under
cultivation,* of which 160 were producing wheat.** Considering that over
a million acres had been alienated, this amount seems pitifully small,
and certainly adds to the overwhelming evidence that exists as to the
incapacity of many of those to whom land had been granted. So anxious
does the English Government seem to have been to avoid expense and even
responsibility in establishing the colony, that land was granted to all
and sundry without any guarantee that they either could or would do
anything in the way of improvement. No attempt was made to preserve
anything like a just proportion between the land alienated, the capital
invested, and the labour available. In fact, the Literary Gazette, the
organ of the Literary Society formed by the officials and better-class
settlers, asserted that "to the want of labour, and to that alone, may be
traced all the evils that have afflicted this infant settlement."***
Taking into consideration the numerous servants who had been introduced,
this scarcely seems feasible at first sight; but if we combine the
ineptitude of the major portion of those servants with the lack of ready
money and the absence of the true colonising spirit on the part of the
settlers, who were, most of them, completely at a loss where to begin, we
reach in all probability something like the true reasons for the
approximation to failure that occurred in those early years.

(*Footnote. Report of the Western Australian Agricultural Society 9
February 1832.)

(**Footnote. Stirling, E. Brief History of Western Australia page 5.)

(***Footnote. Literary Gazette November 1831 Perth.)

The amount of wheat produced was, of course, far from being sufficient to
supply the demands of a population which then numbered about 1500*, hence
the colonists had still to depend on the ships arriving from time to time
for provisions. Any delay in the appearance of these vessels was a matter
of no small moment, causing as it did a very appreciable increase in the
cost of living. During the latter part of 1831 very few ships arrived,
and as a result something akin to famine drew ominously close.** That in
face of troubles such as these the colonists refused to acknowledge
defeat is a tribute to their indomitable perseverance. One method adopted
for overcoming their initial difficulties was the establishment during
the year of an Agricultural Society,*** which was the parent of the
present Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia. By means of this
institution they were enabled to meet regularly for discussion and
encouragement, and there is no doubt that it was of inestimable value in
stimulating and developing the agricultural and pastoral industries. That
in the latter of these industries there were great possibilities was
recognised by all, but unfortunately there were but few head of stock in
the colony and not a large number of sheep. So serious did these various
questions--want of capital, of labour, and of stock--become, that during
the year it was decided to petition the English Government,**** asking
that the Colonial Treasury be authorised to make advances for the
purchase of stock, and asserting that with some little assistance in that
way the settlement would quickly become a prosperous community. The
Governor was in sympathy with the request, and forwarded it to the
Secretary of State with a strong recommendation.***** Unfortunately, the
position became more acute before a reply could be received.

(*Footnote. Stirling to Lord Goderich 2 April 1832.)

(**Footnote. Moore, G.F. Ten Years in Western Australia page 98.)

(***Footnote. Established May 1831. See Western Australian Year Book 1902
to 1904 page 33 and First report of the Society to Governor Stirling 9
February 1832 in Swan River Papers volume 9.)

(****Footnote. Memorial to Secretary of State enclosed in Stirling to
Lord Goderich 14 February 1832.)

(*****Footnote. Stirling to Lord Goderich 14 February 1832 and 2 April

In the way of exploratory work the year was not productive of great
results. The principal expedition was that of Captain Bannister and
party.* Confronted by great difficulties and a certain degree of danger,
they made their way overland from Perth to King George's Sound, which was
reached on 4 February 1831. This was the longest overland journey that
had so far been undertaken. Captain Bannister brought back much
information of value concerning the country traversed, and the track
which he made between the two settlements proved very useful after the
transfer of King George's Sound to the Government of Western Australia in
the following March. About the same time a party under Mr. W.K. Shenton
proceeded by sea to Port Leschenault and thence up the Collie River,
looking for satisfactory places for settlement.** The report brought back
was not, however, sufficiently favourable to encourage any attempt at
cultivation. Various other trips were made during 1831, chiefly in the
south-western portion of the colony and round about King George's Sound.
Though none of these were productive of further expansion at the time,
they were of distinct value in that they increased the existing knowledge
of the country generally and enabled the authorities to form a better
estimate of its capabilities. In the spring of the year the settlement of
York district, postponed from 1830, was undertaken, and a party, among
whom were Messrs. Hardey, Clarkson, Bland, and Moore, was led over the
ranges by Lieutenant Dale.*** This expedition formed the beginning of
what has since become one of the finest agricultural centres in the

(*Footnote. Cross, J. Journals of Several Expeditions in Western
Australia pages 98 et seq.)

(**Footnote. Lands Department Western Australia Journals of Explorers
volume 1 manuscript.)

(***Footnote. Moore, G.F. Diary of Ten Years in Western Australia pages
65 et seq; also Cross, J. Journals of Several Expeditions in Western
Australia pages 155 et seq.)

Only three additional towns were proclaimed during the year--those of
Kelmscott, Kingston, and Albany. Kingston, which was on Rottnest Island,
never got beyond that stage. Several allotments were taken up, but no
attempt at building a township was ever made. With the single exception
of Perth, very little progress was made in any of the townships.
Fremantle as the port displayed a certain amount of activity, but not in
the direction of erecting permanent buildings. Being the distributing
centre for supplies, it boasted some fairly large stores, the principal
of which were those of Messrs. Leake, Shenton, and Samson, through whose
energies a monthly service of boats was inaugurated between the port and
Guildford. This was for many years the cheapest and safest mode of
transport for goods, though there existed from early in 1831 a fairly
good road between Perth and Fremantle. Other evidences of civilisation
also began to make their appearance. That great want of British
communities--a newspaper--was met by the issue, in manuscript, of the
Western Australian Chronicle and Perth Gazette.* This was published by
Mr. W.K. Shenton, and the price was 3 shillings and 6 pence per copy.
Needless to say, it did not survive many issues. Later in the year a
hand-printing press arrived from Tasmania, and a newspaper** printed on
letter paper was issued in Fremantle by Messrs. Macfaull and Shenton. The
press was erected in the shed in which the first bushel of wheat grown in
the colony was ground. Thus from the one building there issued food both
for mind and body. Want of news caused the publishers to fall back on
contributions, some of which may be described as early nineteenth-century
yellow-press efforts, and which resulted in a dissolution of partnership.
The paper was carried on by Mr. Macfaull, who was compelled, in order to
secure freedom from molestation, to remove the press to Hamilton Hill,
some three miles out in the bush.*** The newspaper lasted only about
twelve months, the returns not being sufficient to pay the rent of the
press. The owner of the machine then started another paper called the
Inquisitor,**** and secured as contributors Captain Graham (formerly
Governor of Sierra Leone) Mr. Yule, a Scotch lawyer named Clark, and a
merchant named Johnstone. So much talent proved too heavy for the
journal; serious disagreements arose between members of the staff, ending
in a duel between Clark and Johnstone, which was fought with pistols at
North Fremantle on 17 August 1832*****--the only duel fought in Western
Australia. Johnstone was fatally wounded, dying within twelve hours. The
result was equally fatal to the newspaper, and ended the first chapter of
the history of journalism in the colony.

(*Footnote. The first issue was dated 19 February 1831 and the last
Number 4 12 March 1831.)

(**Footnote. The Fremantle Observer, Perth Gazette, and Western
Australian Chronicle. First issue 25 April 1831. Stirling E. Brief
History of Western Australia page 6 gives 1832 as the date of issue. The
actual dates are taken from the copies in the Colonial Office.)

(***Footnote. Stirling, E. Brief History of Western Australia pages 6 and

(****Footnote. Ibid page 7.)

(*****Footnote. Ibid page 7. See also letter from Harbourmaster,
Fremantle, to Colonial Secretary 20 August 1832 Colonial Secretary's
Office Records 1832.)

As evidence of the fact that the difficulties of their position were not
weighing too heavily upon the settlers, it may be mentioned that in
September the first Governor's ball was held. From the accounts preserved
this seems to have been quite a brilliant affair, and the supper, which
one record describes as "an elegant and abundant one,"* rather appeared
to discountenance the statement that the colonists were approaching the
verge of starvation.

(*Footnote. Moore, G.F. Diary of Ten Years in Western Australia page 63.)

In December Captain James Stirling's commission as Governor and
Commander-in-Chief, as well as one appointing him Vice-Admiral of the
colony, arrived from England.* As soon as possible after the arrival of
his commission and instructions, the Governor called his advisers
together, and the first sitting of the Legislative Council, constituted
under the Order in Council of 1 November 1830, was held in February
1832.** The principal business was the establishment of a Civil Court
having the powers of the Courts of King's Bench, Common Pleas, and
Exchequer. Mr. George Fletcher Moore was appointed Civil Commissioner,
and the Court was opened in March 1832, the first jury case being tried
in the following June.

(*Footnote. Stirling to Lord Goderich 14 March 1832. The Western
Australian Year Book 1902 to 1904 page 33 states that the first meeting
of the Council was held in January 1832. From the dispatch it is evident
that Stirling did not return to Perth from King George's Sound until the
beginning of February, and the Councils were constituted after that date.
See also Morgan to Hay 8 March 1832.)

The other matters which mainly occupied the attention of the Legislative
Council during the year were the shortness of provisions, the need of
more livestock, and the menacing attitude of the natives. The possibility
of famine, which had begun to cause uneasiness in 1831, became more
accentuated, and the want of food supplies culminated in a serious if not
dangerous situation early in the following year.* Vessels which had for
months been expected to arrive with provisions failed to put in an
appearance, the small stock of wheat that had been raised locally was
almost exhausted, and many of the settlers were faced with starvation.
Some idea of the scarcity that existed may be gleaned from the following
list of prices: salt pork, from 10 to 14 pounds a cask; wheat, 35 to 40
shillings per bushel; fresh meat, 1 shilling 10 pence per pound; and
butter (when procurable at all) 7 shillings per pound.** The Colonial
Government, realising the seriousness of the position, made arrangements
to assist those possessing little ready money by supplying provisions on
credit out of the Government stores. To encourage cultivation it was
notified that payment for these stores could be made by locally-grown
wheat on a basis of 15 shillings per bushel. All classes of the community
were compelled to avail themselves of the offer, as practically the whole
of the food supply remaining was in the Government stores. The arrival of
two small schooners*** in March and April relieved the position slightly,
and from the middle of the year a succession of provision-laden ships
altogether averted the danger of famine.

(*Footnote. Moore, G.F. Diary pages 98 and 104.)

(**Footnote. Stirling, E. Brief History of Western Australia page 6.)

(***Footnote. Moore, G.F. Diary of Ten Years in Western Australia pages
104 and 108.)

Hand in hand with the want of provisions went the absence of money and
the lack of sufficient livestock. Most of the money brought by the
settlers had been spent in making useless experiments or in paying for
the necessaries of life at famine prices, so that nothing was left to
secure necessary farming implements or to purchase stock. One method
suggested as a way of coping with the financial difficulty was the
establishment of a bank. In May a prospectus was submitted to the
Governor asking for an advance of 5000 pounds from the Treasury on the
security of twenty-five responsible persons. It was pointed out that if
money could be advanced by the Government on the discount of Bills at 5
per cent, the colony would benefit very considerably, as settlers were
then borrowing at so much as 25 per cent.* The Governor was unable, in
face of his instructions, to meet the request, and suggested that the
colonists should raise the money by subscription. An attempt to do this
was unsuccessful; the members of the community at that time were all
borrowers. Very little actual cash was available; all transactions were
by means of promissory notes of from 2 shillings and 6 pence upwards in
value. Some temporary relief was afforded by an inventive genius named
Woods. There was at the time a coin current in India called an Indian
dump, roughly pentagonal in shape, made presumably of silver, and in
common use prior to the introduction of the rupee. Woods bought up all
the white metal teapots, spoons, etc., that were available, and minted
them into dumps, at the face value of the Indian coin. For some six
months they were found to be very useful, and in part displaced the
promissory notes. At the end of that period, however, the attention of
the authorities was drawn to the number of these coins, and the scheme
was exposed with the result that for affording undoubted financial
assistance Woods received a sentence of seven years' transportation to
Van Diemen's Land.**

(*Footnote. Moore, G.F. Diary of Ten Years in Western Australia page

(**Footnote. Stirling, E. Brief History of Western Australia page 6.)

Apart from the ordinary necessaries of life, money was badly needed for
the purchase of stock, both cattle and sheep, for the pastures. The
settlers themselves had not the capital to lay out in chartering a vessel
and importing animals, but they were convinced that if the English
Government would only come to their assistance in that direction the cost
might be met out of succeeding harvests.* They pointed out that the
acreage under grain had increased to 435, from which a yield of fifteen
bushels per acre was expected,** and that the suitability of the soil for
agricultural purposes was assured, so that there was not likely to be any
great difficulty in meeting the advances asked for. To this request, as
to the former one, the Governor was compelled to give a negative reply.

(*Footnote. Moore, G.F. Diary of Ten Years in Western Australia page

(**Footnote. Ibid page 117.)

A further question that became acute during the year 1832 was that of
protection from the natives. The aggressive attitude adopted by the
aborigines in 1830 became more pronounced in 1831, when two servants were
murdered and a considerable number of the stock stolen. During the early
part of 1832 there were no open attempts at violence, but in May a party
headed by the stalwart Yagan, who seems to have been the leader in all
the troubles, attacked two settlers on the Canning River and killed one
of them. From that time the depredations became more frequent and more
daring, and so serious was the state of affairs that in June a meeting of
settlers at Guildford decided that the colony must be abandoned unless
ample steps were taken by the Government to protect life and property.*
In order to afford all possible assistance and so meet the wishes of the
community, the Governor immediately established a police force, and in
retaliation the natives speared his pigs.

(*Footnote. Ibid page 119.)

When these various questions--the scarcity of provisions, the want of
money, the need of more livestock, and the fear of native aggression--are
taken into consideration, it becomes evident that the settlement in 1832
was in rather a parlous state. So convinced were the settlers that the
only hope of improvement and assistance lay in a personal appeal at
headquarters, that they presented a memorial to the Governor asking him
proceed to England and present their case as strongly as possible to the
Secretary of State for the Colonies. It will be remembered that in 1831,
when these matters first called for consideration, the Governor had been
requested to draw attention to them in his dispatches. The fact that no
reply had been received from home to those requests, added to the growing
insistence of their needs, caused the colonists to take the extreme step
of requesting the Governor to present their requirements in person to the
English authorities.* On the advice of the Executive Council the Governor
agreed to do as requested, and on August 12 left Fremantle for London in
H.M.S. Sulphur.** From a dispatch to the Colonial Office, which he found
opportunity of forwarding during the course of the voyage, we are able to
get a very clear view of the condition of affairs and the reasons which
actuated him in acceding to the memorial of the settlers. After referring
to a previous dispatch in which he had drawn attention to the matters
under review, he goes on to say:***

"In the course of a few weeks subsequent to the date of that
communication referred to, the evils which had been anticipated began to
be felt. The scarcity of money in private hands and the reduction in the
Government expenditure which took place in the early part of the year had
the material effect of discouraging importation from the neighbouring
colonies, and the consequent high price of all the necessaries of life
hastened that exhaustion which had been apprehended. In addition to these
annoyances it was found that the unfavourable accounts which had been
spread regarding the settlement had deterred persons from coming to it;
the natives also began to be troublesome; and the imposition of a duty on
spirits which I deemed it advisable in May last to pass into a law
aggravated the depression of spirits which had so far affected the
community as to prevent exertion and useful speculation.

"Persuaded that many of the evils complained of were attributable to the
circumstances that attend every new settlement, I felt disposed to trust
to the operation of time and that improvement which might be expected
from continuous efforts. But in a small community there is usually some
one prevailing sentiment, and as in this instance it happened to be of a
desponding character, there was reason to apprehend that it would lead to
a total remission of labour, in which case the support of the colonists
would fall upon the public stores, or to the abandonment of the
enterprise by those persons whose means and abilities were requisite for
its success.

"Explanatory of the feelings above mentioned, I beg leave to call Your
Lordship's attention to the accompanying documents (the memorials
previously referred to). In these and in the Minutes of my Executive will be perceived that some decisive measures had become
necessary to the successful continuation of the enterprise.

"In a conversation which I had with some of the leading settlers in the
latter part of June, I was respectfully solicited to adopt certain
changes in the conduct of government regarding the increase of public
expenditure, the granting of loans, and the repeal of the duty on
spirits; but as in taking such steps I should have departed from the
substance of Your Lordship's instructions without the justification of
circumstances, I was under the necessity of declining any serious
departure from the line of policy which had been adopted, but I stated my
readiness to convey to Your Lordship such representations regarding the
real state of the settlement as would enable Your Lordship to judge of
the course to be pursued. The length of time before an answer could be
expected and the difficulty in making arrangements of this kind by
correspondence being suggested, I was asked whether I would undertake to
represent in person to His Majesty's Government the state of the colony
and advocate its cause. I replied that it would not be proper for me to
quit the colony unless it were recommended by the concurrent wishes of
the settlers at large, and that it would be useless on my part to go to
England unless I had some trustworthy assurance from the leading persons
in the colony that they would not remit any exertion in the meantime for
the advancement of the undertaking and the maintenance of a proper
feeling. If, however, I should be satisfied on these points, I should not
decline the mission proposed to me. The gentlemen present stated it to be
the general opinion that some such measure was requisite for the public
welfare, and that they believed it would tend very much to restore
confidence, but that they would consult, with my permission, public
opinion upon the subject.

"Having brought the question referred to before my Executive Council on
the 29th was the unanimous opinion of the members that the
measure proposed would afford satisfaction to the community, tend to the
good of His Majesty's Service, and go far to restore and maintain those
exertions on the behalf of individuals which were necessary to the
success of the colony. In consequence of this recommendation...I
determined upon its adoption and issued a public declaration to that

(*Footnote. Moore, G.F. Diary of Ten Years in Western Australia page 121;
also Stirling to Lord Goderich 20 September 1832.)

(**Footnote. Stirling to Lord Goderich 20 September 1832.)

(***Footnote. Ibid.)

The above extract from the dispatch has been quoted at length in order to
prove the falsity of the contention put forward that the object of the
Governor's mission to England was to endeavour to secure the
transportation of convicts* to the colony in order to expedite the
construction of roads, bridges, and other public works. Captain Irwin
(who commanded the troops in the colony from 1829 till 1833, and who
acted as Lieutenant-Governor after Captain Stirling's departure) points
out that no such wish was expressed in the memorial of the colonists.
"The colonists," he says,** "having had before their eyes in the
neighbouring penal settlements the serious evils inflicted on society by
the employment of convicts...have firmly resisted the temptation to seek
such a remedy for their wants." Considering that one of the principles
laid down on the establishment of the colony was that no convicts should
be sent there, a principle which no doubt influenced many in deciding to
emigrate, it is not likely that, even if such a request had been put
forward, the English Government would have given it any consideration at
that early stage in the colony's history.

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 14 September 1833 under heading English News.)

(**Footnote. Irwin. State and Position of Western Australia page 37; see
also Memorial of Settlers 2 September 1831.)

(***Footnote. Moore. Diary of Ten Years in Western Australia page 144.)

One of the first difficulties that Captain Irwin had to contend with
after the departure of the Governor was renewed activity on the part of
the natives. He had, however, the temporary satisfaction of securing the
notorious Yagan,* who was imprisoned on Carnac Island in charge of Mr.
R.M. Lyon, a gentleman with pronounced philanthropic views.** Every
attempt was made to civilize the native, but just as Mr. Lyon was
beginning to feel that his methods were successful, Yagan escaped and
regained his tribe.*** The spearing of a soldier's wife shortly
afterwards went a long way toward alienating the little remaining
sympathy of the whites for the aborigines.**** Even the advocates of
kindly treatment felt that drastic steps ought to be taken. As a result
the history of 1833 and part of 1834 is practically the tale of native
aggression and repulsion. Thefts were incessant, murders increasingly
frequent, and the settlers lived in continual fear of an outbreak, a fear
that was enhanced by their knowledge of the treacherous and cunning
nature of the aborigines. The colonists were also at a disadvantage in
that the natives made no open attack, but confined themselves to covert
acts of theft and to acts of violence and even murder upon individual
settlers or their servants. The Government forbade anything in the nature
of an organised expedition against the blacks; any action taken must be
against individuals by way of punishment for specific crimes. This
appearance of weakness on the part of the settlers, combined with the
fact that the initial fear of the white man's weapons had worn off,
caused the natives to become more daring, and by the middle of 1833 the
situation was one of no little danger to the colony. Toward the end of
April 1833, there occurred the wanton murder of an unoffending native by
one of Major Nairn's servants, who had formerly been in Tasmania, simply
to show how the aborigines were dealt with there.***** Immediately
afterwards another native was killed during an attempt to rob a store at
Fremantle. These two deaths seem to have had a disastrous effect and to
have raised a spirit of revenge among the surrounding tribes. Under the
leadership of Yagan, Midgegooroo, and Munday--three redoubtable chiefs--a
party of natives set out from Preston Point early on 30 April with the
deliberate intention of committing murder as an act of retaliation.******
Strange to say, they fell in with the same cart from which the Tasmanian
had shot the innocent black at almost precisely the same spot on the
Canning Road. In it were two brothers named Yelvick, servants of Mr.
Phillips. These were speared, and the bodies mutilated beyond
recognition, the murderers afterwards escaping into the bush.******* Such
an act could not be allowed to pass without the utmost endeavours being
made to punish the offenders. Accordingly the Lieutenant-Governor issued
a proclamation******** outlawing the three leaders and offering rewards
for their apprehension, dead or alive. From that time it is evident that
the desire for revenge, irrespective of any question of justice, actuated
the settlers as well as the natives.

(*Footnote. Moore. Diary of Ten Years in Western Australia page 144.)

(**Footnote. Lyon to Secretary of State 31 January 1833.)

(***Footnote. Ibid. See also Moore. Diary of Ten Years in Western
Australia page 146.)

(****Footnote. Moore. Diary of Ten Years in Western Australia page 148.)

(*****Footnote. Perth Gazette 4 May 1833.)

(******Footnote. Ibid.)

(*******Footnote. Ibid. See also Moore. Diary of Ten Years in Western
Australia page 183.)

(********Footnote. Perth Gazette 4 May 1833.)

Parties were formed and the surrounding country scoured in every
direction for Yagan and his companions. Eventually, on 16 May Captain
Ellis managed to secure Midgegooroo,* who, after a patient investigation,
was condemned to death and publicly shot in front of the Perth Gaol
within a week of his capture, in the presence of the Lieutenant-Governor
and Council,** the event being almost one of general rejoicing. The
search for the other ringleaders was then continued with vigour, and it
is to be feared that the feeling of hatred and distrust which then
existed was the cause of more than one innocent native being shot down.
To place the matter on a saner footing it became necessary for the
Government to issue a proclamation*** pointing out that offences against
the aborigines would be visited with the same punishment as if committed
against any other of His Majesty's subjects. This and the fact that
advocates were not wanting who pointed out that the natives were merely
obeying a natural or tribal law stopped the continuance of outrages, but
did not cause the settlers to relax their efforts to capture Yagan and
Munday. The death of the formidable leader was finally encompassed by
what was an undoubted act of treachery. Two lads named Keats observed
Yagan and some companions making their way to the house of Lieutenant
Bull for flour; they fraternised with them, and then as soon as a
favourable opportunity occurred the elder shot Yagan in cold blood. In
retaliation the natives attacked the lads and succeeded in killing the
murderer, though not until a second black had been dispatched.**** The
two aborigines chiefly responsible for the conflicts that had occurred
being thus accounted for, the Government, as a token of reconciliation,
removed the ban of outlawry from the remaining leader Munday.***** Other
steps were also taken to bring about a friendlier state of affairs; these
met with some degree of success, and for a few months the settlers had
freedom from molestation.

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 4 May 1833.)

(**Footnote. Ibid 25 May 1833.)

(***Footnote. Ibid 1 June 1833.)

(****Footnote. Ibid 13 July. See also Moore. Diary of Ten Years in
Western Australia page 205.)

(*****Footnote. By proclamation. See Perth Gazette 27 July 1833 and Irwin
to Lord Goderich 10 August 1833.)

Notwithstanding the unrest created by these troubles, the area of land
under crop was increased during 1833 to something like 600 acres,* and it
was felt that there was every prospect of reaping sufficient grain to
meet the wants of the community. In fact, a ship from Tasmania with a
cargo of 2000 bushels of wheat,** sent by Governor Arthur during June,
returned to Hobart with the information that the grain was not required.
Material progress was evidenced by the improvements in methods of
communication. Roads were being made between the settlements, channels
through the flats at the present Causeway were begun, and improvements to
the jetty at Fremantle were under consideration. A weekly newspaper, the
Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal--which still lives as the
West Australian--was established at the beginning of the year, and
exerted considerable influence in the progress of the settlement.** One
of its first actions was to revive the agitation for the establishment of
a bank. The question was also taken up by the Agricultural Society, but
the same obstacles which had previously stood in the way of its solution
still prevailed. The Society, therefore, sought to form an institution
which might be able to supply some of the benefits of a bank, though not
in the way of monetary loans.*** The result was the establishment of the
Swan River Barter Society,**** each member of which agreed to accept the
notes of any other member in lieu of cash, provided they were presented
according to a stipulated form. Two forms were provided, one for the use
of agriculturists and the other for merchants. The person who tendered
the note for payment to any agriculturist had the right to choose the
kind of produce he would take for it, and the agriculturist was not
compelled to take from the merchant any article not in general
consumption. The institution was to be under the wing of the Agricultural
Society, which was to settle any disputes about prices or values. Each
member was allowed fifty notes, each note having a face value of 1 pound.
Any defaulter was to be immediately excluded from the privileges of the
Society. Although never fully carried out, the project met with a certain
amount of success, and to it is due that system of exchange and barter
which in the absence of sufficient ready money became so general in
succeeding years throughout Western Australia.

(*Footnote. Stirling, E. Brief History of Western Australia page 8.)

(**Footnote. Perth Gazette 14 September 1833.)

(***Footnote. Moore. Diary of Ten Years in Western Australia page 202.)

(****Footnote. Perth Gazette 12 October 1833.)

Another system initiated during 1833 was that of parcelling out
allotments of from twenty acres upwards to servants and labourers.* Two
objects were sought to be achieved by this departure--to keep a
sufficient amount of labour round the settlement and to give the working
class an opportunity of building up a competence. Unfortunately the
scheme met with very little success, probably due to want of good feeling
between servants and masters. Many of the settlers were unsuitable for
their positions as masters, and a great number of the servants were
utterly incompetent as agriculturists. Its failure is a matter for
regret, as efficient labour was urgently needed, and the stream of
immigration had been very adversely affected by the misrepresentations
spread abroad, and by the superior inducements which the other colonies
were believed to afford.

(*Footnote. Moore, G.F. Diary of Ten Years in Western Australia page

An attempt was made during the year to open up relations with India, and
a company was formed at Calcutta with that object in view. It was
proposed to establish an Anglo-Indian settlement near King George's
Sound, and the barque Mercury left Calcutta in October with the first
load of passengers and stock. Unfortunately she was lost with all hands.
Such a sad event naturally put an end to the operations of the company,
and Western Australia lost what would have almost certainly proved to be
a very valuable acquisition to her resources.*

(**Footnote. Irwin. State and Position of Western Australia page 97.)

Exploratory work during 1832 and 1833 was practically confined to
elaborating the information concerning districts already recognised as
being within the settlement. The area of country of which the
administration possessed, at any rate, some general knowledge was large
enough to meet any demands for land that were likely to made. It was felt
that greater benefit would result to the colony if more were known of
that area than if time were spent in securing a vague idea of portions
lying beyond it. In addition, the roving spirit and the desire to seek
for some new place were wearing off. The settlers whose opinions would
have been of any value were actively employed in clearing and planting
their own grants. The officials were busily engaged in their official
duties and had little spare time for outside work. Nevertheless, from
time to time trips were undertaken and results of value achieved. Ensign
Dale and Dr. Collie greatly enriched the store of information concerning
the district around King George's Sound, and J.G. Bussell made a careful
examination of the Vasse district, which resulted in the profitable
settlement of that portion of the country.*

(*Footnote. Cross, J. Journals of Expeditions made in Western Australia
pages 132, 161, 168 et seq.)

Captain Irwin, who had occupied the position of Lieutenant-Governor from
the date of Captain Stirling's departure, left for England in September
1833, and Captain Richard A. Daniell became Lieutenant-Governor for the
remaining period of Stirling's absence.*

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 21 September 1833.)

The year 1834 witnessed the revival of the original hopeful spirit on the
part of the settlers. This seems to have been due in part to information
which reached the colony toward the end of 1833, to the effect that the
Governor had met with a large measure of success in his representations
to the Home authorities.* The principal reason, however, was that the
colonists had learnt the lesson of colonisation--that satisfactory
results could not be looked for all at once, but could be achieved only
by years of toil. Their experience of the previous years had given them a
knowledge of the soil and its possibilities; they knew what to do, and
were no longer experimenting in the dark. They recognised that the
country possessed all the potentialities necessary for the realisation of
their original expectations, but that its rewards were only for those who
were prepared to labour and wait. The factors that had operated in
retarding the expansion of the colony may be summed up as: (1) the
misrepresentations of those who had left the settlement, (2) the strict
adherence on the part of the British Government to the conditions under
which the colony was founded, (3) the ignorance on the part of the
colonists of the difficulties that faced them, and (4) the want of
sufficient labour.

(*Footnote. Ibid 31 August and 14 September 1833.)

Perhaps the most important of all these factors was the want of
sufficient labour. There is ample evidence that the indenture system was
a failure, and the majority of the free labourers in the colony were of
an idle, dissolute character.* Free labour could only have been
introduced by a vigorous emigration scheme on the part of the Colonial
Office, and this, in the interests of economy, the British Government was
not prepared to undertake. The only other means of securing labour would
have been the introduction of the convict system, and this was especially
prohibited under the regulations upon which the colony was founded. There
is no doubt that convict labour would have been helpful in many ways,
more particularly in a largely increased flow of money into the colony,**
in the erection of public buildings, in the rapid establishment of means
of communication between the various parts of the settlement, and in
providing additional labour for the settlers in the cultivation of the

(*Footnote. Narrative of a Voyage to Swan River compiled by the Reverend
J.G. Powell London 1831 pages 208 to 109.)

(**Footnote. The amount expended by Parliamentary Grant on Swan River up
to 31 March 1832 (three years) was 41,045 pounds, see Lord Goderich to
Stirling 8 March 1833. The amount expended by the British Government upon
New South Wales up to 30 June 1793 (five years) was 473,044 pounds,
Historical Records of New South Wales volume 2 page 43.)

Although there was no general request for the introduction of convict
labour, isolated suggestions for its introduction were made as early as
1831, both by persons interested in the colony* and by individual
settlers,** as well as by the newspaper published in the colony.*** One
of settlers, R.M. Lyon,**** said:

"The Government need not fear the charge of a breach of faith. The
settlers to a man have changed their opinion since they encamped within
the shores of Australia. There can, therefore, be no breach of faith in
granting them a boon which will be beneficial to all, and the only thing
which can save most of them from utter ruin. A settler of the first rank
and capital said to me, 'I came here because no convicts were to be sent,
but so completely are my sentiments altered on the subject that if a
petition for convict labour were moved tomorrow, I should be ready to put
my name to it.'"

(*Footnote. Colonel Lautour to Lord Howick 9 January 1831 and James
Mangles (Stirling's father-in-law) to Lord Goderich 17 January 1831.)

(**Footnote. R.M. Lyon to Secretary of State 11 February 1831; Captain
Bannister Report of a journey to King George's Sound in Cross, J.
Journals of Expeditions page 108; John Morgan to Hay 17 May 1834.)

(***Footnote. Fremantle Observer 3 May 1831 quoted by The Times 3
November 1831. See Mills, R.C. Colonisation of Australia page 71 note. So
far as I am aware there is no copy of the Fremantle Observer for the date
mentioned in existence.)

(****Footnote. Lyon to Secretary of State 11 February 1831. From a
general review of the correspondence between Lyon and the Colonial
Office, I am inclined to think that he was not a good judge of the
attitude of the colonists as a whole, either on this or any other

Captain Irwin, in 1834 and 1835, suggested the introduction of Indian
convicts for the construction of public works.*

(*Footnote. Captain Irwin to Shaw Lefevre 3 July 1834 and to Lord Glenelg
27 May 1835.)

It is probable that Wakefield had in mind these individual requests in
1831 and 1833* and that they were also in the mind of Mr. Henry
Labouchere,** who stated in the House of Commons that he understood that
the colonists had asked for convicts and that the application had been
granted. Wakefield repeated the assertion in 1836,*** but at that time he
probably had knowledge of the petition from the settlers at King George's

(*Footnote. Literary Gazette 29 October 1831; England and America volume
2 page 116 1833.)

(**Footnote. Hansard third series volume 10 page 507. See also denial by
Captain Irwin in State and Position of Western Australia 1835 page 37.)

(***Footnote. House of Commons Committee on Waste Lands 1836 question 592
in Accounts and Papers 1836 volume 11 page 499.)

This petition* was the first definite request made by a body of settlers
for the establishment of a penal settlement, and even then was only
signed by sixteen persons. The residents of Albany, disheartened by the
trials and difficulties of pioneering work, and probably influenced by
the remembrance that the first settlers at King George's Sound were
convicts,** decided to petition the Imperial Government to allow convicts
to be sent to Western Australia. They recognised that the colony was
established upon the principles of free labour and that the presence of
convicts offered serious objections, but urged that forced labour was
necessary to open up proper lines of communication between the various
settlements and to undertake those other works by which alone the
advancement and prosperity of the colony could be secured. They were
persuaded that the country was not deficient in natural possibilities,
but felt that in the absence of a market the settler had no inducement to
labour. The only remedy was the introduction of convicts. Failing that,
they felt the settlement could advance only at the sacrifice of the first
settlers and their entire capital. The petition apparently did not meet
with any support from settlers in other parts of the colony,*** and
though forwarded by the Governor to the Secretary of State, it was
accompanied by the information that he did not feel disposed to recommend
it.**** Under the circumstances the petition was refused,***** but the
wisdom of the majority of the settlers and of the Home authorities may be
questioned in the light of events of less than fifteen years afterwards,
when at the request of the colonists generally convicts were introduced
to carry out the same policy of construction and development that was
urged at this time, and which would have been of such inestimable value
to the settlers of those early days.

(*Footnote. Petition of settlers at King George's Sound to Secretary of
State (in Stirling to Spring Rice 3 December 1834). See also Perth
Gazette 8 November 1834 which gives an account of the meeting at which
the petition was arranged.)

(**Footnote. The convict settlement at King George's Sound under the
Government of New South Wales was established in December 1826, and the
convicts were withdrawn in March 1831 when King George's Sound was
transferred to the Government of Western Australia. See ante. J.D.
Rogers, Australasia page 79, erroneously gives 1830 as the latter date.)

(***Footnote. Irwin, F.C. State and Position of Western Australia pages
71 to 73; Stirling, E. Brief History of Western Australia page 9.)

(****Footnote. Stirling to Spring Rice 3 December 1834.)

(*****Footnote. Lord Glenelg to Stirling 11 June 1835.)

The revival of hope and confidence in 1834, already referred to, resulted
in a steady progress being manifest. This was more evident, perhaps, in
the settled and orderly condition of the towns and selections than in any
abnormal increase in the production of the soil, though the report of the
Agricultural Society for 1834* considered the results achieved in the way
of agricultural and pastoral development were very encouraging.
Statistics collected for the purposes of the report showed that there
were 809 acres under grain of various kinds, 109 yielding potatoes and
other vegetables and fruits, and 118 lying fallow, which would have been
utilised but for the absence of seed wheat. The available stock consisted
of 84 horses, 78 mares, 307 cows, 96 working cattle, 97 bulls and steers,
3545 sheep, 492 goats, and 374 pigs. The wool clip for the year amounted
to 5884 pounds. Nearly every kind of European fruit-tree and shrub had
been planted, and some of them, particularly the vine, olive, fig, and
peach, appeared to thrive well. Both this and the preceding report
mention the occurrence of a disease among the livestock which had been
the cause of considerable loss, and which even the most experienced among
stock failed to diagnose. Many of the flocks and herds were moved from
the coast to the Avon district in the hope that a change of herbage would
stamp out the evil. Unfortunately the change served to make the mortality
only greater. As a matter of fact, this was the Western Australian
farmers' first experience of the poisonous plants growing in various
districts, and which have been the cause of so much trouble and expense
ever since. This report of the Agricultural Society is of particular
value, sounding as it does the first distinct note of confidence in the
future of the colony.

(*Footnote. Irwin, F.C. State and Position of Western Australia chapter

In the condition of the towns may be found, perhaps, the best index of
the progress of the settlement during the first five years of its
existence.* Fremantle had become a compact little seaport town with a few
made roads and the predominance of hotels and stores usual to such
places. Ferries across the river had been established at Fremantle,
Preston Point, Mount Eliza, and Guildford, and road as well as river
communication existed between the port and the capital. Perth had grown
into a large straggling village, with one main street, St. George's
Terrace, which ran parallel with the river and was about a mile in
length. On either side of it were the Governor's House, Government
Offices, Commissariat Stores, Court-House, Jail, and Barracks. The
last-named occupied the site on the north side of the present Treasury
Buildings, and to their presence Barrack Street owes its name. Cloistered
round the offices were the dwellings of many of those engaged therein,
and from the surrounding bush there peeped forth the modest dwellings of
the settlers. To the westward was a flour-mill, erected at considerable
cost by the Civil Engineer, Mr. H.W. Reveley, a personal friend of Byron
and Shelley. Across the river at Point Belches (now Mill Point) was
another mill, the property of Mr. W.K. Shenton, the walls of which are
still standing. Along the course of the river from Perth to Guildford
were many farms and selections, some of which, notably those of Messrs.
Hardey and Clarkson at the Peninsula, showed the work of experienced
hands. Guildford itself was an undeveloped village, composed chiefly of
servants and others to whom small grants had been made. Beyond the town,
at the junction of the Helena and the Swan, were many of the principal
selections. The soil was good and the situation admirable. Here were the
properties of Captains Stirling and Meares, Messrs. Walcott and Wells,
and many others. Higher up the river were the grants of Dr. Harris,
Messrs. Yule, Leake, Lennard, Brockman, Mackie, Irwin, and others, all of
whom had laboured to make their holdings successful, and to whom much of
the renewed spirit of confidence was due. In the Canning district, which
was connected with Perth by two roads--one through South Perth and the
other through Guildford--were the properties of Major Nairn, Messrs.
Bull, Phillips, Wallace, Bickley, Hester, and Captain Bannister, all of
which were being cleared and improved. Kelmscott, which had been
proclaimed some two years previously, existed only in name, no
development having taken place, probably owing to distance from the
market. York was reached by a bush road from Guildford. The principal
settlers there were Messrs. Bland, Trimmer, and Heale, the first of whom
devoted his attention to pastoral pursuits with considerable success. On
the Murray were the establishments of Messrs. Peel and Hall and Captain
Byrne. Other grants had been made in the district, but fear of the
natives kept the owners from living upon them. At Augusta good progress
had been made, largely through the efforts of Captain Molloy and Messrs.
Turner and Bussell. The population numbered about 100 and formed on the
whole a fairly prosperous little community. The settlement at Albany made
little advance, notwithstanding the efforts of Sir Richard Spencer, the
Government Resident, to push it forward. The few people who were there
seem to have developed a Micawber-like habit of waiting for something to
turn up. Port Leschenault, like Kelmscott, remained a settlement merely
in name.

(*Footnote. Irwin, F.C. State and Position of Western Australia chapter

No part of the colony, as may be seen, could be said to have advanced
with any degree of rapidity, but there is ample evidence that, despite
their despondency, the settlers as a whole were doing everything that
limited facilities would allow to lay the foundation of future prosperity
and permanence. They were still harassed by the want of ready money or
specie and the scarcity of provisions. The first difficulty was in some
degree met by the issue from the Commissariat Office of 1 pound notes,
signed by the Deputy-Assistant Commissary-General and countersigned by
two members of the Executive Council, and made payable on demand either
in specie or by Treasury bill.* The second was not so easily remedied. A
recurrence of the conditions of 1832, combined with the fact that the
stock of locally-grown wheat had been almost exhausted, brought the
settlers once more dangerously close to starvation. For some unexplained
reason the authorities did not at first seem to realise the position, and
it was not until matters reached a critical stage that the Government
schooner was dispatched to the Mauritius for supplies. By the beginning
of September it was found necessary to exercise the strictest economy in
the use of the remaining foodstuffs,** and until the arrival of several
ships later in the month the settlers were practically reduced to a
famine diet. Though the danger was that averted, high prices continued to
rule until the end of 1833, when a plentiful harvest brought the cost of
living down to normal, and dispelled the fear of further scarcity of the
necessaries of life in the immediate future.***

(*Footnote. Proclamation 10 January 1834 see Perth Gazette 11 January

(**Footnote. Perth Gazette 13 and 20 September 1834.)

(***Footnote. Moore G.F. Diary of Ten Years in Western Australia pages
291 to 292.)

The respite from native attacks and depredations that followed the death
of Yagan was ended early in 1834 by the same band of natives--the Murray
River tribe--which had caused most of the previous trouble. The members
of this tribe, which was the only one with which the colonists had so far
any difficulty, were of a savage and warlike disposition, capable of any
degree of treachery, and most inveterate thieves. From the beginning of
the year they had been very troublesome throughout the Swan River
district, and in April became so fearless as to make an attack in open
daylight upon Mr. Shenton's mill at Point Belches.* After threatening to
kill the occupants if they attempted to raise an alarm, they looted the
place and carried off about half a ton of flour. For this offence four
natives were captured, three of whom were publicly flogged.** About the
same time an attack was made upon Mr. Burges' farm and a quantity of
wheat was stolen.*** One of the natives concerned in this raid was
captured, and confined in the soldiers' barracks. In attempting to escape
he was shot by a soldier named Larkin. This set the tribal law of
retaliation in motion and Larkin soon suffered the penalty, being speared
in the barracks' enclosure.****

(*Footnote. Ibid page 217; Perth Gazette 26 April 1834.)

(**Footnote. Stirling, E. Brief History of Western Australia page 8.
Perth Gazette 3 May 1834.)

(***Footnote. Stirling, E. Brief History of Western Australia page 8.)

(****Footnote. Perth Gazette 3 and 10 May 1834.)

This open defiance threw the settlers into a state bordering upon panic.
The Government, loth to take drastic action, confined itself to ordering
Captain Ellis, the Superintendent of police, to search for the murderer
and patrol the settlement as a means of protection. The relief afforded
by these measures, however, was only temporary. The natives moved outside
the area of patrol, and soon there came news of murders on the York Road
and away in the Murray district. So strong was the opposition shown by
the natives along the Murray toward the whites that few were brave enough
attempt to cultivate their grants. The district possessed some of the
best land known to exist, and many grants had been taken up, but the fear
inspired by the aborigines almost caused their abandonment.* Matters
reached a climax in July, when two settlers were murdered and two others
severely wounded. These crimes put any further thought of mild treatment
out of the question. The authorities were compelled to mete out drastic
punishment to the ferocious blacks, who robbed with impunity and did not
hesitate to threaten the settlers with death. The Swan River natives
being quiet and peaceful, Captain Ellis was instructed to proceed with a
body of police to the Murray district. At the same time the Governor paid
a business visit to Mr. Peel, whose grant was within the area of
disturbance. On arrival an expedition was organised, which proceeded
toward the proposed town, Pinjarra. Here it fell in with the main body of
natives, and the encounter since known as the Battle of Pinjarra took
place.** The engagement was short but sharp, and in the result more than
half the male members of the tribe were killed and several of the women
and children captured. The attacking force did not emerge scatheless, and
unfortunately Captain Ellis was so severely wounded that he died within a
fortnight. The prisoners were released and instructed to return to their
friends with the information that any recurrence of the troubles or any
attempt to avenge the punishment just inflicted would be met by the
destruction of the whole tribe. This salutary lesson, which ought to have
been given two years earlier, ended all trouble as far as the Murray
River tribe was concerned. On the return of the expedition, proposals for
an experiment in civilising the natives were set on foot, and a reserve
at the foot of Mount Eliza was used for the purpose.*** One of the
settlers, Mr. F.F. Armstrong, who had become familiar with native ways,
was placed in charge, and for many years carried on the work with fair
success. This movement undoubtedly helped toward bringing about a better
understanding, at the same time served to show that the colonists did not
look upon the aborigines merely as vermin and therefore to be

(*Footnote. Stirling, E. Brief History of Western Australia page 8.)

(**Footnote. Perth Gazette 1 November 1834; Moore, G.F. Diary of Ten
Years in Western Australia page 236; Stirling, E. Brief History of
Western Australia page 9; Irwin, E. State and Position of Western
Australia page 26.)

(***Footnote. Perth Gazette 13 December 1834.)

In June the Governor, who had been away from the colony since August
1832, landed at King George's Sound, but did not reach Perth until a
couple of months later.* His return was made the subject of general
rejoicing, more particularly as it was thought that the rumours of his
success** in his mission were in the main true. The alterations in the
system of governing were,*** shortly, that the Legislative Council was to
be increased by the addition of four unofficial members to be nominated
by the Governor, and its sessions were to be open to the public. The
civil and military establishments were to be increased and the
expenditure in regard to them placed upon a different footing. Revenue
was to be derived from a duty on spirits and sales of Crown lands,
supplemented by a colonial grant or grant-in-aid from the Imperial
Treasury sufficient to meet the necessary expenditure. The expenditure
was to be allocated and controlled locally, subject, of course, to
disallowance by the Home authorities. The land laws were to be
liberalised so as to enable occupants to dispose of their holdings, even
though the conditions of improvement had not been carried out. The
colonial stores were to be closed, but sufficient foodstuffs to prevent
famine were to be kept in the Commissariat Stores, such supplies to be
obtained from local sources where possible. The gist of these
alterations, without any mention of the method of increasing the
membership of the Legislative Council, had been communicated by Stirling
to Lieutenant-Governor Irwin in the previous year.**** In concluding that
letter he says:

"I cannot conclude my reference to these several concessions without the
expression of the hope which I entertain that they will secure, in
conjunction with private industry and enterprise, the future prosperity
of the colony, and that the settlers will view them as a proof on the
part of His Majesty's Government of its anxious desire to promote their
interests to the utmost extent which circumstances will allow."

(*Footnote. Stirling to the Right Honourable E.G. Stanley September 1834;
Perth Gazette 19 July and 23 August 1834.)

(**Footnote. Perth Gazette 12 October 1833, 26 April 1834.)

(***Footnote. Lord Goderich to Stirling 8 March 1833; E.G. Stanley to
Stirling 27 and 28 July and 3 October 1833 in Perth Gazette 8 August

(****Footnote. Stirling to Irwin 26 April 1833.)

The satisfaction that had been expressed when the tenor of the
alterations became known in 1833 was considerably modified when the exact
terms were made public, and it was seen that the proposals scarcely met
the difficulties referred to in the memorial of 1832. It was decided,
however, to take no further action until the new system was brought fully
into operation. This the Governor proceeded to do with all possible
dispatch. On 26 August 1834, a Government notice was issued* detailing
the increased civil establishment and the regulations for the management
of public business. This was followed in September** by the rules and
regulations for the assignment of town allotments, providing that a right
of occupation might be secured at a minimum price of from 2 to 5 pounds
according to the town, which right would merge into a title in fee simple
as soon as certain stipulated improvements had been effected and a fee
paid for registration. In October*** the conditions of sale of Crown
lands at a minimum of 5 shillings per acre (as previously determined)
were published, and in January 1835**** the Governor laid before the
Legislative Council the estimates of revenue and expenditure for the
year. This was the first document of its kind, and as it contained the
plans for revising and extending the revenue and expenditure which had
been decided upon during the Governor's visit to England it created
considerable public interest. In bringing it forward Stirling was careful
to call the attention of the Council to a dispatch***** by which the
procedure was authorised, and in which it was laid down that control over
the Estimates extended only to the revenue raised by local taxation, and
did not refer to "funds arising from the property or droits of the
Crown." That the proposals would not meet with the approval of the people
even the Governor himself seems to have been aware, as he proposed that
the Council should form itself into a committee****** to consider them in
his absence and to suggest others if it failed to approve of them. This
course was adopted, and in the result fresh proposals were suggested by
the committee.******* The principal point of difference was the expense
necessary to maintain a police corps. The objection raised was that this
meant increased taxation, and that if such taxation had to be imposed the
money derived might be better spent on more urgent requirements such as
roads and bridges. It is a curious fact that on more than one occasion
the roads and bridges vote has determined the fate of colonial
governments. Feeling that he was not justified in hanging up the whole
budget until the opinion of the Home authorities was known, the Governor
accepted the amended proposals and the estimates were then approved.

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 30 August 1834.)

(**Footnote. Ibid 20 September 1834.)

(***Footnote. Perth Gazette 25 October 1834.)

(****Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 5 January in Perth
Gazette 10 January 1835.)

(*****Footnote. Lord Goderich to Stirling 4 March 1832.)

(******Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 24 March 1835 in
Perth Gazette 28 March 1835.)

(*******Footnote. Ibid 31 March 1835 Perth Gazette 5 April 1835.)

The firm stand taken by the Council in this matter was due mainly to a
large public meeting of settlers called by requisition to the Sheriff and
held in February 1835,* at which dissatisfaction with the results of the
Governor's mission was expressed in no uncertain voice. The real source
of the trouble was unquestionably the amendment in the constitution of
the Legislative Council. The colonists expected that unofficial members,
whom it was proposed to add, would be elected and not nominated. When it
was found that such was not to be the case, the cry that it was against
the spirit of the British Constitution to be taxed without representation
was raised, and the suggested financial proposals strenuously opposed. So
strong was the feeling that the Governor was requested not to carry the
provision for nominated members into effect. As a matter of fact, no
additions to the Council were made by this means during the
administration of Governor Stirling, though the delay was due not to any
deference to the wishes of the colonists, but to instructions from the
Colonial Office not to increase the number of members until further
advised.** The Order in Council increasing the number of the Legislative
Council was not issued until 1 August 1838.*** Other matters besides the
questions of the augmentation of the Legislative Council and the
reduction of the police corps that were dealt with at the meeting
referred to were the inability of the colonists to bear further taxation;
the publication of Government accounts; the inadvisability of further
taxation until elective representation in the Council was conceded;
condemnation of the departure from the original conditions of the land
regulations of 1829; a request that the extent of the land grants made to
civil, naval, and military officers be made public; and a resolution in
favour of the establishment of a bank. The settlers further expressed
dissatisfaction with the tenor of the dispatches received from the Home
authorities, which they considered unexplainable except on the hypothesis
that trustworthy information concerning the condition of the colony was
not forwarded by the local Government. All these points were subsequently
embodied in a memorial**** and transmitted to the Secretary of

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 21 February 1835.)

(**Footnote. Stanley to Stirling 3 October 1833.)

(***Footnote. Proclamation Perth Gazette 5 January 1839.)

(****Footnote. For copy of Memorial see Perth Gazette 4 April 1835.)

(*****Footnote. Stirling to Secretary of State 15 October 1835.)

That the Governor did not approve of the turn that affairs had taken is
clear from two communications, one unofficial, forwarded just after the
date of the public meeting, and the other official, detailing the various
alterations in the administration and also explaining his reasons for
agreeing to the amended financial proposals. In the first of these
documents he says,* in referring to the copies of newspapers enclosed:

"I believe the only point in them to which it is worth while to draw your
attention is the report of a public meeting of the settlers held at Perth
on the 16th ultimo. As the Governor and his measures appear to have been
tolerably well abused on that occasion perhaps I am not an impartial
judge of their proceedings in other respects; but I cannot help feeling
alarmed at the injury which may be done to the settlement by the
self-conceit and absurdity of a few individuals. The resolutions which
were adopted at the meeting have not led as yet to any application to the
local Government, but, in my opinion, the immediate destruction of the
colony would be the consequence of granting them the objects of their
desire. With the exception of this tendency to be dissatisfied with that
which has been done for them as colonists, and the wish on the part of
some useless people to make themselves important by exciting discontent,
the colony is in a progressive and satisfactory state."

(*Footnote. Stirling to Hay 10 March 1835.)

In the official dispatch,* after describing the changes in administration
made in accordance with the decisions of the Home authorities, with which
he was fully in accord, he points out that it would give him the greatest
pleasure if he could state with truth that the colonists generally were
of the same opinion. The requests put forward by the settlers seem to
have been both reasonable and just, and it is hard to understand why the
Governor so bitterly opposed them. To characterise practically the whole
unofficial portion of the settlement as "useless people" even in an
unofficial document was scarcely wise. The difficulties in the way of
giving effect to their wishes may have been, and perhaps were,
insurmountable at the time, but even so the attitude of the Governor was
not one to be commended. Facts like these help to sustain the opinion
that the administration of Sir James Stirling was not entirely
successful. Owing no doubt to the representations made by the Governor,
little or no attention was paid to the settlers' requests for some
considerable time.

(*Footnote. Stirling to Spring Rice 4 May 1835.)

Although the discussion of constitutional questions seems to have
occupied much of the colonists' time during these years, there was still
something to show in the way of material progress. At the end of 1835 the
Agricultural Society* estimated that 1579 acres were under crop and that
the settlers possessed 7158 head of stock, of which number 5138 were
sheep. During the six years of the colony's existence 163 ships had
arrived, bringing 2281 passengers and imports to the value of 394,095
pounds.** In comparison with 1834 very little trouble was experienced
with the natives during the year.

(*Footnote. Report in Perth Gazette 26 December 1835.)

(**Footnote. Stirling, E. Brief History of Western Australia page 9.)

The opportunity for the development of pastoral pursuits, which had begun
to attract attention in 1834, became more evident during the period 1836
to 1838, and to these years may be ascribed the beginning of that
industry upon which the success of Western Australia practically depended
until the time of the gold discoveries in the early nineties. To keep
sheep was easier and in a way less expensive than to till the soil,
besides which the profits from wool were surer and larger than those from
wheat. Consequently, while agriculture was not neglected, the rearing of
sheep was looked to as the principal industry. Strenuous efforts were
made in 1836 and 1837 to import sheep, but without much success. In 1839,
however, owing to the arrival of new settlers with capital and to the
determination of the old ones to test their convictions, large purchases
were made. By that time the area of land available for pasturage had been
greatly extended. The Avon, Plantagenet, Williams, Vasse, and Murray
districts had been opened up and fairly well stocked. A comparative
return of the sheep in the colony in 1834, when the industry was first
suggested, and in 1838 shows the progress made. As against 3545 head in
1834 there were 16,816 in 1838, and the value of wool exported had risen
from 758 to 1935 pounds. The total trade of the colony in the latter year
was represented by exports to the value of 6840 and imports 46,766. The
revenue was 4551 pounds and the receipts in aid 7361 pounds, while the
expenditure was 12,278 pounds. The total acreage under crop in 1838 was
2501, and the wheat yield amounted to 22,104 bushels.* A statistical
return prepared by the Governor for the Colonial Office showed that the
population of the settlement in 1837 was 2032, and the value of property
about 260,000 pounds, producing an annual accumulation of capital of some
72000 pounds.** These figures are of importance both in the way of
refuting the prophecies of failure and of showing that the colony was in
a fairly healthy condition. The great drawback to more rapid advancement
seems still to have been the scarcity of efficient labour.*** Many of the
more capable workmen had become settlers with land of their own to
cultivate,**** and few immigrants had arrived to take their places; as a
consequence, agricultural development was considerably retarded. The fall
in the tide of immigration was due, in the opinion of the Agricultural
Society, to the alteration in the land-grant system which took place in
1832, and might be corrected by reducing the minimum of 5 shillings per
acre or by adopting a graduated scale rising in proportion to the
progress and resources of the colony.***** Whatever the reasons, the need
was so great that the Legislative Council in 1838 voted 1000 pounds to
cover the expenses of importing efficient labourers.****** If the money
could have been applied forthwith it would probably have materially
advanced the prosperity of the colony, but it was necessary first to
obtain the approve of the Secretary of State, and through the delay the
opportunity was almost lost.

(*Footnote. See Appendix 4 Statistical Summary 1829 to 1900.)

(**Footnote. Statistical return for Blue Book 1837 in Stirling to Lord
Glenelg September 1838 Number 33.)

(***Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 15 May 1838 Perth
Gazette 19 May 1838.)

(****Footnote. Report of Agricultural Society 1835 Perth Gazette 26
December 1835.)

(*****Footnote. Ibid 1836 Perth Gazette 7 January 1838.)

(******Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 30 May 1838 Perth
Gazette 9 June 1838.)

The subject of the land regulations continued to form one of the most
fruitful sources of discontent among the colonists. Practically every
reverse that the colony suffered was ascribed to the iniquity of the
regulations, but there is no doubt that in some instances they were
unjustly made to bear the shortcomings of the settlers themselves. From
time to time they formed the subject of public discussion, and early in
1837 a petition was presented to the Governor asking him to recommend
certain changes.* This document averred that the alteration from the
system of grants to that of sale had checked immigration and retarded
progress just at the time when the settlers had overcome their initial
difficulties and looked forward to some recompense for their labour. A
return for three years to the system of grants was asked for and a
suggestion made that each bona fide new settler should receive 2560 acres
free and be permitted to purchase more if he wished at 3 shillings per
acre. The petition was forwarded in due course by the Governor, but the
Home authorities declined to grant the requests.** Instead of the upset
price being reduced it was raised in 1839 to 12 shillings per acre in all
the Australian colonies, though the increased price did not become
operative in Western Australia until 1840.***

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 28 January 1837.)

(**Footnote. Lord Glenelg to Stirling 7 March 1837.)

(***Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 11 July 1840.)

The relations between the Governor and his Legislative Council did not
improve during the remaining years of Sir James Stirling's term. Early in
1836* the Governor informed the Council that it was necessary to consider
the Estimates in advance for the year 1837 to 1838, as no action could be
taken upon them until the approval of the Secretary of State had been
obtained, and allowance must be made for the time occupied in securing
that approval. Though the Governor was in no way responsible for the
procedure that had to be adopted, but was merely carrying out his
instructions, the fact that such a course had to be pursued was
unfortunate. After the disapproval of the Estimates in 1836, relations
between Sir James Stirling and his Legislative Council had been somewhat
strained, and this new phase of affairs only served to make the position
worse. The result was that when the Estimates for 1838 were laid before
the Council further disagreements occurred, several items being opposed
and others substituted.** The Governor, in these instances not being
prepared to accept the advice tendered to him, referred the matters for
settlement to the Colonial Office.***

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 4, 11, 19 April 1836
Perth Gazette 9, 16, 23 April 1836.)

(**Footnote. Ibid 23 June 1837 Perth Gazette 24 June 1837.)

(***Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 23 June 1837 Perth
Gazette 1 July 1837. See also Stirling to Lord Glenelg 1 August 1837.)

It will be remembered that during the periods of scarcity between 1831
and 1833 most of the settlers had been compelled to obtain supplies from
the Government on credit. By a dispatch of 1833* these debts were
transferred by the Imperial authorities to the colony as a Colonial Fund,
which it was hoped would promote the interests of the settlement and lay
the foundation of a system that would "relieve the Mother Country in a
short time from all charge on account of the civil establishment of the
colony." No steps were taken at the time to carry out this instruction,
but in 1836** a Board was appointed to arrange for the payment of these
debts. In some cases the settlers were no better able to pay than when
they contracted the liabilities, and in the others any overwhelming
desire to liquidate the debt was largely absent, so that several years
elapsed before the whole amount was received.

(*Footnote. Lord Goderich to Stirling 8 March 1833.)

(**Footnote. 20 April 1836 Perth Gazette 23 April 1836.)

Another liability rested upon the settlers who had received land under
the original conditions of grant. In those conditions the Crown reserved
the right to impose a fine of 6 pence per acre upon all lands not
improved to a certain extent at the end of three years from date of
assignment. In February 1838 it was deemed expedient to impose this fine,
and notice* was issued to that effect. At the same time it was stated
that all lands not improved by the end of ten years would, according to
the old terms, be resumed by the Crown. Payment of the fine was to be
made by the end of 1838, failing which it would be levied on the land.
This was one of the wisest moves made during the infant years of the
settlement, as it tended to increase the revenue at the expense of other
than the bona fide settlers, and throw open to them good land which was
not being used. This was the view taken by the public when the notice was
issued, but when the time for its enforcement arrived opinion had
changed, and the settlers found in the intention a further reason for
their dissatisfaction.

(*Footnote. Government notice 17 February 1838 Perth Gazette 17 February

By the end of 1836 immigration had practically ceased.* This was due to
the fact that prophecies of certain failure still continued to be spread
about, and probably also to the fact that the Home Government did not
seem inclined to find the necessary funds. As the need of immigration was
so great, it was felt that some steps should be taken to start the stream
flowing again. The colonists were firmly convinced that many of the
causes that led to the cessation would be removed if only full
information concerning the settlement could be made public in England.
This was to some extent achieved by the labours of Captain (afterwards
Lieutenant-Colonel) Irwin, who had commanded the military forces at Swan
River from 1829 to 1833, and who returned to that position in 1837.
Through his influence a committee** was formed in 1835 for the purpose of
disseminating particulars as to the actual state of the colony. To assist
this organisation a further committee was appointed locally in 1836,***
and for some years regular communication was kept up between the two
bodies, resulting in a better understanding in England both of the
hardships of pioneering and of the prospects of ultimate prosperity that
the colony afforded, so that from the beginning of 1837 the opportunities
that Western Australia seemed to offer in the way of profitable
investment began to attract attention.

(*Footnote. See Appendix 4 Statistical Summary 1829 to 1900.)

(**Footnote. Perth Gazette 2 January 1836.)

(***Footnote. Ibid 16 January 1836.)

In spite of the dissensions in official circles, the colony began in
these years to make some appreciable headway. Even at Albany, which
usually lagged behind the other districts, indications of improvement
were manifest, due to the immigration of a few Indian settlers with
native servants, and to the harbour being greatly used by American
sealing and whaling ships.* Toward the end of 1836, H.M.S. Beagle, under
the command of Captain Fitzroy, put in at King George's Sound on her
homeward voyage after a scientific expedition. On board as naturalist was
the celebrated Charles Darwin. The vessel remained there for eight days,
which Darwin described as the "dullest spent since leaving England,"**
and Fitzroy regretted that duty compelled him to call at such a bleak and
uninviting place.*** Other centres of settlement, particularly those
around York and in the south-west, were beginning to show signs of
progress, while Perth and Fremantle had become settled towns with
property valued in the aggregate at 78,000 pounds,**** and constituted
the "metropolitan area."

(*Footnote. Moore G.F. Diary of Ten Years in Western Australia page 311.)

(**Footnote. Narrative of Survey Voyages of Adventure and Beagle 1826 to
1836 volume 3 page 536.)

(***Footnote. Narrative of Survey Voyages of Adventure and Beagle 1826 to
1836 volume 2 page 625.)

(****Footnote. Statistical report upon the colony June 1837 in Stirling
to Lord Glenelg September 1838 dispatch Number 33.)

The principal evidence of progress may perhaps be found in the
establishment of banking facilities. This question agitated the public
mind for years without any result. Various suggestions had been put
forward, but English capitals declined to take any interest in them, and
the colonists were not financially strong enough to carry them out. The
desirability of a bank was, however, never lost sight of, and in 1836 the
matter became the most important topic of discussion to the exclusion
almost of every other question. In January 1837 the time was felt to be
ripe. The colony had become self-supporting so far as necessaries were
concerned, and only required to import implements, clothing, and
luxuries, the cost of which was more than met by the exports of wool and
other produce. In that month, therefore, the prospectus of the bank of
Western Australia was issued,* with a nominal capital of 10,000 pounds of
which only 2500 pounds was required forthwith. Operations commenced in
June 1837, with such success that for some time no further capital was
called up. At the very inception 4000 pounds was placed on deposit, and,
after a year's working, a dividend of 14 1/2 per cent was paid.** The
good effects of the institution were soon apparent; a distinct impetus
was given to development, and not only were existing industries extended,
but new ones were seriously considered. One of these was the formation of
whaling companies. The success of American and French whalers on the
coast of Western Australia had been known for years, but the colonists
had never been able to finance arrangements for sharing in that success.
Such, however, was the confidence given by the free circulation of a
little money that in 1837 to 1838 two companies--Perth and
Fremantle***--were actively engaged in whaling operations. To the efforts
of the Fremantle company is due the tunnel under Arthur's Head at the
port, made so as to secure convenient access to the town.**** In 1837 oil
and whalebone to the value of 3000 pounds***** was exported, but before
the end of 1838 incapacity and mismanagement had brought about the
downfall of the Perth company****** and seriously hampered the Fremantle
venture.******* American whaling ships operating off the coast in 1837
secured oil and whalebone to the value of 30,000 pounds.********

(**Footnote. Perth Gazette 31 January 1837.)

(**Footnote. First annual report Perth Gazette 9 June 1838.)

(***Footnote. Perth Gazette 14 March to 15 July 1837.)

(****Footnote. Moore, G.F. Diary of Ten Years in Western Australia page

(*****Footnote. Report of Committee of Agricultural Society 1838 Perth
Gazette 13 October 1838. The returns for 1837 were 100 tons oil, 5 tons

(******Footnote. Perth Gazette 17 February 1838.)

(*******Footnote. Ibid 10 November 1838.)

(********Footnote. Western Australia--A Statement of the Condition and
Prospects of that Colony London 1842 page 92.)

The aborigines, who had been quiet and orderly since the effective
punishment received at Pinjarra, again became troublesome in 1836 in the
district round York.* Cases of theft were fairly common, and finally two
natives were shot while attempting to rob the house of a settler near the
township. This incensed the tribe, and every opportunity for retaliation
was seized. Sheep and even horses were wantonly killed, and at last a
settler was murdered and his body mutilated.** The Governor recognised
the seriousness of the position and immediately strengthened the military
force, thus preventing the abandonment of the district. More drastic
measures would probably have been taken against the whole tribe if the
Governor had not been hampered by instructions from the Imperial
authorities to the effect that the natives were to be treated in all
respects as Europeans, and given the same opportunities. One would have
thought that the people on the spot would be the best judges in a matter
of this kind. To make regulations for the protection of aborigines was
wise in itself, but to expect the settlers in a remote colony to think of
regulations when harassed by a warlike and treacherous tribe showed very
little grasp of the position. The result was that in 1837 the natives
became openly defiant, robbing and wounding with impunity. Matters
culminated in the brutal murder of two settlers named Jones and
Chidlow*** and the attempted murder of Mr. Waylen.**** The incensed
colonists then instituted what was to all intent a manhunt, in the course
of which several natives were killed and most of the others driven away.
These stern measures checked the outrages to a great extent, and such
offences as occurred during 1838 were easily dealt with by the law. This
necessitated a native prison, and Rottnest Island***** was selected for
that purpose and used continuously until a few years ago.

(*Footnote. Moore, G.F. Diary of Ten Years in Western Australia page 302;
Perth Gazette 26 June 1836.)

(**Footnote. Perth Gazette 1 October 1836.)

(***Footnote. Perth Gazette 22 July 1837.)

(****Footnote. Moore, G.F. Diary of Ten Years in Western Australia page

(*****Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 1 June 1839.)

Several excursions into the unexplored portions of the territory were
made about this time. With many of them, more particularly those in the
south-western corner of the colony, Sir James Stirling was associated,
thus gaining at first hand a knowledge of the territory. In 1836 the
Moore River* was discovered by Mr. G.F. Moore, after whom it was named,
and in the course of the search excellent pastoral country was opened up.
The notable expeditions of this period, however, were those instituted by
the Imperial Government for the purpose of examining the coastline and
exploring the interior of the north-west. H.M.S. Beagle was commissioned
to carry out the coastal survey, and the inland expedition was entrusted
to Lieutenant (afterwards Sir) George Grey, who in later years exercised
great authority in colonial affairs. The objects of this exploration were
"to gain information as to the real state of North-western Australia, its
resources, and the course and direction of its rivers and mountains; to
familiarise the natives with the British name and character; to search
for and record all information regarding the natural productions of the
country, and all details that might bear upon its capabilities for
colonisation or the reverse; and to collect specimens of natural
history."** These various objects were carried out with that thoroughness
which distinguished all Grey's colonial work.

(*Footnote. Moore, G.F. Diary of Ten Years in Western Australia page 301;
Perth Gazette 18 June 1836.)

(*Footnote. Grey, G. Journal of Two Expeditions of Discovery in
North-West and Western Australia 1837 to 1839 London 1841 volume 1 page

With the year 1838 Sir James Stirling's administration ended. He resigned
the reins of government with the unanimous regret of the colonists.
Though they had not always been able to see eye to eye with him in
administrative affairs, they recognised his enthusiasm and
whole-heartedness in the service of the colony, and felt that the errors
of Stirling the Governor faded away before the merits of Stirling the

Whether an impartial survey of Stirling's administration can hold it to
have been altogether successful is an open question. Without doubt he was
hampered by distance from Great Britain and by the slow methods of
communication in existence, and by the consequent delay which occurred in
the settlement of matters referred to the Colonial Office. But even
taking those facts into consideration, he appears to have lacked some of
the statesmanlike qualities so necessary to the government of a new
settlement. Over-sanguine and not always far-sighted, he led the first
colonists to expect a better state of things than really existed, and
apparently not even practical acquaintance with the territory gave him
that knowledge of those requirements so essential in establishing
agricultural communities. But to attach to him all the blame for the
depression that ensued is unjust. The settlers themselves deserve a share
of it, for many of them, in the hope of growing rich quickly, had
embarked on a venture for which they were unfitted in every possible way.

Accustomed from his naval training to obey and be obeyed without
question, Stirling adhered too closely to the letter of his instructions,
and leaned too little upon the advice of his Councils. Yet taking all
these shortcomings into consideration, that he did so well in face of
difficulties which at times nearly overwhelmed him, and under
responsibilities which might easily have crushed any man, stands to his
lasting credit. Though in matters of judgment he sometimes failed,
anxiety to take the wisest course was always present, and all his actions
were marked by a whole-souled desire to uphold the best and dearest
traditions of the British race.

CHAPTER 6. 1839 TO 1842.


Mr. John Hutt, who succeeded Sir James Stirling in the position of
Governor of the colony, arrived at the beginning of 1839, some two or
three days before his predecessor's departure. Mr. Hutt had previously
held the office of Governor of North Arcot, in the Madras Presidency, and
had been strongly recommended as Governor of the newly-established colony
of South Australia,* in the arrangements for the inception of which he
had, in conjunction with his brother Mr. (afterwards Sir) William Hutt,
M.P., taken a very prominent part. The system upon which South Australia
was colonised was so different from the method adopted in Western
Australia that the early settlers were somewhat doubtful as to the wisdom
of the appointment. That he had a theoretical knowledge of colonisation
was generally admitted, but it was feared that the absence of practical
acquaintance with its trials and difficulties scarcely fitted him to
follow in the footsteps of a man like Sir James Stirling. Added to that,
he was believed to disagree with the policy hitherto adopted, and that
seems to have been counted against him, though there is no doubt that the
colonists themselves were not in accord with it. At any rate, the
newspaper files of the period show clearly enough that he had to fight
down a certain measure of unpopularity at the commencement of his term.

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 8 December 1838.)

One of the first official acts was to take advantage of the authority to
increase the membership of the Legislative Council by the addition of
four unofficial nominees, notwithstanding the opposition of the colonists
to any increase in that body except by means of an election. On 3 January
1839 he nominated Messrs. William Locke Brockman, George Leake, Thomas
Peel, and William Tanner, and these gentlemen took their seats in the
following March. The term of office was the duration of their residence
in the colony.*

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 5 January 1839.)

His next step was in connection with the land regulations. Sir James
Stirling had been inclined to administer these from the point of view of
the settler, and had deferred as long as he could putting into operation
any of what might be termed the penal clauses of these regulations. It
will be remembered, however, that in 1838* Stirling had felt compelled to
give notice that the fine of 6 pence per acre provided for in the
original regulations of 1829 on all properties unimproved at the end of
three years must be paid by 31 December, or it would be levied upon the
properties, and, further, that all land remaining unimproved at the end
of ten years would be resumed. This notice, which was certainly in the
interests of the bona fide settler, had met with approval when first
issued, but before the time of payment arrived it had, like many other
acts of the Government, fallen under the ban of the colonists'
displeasure. When the time for enforcement arrived, Sir James Stirling
had resigned the Governorship, and it fell to the lot of Mr. Hutt to
carry the notice into effect. In order to give every possible opportunity
he extended the time of payment for a further three months, but notified
that in case of non-payment the remission of 1 shilling and 6 pence per
acre allowed on the surrender of land would be reduced to 1 shilling.** A
further notice was also issued requiring the conditions of the land
regulations of 1830 to be fulfilled within three months, namely that a
quit rent of 1 shilling per acre should be paid upon properties not
improved within two years from date of assignment, and that at the end of
a further two years the property if still unimproved should revert to the
Crown, or be subject to an additional quit rent. The time for fulfilment
of these obligations had, he pointed out, already expired, and therefore
the first must be fulfilled within the time stipulated, and the second by
the end of 1839, failing which the land would be resumed by the Crown.***

(*Footnote. See ante.)

(**Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 12 January 1839.)

(***Footnote. Ibid.)

The issue of these notices met with the most strenuous opposition on the
part of the colonists. The opinion was freely expressed that the Home
Government desired to regain possession of as much of the land as it
could secure in order to carry out new-fangled schemes of colonisation,
to which, it was delicately hinted, the Governor was not altogether
indifferent.* A meeting of the Agricultural Society--the usual method of
voicing dissatisfaction--was promptly held, and it was decided "that a
memorial to the Home Government be drawn up, soliciting a remission of
fines due under the land regulations, and a grant of fee simple to
settlers under certain circumstances, namely those having expended large
sums on small parcels of land, considering the same as portions of their
several grants from the Crown."** It was also decided to petition the
Governor to suspend the operation of the objectionable clauses until a
reply was received. This, however, the Governor was not prepared to do,
the only concession made being that various methods of payment were

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 12 and 26 January 1839. For text of Memorial
see Perth Gazette 9 February 1839.)

(**Footnote. Ibid 19 January 1839.)

(***Footnote. Ibid 3 April 1839.)

The stand taken by Mr. Hutt in these matters, and the fear that he would
attempt to carry a land tax, made the meeting of the Legislative Council
which was held in March particularly interesting to the colonists. Their
fears at the time proved unfounded, though in discussing the Estimates
the possibility of such a tax was foreshadowed. This he was strongly
urged not to bring forward, as it would press so heavily upon the owners
of land as to restrict development. For a time he adopted the advice
tendered, but in October 1839 he summoned a meeting of the Council to
consider a Bill for the augmentation of the revenue by an assessment on
land, in order to provide for the establishment of a police force as a
protection to the settlers against the aborigines. The strong opposition
shown to this proposal and the unanimous opinion of the colonists that it
would bring about serious depression in the affairs of the colony led him
to abandon the idea and substitute in its place a tax upon sales by

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 14 and 23 October 1839
Perth Gazette 19 and 26 October 1839.)

In accordance with the notices issued, a few grants of land were resumed
in 1839 and a further 100,000 acres scheduled for resumption in 1840. In
order, however, to prevent this policy bearing harshly upon genuine
settlers, the Governor viewed the conditions of alienation with the
greatest liberality, and wherever possible allowed advantage to be taken
of any extenuating circumstances that could be brought forward. As
regards other portions of his land policy, Mr. Hutt stood firm. When the
Agricultural Society objected to immigrants being restricted to certain
areas in selecting land, and to the reservation and resumption of springs
and watering-places, on the ground that these matters were at variance
with the Home regulations, the Governor declined to alter his measures.
On the first point he held that some concentration round existing
settlements was necessary as a means of protection from natives, and on
the second that springs should be reserved for the general use of all

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 30 May 1840.)

Discontent over the various systems of land alienation adopted by the
Imperial Government, and with their administration by the Governor, had
grown to be something more permanent than a "hardy annual." For the first
decade of the colony's existence the regulations were never absent from
the minds of the colonists, and were always urged as the reason for the
slow progress of the colony's affairs. Time after time memorials were
forwarded asking that radical alterations be made. Changes were made in
various ways, as we have seen, but there was scarcely an instance in
which the alteration did not afford as fruitful a source of agitation as
the original had done. While the hardship engendered by the regulations
must in many cases be admitted, it is only fair to the Colonial Office to
point out that in the beginning the settlers readily accepted the
conditions upon which land was offered to them, and further, that in no
single instance did the Home authorities ask for more than the fulfilment
of their contracts. If the time spent in agitation had been occupied in
endeavours to improve their holdings, much of the dissatisfaction would
never have arisen. The crux of the trouble was not so much the injustice
of the regulations as the ignorance of the settlers as to the
difficulties of transforming virgin forest lands into productive areas.
So anxious were they to obtain tracts of land that in many cases the
secured areas that could never be made productive except by experienced
farmers--which they were not--possessing the most modern scientific
knowledge, which had not then been discovered. To assist such, Sir James
Stirling had obtained from the Home Government permission to surrender
their holdings on a valuation of 1 shilling and 6 pence per acre, the
surrender value to be applied as part of the cost when purchasing more
suitable locations.*

(*Footnote. Lord Glenelg to Stirling 7 March 1837.)

The expressed intention of the Governor to enforce the fines and
resumptions of which he had given notice formed the subject of a further
memorial to the Secretary of State in 1839.* No reply was received until
April 1841, when a dispatch from Lord John Russell** arrived stating that
the questions had been referred to the Land and Emigration
Commissioners,*** and in accordance with their recommendations it had
been decided to grant the fee simple on all lands improved; to grant, in
the case of unimproved land, the fee simple of one-fourth, provided the
remainder was surrendered to the Crown; and in cases where improvements
to a greater extent than necessary had been made on one holding, to grant
the fee simple of one-fourth of the unimproved remainder, provided that
the balance was surrendered to the Crown. In the same dispatch Lord John
advised the introduction of a land tax of 1/2 penny per acre. This latter
advice the colonists declined to accept, though a Bill to impose the tax
was put forward by the Governor in 1841.****

(*Footnote. Hutt to Lord John Russell 1 August 1839; Perth Gazette 9
February 1839 text of memorial; ibid 27 July 1839 Report of an interview
on Memorial between members of Agricultural Society and Governor Hutt in
which the Governor expressed strong disapproval of the requests.)

(**Footnote. Lord John Russell to Hutt 5 September 1840.)

(***Footnote. The Land and Emigration Commissioners mentioned above were
appointed by the Secretary of State in 1840 to control emigration and
advise on colonial affairs generally, but more particularly those
relating to the Australian colonies. The members were T.F. Elliot,
Colonel Torrens, and the Honourable E.E. Villiers. Beyond doing a certain
amount of work in the cause of emigration, this board does not seem to
have had much bearing on Western Australian affairs. The report of the
Commissioners to Lord John Russell 11 July 1840 which was enclosed in a
dispatch to Hutt 5 September contains a review of the whole question of
the land system in Western Australia.)

(****Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 15 April 1841 Perth
Gazette 17 April 1841.)

Early in 1839 Governor Hutt received further instructions to amend the
land regulations by increasing the upset price of Crown lands from 5 to
12 shillings per acre.* Feeling that to do so would be a false step, as
private sales were being effected at less than half that price, he
treated the instruction as advisory rather than mandatory.** In 1840***
he was informed that it must be notified to the public without delay as
the minimum price of land in the Australian colonies. Except as regarded
land in any settlements little objection was taken to the order, either
then or at a later period, when the price was further increased to 20
shillings per acre.**** The objects of the alterations were to curtail
the size of estates and to produce an increased revenue. The effect was
to give the colonists a better chance of selling their surplus land at a
more satisfactory figure, and consequently the sale of Crown lands

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 22 April 1839 Perth
Gazette 27 April 1839.)

(**Footnote. Ibid. See also Stirling to Lord Glenelg 3 May 1839.)

(***Footnote. Lord John Russell to Hutt 19 March 1840 Western Australian
Government Gazette 11 July 1840.)

(****Footnote. Lord John Russell to Hutt 23 November 1840.)

Much of the agitation concerning the land regulations was due to the
belief that the various alterations would restrict immigration, and that
therefore the dearth of labour would become much more pronounced. The
colonists recognised that with more labour available greater development
of the various industries would result and the general prosperity of the
colony be stimulated. The necessity for immigration was by this time
beginning to impress itself upon the Imperial authorities and others
interested in Western Australia, as well as upon the local Government. In
1840 the Legislative Council, at the instance of the Governor, set aside
the receipts from fines and land sales, amounting to 1500 pounds,* for
the purpose of obtaining labour from England. The British Government
tried with some success the practice of sending out youths from Parkhurst
Prison as juvenile emigrants,** and private bodies of persons interested
in the colony evolved schemes for increasing the supply of labour upon
terms that would be profitable to themselves.

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 9 April 1840.)

(**Footnote. The first batch of these boys arrived in 1842 see Perth
Gazette 27 August 1842 and others arrived from time to time up to 1849.)

A body active in the interests of Western Australia was the Western
Australian Committee, which grew out of the Committee of Correspondence
formed in London in 1835, and was generally known as the "Association in
Bedford Street."* Its objects were to advance the interests of Western
Australia by inducing the Government to offer bounties for the
introduction of labour; to secure an amendment of the land regulations so
that land could be taken up prior to survey; to encourage the formation
of companies to invest capital in the colony; and generally to
disseminate correct and useful information concerning the state of the
colony's affairs. Sir James Stirling, after his return to London, became
a prominent member of this body, in the work of which he was actively
assisted by Messrs. W. Hutt and T. Bland. At a public meeting held in
Perth in April 1840,** these three gentlemen were appointed agents to
look after matters affecting Western Australia.

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 11 January 1840.)

(**Footnote. Ibid 11 April 1840.)

This committee made proposals to the Secretary of State* with the double
object of supplying the demand for labour and of attracting the
enterprise of capitalists. It suggested that Crown Lands should be open
to purchase after survey at a minimum of 10 shillings per acre, that the
proceeds of these sales should be employed in defraying the cost of
emigration to the colony, and that Commissioners should be appointed to
act under the Colonial Office to carry the scheme into effect. Provision
was also to be made by which land might be sold in England and the
proceeds applied to defraying the cost of sending labourers to the
colony. The Commissioners were to have the power to raise loans on the
security of future sales, such loans to be applied to emigration

(*Footnote. William Hutt to Lord Glenelg 3 May 1838 Perth Gazette 16
February 1839; Buckton, T.J. Western Australia London 1840 pages 14 to
16. The original minute book of this committee, which was formed on 18
April 1838 is in the possession of the Public Library Perth.)

The proposals failed to meet with the approval of Lord Glenelg, the
Secretary of State for the Colonies.* While he was anxious to facilitate
emigration to Western Australia, he was opposed to the sale of colonial
lands to a company in England, on the ground that it might lay the
Government open to a charge of partiality, and also cause the abandonment
of the Government's policy of disposing of colonial lands by public sale
in the colony. He was prepared, however, to allow the Company to pay into
the hands of the emigration agent money to be expended in sending out
emigrants, for which they would receive a certificate entitling them to a
remission of equal amount in the price paid for any land they might
purchase in the colony. Further correspondence took place with the
Secretary of State, but the proposals of the committee did not meet with

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 16 February 1839; Buckton, T.J. Western
Australia pages 16 to 18. Letter from Sir George Grey by direction of
Lord Glenelg to William Hutt 22 April 1838.)

(**Footnote. Sir George Grey to Committee 5 January 1839 minute book of
Committee page 40 and Buckton Western Australia page 18. See also Ogle,
N. Colony of Western Australia London 1839 pages 210 to 211.)

One effect of the work of this committee was the issue in October 1839 of
a Colonial Office regulation designed to encourage emigration. The terms
of it were practically those embodied in the reply of Lord Glenelg (dated
5 January 1839) to the committee. The regulation, which was largely in
the nature of an experiment, was limited in operation to two years. The
results from it were inappreciable.

From the activity displayed by this committee there arose what promised
to be a very important development in Western Australian affairs--the
settlement at Australind. Notwithstanding the unfavourable reports
concerning the sterility of the country and the destitution of the
settlers, which had been industriously spread about, there were numbers
of people who still retained their belief in the possibilities of the
colony, and from the time of Mr. Peel's project attempts were continually
made to form land companies for the purpose of undertaking extensive
settlements therein. Most of these schemes, affected by the want of
success of Mr. Peel, failed to mature, but the Western Australian
Company, formed in 1839 to effect a settlement at Australind, carried its
proposals into operation, and in all probability would have ultimately
achieved complete success but for misrepresentation and false reports.

In 1835 a suggestion had been made to purchase Colonel Lautour's grant of
103,000 acres situated on Leschenault Estuary, or to procure a portion of
Thomas Peel's grant. Nothing came of it until 1838, when the committee
mentioned made an unsuccessful application to Lord Glenelg for certain
privileges. One of the objects the committee had in view was to apply the
principles of colonisation advocated by Edward Gibbon Wakefield.
Wakefield's idea, upon which the colony of South Australia was
practically founded, was to colonise by means of companies, which should
acquire land and send out settlers and labourers of proved competence for
its cultivation. Areas were to be cut up into small sections and sold to
approved settlers, and a proper balance between capital, labour, and land
continually observed.

The unsympathetic attitude of Lord Glenelg brought about the abandonment
of the scheme,* but shortly afterwards, through the exertions of William
Hutt, M.P., Colonel Lautour, E.G. Wakefield, and others,** a company was
formed called the Western Australian Company,*** under which the
settlement of Australind was to be established according to Wakefield's

(*Footnote. Minute book of Committee April 1839 page 46.)

(**Footnote. Original minute book of the Company 11 May 1840.)

(***Footnote. Note. The original minute books, deed of settlement,
reports of annual meetings, letter books, account books, share register,
and dispatches of the Western Australian Company are in the possession of
the Trustees of the Public Library of Western Australia, and practically
the whole statement concerning the inception and progress of the company
is taken from those documents. Where any other authority is used a
special reference is given. See also Lands Department Western Australia
file 2782/95.)

The Company agreed to purchase Colonel Lautour's grant* on Leschenault
Estuary and also, subject to the conditions of tenure being carried out,
the grant made to Captain Stirling. It was further decided that the first
settlement should be established on Colonel Lautour's land. Some doubt
arose as to whether this grant came under the land regulations of 1829 or
of 1830. In the first case it was not liable to resumption for twenty-one
years, but in the second it would be liable at the end of 1840. This
question was decided by the Colonial Office declaring that it was held
under the 1829 regulations, and that Governor Hutt had been advised
accordingly. Everything being thus clear, the company was formally
constituted in May 1840, with a capital of 50,000 pounds. The directors
were William Hutt, M.P., John Chapman, T.H. Brooking, Captain Sweney,
R.N., Edward Gibbon Wakefield, Henry Buckle, C. Enderby, Jacob
Montefiore, Jas. Irving, and G.R. Smith, M.P.; T.J. Buckton was
Secretary, and Marshall Waller Clifton, F.R.S., Chief Commissioner in
Western Australia, with his son, R.W. Clifton, as his Secretary. Colonel
Lautour's land was purchased mainly on the recommendation of Sir James
Stirling, who described it as well suited for the purpose in view. A
prospectus was issued offering part of the property for sale in
allotments, and a plan was drawn showing a complete and
beautifully-laid-out city, to which the name Australind was given, to
signify the connection with India that the town was expected to possess.
Land containing 51,000 acres was thrown open for selection in sections of
100 acres each at a price of 1 pound per acre, the purchaser of a section
to be also entitled to four quarter-acre town allotments, the price of
which to those not taking agricultural grants was set down at 10 pounds.
Half the money received from sales of sections was to be spent on
conveying passengers and immigrants to the settlement, and half the sum
received from the sale of town allotments to be spent on improvements. So
rapidly were sales effected that by the end of September 400 sections and
3100 town allotments had been disposed of, the remainder--100 sections
and 900 allotments--being reserved for subsequent sale to settlers only.
Success having so far attended the project, the remainder of the staff--a
medical officer and nine surveyors--was then appointed, and a small
vessel, the Island Queen, chartered to convey them to the scene of
operations. Soon afterwards the Parkfield, a barque of 600 tons, was
secured, and preparations made for the embarkation of Mr. Clifton and the
first portion of settlers and emigrants. A second ship, with the
remainder of the settlers, under the charge of the chaplain, the Reverend
J.R. Wollaston, himself a purchaser of land, was to follow. Then came the
hitch in the arrangements. The Parkfield was to leave London on 20
October, but on the 12th Captain Grey arrived with information that
Governor Hutt intended to resume Colonel Lautour's grant for
nonfulfilment of conditions,** and a rumour was also spread that in
Grey's opinion the grant was practically valueless from an agricultural
point of view.*** Expectation quickly gave way to consternation; the
public feared the loss of the money it had invested, and the directors
were faced with binding contracts involving large expenditure, apart from
having received 60,000 pounds for land already possibly resumed by the
Colonial Government, and perhaps disposed of to other settlers. It does
not appear to have struck them that there was no need for anxiety on that
account, as the Secretary of State's decision superseded any subsequent
act of the Colonial Government. In the hope of extricating themselves
from their troubles they lent willing ears to a suggestion from Grey that
the country surrounding Port Grey, between Gantheaume Bay and the
Arrowsmith, in the neighbourhood of the present town of Geraldton, was
not only available, but much more suitable, being one of the finest
districts in Australia.**** Ready to take advantage of any outlet from
their difficulties, the directors secured the approval of Lord Glenelg to
the change of locality, and then apparently congratulated themselves and
the landholders upon their "happy deliverance from evil." Clifton seems
to have been the only one who kept his head. He tried, though without
avail, to persuade the directors to rely upon the reports concerning
Lautour's grant made by Sir James Stirling and others who had returned
from the colony, rather than upon those of Grey, who in all probability
had never seen that locality.

(*Footnote. See map.)

(**Footnote. Notice to resume was issued on 27 April 1840 see Perth
Gazette 2 May 1840 and withdrawn on 13 July 1840 Perth Gazette 18 July

(***Footnote. Perth Gazette 20 March 1841 containing record of
proceedings of meeting of Company held 12 November 1840 copied from
Colonial Gazette the organ of the Company 18 November 1840.)

(****Footnote. Ibid. See also Landor, E.W. The Bushman London 1847 pages
415 et seq.)

Having decided upon the change, the directors lost no time in making
their determination public. Investors were given the option of consenting
to the change of locality or of receiving back, with interest, the money
they had paid for allotments in the Leschenault district. Harassed by
doubts of the new territory and afraid of the difficulties of pioneering
work, many of the investors withdrew, and quickly something in the nature
of a panic set in. To allay the trouble Captain Grey was asked to meet a
body of the landholders and give whatever information he could concerning
the country round Port Grey. This was deemed so satisfactory that several
who were wavering decided to remain in the venture, which might even then
have succeeded but for the action of a party of investors at Halifax, who
had taken up land to the value of 12,000 pounds. These withdrew their
money, and in a little while such was the effect that 30,808 pounds paid
for land was returned. The drift was at last stayed by the action of the
Right Honourable J.W. Crocker, F.R.S., who refused to withdraw his

In spite of all these difficulties, which were increased by the failure
of the Company's bankers, the directors proceeded with the new scheme.
The Parkfield was engaged to proceed to Port Leschenault as before, sail
up to Perth so that Mr. Clifton might interview Governor Hutt, and then
make for Port Grey.

Meanwhile, the instructions of Lord Glenelg had reached the colony, and
the notice of resumption of Colonel Lautour's land was immediately
withdrawn.* At the same time pleasure was expressed at the foreshadowed
introduction of further capital and labour. The town site of Bunbury was
forthwith surveyed and proclaimed, and a Government Resident appointed.
For the protection of the incoming settlers a picket of soldiers was
stationed there, and considerable activity was shown in the settlement of
the surrounding country. The advance party of surveyors landed in
Koombana Bay late in 1840, and at once set about their work. In 1841
(March) the Parkfield with Clifton and the first portion of settlers
arrived, and some consternation was created by the news that the whole
party was to proceed northwards to Port Grey. This idea, however, was not
carried out after all, as the Governor declined to permit a settlement at
that port, owing to its distance northward precluding both means of
communication and possibility of adequate protection. On the advice of
Governor Hutt,** therefore, Clifton decided to remain at Leschenault and
take possession of Colonel Lautour's grant, so coming back to the
Company's original arrangement. The upset and turmoil in London had thus
been quite unnecessary; that it ever occurred is unfortunate, as with the
bright prospects in view at the inception of the scheme it is more than
probable that the venture would have been a success had nothing of the
kind ever taken place. As things were, the chances of success were small
from the very outset. The early trials and privations of the "first
fleet" by the Parmelia were largely reproduced, and as a result many of
the immigrants drifted away to the Swan River and other more settled
parts.*** Notwithstanding the efforts of Clifton and his sons, the
failure of the scheme became more and more apparent as time went on.
Primarily this was due to the methods adopted by the promoters, methods
which have on later occasions been proved to be entirely unsuitable. The
idea was to induce emigration to Western Australia on the part of small
capitalists, who purchased their land, not after examination, but from a
plan prepared in London and backed by statements which did not
under-estimate the agricultural possibilities. Misrepresentation was
probably not intentional, but it certainly existed. When to it was added
unsuitability on the part of many of the investors, there could be but
little prospect of success. From the time of the arrival of the first
immigrants a condition of hopeless despondency seems to have existed, for
which no possible cure could be found.

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 18 July 1840.)

(**Footnote. Inquirer 31 March 1841; Stokes, J.L. Discoveries in
Australia volume 2 pages 382 to 383.)

(***Footnote. Perth Gazette 24 April 1841.)

The arrival toward the end of 1842 and the beginning of 1843 of ships
with about 400 fresh immigrants induced a little activity for a while,
but matters soon settled down again into their former condition. Everyone
seemed to lose heart, and failure was written large over the whole
venture. In addition, Clifton was hampered by the inability of the
directors in London to appreciate the position. About the middle of 1843
the final distribution of rural lands took place, and shortly afterwards
instructions were received to stop all sales and discharge the surveyors.
Before the end of the year Clifton was himself released from duty, and
his son, W.P. Clifton, appointed agent, to dispose of the remainder of
the land. In 1864 he was authorised to sell the portion still in the
hands of the Company at 2 shillings per acre, and at a meeting held in
1875 instructions were given for the affairs of the Company to be wound
up, a task that took several years to accomplish. Although the
liquidation was spread over so many years, the scheme itself--the second
large colonising experiment in Western Australia--failed within three
years from its inception. That of Peel in 1829 was impossible from the
beginning, but a better knowledge of local conditions on the part of the
directors of the Western Australind Company might have made that of
Australind successful. The application of Wakefield's principles of
colonisation ceased with this experiment, though some attempt was made in
1849 to establish a new company on the ruins of the old one. From the
point of view of the colony generally there was some little gain by the
Australind venture, as it brought about the introduction of at any rate a
few badly-needed labourers, the population having increased from 2760 in
1841 to 3476 in 1842.*

(*Footnote. Statistical Summary; see Appendix 4.)

Another important phase of the affairs of the colony to which, in
addition to the land question, Governor Hutt gave the closest attention
was the treatment of the aborigines. Having come to Western Australia
with certain preconceived ideas upon this question, he devoted
considerable time to an endeavour to carry them into effect. Those in
England who did not understand the circumstances had made a good deal of
capital out of the affrays that had taken place between the settlers and
the natives in various parts of Australia. Influenced by the opinion thus
promulgated, the British Government decided to inaugurate a new policy
which should have the effect of preserving and civilising the natives,
and at the same time prevent oppression on the part of the settlers. As
this policy was in accord with the Governor's own views, he entered into
its operation with zest.* In 1839 instructors to the natives were sent to
all the colonies, G. Barrow and C.Symmons being those appointed to
Western Australia.** Native schools*** were established--the first being
those under the Wesleyan Church--and land bounties offered**** to those
settlers who were prepared to give instruction to the aborigines and make
some attempt to civilise them. The effect of these admittedly wise
measures was not, however, at first apparent. Trouble with the aborigines
still continued, and had to be met in the way that the colonists had
previously found effective. Throughout 1839 robberies were frequent, and
on more than one occasion stock was killed.

(*Footnote. Hutt to Lord Glenelg 3 May 1839.)

(**Footnote. Lord Normanby to Hutt 9 May and 19 July 1839.)

(***Footnote. Quarterly report of Protector of Aborigines 31 December
1840 Perth Gazette 9 January 1841; Moore, G.F. Diary of Ten Years in
Western Australia page 417.)

(****Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 25 June and 23 July

Such events as these the colonists were becoming used to, but the hideous
murder of a white woman and her eight-months-old child by the York
natives called for signal punishment.* After some trouble two of those
concerned in the affair were caught, and hanged on the scene of the
offence.** Later in the year a second murder was committed in the Canning
district,*** and in 1840 a third by some natives near Leschenault. In
1841 there occurred an incident which, if true, can only be described as
an act of atrocious cruelty and savagery on the part of some of the
settlers in the south-west. Early in the year a settler at Wonnerup,
George Layman, offered some indignity to a native, in return for which he
was on the first convenient opportunity speared through the heart.**** An
avenging party under Captain Molloy set out and, it is said, ultimately
succeeded in surrounding the whole body of natives on an open sandpatch,
whereupon they proceeded to shoot the unfortunate aborigines in cold
blood, not stopping till the adult males had all been accounted for.
Colour is lent to the story by the fact that there is a sandpatch near
Minninup where skulls and bones are still to be seen, and near which even
present-day natives will not go. No records of the encounter exist, and
it is more than likely that it has been built up to account for the
collection of bones, which in all probability represents an aboriginal
burial-ground, which would be winytch or sacred to the boolyas or spirits
of the departed, and therefore to be avoided by all natives. All that is
definitely known is that the murderer of Layman was shot by a soldier
later in the year.

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 25 May 1839.)

(*Footnote. Ibid 18 July 1840.)

(*Footnote. Moore, G.F. Diary of Ten Years in Western Australia page

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 14 March 1841.)

By the end of 1841 the effects of Hutt's policy began to be seen in the
cessation of thefts and the establishment of more harmonious relations
between the colonists and the aborigines. In fact, the end of the native
trouble in the south-west portion of the colony was in sight. Isolated
instances of robbery and violence continued to happen, and even happen
yet, but nothing further occurred in the way of organised attack,
demanding measures of repression beyond the power of the police to deal

While the period under review was an important one from the standpoint of
land regulations, colonisation schemes, and attempts to grapple with the
native difficulty, it was equally important from the standpoint of
exploration. The districts north of Perth, and even the extreme
north-west, till then a country known by name only, were examined by
Captain Grey, the coastline of the same part was accurately surveyed by
Captains Wickham and Stokes in H.M.S. Beagle, and the eastern stretches
between Adelaide and King George's Sound were traversed by the intrepid
explorer Eyre.

Grey, who after his north-west expedition in 1837 to 1838 had sailed for
Mauritius, returned to Perth toward the end of the latter year, and early
in 1839 was engaged in a search for a settler named Eliot,* who had lost
his way in the Williams district and had been missing for three weeks. In
the course of his search, which was successful, he explored most of the
country between Leschenault and Williams River. Returning to Perth, he
organised an expedition for the exploration of the country lying between
Shark Bay and Perth,** and spent two months, under circumstances of great
difficulty and often of danger, in making a thorough examination of this
district, discovering the Gascoyne, Irwin, and other rivers, the Victoria
Range, and several peaks and hills. Much of the country passed through
was excellent for pastoral purposes, and it was this fact that led him to
urge the Western Australian Company to found the settlement of Australind
in that district. Soon after Grey's reports had been placed in the hands
of the Governor, G.F. Moore examined the coastal districts in the
neighbourhood of the Moresby Range.*** His opinion was favourable,
confirming that of Grey. Moore discovered a satisfactory harbour
afterwards named Port Grey in honour of the explorer. This was the
harbour that figured so largely in the discussion about the site of
Australind. Grey then returned to England, but on the death of Sir
Richard Spencer came back to the colony as Government Resident at Albany,
a position he occupied until late in 1840, when he succeeded Colonel
Gawler as Governor of South Australia.

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 2 February 1839.)

(**Footnote. Grey, G. Journals of Two Expeditions of Discovery in
North-west and Western Australia volume 1 pages 329 et seq.)

(***Footnote. Moore, G.F. Diary of Ten Years in Western Australia pages
401 to 403; Perth Gazette 1 and 8 February 1840; Grey, G. Journals of Two
Expeditions of Discovery etc. pages 124 et seq.)

Meanwhile, Captains Wickham and Stokes in H.M.S. Beagle began and
completed a series of coastal surveys on the north-west coast, in the
course of which the Fitzroy and Adelaide Rivers were discovered. In 1840
they examined the Abrolhos Islands, discovered a good anchorage at
Champion Bay, and surveyed Dampier Archipelago.* In 1841, during the
illness of Wickham, Stokes sailed from Koepang to complete the survey of
the coast south of Roebuck Bay, which had been left unfinished by King in
1821. Having done so, he continued his voyage to Swan River, and later in
the year made a trip to determine the exact position of Port Grey, which
he found to be almost identical with Champion Bay.**

(*Footnote. Stokes, J.L. Discoveries in Australia volume 2 pages 124 et

(**Footnote. Ibid pages 378 et seq.)

It was during this latter year (1841) that E.J. Eyre, who was afterwards
Governor of Jamaica, accomplished an overland journey which ranks as one
of the greatest feats in exploration ever performed in Australia. Eyre
left Adelaide in June 1840, with the object of examining Lake Torrens,
and then proceeding northwards as far as practicable.* Through want of
water he was compelled to abandon the attempt at Fowler's Bay.** Having
sent back the majority of his party, he started from Fowler's Bay with a
companion, Baxter, and a black boy named Wylie, to reach King George's
Sound or perish in the attempt. A short distance south-west of Eyre
Sandpatch two natives who were accompanying them murdered Baxter during
the night and got away with most of the provisions.*** Eyre and his black
boy were left to accomplish a journey of some hundreds of miles through
unknown country with 40 pounds of flour and four gallons of water.****
This they succeeded in doing after undergoing the severest hardships; in
fact, they would in all probability never have got through but for their
fortunate meeting with Captain Rossiter of the whaler Mississippi, who
rendered them every possible help when they were reduced to the last
extremity of hunger, thirst, and fatigue.***** Eyre's journey, which was
the first successful attempt to cross the continent, was of the greatest
geographical importance, as it settled the question of rivers emptying
into the Bight, and, in a measure, afforded some proof that there was
nothing in the nature of a great inland sea.

(*Footnote. Eyre, E.J. Journals of Expeditions of Discovery into Central
Australia 1840 to 1841 London 1845 volume 1 page 10.)

(**Footnote. Ibid volume 1 pages 301 to 305.)

(***Footnote. Ibid volume 1 page 402; volume 2 pages 1 to 2.)

(****Footnote. Eyre, E. Journal of Expeditions of Discovery into Central
Australia 1840 to 1841 London 1845 volume 2 page 6.)

(*****Footnote. Ibid volume 2 pages 67 to 69.)

Other short exploratory tours were made about the same time, principally
for the purpose of further opening up the south-western districts, which
were regarded as the most promising portion for development, and of which
accurate and complete information was desirable.

With regard to strictly local affairs, the reports of the Agricultural
Society for 1839 to 1842 show that very definite expansion was taking
place, though still limited by the want of labour. The chief development
was to be found in the pastoral industry. By the end of the latter year
the part of sheep had increased to over 60,000, and wool to the value of
4252 pounds was exported. Other livestock showed a corresponding increase
in numbers, but the same indications of progress were not apparent in the
amount of land actually brought under cultivation. The area of land under
crop, which in 1839 stood at 2578 acres, had increased to only 3047 in
1842, due partly to the difficulty of securing labour and partly to the
fact that better results, at the cost of less exertion, could be secured
by sheep-farming.*

(*Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

Owing to the increased prosperity the deficit in the colony's finances,
which had been rapidly increasing for years past, was nearly adjusted by
1842, notwithstanding the active public works policy that was rendered
necessary by the expansion. Extensive surveys were made in various
districts, and roads opened up between the different settlements. In
1840* The first pile of the Perth Causeway was driven, and under the
supervision of the Town Trust--the forerunner of the City Council--a
public jetty was constructed at Perth.** Further evidence of progress was
the establishment, on Rowland Hill's system of uniform rates, of regular
postal communication between the various settlements in the colony, daily
between Perth and Fremantle and less frequently to the outlying

(*Footnote. Stirling, E. Brief History of Western Australia page 13.)

(**Footnote. Perth Gazette 5 November 1842.)

(***Footnote. Ibid 9 April 1842.)

The general improvement in affairs had also attracted the attention of
outside banking institutions, as we find that in 1841 the Bank of Western
Australia was amalgamated with the Bank of Australasia,* which was
desirous of opening business in the colony. Some of the shareholders were
opposed to the change, and took steps to establish another local bank,
the result being that later in the year the Western Australian Bank,
which has exercised so great an influence in the development of Western
Australia, opened its doors. The original directors were J.S. Roe, W.
Tanner, W.J. Lawrence, E. Hamersley, R. Hinds, J. Stringer, and G.F.
Stone. The capital was 20,000 pounds.** The first dividend--15 per
cent--was declared in January 1842.***

(*Footnote. Ibid 24 April and 1 May 1841.)

(**Footnote. Ibid 26 June 1841.)

(***Footnote. Ibid 8 January 1842.)

The same activity was displayed in religious and educational matters. In
answer to a requisition the Governor introduced a Bill into the
Legislative Council in 1840 for the purpose of promoting the erection of
churches and chapels and of providing for the maintenance of ministers of
religion.* By the end of 1842 there were four Anglican clergymen, in
addition to the Colonial Chaplain, stationed at various towns, and one
Wesleyan clergyman resident in Perth. The members of the Church of
England began to look forward to the establishment of a bishopric, and
with that end in view 10,000 acres were set aside as an endowment. The
same Church had established a grammar school in the capital, and with
Government aid primary schools were at work in different parts of the

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 16 June 1840 Perth
Gazette 20 June 1840. The Bill was afterwards vetoed by the Colonial

In 1839 a fossil believed to be an encrinite was discovered in the
Toodyay district.* This was regarded as important, being in the opinion
of the colonists an indication of the existence of a coalfield.
Subsequently it was reported that coal had actually been found on the
Murray River, at a place where researches were being prosecuted by Mr.
Preiss, a German naturalist. In order to stimulate search the Government
offered a free grant of 2560 acres to the first discoverer of a coal
bed,** but for many years nothing definite resulted from the offer.

(*Footnote. Moore, G.F. Diary of Ten Years in Western Australia page

(*Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 30 March and 6 April

CHAPTER 7. 1843 TO 1849.


With the year 1843 there came one of those waves of depression which so
frequently rolled over Western Australia during the early years of its
existence. Following as it did upon a period of moderate prosperity which
had appeared to possess some elements of permanency, the colonists were
greatly discouraged, and the seriousness of the position was consequently
considerably increased. The first signs of the trouble were an
unaccountable fall in the price of stock, and a constant flow of specie
out of the colony to pay for the imports, which far out-valued the
exports. The causes assigned for the depression were various. Naturally
among them the "iniquitous" land regulations held a prominent place.
Other reasons urged were the want of protective duties, the high rates of
interest on borrowed money, the excess of imports over exports, and,
above all, the scarcity of labour.* Many were the means suggested and
tried for coping with the trouble, the ultimate one being that which has
had so wide and far-reaching an effect upon the history of Western
Australia--the introduction of convict labour and the establishment of a
penal settlement.

(*Footnote. Inquirer 4 and 11 October 1843, 7 February 1844; Perth
Gazette 11 November 1843; Reports of Agricultural Society 1843 (Inquirer
3 January 1844) and 1844 Inquirer 1 and 8 January 1845. See also
Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

Up to 1842 the colonists may be regarded as having been engaged in
combating local difficulties, in forming their homes, and in striving to
wrest the necessaries of life from the virgin forest. Their aim was to
supply the local market, and so long as that market could absorb their
products, high prices necessarily ruled and a general condition of
solvency existed. They were also getting fair prices for such wool as
they were able to export. One of the causes of the depression seems to
have been the belief that they could go on importing stock without
bringing about either a fall in values or a surplusage on the market. The
result of this belief was that nearly 50,000 pounds in specie was sent
out of the colony to pay for importations of all classes of stock.* This,
occurring when supply and demand were fast approaching a level, caused a
reaction, and a consequent drop in prices, which produced a sudden
cessation of speculation, a general retrenchment, and a serious fall in
the value of property of all kinds. In commenting upon the condition of
affairs at the opening of the Legislative Council in June 1843,** The
Governor urged that the colonists should look for other avenues of
industry and profit, so as to provide exchangeable commodities to balance
the great excess of imports over exports. Without such commodities the
enormous balance of trade against the colony had to be met by Treasury
Bills or by sending specie out of the country. Both ways were bad; they
not only restricted development, but were destructive of those beneficial
results which ought to accrue from trading.

(*Footnote. Report of Agricultural Society 1842 Perth Gazette 8 April

(**Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 15 June 1843 Perth
Gazette 17 June 1843.)

The existence of depression being recognised, the colonists were
compelled to seek for some means of overcoming it, and it was soon
evident that public opinion considered that the solution lay in the
introduction of further labour. In coming to this conclusion they were
guided by the knowledge of the relief afforded by the Australind settlers
of 1841 and 1842, and by the immigrants landed from the Success in April
1843. The question of immigration began to engage the attention of the
Legislative Council in August,* and a committee was appointed to consider
the best method of obtaining a supply of labour. The report of this
committee, which was presented to the Council in the following October,
estimated that 400 servants were urgently required, 300 of whom might be
advantageously employed in farming pursuits and the remainder as domestic
servants. Being of opinion that it was not possible to raise sufficient
money for the purpose by sales of land, the committee advised that a loan
be obtained from the Imperial authorities, the interest upon which should
be provided for on the annual estimates, by earmarking the monies derived
from land sales, transfer fees, and other land sources. Failing Colonial
Office approval of this idea, they advocated a system of bounties. The
Legislative Council adopted the report, and it was forwarded by Governor
Hutt for the consideration of the Home Government,** which declined to
accede to either recommendation.***

(*Footnote. Inquirer 23 August 1843.)

(**Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 19 October 1843 Perth
Gazette 21 October 1843.)

(*Footnote. Hutt to Lord Stanley 21 October 1843.)

While convinced that in the introduction of labour lay the solution of
their difficulties, the colonists also gave consideration in 1843 to the
suggestions of the Governor to look for other industrial outlets for
their energies. One marketable commodity ready to hand was timber, and
efforts were made to work up an export trade in jarrah and other woods
with which the colony abounded. Attention was directed to a letter which
Sir James Stirling had received from the Admiralty some years previously
in which an offer to purchase 200 loads of timber was made.* A fair
market was also believed to exist in the Mauritius. With these
possibilities in view an attempt was made by C.D. Ridley to form a
company,** but without success. Later in the year, however, various
samples were forwarded to London, and a certain degree of interest taken
in them, resulting in the inception of a small export trade. Better
success followed a shipment of sheep to the Mauritius, which realised 28
shillings per head, and potatoes to the value of 300 pounds were also
exported.*** These small items with 6000 pounds worth of wool, and oil to
the value of 300 pounds, practically comprised all the exports, leaving
60,000 pounds imports to be paid for by specie. The result was that by
the end of the year there was practically no money in the market. The
Government, as well as the settlers, was compelled to exercise the most
rigid economy. The accounts for 1842/3 showed a deficit of some 700
pounds, with a prospect the reverse of reassuring. To stem the tide an
Act was passed to increase the duties on spirits, and various licence
fees were imposed.**** About the same time the new Land Act (6 Victoria
c.36) regulating the sale of waste lands of the Crown in the Australian
colonies, came into operation, raising the price to 20 shillings per
acre.***** This does not seem to have exercised any appreciable
influence, one way or another, upon the colony's affairs at the time.
What undoubtedly exercised an influence for good was the consistent
policy of Governor Hutt in regard to the various land regulations. So
successfully had he carried out these regulations that in 1843 out of a
million and a half acres alienated, there were not 100,000 for which the
fee simple had not been issued.******

(*Footnote. Two hundred loads were exported in 1836; see Statistical
Summary Appendix.)

(**Footnote. Perth Gazette 15 April 1843.)

(***Footnote. Report of Agricultural Society 1843 Inquirer 3 January
1844. See also Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

(****Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 16 June 1843 Perth
Gazette 17 June 1843.)

(*****Footnote. Ibid.)

(******Footnote. Ibid.)

The one bright spot in the year's transactions was the harvest. About 800
additional acres were under cultivation* and good returns obtained from
the whole. Grapes, olives, and other fruits were produced, and some
attention paid to wine-making, while the number of sheep had increased by
one quarter.** Yet notwithstanding this apparently satisfactory
condition, the colonists's fears of depression were abundantly fulfilled
in 1844. As compared with 1839, prices of commodities fell nearly 50 per
cent, and rents and wages were correspondingly lower.*** These things,
combined with the scarcity of money and the pessimistic view of the
situation taken by the colonists, served to accentuate the depression.
The Deputy-Assistant Commissary-General, W.H. Drake, stated to a
committee of the Legislative Council**** that in January 1843 he
estimated the amount of specie in the colony at 25,000 pounds; in January
1844 at half that sum, and, at the time of giving evidence (July 1844) at
not more than 9000 pounds. To prevent, as far as possible, the specie
remaining from being sent out of the colony, the Commissary-General
called for tenders for Bills of Exchange in sums of not less than 100
pounds, drawn on the Commissioners of the Treasury at London.*****. The
amount received was 4200 pounds.****** As wheat grown in the colony was
also accepted for these bills the loan served a further purpose of
providing a market for surplus grain. Yet, though times were so bad, and
the banks, to assist their customers, were compelled to reduce the rates
of discount, we find that the Western Australian Bank was able to declare
substantial dividends in January and July,******* showing that in spite
of the depression there must have been a firm belief in the recuperative
power of the colony.

(*Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

(**Footnote. Report of Agricultural Society 1843 Inquirer 3 January

(***Footnote. Kimberley, W.B. History of Western Australia Melbourne 1897
page 132.)

(****Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 18 July 1844
Inquirer 24 July 1844.)

(*****Footnote. Inquirer 12 January 1844.)

(******Footnote. Ibid 10 July 1844.)

(*******Footnote. Inquirer 10 January and 10 July 1844.)

The revenue returns for the year 1843/4 showed a decrease on those of the
previous year, and were insufficient to meet the expenditure. The value
of imports was 36,440 pounds, while the exports totalled only 13,364
pounds,* the principal being wool and oil, which together amounted to
12,540 pounds.** This shrinkage in revenue and great disparity between
imports and exports caused considerable uneasiness. So much so that when
the Estimates for 1845/6 were brought before the Legislative Council in
May*** the Governor remitted them to a committee for consideration. His
estimate of expenditure was 8886 pounds, but the committee, convinced
that it could not be met by revenue, reduced it to 7283 pounds by cutting
down the items relating to the administration of justice, public works,
police, and surveys and exploration. At the same time the revenue
estimates were revised and 2000 pounds less set down as probable returns
from spirit duties. To balance this, further ad valorem duties on
imports, estimated to yield 1300 pounds, were proposed.**** Such drastic
alterations to the Governor's proposals could not fail to produce
acrimonious discussion, more particularly as the amended Estimates
received the support of the Council generally. The Governor made
strenuous objections, but the committee's report was carried against him.
Feeling that to exercise the power of veto which he possessed would only
make matters worse, and that to reserve both sets of Estimates for the
consideration of the Home authorities would also be inimical to the best
interests of the colony, Governor Hutt gave his assent to the committee's
proposals. So convinced was he, however, of the want of wisdom shown in
taxing foodstuffs that he congratulated himself on not being a settler,
and assured the Council that the "doom of the colony was sealed."*****
This attitude only served to increase his unpopularity. Not only were the
members of the Council opposed to him, but public opinion generally
declared itself adverse, and he achieved the unfortunate distinction of
being freely criticised and derided in the public press. That his view of
the situation was wrong the end of the year clearly showed, the revenue
not even reaching the revised estimate by some 400 pounds. While
admitting his ability in matters of administration generally, and more
particularly in regard to the land regulations and the treatment of the
natives, it is open to question whether his management of the financial
affairs of the colony was equally successful.

(*Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

(**Footnote. Inquirer 29 May 1844.)

(***Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 23 May 1844 Inquirer
29 May 1844.)

(****Footnote. Ibid 24 June 1844 Inquirer 26 June 1844.)

(*****Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 4 July 1844
Inquirer 10 July 1844.)

The Estimates being disposed of, the committee took into consideration
the general financial condition of the colony, and presented a further
report to the Legislative Council in July. As the result of exhaustive
inquiries the committee was convinced that the depression existing was
due to:

"The alteration in the land regulations, fixing the minimum price of
Crown lands at 20 shillings per acre, which has had a powerful and
baneful influence upon the conditions of the colony, and consequently on
the revenue, by putting a stop to the sale of Crown lands--no money
sales, with the exception of a few town allotments having been made since
December 1, 1842--and to the introduction of capital.

"The great and sudden fall in the price of stock, owing to the large
increase and comparative and stationary position of the population, by
the entire stop the land regulations alluded to have put to immigration.

"The consequent difficulties of the farmers, and inability to meet their
engagements, contracted at a time when the price of stock was high and
all the other necessaries of life proportionately high.

"The balance of trade, being so much against the colony, occasioning an
annual abstraction of specie and other capital of not much less than
20,000 pounds.

"To these may be added the injuries our farmers have sustained by the
large amount of colonial produce poured into Western Australia from the
adjacent colonies--in a great degree occasioned by a similar state of
things, brought on in a great measure by the same causes."*

(*Footnote. Ibid 18 July 1844 Inquirer 24 July 1844.)

The report was not received by the Council with any degree of enthusiasm.
While it professed to consist of the opinions of the colonists, and did
in a measure disclose the causes of the depression and the condition into
which the colony had fallen, it contained no suggestions for alleviating
the distress or for bringing back prosperity. The chairman of the
committee sought to remedy this defect by making certain proposals when
discussing the report. His speech was rather remarkable as showing the
state into which the colony had lapsed. Supporting his remarks by
elaborate tables* giving the development of the previous seven years, he
pointed out that the balance of trade against the colony since its
inception was large, but up to that time had been greatly minimised by a
substantial annual expenditure on the part of the Government. A gradual
increase of population, including some capitalists, had also helped to
render progression possible, but the alteration in the price of Crown
lands had stopped this immigration, and so put an end to progress. The
continual drain of specie to pay for imports had then made itself felt,
with the result that the whole colony had been brought to the verge of
ruin. "Although," he said, "we have plenty of real property and stock of
every description, we have not a shilling which as a colony we can call
our own. We have no balance in our Treasury; the balance in the
Commissariat chest is the property of the Queen. As individuals we have
loose silver in our pockets--but only as individuals--for as colonists it
is the property of the foreign creditor."** The remedies suggested by the
committee were to make the colony an exporting one--this, it will be
remembered, had already been urged by the Governor; to induce the British
Government to consent to the flotation of a loan of 100,000 pounds to be
used to pay off the mortgages and introduce labour; and to secure a
reduction in the price of Crown lands. These suggestions were then put in
the form of definite propositions*** and resulted in a long and rather
acrimonious debate. The Governor said he was not disappointed with the
discussion, because he never expected anything from it. It was not
possible to find any distinct or specific remedy. He had no panacea to
offer; all he could do as head of the Government was to call attention at
all times to three points of conduct--economy, a cessation of paper
credit, and an increase of exports.**** The only outcome of the debate
was a declaration by the Council that a reduction in the price of Crown
lands from 20 to 5 shillings per acre would encourage capitalists to
settle in the colony and thus provide a fund for the introduction of
labourers and artisans.***** Though barren of results in other
directions, the discussion had the effect of encouraging production in
various ways with the object of establishing a larger export trade.
Shipments of horses and cattle were sent to the Mauritius, where they
realised satisfactory prices. A stock market was established at
Guildford, the rearing of horses for Indian remounts advocated, and the
growth of sheep to increase the export of wool encouraged. The
development of a timber trade was looked upon as one of the principal
assets of the colony, and great activity was displayed throughout the
south-west district in preparing sawn timber for export. By the end of
the year over 250 tons were lying at Bunbury awaiting shipment. Even
taken as a whole, these various movements were not sufficient to
establish any considerable volume of trade, but the record of them shows
that the small colony, which consisted of only 4350 persons, over 1200 of
whom were resident in Perth, was making some attempt to rise above its

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 2 August 1844 Inquirer
7 August 1844.)

(**Footnote. Ibid.)

(***Footnote. Ibid.)

(****Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 2 August 1844
Inquirer 7 August 1844.)

(*****Footnote. Ibid.)

Notwithstanding the activity displayed in these ventures and the practice
of the most rigid economy on the part of the people, the condition of
affairs went from bad to worse. The financial aspect in 1845 was even
less encouraging than in the previous year. When the session of the
Legislative Council opened in April the Governor had the unwelcome task
of announcing that even the estimate of revenue as amended by the
committee had not been realised, and that compared with 1843/4 there was
a falling off in revenue of 2627 pounds. On the year's transactions the
expenditure exceeded the receipts by 450 pounds, an amount small in
itself, but appreciable in a country whose total income was less than
7200 pounds.* Seeing no prospect of improvement, the Governor in
preparing the Estimates was compelled to use the pruning knife even more
vigorously than the committee of 1844 had done. The revenue he estimated
at 6920 pounds and the expenditure at 6647.** This time the Estimates
were passed practically as presented. To reduce them further without
seriously affecting the efficiency of the Government was impossible, and
to have attempted to increase the expenditure in face of the growing
depression would have been suicidal.

(*Footnote. Ibid 17 April 1845 Perth Gazette 19 April 1845.)

(**Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 15 May 1845 Perth
Gazette 17 May 1845.)

It is evident that the apparently hopeless condition of affairs now
affected the people generally.* In May they presented a memorial to the
Governor and Council** pointing out that though the colony was surrounded
by the elements of wealth, possessed abundance of rich land, an
industrious and intelligent population, a genial climate, and a
geographical position with extraordinary commercial advantages, it was in
a most critical position. The circulation was drained; immigration had
ceased, emigration had commenced; the revenue was falling; property was
almost valueless; trade was almost annihilated; and public confidence at
an end. The causes of all the evils, it was asserted, were the drainage
of specie, and, of course, the land regulations. The Governor was asked
to make searching investigations as to the truth of the allegations, and
then devise some remedy. What that remedy was to be or how it was to be
applied there was not even an attempt to conjecture. The memorial was
presented to the Legislative Council by George Leake, but that body
refused to entertain it on the ground that its despondent tone and
erroneous assertions were at variance with the facts, and tended to
injure the country in the minds of intending immigrants. At the same time
Leake endeavoured to secure the appointment of a committee to inquire
into the conditions of the currency with a view of preventing the little
specie that remained from leaving the colony before the end of the year.
The Council, however, felt that that was a matter over which it had
little or no control. The Governor maintained that the abstraction of
specie was due to the system of trade adopted in the colony, that there
were no real merchants but only traders, who did business "on the
principle of Whittington and his cat." A motion to establish a Corn
Law*** in the hope of effecting an improvement in prices also received an
"unqualified and uncompromising rejection."**** An impartial
consideration of the memorial and of Leake's motions fails to reveal any
reason why they should have been treated so summarily. It was suggested
at the time that the constitution of the Legislative Council itself
supplied that reason, as the Council consisted principally of paid
officials, upon whom the depression had no other effect than to enable
them to secure necessaries at lower prices than formerly. While one must
acquit the members of being interested from that standpoint, it is
nevertheless apparent that they showed a readiness to reject the various
proposals for improvement without substituting any others of value to the
community. That an injustice was done to the memorialists there is no
manner of doubt. The tone adopted by them may have been despondent, but
their statements were unfortunately far from erroneous. The colony WAS
being drained of specie, and the Government must have been aware of the
fact, as the colonial schooner was at the time under orders to proceed to
the Mauritius for silver.*****

(*Footnote. Some original letters from George Fletcher Moore to his
father, J.S. Moore, written at this period, and now in the possession of
Miss Wittenoom, Perth, contain extracts which are of some value as
showing the position of the colony at this time: "Monetary affairs of the
colony are getting into a very embarrassed state. There is no price to be
got for anything that is to be sold, and there is no payment of interest
or rents" (1 February 1844). "Times are certainly very much changed in
this colony. Prices of anything colonial have fallen to less than
one-third of what they were" (22 March 1844). "We have got into a most
extraordinary state here. The money seems all to have vanished. Our
colonial treasury had only 7 pounds 6 shillings and 5 pence in it after
paying the salaries and disbursements of last month." After referring to
cases of distress, he goes on: "These are not solitary instances, and
there are worse times coming I fear" (7 July 1844). A somewhat different
note is struck in the following: "By the natural course of things and the
ordinary progress of the colony and the exertions of the settlers all
combining to one result, prices of stock and produce have fallen so that
those who are in debt find it hard to raise money to pay. They feel
embarrassed and make a great outcry about the distress of the colony as
if people were starving for want of food, whereas it is because there is
more food than people can readily find a market for that the colonists
complain, and the high price of land is blamed as the cause of all this
and never a word said about the high rate of living and extravagance' (9
August 1844).)

(**Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 8 May 1845 Perth
Gazette 10 May 1845. The text of the Memorial was published in Perth
Gazette 3 May 1845.)

(***Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 5 June 1845 Perth
Gazette 7 June 1845.)

(****Footnote. Inquirer 11 June 1845.)

(*****Footnote. Ibid.)

Further, emigration DID exceed immigration, as the official statistics
showed, the number of departures for the year 1844/5 being 124 as against
72 arrivals.* That the population increased from 4301 to 4369 in the
twelve months was owing to an increase of 120 in the number of births
over deaths.** Trade was not annihilated, nor was property valueless, but
the depression was so acute that the branch of the Bank of Australasia,
which had been operating since 1839, was withdrawn from the colony, and
the Western Australian Bank found that its dividend-paying capacity was
shrinking.*** These things show that the statements, far from being
erroneous, were in great measure true. They certainly were injudicious,
but the answer of the Council was scarcely such as to lead the
petitioners to see the error of their ways.

(*Footnote. Annual report on births, marriages, and deaths 1844/5 Perth
Gazette 18 October 1845.)

(**Footnote. Ibid.)

(***Footnote. Perth Gazette 5 July 1845.)

The land regulations continued; of course, to form a fruitful theme for
discussion and complaint both in the Legislative Council and among the
settlers generally. Since the promulgation of the regulations fixing the
minimum price at 20 shillings per acre, immigration had almost ceased,
and the revenue received from the sales of Crown lands had practically
dwindled to vanishing point. The returns show that the amounts received
during the five years were: in 1841 129 pounds; 1842 2 pounds; 1843 and
1844 nil; 1845 25 pounds; a total of 156 pounds.* The whole population
pleaded for the repeal of the regulations. Petitions were forwarded,**
strongly supported by the Legislative Council and by those in England who
had knowledge of the colony, but all without effect. The Secretary of
State positively declined to make any alteration.*** Notwithstanding
repeated rebuffs, the Legislative Council made a further attempt in June
and July 1845.**** A series of propositions was tabled declaring that the
experiences of nearly three years had confirmed the opinions expressed in
the protest of 1842; that the system was noxious in its effects, having
stopped immigration and reduced the value of property; that the want of
attention shown by the Imperial Government to the remonstrances of the
colonists was to be regretted; that the effect of the regulations, which
applied only to Australia, had been to divert the tide of emigration to
the African and American colonies; that any legislation deterring
immigration was unjust, especially when capital and labour were abundant
in Great Britain; that it was unjust to charge the colony with the
expense of importing labour; and that the system of occupation of Crown
lands was opposed to the opinions and wishes of the colonists. These
propositions were all carried in spite of the strong opposition of the
Governor and Advocate-General. Later in the month this latter officer
brought forward a further series of motions dealing with the same
subject, but couched in different language. As some of these met with
opposition they were all withdrawn. A memorial embodying the whole of the
resolutions was then drawn up and transmitted to the Secretary of
State,***** who replied that the "system of land sales must remain

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 19 June 1845 Inquirer
25 June 1845.)

(**Footnote. Hutt to Lord Stanley 9 January 1843 Numbers 5 and 7.)

(***Footnote. Lord Stanley to Hutt 11 August 1843.)

(****Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 19 June and 10 July
1845 Perth Gazette 21 June and 12 July 1845.)

(*****Footnote. Hutt to Secretary of State 15 August 1845.)

(******Footnote. W.E. Gladstone to Governor Clarke 14 March 1846.)

Another suggestion for affording relief was the inauguration of a
spirited public works policy. At the instance of the settlers an Act was
passed by the Council authorising a loan of 2000 pounds at 7 per cent for
the purpose of building a gaol and carrying out other necessary works
such as road-making.* The Act was disallowed by the Colonial Office** on
the ground that in a small colony with a barely sufficient income it was
unwise to anticipate revenue. At the same time it was resolved to apply
to the Imperial authorities for a loan of 10,000 pounds for public
works.*** The request was accordingly made,**** but refused on the ground
that it was against the principles of the Government regarding colonial
affairs.***** An assessment on land for road purposes was also brought
forward, but did not meet with the approval of the Council, which
suggested that the trustees for roads should use the power they possessed
of raising a loan on the security of the tolls.******

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 10 July and 5 August
1845 Perth Gazette 12 July and 9 August 1845.)

(**Footnote. Gladstone to Clarke 14 March 1846.)

(***Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 10 July 1845 Perth
Gazette 12 July 1845.)

(****Footnote. Hutt to Lord Stanley 20 August 1845.)

(*****Footnote. Gladstone to Clarke 15 January 1846.)

(******Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 21 August 1845
Perth Gazette 23 August 1845.)

During the year 1845 further efforts were made to increase the export of
wool and oil, and establish a permanent trade in other commodities. An
experimental shipment of four tons of sandalwood realised 40 pounds,* and
a contract was made to supply 400 tons of jarrah to the Admiralty for use
in the dockyards.** The Vineyard Society, formed in 1842 to promote the
culture of the vine and olive, reported the satisfactory production of
wine.*** The total exports for the year came to 13,353 pounds, of which
7257 pounds was represented by wool, and 4228 by oil and whalebone.****

(*Footnote. Blue Book 1845 page 124.)

(**Footnote. Perth Gazette 17 and 24 May 1845.)

(***Footnote. Inquirer 2 April 1845.)

(****Footnote. Blue Book 1845 page 124.)

In the midst of the colony's troubles, when an experienced Governor with
extensive local knowledge was particularly desirable, Governor Hutt
announced his intention to retire. He had for some time past been in
indifferent health, and felt that it would be wise to take advantage of
the expiry of his term and return to England. He left the colony in
H.M.S. Fly on 19 February 1846.

Upon the whole Hutt cannot be considered to have been a popular Governor.
He was universally respected for his uprightness of character and for the
strict and steady impartiality that marked his administration, but he
received none of that enthusiastic admiration which was accorded to Sir
James Stirling. Following upon that officer whose inclinations and
opinions were almost invariably on the side of the settler and opposed to
the Home authorities, and possessing as he did rigid principles and a
deep sense of the importance of his position, he was bound to come into
conflict with the people whom he was called upon to govern, more
especially as he allowed neither personal friendships nor local
influences to interfere with the performance of his duty.* His
unpopularity was mainly due to his strict enforcement of the land
regulations and his refusal to admit that every regulation of the
Colonial Office which did not meet with the approval of the settlers was
wrong. He was undeservedly blamed for advising the British Government to
raise the selling price of Crown lands and equally undeservedly accused
of being the cause of the depression that existed. The apparent failure
of his financial administration was more than anything due to the fact
that he assumed the reins of government just at the time when a strong
reaction was manifesting itself throughout Great Britain against the
extreme emigration policy of the previous decade. All the colonies
suffered from that reaction, but none so severely as Western Australia,
which had in addition to fight against continued misrepresentation and
falsehood. In these circumstances it was almost impossible to estimate
with any degree of assurance either the revenue or the expenditure for
any period in advance. By the exercise of extreme caution and
circumspection Hutt probably saved Western Australia from some of the
disasters that the other colonies suffered, though it is possible that
that same caution retarded the colony's advance when matters generally
throughout Australia began to right themselves.

(*Footnote. "He is not popular here because he is of South Australian or
Gibbon Wakefield and Whig radical politics, but he has been an excellent
Governor for us, prudent and careful in the management of public funds,
and just and conscientious in his administration, and having less
propensity for jobbing than most public men." G.F. Moore to his father 9
August 1844. Quotation taken from manuscript letter not printed.)

His policy toward the aborigines also roused the opposition of the
colonists when it was first made known. They regarded it as the outcome
of mawkish sentimentality toward the natives on the part of people in
England, who really knew nothing of the practical side of the question,
and they considered that its only effect would be to increase the
lawlessness and violence of the savages. By the end of Hutt's term,
however, the settlers were convinced that the friendly intercourse
between the whites and the natives and the absence of strife were due to
the humane measures he had adopted.

Consideration of these various matters leaves little doubt that his
administration was on sounder lines than that of his predecessor. In
fact, many of the difficulties that he had to face were the result of a
certain degree of partiality on the part of Sir James Stirling, and the
opposition he met with, both from the Legislative Council and the
colonists generally, would have fallen to the lot of any man who
endeavoured to carry out strictly the duties imposed by his commission.
As a kind friend his departure was regretted by all, though in the minds
of many that regret was tempered by the knowledge that his departure put
a stop to his administration. But judged apart from the influence of the
immediate circumstances, that administration, though unpalatable, was
wise and necessary in the interests of Western Australia, and that fact
would probably have been recognised at the time had it not been that long
before his arrival he had been prejudged as a man of strong personality
with distinct leanings towards the policy of the Colonial Office.

When information reached England that Hutt intended to retire, attempts
were made, without success, to secure the appointment of Marshall Waller
Clifton, the ex-Chief Commissioner of the Western Australian Company.* In
August 1845, Lieutenant-Colonel Andrew Clarke, K.H., was appointed to
succeed Governor Hutt, and arrived in the colony in February 1846. An
Irishman by birth, Lieutenant-Colonel Clarke had had previous
administrative experience as Governor of St. Lucia.** The common belief
that when things are particularly bad a change of Government will often
bring relief, seemed in a measure be justified by the new Governor's
arrival. Certainly the colony had touched bottom, and there began a slow
but appreciable improvement in affairs. When the financial year closed in
March it was found that the revenue estimated at 6920 pounds had yielded
7866 pounds, and showed a surplus of 335 pounds over the expenditure.***

(*Footnote. Swan River News and Western Australian Chronicle London
volume 2 page 165.)

(**Footnote. Ibid page 183.)

(***Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 23 April 1846
Inquirer 29 April 1846.)

 In January 1846, a dispatch was received from the Secretary of State for
the Colonies* informing the Governor that the Act of 1844 imposing
certain duties on imports had been disallowed, such disallowance to take
effect three months after receipt of the notification. The ground of
objection was the same as Governor Hutt had urged so strongly when the
matter was under consideration, namely, that the proposals were bad in
principle. Other proposals to take the place of those annulled were
suggested in he dispatch, and Governor Clarke called the Legislative
Council together to consider these. In accordance with the
suggestions--practically directions--of the Secretary of State the Act
of 1844 was repealed and a further one substituted for imposing duties
by way of revenue only, and not by way of protection.** This Customs
Ordinance (9 Victoria Number 7) is rather of importance, as it was
distinctly preferential in character, all imports from foreign countries
being charged with a duty twice as great as that on imports from any
part of the British empire. The basis of value for computing the duty
was the invoice price with 20 per cent added.

(*Footnote. Lord Stanley to Hutt 12 September 1845.)

(**Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 3 and 16 April 1846
Inquirer 8 and 22 April 1846.)

Another ordinance of importance passed at this time was one repealing the
pilotage dues and making the ports of Western Australia free to the
world.* It was thought that the high dues exacted from the masters of
incoming vessels had done much to keep ships away from the colony, and
had consequently hindered the development of an export trade. As an
experiment it was worth trying, as the colony had little to lose by it,
and so far as one can judge it had some effect in inducing vessels to
make Fremantle one of their ports of call.

(*Footnote. Ibid 23 April 1846 Perth Gazette 25 April 1846.)

Owing to the illness of the Governor, little else was done by the
Legislative Council beyond passing the Estimates (revenue 7670 pounds;
expenditure, 7610 pounds) for 1846/7 and agreeing to the perennial
resolutions opposing the price of Crown lands and objecting to the system

(*Footnote. Ibid 16, 23 and 30 April 1846 Perth Gazette 18 and 25 April,
2 May 1846.)

In the English parliament the only matter of interest to the colony was a
Bill to continue the operation of the Act of George IV with regard to the
Government of Western Australia. The discussion that took place in the
House of Lords is interesting because it foreshadowed the granting of
responsible Government to the Australian colonies.* Earl Grey expressed
the opinion that the earlier system of colonisation, by which the
colonists were allowed to manage their own affairs without any
interference on the part of the Mother Country, was infinitely safer,
wiser, and better than that which had of late years been adopted. The
whole system of the Government of Australia required revision, and to be
placed on an improved and permanent footing. Then, according to The
Times' report,** the Duke of Richmond gave notice that IF THERE WERE NO
THE CONVICTS TRANSPORTED he would move for a committee of inquiry, for in
no country calling itself Christian was there a worse state of depravity.
Lord Lyttelton, the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, replied
that he had paid attention to the subject and had strong hopes of being
able to produce a measure during the session to redress those evils. When
this report reached Western Australia there was great public indignation,
as up to that time the settlers had always proudly emphasised the fact
that the colony was free from taint. The statements were put down as
being one more indication of the woeful ignorance existing even in high
places. A reference to Hansard shows, however, that both the Duke of
Richmond and Lord Lyttleton were referring to the convict system in
Australia as it then existed, and not to Western Australia, so that
considerable public energy seems to have been unnecessarily expended over
the matter.

(*Footnote. Hansard third series volume 86 page 171 7 May 1846.)

(**Footnote. Swan River News volume 3 page 44; Inquirer 21 October 1846.)

Though the depression was by no means at an end, it seemed to be lessened
in tension after Governor Clarke's arrival in 1846. The reason is
probably to be found in the fact that Hutt's advice to develop the
various potentialities and encourage an export trade was being acted
upon. In January 1846 the Unicorn left Fremantle with the largest cargo
of Western Australian produce that had so far been exported, consisting
mainly of wool, oil, and timber.* The timber trade particularly began to
arouse a great deal of interest. For years previously boats had been
built of local wood, but in 1846 something better was attempted, and
three small ships, the largest capable of carrying 300 tons, were
constructed at Fremantle.** Various vessels were also repaired in the
colony, and in the case of one of them, the Halifax packet, Lloyd's
surveyor expressed great satisfaction with the class of wood used.*** The
colonists were advised that a ready market existed in England for
colonial hardwoods,**** and prepared a good deal for dispatch, but
unfortunately, the want of shipping facilities greatly hindered the
development of the trade.***** In order to extend operations, the Western
Australian Bank offered liberal assistance to those cutting timber. It
agreed to advance 2 pounds for every load stacked on the beach and a
further 10 shillings when the load was shipped.****** During the year
trade with the Mauritius was also encouraged, and the foundations laid
for the export of sandalwood******* to Ceylon and China. At the end of
1846 it was estimated that 200 tons of this wood were ready for dispatch,
the total value of timber actually exported during the twelve months
being 575 pounds.********

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 24 January 1846.)

(**Footnote. Inquirer 26 August 1846.)

(***Footnote. Swan River News volume 3 page 27.)

(****Footnote. Swan River News volume 3 pages 9, 19, 27 and 35.)

(*****Footnote. Perth Gazette 17 October 1846.)

(******Footnote. Inquirer 28 August 1844.)

(*******Footnote. Perth Gazette 31 January 1846.)

(********Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

In addition to the interest shown in the development of the timber
resources there was an encouraging revival of whaling, and when the
season was concluded the amount of oil and bone secured for export was
valued at nearly 7000 pounds.*

(*Footnote. Inquirer 16 December 1846.)

A further interesting development in 1846 was in the direction of
minerals. Rumours of mineral discoveries had repeatedly been made in
previous years, but nothing had come of them, though both explorers and
geologists expressed the opinion that the country was not devoid of
mineral wealth. Some incentive to search was given by the discovery of
copper in 1842 and 1844 in the neighbouring colony of South Australia,
which by 1845 had become a revenue-producing factor.

About the middle of the year, specimens of coal of an inferior quality
were discovered in the Murray district.* The Government, recognising the
bearing which the discovery of coal measures would have upon the
development of the colony, proceeded to make a closer examination of the
district.** The reports received were favourable and great public
interest was aroused. Rumours of mineral finds became general, and for a
time practically the whole population seems to have been attacked by
mining fever.***

(*Footnote. Ibid 29 July 1846.)

(**Footnote. Ibid.)

(***Footnote. Ibid 12 August 1846.)

Toward the end of August a meeting was held and a committee appointed at
Perth with a view to the formation of a company for the purpose of
investigating the mineral resources of the colony.* The first locality to
be tested was the supposed coal-bed on the river Murray. As a result of
the efforts of this committee there was issued in September the
prospectus of the Western Australian Mining Company, with a capital of
20,000 pounds.**

(*Footnote. Inquirer 2 September 1846.)

(**Footnote. Ibid 23 September 1846.)

A few days later came the announcement of a further discovery of coal on
the Irwin River by A.C. Gregory, the Assistant Surveyor-General, and his
brothers. These officers returned from an expedition to the north of
Perth with a large block of coal said to have been taken from a seam six
feet thick.* On the strength of the discovery the actual finder, Mr. H.C.
Gregory, applied for the free grant of 2560 acres promised in 1839 to the
discoverer of coal.** A party under Lieutenant Helpman was sent to report
on these discoveries early in the following year, and returned with the
information that the coal seam had been traced for several miles.*** The
Government Gazette announced that the party had proved "the existence of
a large and open bed of coal" at the locality indicated by Messrs.

(*Footnote. Ibid 30 September 1846.)

(**Footnote. This was granted. See Earl Grey to Irwin 22 August 1847.)

(***Footnote. Inquirer 20 January 1847.)

(****Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 8 January 1847.)

Meanwhile the Mining Company had started operations, and a bore was sunk
in the Murray district. At a depth of 40 feet coal of a better quality
was reached,* but farther down the indications were not so good. Then
trouble arose, as the shareholders were "sordid persons" and looked for
dividends, and an expert, Dr. F. von Sommer, was commissioned to report
upon the prospects. The report was that of a true "mining expert," vague
and unsubstantial, and asked for further time for investigation.** In
March 1847 shafts were sunk near Kelmscott in the Canning district, in
the hope of securing lead. This hope was not realised, but an analysis of
100 pounds of ore taken out showed 66 per cent zinc, 13 per cent sulphur,
and 10 per cent iron, the remainder being earthy matter.*** Zinc,
however, had little value on the market at the time, and as a reaction
after the mining fever had set in, very little more in the direction of
mineral investigation was done for some years.

(*Footnote. Inquirer 23 December 1846.)

(**Footnote. Ibid 7 April 1847 report from Dr. von Sommer 31 March 1847.)

(***Footnote. Ibid 26 May 1847 Von Sommer's report 24 May 1847.)

Changes in the Government became necessary about this time owing to the
death of the Colonial Secretary in 1846, and of the Governor early in the
following year. The office of administrator devolved upon
Lieutenant-Colonel Irwin, while the Colonial Secretaryship was filled by
the temporary appointment of the Advocate-General, G.F. Moore.

The Legislative Council met in June 1847, and from the Governor's speech
it is apparent that an improvement was taking place in local affairs.
Rapid progress had been made in the acquirement of internal wealth and in
the development of the colony's resources. The revenue for 1846/7
amounted to 8453 pounds, while the expenditure was only 7966 pounds,
leaving, with the previous year's surplus, a credit balance of 821
pounds.* Owing to the improvement in the finances the Governor announced
that he had been able to arrange for the colonial schooner Champion to
proceed to Singapore for the purpose of securing a supply of Chinese, who
would be under engagement to remain in the colony for three years. By
this means he hoped that considerable relief would be afforded to the
settlers by supplying the deficiency existing in the labour market.**
Another matter of importance mentioned in the speech was an increase of
6869 pounds in the value of exports for 1846/7 over those of 1845/6,
which brought the exports to within 5000 pounds of the imports.

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 3 June 1847 Perth
Gazette 5 June 1847.)

(**Footnote. Ibid.)

In pursuance of the intention mentioned in the speech, the Champion was
later in the year dispatched to Singapore and returned with a few Chinese
servants.* Colonies of German immigrants were at that time being imported
into South Australia with more than a little success, and, bearing that
in mind, the Legislative Council appointed a committee to consider how
best to secure part of that stream for Western Australia.** Nothing
resulted, however, except a report of a valueless nature.***

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 6 November 1847.)

(**Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 8 July 1847 Perth
Gazette 10 July 1847.)

(***Footnote. Ibid 13 July 1847 ibid 15 July 1847.)

The session of 1847 was marked by extreme activity in matters of
legislation. The list of measures proposed almost looks as if Irwin was
anxious to get his personal ideas passed into law quickly and before a
successor to the late Governor could arrive from England. The chief
proposal was one to place an export tax on sandalwood, the proceeds to be
devoted to the maintenance of roads.* This aroused very strong
opposition,** in deference to which it was withdrawn for a time in favour
of a system of licence fees for permission to cut sandalwood.*** It was
reintroduced later in the year and passed into law,**** but by May 1848
the effects of it had become so marked and the ordinance itself so
unpopular that it was suspended for six months***** and not renewed
during the year. Another measure of importance was the abolition of the
General Roads Trust and the substitution of a Central Board of Works,
charged with the construction and maintenance of the roads throughout the

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 9 September 1847 Perth
Gazette 11 September 1847.)

(**Footnote. Report of public meeting Perth Gazette 18 September 1847.)

(***Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 1 October 1847.)

(****Footnote. Ibid 3 December 1847.)

(*****Footnote. Perth Gazette 27 May 1848.)

In 1847 an addition was made to the official members of both the
Legislative and Executive Councils by the appointment of the Collector of
Customs, H.C. Sutherland. The unofficial portion also underwent some
change through the resignation of Mr. Singleton, who was succeeded first
by Mr. Andrews and afterwards by Mr. S. Moore.

That the depression was giving way before the determined energies of the
people is apparent from the exports for the year. Ever since the
foundation of the colony the value of the imports had largely exceeded
that of the exports, but in 1847 it was found that against imports to the
value of 25,463 pounds the colonists were able to place 24,535 pounds in
exports. One remarkable feature was the growth of the sandalwood trade.
In 1846 it was valued at 320 pounds; in 1847 it had reached 4444 pounds.*
The revenue, too, was distinctly buoyant; the estimate of 8070 pounds was
exceeded by nearly 400 pounds, and that without any appreciable increase
in the expenditure. The Estimates for 1847/8 were framed on more hopeful
lines, and the revenue was set down at 9221 pounds.**

(*Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

(**Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 8 July 1847 Perth
Gazette 10 July 1847.)

In January 1848, news of the appointment of Captain Charles Fitzgerald as
Governor was received with every manifestation of delight. Though the
colonists respected Irwin as a man, they had a decided objection to him
as Governor. His methods of raising money were particularly obnoxious,
and every administrative act was viewed with suspicion. It is doubtful
whether any reason for the opposition could have been given. Long years
of depression and struggle had made the colonists pessimistic, and, like
discontented British subjects in every quarter of the globe, they threw
the blame upon the Government of the day. The Inquirer, a journal
possessing a much wider circulation than the Perth Gazette, was probably
the instigator of most of the feeling displayed, its editor being a
disappointed office seeker.*

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 29 January and 5 February 1848. There are also
repeated references to the attitude of the newspaper towards the
Lieutenant-Governor and his officers in the manuscript letters of G.F.
Moore already referred to.)

As the new Governor did not arrive until some months after the
announcement, it fell to the lot of Irwin to preside over the session of
the Legislative Council, which opened in March 1848, and in which the
newly-arrived Colonial Secretary (Dr. Richard Robert Madden) took his
seat for the first time. The outlook, as disclosed by the Governor's
speech, was becoming brighter; the revenue had exceeded the expenditure,
exports were increasing in value, and approximating even more nearly to
the imports than in the previous year; and in every direction there was
evidence that the severe period of depression was coming to an end.
Beyond passing the Estimates for 1848/9 little business was done, as
Irwin intimated that he did not wish in any way to hamper the movements
or anticipate the ideas of the new Governor, who was believed to be on
his way to the colony.* It became necessary, however, to summon a second
session in June, to consider a dispatch from the Secretary of State for
the Colonies.** For the sake of convenience the Council had adopted the
practice of passing in March the Estimates for the succeeding year
commencing in April, instead of those for the year later, as the
financial regulations required them to do.

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 22 and 30 March 1848
Perth Gazette 25 March and 8 April 1848.)

(**Footnote. Earl Grey to Irwin 11 February 1847.)

The dispatch drew attention to this regulation and required that the
Estimates of the Council should be prepared in advance so that the Home
authorities might have the opportunity of pronouncing upon them before
they actually came into operation. In pursuance therefore of this
direction the Governor presented to the Council the Estimates for
1849/50, which showed a decrease of 500 pounds on the figures for
1848/9.* As soon as the Estimates were out of the way, two other very
important matters were brought up for consideration. One was the
necessity for further exploration, not so much for the purpose of
accurate survey as with the object of finding, if possible, further
suitable land for pastoral pursuits. The land available for sheep was all
in use, and the want of new depasturing districts was severely felt. It
was agreed that the Surveyor-General should lead an expedition through
the south-east in the following September.** The other matter considered
was the constitution of the Legislative Council.*** Out of the ten
members, seven held their seats by virtue of their official positions as
Government officers. Only three were what might be termed unofficial, and
these were appointed by the Colonial Office upon the Governor's
nomination. There being apparently no chance of securing any alteration
in the direction of elective representation, an endeavour was made,
without success, in 1845 to secure the appointment of additional
unofficial members. The question was again raised in 1848, and a
committee was appointed to prepare a statement upon the constitution of
the Council for presentation to the Secretary of State. The statement
showed that originally the power of legislation, including taxation, was
vested in the Executive alone; that four unsalaried members were
afterwards added to form a mixed Legislature of five salaried officers
and four unofficial colonists; that the principles of constitution of
that body reserved to the Crown the nomination, suspension, and removal
of members, and vested the initiation of Bills, the option of putting
questions to the vote, and the power of veto in the Governor; that on a
vacancy occurring in the unofficial membership a salaried officer, the
Colonial Judge, had been appointed; and that a further salaried officer,
the Collector of Revenue, had since been added, making the proportion of
salaried officers to unofficial members that of seven to three. Various
suggestions for the equalisation of representatives were made, but left
to the Home Government to settle. One thing was definitely requested:
that the unanimous vote of the unofficial members against a proposition
should have the effect of vetoing it.****

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 29 June 1848 Perth
Gazette 1 July 1848.)

(**Footnote. Ibid 13 July 1848 Perth Gazette 15 July 1848.)

(***Footnote. Ibid 20 July 1848 ibid 22 July 1848.)

(****Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 25 July 1848 Perth
Gazette 29 July 1848.)

The report of the committee did not meet with approval. In place of it an
amendment was passed asking that three or four unofficial members be
added to the personnel of the Council. The request was duly forwarded
with the favourable recommendation of Irwin.* It was followed less than a
month afterwards by a dispatch from Governor Fitzgerald** deprecating any
such change. The Secretary of State declined to sanction any alteration
of the Council until the colony was prepared to relieve the British
Government from any payments by way of parliamentary grant.***

(*Footnote. Irwin to Earl Grey 3 August 1848.)

(**Footnote. Fitzgerald to Earl Grey 21 August 1848.)

(***Footnote. Grey to Fitzgerald 26 December 1848.)

With these matters the administration of Lieutenant-Colonel Irwin closed,
the new Governor arriving at Fremantle on 10 August. As previously noted,
Irwin's methods of Government were not popular, and the termination of
his authority was viewed with some degree of satisfaction, not perhaps
unshared by the Commandant himself, who had grown weary of the determined
opposition shown toward every proposal made by him and the continual
misrepresentation to which he was subjected. Captain Fitzgerald, who was
not without administrative experience, having been Governor of the Gambia
for nearly four years, was hailed with delight almost as the saviour of
the colony, and addresses of welcome showered upon him from all quarters.

No matters of any political importance arose during the remainder of
1848. As a result of agitation on the part of colonists in England, the
Colonial Office sanctioned the raising of a loan for immigration purposes
upon the security of the Land Fund.* As there did not happen to be a
solvent Land Fund in Western Australia, no benefit was derived from the

(*Footnote. See letter from Louis Samson printed in Perth Gazette 16
December 1848.)

Evidences of returning prosperity may be found in the exports for the
year, which amounted in value to 29,598 pounds. Of this total,
sandalwood, which three years previously had not been considered as an
asset of any value, accounted for 13,353* pounds, more than the export
value of wool and oil together. There is no doubt that an equally large
trade in the local hardwoods--the jarrah and karri--would also have been
developed at this period if the colonists had only had at their command
facilities for cutting and preparing large quantities. A demand for these
hardwoods had certainly arisen, but the colonists were quite unable to
meet it. Contractors for railway construction in India were ready to use
the timber,** but unfortunately could not get it as rapidly as they
required it. To overcome the difficulties an attempt was made in Madras
to form a Western Australian Timber Company,*** but without success.
Later in the year a small company was formed at Perth with a capital of
1000 pounds,**** a sum so small that the concern was necessarily doomed
to failure.

(*Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

(**Footnote. See Irwin's speech to Legislative Council 22 March 1848
Perth Gazette 25 March 1848.)

(***Footnote. Perth Gazette 8 April 1848.)

(****Footnote. Ibid 21 and 28 October 1848.)

The Mining Company continued its operations during the year, and shafts
were sunk in various places in the hope of discovering payable minerals.
The expectation that good coal existed on the Murray had not been borne
out, and the expert, Dr. von Sommer, was sent to examine the coal find of
the Messrs. Gregory. The only valuable result from these wanderings that
seems to have accrued to the colony was a geological map of the
south-western division. Besides coal, continual rumours were circulated
that copper was also to be found. Some ore sent from Kelmscott to South
Australia was declared to contain that metal, and further discoveries of
it were reported from Hardey's property, near York, but no serious
attempt at mining was made until the end of the year, when lead was
discovered in the Northampton district and the Geraldine Lead Mine opened

The rumours of minerals and the necessity of further country for the
extension of the pastoral industry led to a revival in exploration during
the period 1843 to 1850. Early in 1843 Landor and Lefroy made a short
trip to the south-east of York and Beverley in search of a large inland
sea mentioned by the natives. Beyond the headwaters of the Hotham and the
Williams they did discover some lakes, but they were for the most part
salt, and were not surrounded by country at all favourable for
pasturage.* In the following year Lieutenant Helpman in the schooner
Champion was dispatched to Gantheaume Bay, at the mouth of the Murchison
River, and brought back reports confirmatory of Captain Stokes'
observations on the general character of the country.** An excursion down
the Blackwood River was made by Assistant Surveyor A.C. Gregory in 1845,
and in 1846 the same officer, accompanied by his brothers F.T. and C.
Gregory visited the salt lake region of the interior. It was in the
course of this expedition, while examining the rivers reported by Grey in
1839, that the discovery of a coal seam was made near the source of the
Irwin.*** The same party made a further examination of the Murchison and
Gascoyne districts late in 1848, and discovered a galena lode in the bed
of the Murchison River.**** So much interest was shown in this discovery,
that in December the district was visited by the Governor and the
Geraldine Mine established.***** It was during this journey that Governor
Fitzgerald was speared by the natives.****** In the same year the
Surveyor-General started on the longest of those expeditions which earned
for him the title of the father of Australian explorers. Starting from
York and making toward the south-east, he reached the Pallinup in
October, and from there turned easterly until the Bremer Range was
reached. No better country than dense scrub and salt lakes could be seen
farther on, so Roe retreated toward the coast, stopping only at the
Russell Range, after being without water for three days and nights. On
the return journey several extensive beds of brown coal were found at the
Fitzroy River. The party reached Perth in February 1849, after having
explored 1800 miles of country, some of which was heavily timbered with
woods of commercial value.*******

(*Footnote. Report in Inquirer 8 February 1843.)

(**Footnote. Swan River News volume 2 pages 180 and 181.)

(***Footnote. Inquirer 30 September 1846.)

(****Footnote. Perth Gazette 25 November 1848.)

(*****Footnote. Ibid 30 December 1848.)

(******Footnote. Ibid 19 December 1848.)

(*******Footnote. Lands Department Western Australian Explorers' Diaries
1846 to 1865 pages 107 et seq.)

The subject of the land laws, both as regarded sale and leasing, was
still considered of profound importance by the colonists, and the
agitation which had been carried on practically from the inception of the
colony still continued. In this respect Western Australia was not
singular. In January 1848 the Legislative Council of New South Wales had
forwarded to the Colonial Office the report of a committee which sought a
reduction in the minimum price of Crown lands. The reply* to this report,
a copy of which was sent to Western Australia, stated that "the very same
arguments which are now brought forward against the establishment of the
minimum price of 1 pound per acre in 1841 were urged with no less
confidence against the establishment of a minimum price of 5 shillings
per acre as a substitute for free grants in 1831, and the subsequent
advance of the price to 12 shillings an acre in 1839. Each of these
changes has been regarded with equal apprehension, yet, as I have
observed, it is with the adoption of that policy, which has equally
dictated each successive advance in the price of land, that the great
progress of the colony may be said to have commenced." This reply, which
was applied to the Australian colonies as a whole, scarcely answered the
arguments advanced; and certainly the latter part of it, as far as
Western Australia was concerned, was not borne out by the facts. The
amount received from the sale of Crown lands under the regulation was
pitifully small, and did not in any way contribute toward great progress.
For years after the regulation came into force, adversity rather than
prosperity ruled in the colony, and the improved state of affairs in 1847
and 1848 was due more to the development of an export trade than to any
beneficial effect of the land regulations.

(*Footnote. Earl Grey to Sir Charles Fitzroy 11 August 1848 in Perth
Gazette 25 May 1849.)

In addition to the question of sale there was also that of leaseholds, an
important matter in a country which looked to squatting as one of its
mainstays. During Governor Hutt's term, regulations for the disposal of
Crown lands had been passed which allowed purchasers of sections of 160
acres the right of pasturage over adjacent Crown lands.* This was
considered a step in the right direction, and the people were much
disappointed when the regulations were disallowed by the Colonial
Office.** In 1848 two circular dispatches were sent to all the Australian
colonies by Earl Grey,*** suggesting a new set of land regulations to
deal chiefly with the question of leasing the waste lands of the crown.
To carry this suggestion into effect so far as Western Australia was
concerned, the Legislative Council appointed a committee to draw up
regulations for consideration. This committee, all of whose members were
large landowners, advised**** that the Crown lands of the colony should
be divided into two classes, A and B; that within class A should be
included all lands within three miles of a town-site or of land already
granted in fee simple; all land within two miles of the seacoast; all
within two miles of either bank of the named rivers or permanent streams;
and all within ten miles of the summit of Wizard's Peak, of the junction
of the Fitzgerald and Elwes Rivers, of the summit of East Mount Barren,
and of such other places as the Governor might proclaim. Class B was to
comprise all other lands open for location. In class A only yearly leases
for pastoral purposes could be granted; in class B leases could be given
for any term not exceeding eight years. Allotments of not more than 320
acres of A land could also be secured on lease for a term up to eight
years for cultivation and tillage, and holders of leases of B land could
cultivate any portion of it. These proposals, it may be seen, virtually
prohibited squatting within reasonable distance of good water or
permanent settlement. It was felt that they were framed entirely from the
point of view of the large landowner, a feeling that was strengthened by
the fact that the committee among them held nearly one-half of the
alienated land of the colony. Possessing no representation in the
Council, the only means the settlers had of voicing their objections were
by public meetings and memorials. A public meeting was therefore held on
18 July 1849, at which a resolution was unanimously passed:

"That in the opinion of the meeting the regulations framed by the
committee for the occupation of waste Crown lands are unsound in policy,
unjust in principle, inapplicable to the wants of the colony, in
opposition to the wishes of the colonists, and if adopted will tend to
frustrate the introduction of immigrants, the increase of revenue, the
production of wool, and cause a gradual depopulation of the

(*Footnote. Copy of regulations in Western Australian Government Gazette
18 June 1841.)

(**Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 22 July 1842.)

(***Footnote. Earl Grey to Sir Charles Fitzroy 29 November 1846 and 30
March 1847 in Perth Gazette 4, 11 and 18 November 1848.)

(****Footnote. Report of Committee in Perth Gazette 22 June 1849.)

(*****Footnote. Perth Gazette 20 July 1849.)

The meeting then approved an amended set of regulations, and concluded by
agreeing that a memorial should be forwarded to the Secretary of State
informing him that the colonists had no confidence in certain members of
the Executive Council, and, further, that the Governor be asked to allow
the colonists, in case of a vacancy in the Legislative Council, to select
a member from the list approved by the Home authorities. As, however, the
Governor decided to amend the most objectionable clauses of the
committee's proposed regulations, no further action was taken.* It may be
mentioned that Irwin was the chairman of the committee, which doubtless
in great measure prompted these last resolutions. In fact, throughout the
whole discussion this point was emphasised, and there is just the
possibility that it influenced the meeting more than any definite
objection to the proposed regulations.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 9 October 1849 Perth
Gazette 12 October 1849.)

In spite of the political troubles and financial difficulties, the
colony's affairs showed a distinct upward trend by the end of the period
1843 to 1849. A census taken in October 1848* showed that the population
of the colony was 4622--made up of 2818 males and 1804 females, while of
the total number 2900 were adults. The stock numbered 141,123 sheep, 2095
horses, 10,919 cattle, 1431 goats, and 2287 swine. The cultivated area
comprised 3317 acres under wheat, 672 under barley, 134 oats, 100 rye, 39
maize, and 120 potatoes. Vineyards and fruit orchards were represented by
114 acres, kitchen gardens by 244, and green crops by 2321. Mail
communication had been improved, and by the end of 1848 a monthly service
between Fremantle and London via Singapore had been inaugurated. Bridges
had been built, main roads cut, and overland traffic established between
Perth and Albany. Educational facilities, certainly only of a very
primary character, had been afforded to most of the settled townships,
and places of worship for the principal sects erected in Perth. The
greatest event in religious circles was perhaps the establishment of the
Roman Catholic Church. The authorities in Sydney had been requested in
1842 to send someone to minister to the needs of members of that
communion, and in the following year the Reverend John Brady, together
with an assistant priest and a catechist, was detailed for the work.
Almost from the first they were infected with the desire to carry on
extensive mission work among the natives, and when Father Brady visited
Rome in 1844 he suggested that Dr. Ullathorne should be appointed Bishop
of Perth, and that two missions should be established for the aborigines.
Dr. Ullathorne declined the appointment when offered, and father Brady
was consecrated bishop at Rome in 1845. Having collected a staff of
priests and helpers, he arrived in Western Australia with his party in
January 1846. The Bishop remained in Perth and the others were sent out
into the wilderness to form missions to the north, south, and east of the
capital. The first two, for various reasons over which the devoted band
had no control, proved entirely unsuccessful, and those priests who
survived the attempts made their way to India and the Mauritius. Of all
who had come out with Bishop Brady only two remained, two whose names are
cut deeply in the history of the Roman Catholic Church in Western
Australia, Guiseppe Serra and Rosendo Salvado. After a brave struggle
they established a mission for the aborigines at New Norcia, in the
Victoria District, and laid the foundations of perhaps the most
successful native mission in Australia.**

(*Footnote. Western Australian Almanac 1849 Perth pages 41 and 46 to 47.)

(**Footnote. Moran, Cardinal. History of the Catholic Church in
Australasia Sydney volume 2 pages 555 et seq; Birt, H.N. Benedictine
Pioneers in Australia London 1911 volume 2 pages 468 et seq.)

There remains one phase of the history of this period which has to be
dealt with--the agitation for the introduction of convict labour. It will
be remembered that at the establishment of the colony one of the
conditions of its foundation was that it was not to suffer from the taint
of the convict system. This was no doubt an important factor in inducing
many of the early settlers to make the Swan River Colony their home, and
to their credit it must be said that they struggled with their
difficulties and privations long years after they might have been
forgiven for abandoning their principles in favour of the relief that the
introduction of forced labour would undoubtedly have afforded. From time
to time suggestions of the benefits to be derived from the presence of
convicts were thrown out and sternly repulsed. It was only when, by the
cessation of immigration,* the supply of adequate labour came practically
to an end, that transportation was considered as a way out of their
difficulties. Without labour--free or forced--development was almost
impossible. The colonists had proved that in the preceding years.
Development was the keynote of prosperity, and increased population
necessary to provide a market for their agricultural produce. With all
its drawbacks, transportation had provided the means for that development
and that market for produce in the Eastern States of Australia, and
therefore, when all other means were exhausted, the colonists of Western
Australia were compelled to take the question into consideration. That
they did not do so at all readily there is ample evidence. The daring
spirits who, at King George's Sound in the early thirties, memorialised
the Home Government to send out convicts were regarded by the rest of the
community almost as pariahs. The same strong feeling of aversion toward
the very idea remained until the acuteness of depression in 1843 and 1844
forced the colonists to reconsider their position.

(*Footnote. In 1845 departures by sea exceeded arrivals by 129. See
Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

At a general meeting of the York Agricultural Society held in April
1844,* a motion was brought forward stating:

"That it is the opinion of this meeting that, inasmuch as the present
land regulations have entirely destroyed our labour fund, we conceive
that the Home Government are bound in justice to supply us with some kind
of labour, and after mature deliberations we have come to the
determination of petitioning the Secretary of State for the Colonies for
a gang of forty convicts to be exclusively employed in public works."

(*Footnote. Inquirer 17 April 1844.)

The motion was not put. In its place a resolution was passed appointing a
committee to inquire into the matter. This committee a few days later
interviewed Governor Hutt upon the question, but received no
encouragement. He informed them that he had already addressed the
Secretary of State upon the subject of labour, and as the point was
occupying the attention of the Home Government he had no doubt that some
scheme would be evolved in which Western Australia would participate.* In
spite of this rebuff a petition was prepared for signature, but it lapsed
from want of support. The York agriculturalists, however, achieved
something. They had directed the attention of the settlers toward the
importation of convicts as a way out of their difficulties, and from that
time, though strenuous opposition continued to be manifested, the
advocates of convict labour steadily gained ground. The newspapers,
reflecting in this case general public opinion, argued against convicts**
on the grounds of expense and undesirability, and showed that the
experiences of the other colonies ought to banish any suggestion in
favour of the idea from the minds of Western Australian colonists.

(*Footnote. Inquirer 24 April 1844.)

(**Footnote. Perth Gazette 19 and 26 July 1845; Inquirer 16 and 23 July

Opposition to the introduction of convicts was further strengthened by a
notice that appeared in the Hobart Town Gazette in January 1845,* stating
that Her Majesty had been pleased to extend pardons to convicts in Van
Diemen's Land, conditional upon the recipients remaining in one or other
of the Australian colonies. The fear that some of these people might fix
upon Western Australia as their homes resulted in a public meeting being
held at Perth in April,** when it was decided to forward a memorial to
the Secretary of State asking that none of these pardoned convicts be
allowed to come to the colony. When the colony was founded, the memorial
declared, "a solemn and distinct pledge was given by Her Majesty's
Government that it should not be made a recipient for convicts; a pledge
which (should this colony be left open to the semi-pardoned convicts of
Van Diemen's Land) would be entirely forfeited, while the colonists
themselves would be reduced to a much worse position than those in
settlements avowedly penal, where at least some protection is afforded to
the well-disposed by the restraints put upon the convicts by the laws, by
the presence of a large military force, and by the active exertions of a
numerous police."*** Why the colonists feared that convicts would be
attracted to a country which had failed to attract free labour was not
explained. The memorial was forwarded in due course**** and rejected, the
Home Government asserting that if certain convicts had since conviction
led blameless lives, there was no just reason for refusing to allow them
to seek the means of maintaining themselves in other colonies besides Van
Diemen's Land.

(*Footnote. Hobart Town Gazette 1845 page 16.)

(**Footnote. Inquirer 23 April 1845; Perth Gazette 19 April 1845. The
various memorials and resolutions from Western Australia regarding
convicts will be found in House of Commons Papers Number 262 pages 34 to
45 1851.)

(***Footnote. Hutt to Lord Stanley 28 April 1845.)

(****Footnote. W.E. Gladstone to Clarke 1 January 1846.)

Meanwhile, the advocates for convicts were endeavouring to gain public
support. Two memorials, both abortive, had been submitted to the people,
and a third was in course of circulation for signatures. In July a long
letter on the subject was published in the Inquirer,* observing that
owing to the absence of labour sixteen years of endeavour had brought but
little prosperity to the colony, and that there was little hope of any
great improvement under present conditions. The question of introducing
convicts, it was argued, was not a matter of principle but of policy, and
the supporters of the system favoured it, not through any admiration, but
simply as a matter of expediency. There is no doubt that public opinion,
slowly but surely, was beginning to move along these lines, and the
official mind was seriously perturbed. On 24 July the matter was raised
in the Legislative Council, and by a unanimous vote it was declared "that
the necessity for such an application (i.e. for the introduction of
convicts) is not apparent. No dearth of labour can be so extreme as to
call for, or to warrant our having recourse to, such a hazardous
experiment for a supply."** The moral aspects of the question were also
strongly commented upon, and altogether it is evident that at that date
there was no intention whatever on the part of the local Government to
advocate such a step.

(*Footnote. 23 July 1845.)

(**Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 23 July 1845 Perth
Gazette 26 July; Inquirer 30 July 1845.)

Beyond occasional references no further attention was given to the matter
publicly during 1845 or 1846, but in January of the latter year W.S.
Stockley, Western Australian manager for Frederick Mangles & Co.,
forwarded to the Secretary of State, through the Governor, a long
petition urging the introduction of convict labour into Western
Australia.* The memorial, however, which had been prepared was slowly
making its way among the colonists and attracting the signatures of many
who as a matter of principle were scarcely in favour of it, but as a
matter of expediency saw no better way out of their difficulties. The
terms of the memorial,** drawn up in the names of the "landowners,
merchants, and inhabitants of Western Australia," set forth that
capitalists were originally attracted to the colony on certain conditions
which seemed to be advantageous; that through "mismanagement,
inexperience, and ignorance of the seasons great numbers of the early
settlers lost or expended the greater part of their capital" before they
derived any result from it, but that after struggling for many years with
almost incredible difficulties they began to hope for a general rise in
values owing to a steadily-increasing stream of immigrants. This hope,
however, vanished when in 1841 Her Majesty's Government saw fit to raise
the minimum price of Crown lands to 1 pound per acre, thus causing a
stoppage of sales and a consequent diminution in the fund derived
therefrom, which had been used for the purpose of encouraging the
introduction of labour. Immigration consequently ceased, and labour
became unprocurable. A depression occurred, bringing with it the
emigration of many to the other Australian colonies. Land and other
property lost its marketable value, and there was no probability, under
existing circumstances, of labour or capital being attracted in the
future. In view of this condition of affairs (which was, it may be
remarked, considerably exaggerated) the memorialists asked that "the
importance of this colony to the British Empire" should be considered, as
from its geographical position and great natural resources it ought to
become a powerful and prosperous settlement. "Unless," said the petition,
"Her Majesty's Government will reduce the price of land to its original
standard and resume the principle upon which this colony was founded, and
act upon that principle judiciously, and not lavishly as was formerly the
case, or will devise some other expedient that shall cause the
reintroduction of capital and labour, your memorialists conceive that
this colony must become absolutely useless to the British Crown, an
encumbrance upon the Empire, and ruinous to those individuals who have
been led to embark in it the whole of their fortunes." If it was not
possible to accede to any of these suggestions then the hope was
expressed that the Home authorities would "convert the colony into a
penal settlement on an extensive scale." As a reason for convicts it was
pointed out that good roads through the settled districts were necessary
but expensive, only perhaps "to be accomplished by convict labour"; that
bridges, wharves, lighthouses, and other public works could be
constructed only by such means; and that the increased population under
the scheme would provide the market so necessary for agricultural

(*Footnote. Enclosed in Hutt to Lord Stanley 26 January 1846.)

(**Footnote. Perth Gazette 2 January 1847. The memorial was forwarded by
Governor Clarke to Lord Stanley in a dispatch dated 2 January 1847. The
Governor expressed the opinion that the great majority of the colonists
were opposed to the request.)

By the beginning of 1847 the progress of this memorial had changed the
idea of transportation from a merely abstract theory to a very practical
means of relief. The benefits to be derived from forced labour seemed to
be many; that it would relieve the existing depression and bring a return
to prosperity was in the opinion of many of the settlers a certainty. It
is to be feared that these facts were felt to be more important than that
lowering of the moral tone of the community which would necessarily
result from the establishment of a penal settlement. Even the newspapers,
which up to that time had urged the moral disadvantages, changed their
tone and advocated the benefits that would accrue from cheap labour and a
progressive public works policy, though they salved their consciences by
suggesting that the convicts should be confined in hulks, not allowed to
mix with the free people, and returned to England when their services
were no longer required.* The change of opinion may have been due in part
to the growing belief that the Home Government would accede to the prayer
of the memorial not so much out of consideration for the colony, as
because, other penal settlements being closed, Great Britain required
some fresh outlet for her convicts.

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 17 April 1847; Inquirer 28 April 1847.)

Notwithstanding this change of front on the part of the colonists, the
Acting Governor remained steadfast in his condemnation of the idea. At
the opening of the Legislative Council in June 1847,* he vehemently
opposed the agitation, and regretted that "the dearth of labour or the
desire to accumulate wealth on the part of a portion of the community"
had caused the suggestion to be entertained. In support of his attitude
he referred to a report of a committee of the Legislative Council of New
South Wales, dated 1846, which unequivocally asserted that a
discontinuance of transportation would be in the interests of Australia
and the Australians. He concluded by saying: "With the experience of
other colonies before us, which we now witness struggling to free
themselves from this system as from a pestilence, I would strongly urge
all who are favourable to the measure to consider whether the injury
likely to be entailed on the community, and particularly on their own
families, may not convince them, when too late, that they have obtained
their object at a dreadful sacrifice."

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 3 June 1847 Perth
Gazette 5 June 1847.)

After this the question appears to have again languished until the latter
half of 1848. Governor Fitzgerald, in pursuance of suggestions made to
him by the Secretary of State before leaving England, made inquiries as
to whether the colonists would be prepared to receive convicts from
Pentonville--a prison for persons convicted of trivial offences--who
should be accompanied by their wives and families. The cost of sending
them out might be recovered from their wages and used as a fund to
introduce free labourers. The convicts would, of course, be pardoned on
their arrival and so enter the colony as free men. The Secretary of State
also put the idea before several persons in London who were interested in
Western Australia. These were agreed as to the advisability, and one of
them, Louis Samson, wrote to the colony asking for an expression of
opinion.* The replies to Governor Fitzgerald's inquiries were not
particularly encouraging, but he felt himself justified in asking for 100
ticket-of-leave men,** whom he thought would be of more value and bring
less risk to the community than the lads from the Parkhurst Reformatory,
of whom 131 had been sent out between 1843 and 1848. These inquiries of
the Governor and Samson's letter appear to have given fresh impetus to
the convict agitation. In December several gentlemen interested in the
colony held a meeting in Adelaide*** and agreed to petition the Home
authorities for the introduction of convicts to Western Australia as the
only means of overcoming the difficulties that existed. This was followed
by a public meeting--the first definitely called for the purpose--which
was held in Perth on 23 February 1849.**** That meeting viewed with alarm
the depressed state of the colony, resulting in a "steady and constant
emigration of labour," and felt that the only remedy that could be
effective must be one that would bring about a fresh supply of capital
and labour. It opposed the proposal to introduce ticket-of-leave men from
Pentonville as being calculated to make matters worse instead of better,
and quite unsuited to the wants of the settlers, mainly because such a
step would inflict upon the colony all the evils of a penal settlement,
without giving any increased protection or expenditure of Imperial funds.
It felt that convicts could be usefully employed in carrying out
necessary public works and in developing the mineral, timber, and other
natural resources that existed, and finally decided: "That application
shall at once be made to Her Majesty's Government to erect this colony
into a regular penal settlement, with the necessary Government
establishment and expenditure, the whole cost of the transmission,
maintenance, and supervision of all such convicts as may be transported
hither being borne, of course, by the Home Government."*****

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 16 December 1848.)

(**Footnote. Fitzgerald to Earl Grey 24 October 1848.)

(***Footnote. Inquirer 24 January 1849. This meeting was held at the Bank
of Australasia, Adelaide, on 23 December 1848, those present being former
residents of Western Australia, and still large landowners, as W.J.
Stockley, M. McDermott and others.)

(****Footnote. Perth Gazette 24 February 1849.)

(*****Footnote. Ibid.)

The resolutions were laid before the Governor, with a request that he
would forward them to the Secretary of State. In doing so he emphasised
the depressed condition of the colony and assured Earl Grey that, did any
other source of relief present itself, the settlers of Western Australia
would be the last to wish for a penal settlement. In concluding he

"I am far from recommending Your Lordship to adopt this proposition, as
few, I think, would from choice select a convict settlement as a
residence for themselves and families; but in the present state of
affairs here I must say that if Her Majesty's Government wish to
establish another penal settlement in Australia the majority of the
inhabitants would gladly learn that Western Australia was chosen as the

(*Footnote. Fitzgerald to Earl Grey 3 March 1849.)

In June 1849 a dispatch on the subject of convict discipline was received
from Earl Grey.* The Secretary of State was an earnest advocate of
transportation, and had evolved certain schemes which he was anxious to
see in operation. In this dispatch he pointed out that the system of
making convicts undergo a period of separate imprisonment in England,
Bermuda, or Gibraltar before being sent out to the colonies had been
found to be beneficial, and that such of these men as had afterwards been
transported to Port Phillip as ticket-of-leave "exiles" had proved
satisfactory. Certain precautions, such as restricting them to particular
districts and enforcing the return of their passage moneys, were to be
observed, but otherwise they would be given freedom. "Such," Earl Grey
continued, "being the system under which it is proposed hereafter to
proceed, I think it right to point out to you that if the inhabitants of
Western Australia should be willing to receive men with tickets-of-leave
they will obtain the advantage of a supply of labour, together with a
probable addition to the funds applicable to general emigration, or some
other public object of importance, while by the power which is to be
reserved of dispersing those men in different districts, together with
the reformatory nature of their previous punishment, there is reason to
hope that their presence in moderate numbers will not be found injurious
to the general character of the community." He then concludes by pointing
out that as the colonists were clamouring for an adequate supply of
labour they might be prepared to receive men on the terms proposed. He
would be glad to learn whether such would be the case.

(*Footnote. Earl Grey to Fitzgerald 5 August 1848.)

The Governor's reply to the suggestion to send out Pentonville
prisoners,* which reached England in February 1849, was sufficient to
show that this last proposal would meet the wishes of the settlers, and
that view was strengthened by the report of the public meeting of
February, which reached Earl Grey in July. In order to carry the proposal
into effect certain legal formalities had to be complied with, and
therefore on 1 May 1849 an Order in Council was passed nominating Western
Australia as a place to which convicts could be sent from the United
Kingdom. This order was published in the colony in November,** and seems
to have somewhat disturbed the inhabitants, who after years of discussion
over the matter suddenly found that at one stroke Western Australia had
lost its boasted preeminence as a free colony and had become a penal
settlement. The opponents of the measure were indignant; in the step they
recognised one more iniquity heaped upon them by the Colonial Office. The
Perth Gazette*** lamented the prospective "contamination and infamy"
inseparable from a penal settlement. The Home Government was blamed for
taking advantage of the opportunity by the Governor's innocent request
for 100 Pentonville prisoners to saddle the colony with all the horrors
of the convict system. However, when the colony recovered from the shock
it was recognised that the advantages were many and that the dangers to
be apprehended were slight. Convictism of 1850 differed greatly from the
modified slavery of New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land of the early
years of the century, and though the very fact of its introduction into a
free colony is to be regretted, there is little doubt that some
innovation of the kind was necessary to the development of the country.
Materially the colony benefited considerably by the convicts, and any
lowering of the tone of the community brought about by their presence was
but temporary.

(*Footnote. See ante.)

(**Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 6 November 1849.)

(***Footnote. 9 November 1849.)

The Legislative Council was summoned for 20 December 1849, primarily to
consider the altered condition of the colony, and to make the necessary
arrangements for the proper control of the convicts. An ordinance was
passed providing for arrest without warrant, summary conviction,
employment on public works, restriction when on ticket-of-leave, and
punishment.* Early in the following year a further dispatch was received
from the Secretary of State,** containing information that the Home
Government intended to send out free persons equal in number to the
convicts. This, and the prospect of many necessary public works being at
last undertaken, led the colonists to admit that at any rate
transportation offered "a gleam of hope--just sufficient to drag us on in
miserable uncertainty." The actual conditions under which the convicts
would be employed were stated by Under Secretary Hawes.*** They were to
be at first entirely under the control of the Government for employment
on public works--roads, harbours, buildings, and timber cutting.**** When
they were set free from such labour, on account of good behaviour, their
services would be available for colonists. The whole expense of the
system would be defrayed by the Home Government, and a further sum would
be set aside annually for promoting free emigration.

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 20 December 1849 Perth
Gazette 21 December 1849.)

(**Footnote. Earl Grey to Fitzgerald 12 July 1849 received 5 March 1850.)

(***Footnote. Under Secretary Hawes to Manager of Colonisation Assurance
Co. 20 December 1849 in Perth Gazette 7 June 1850.)

(****Footnote. Earl Grey to Fitzgerald 5 January 1850.)

Thus, twenty years after its foundation as a free colony, from which
convicts were by the conditions of establishment debarred, Western
Australia entered upon a new phase of its existence, and became one of
penal settlements of the British Government.*

(*Footnote. A short description of the convict system as carried out in
Western Australia will be found in Appendix 3.)



The Home authorities lost no time in giving effect to the decision to
establish a penal settlement in Western Australia. Captain E.Y.W.
Henderson was appointed Comptroller-General of the Convict Establishment
with Mr. T.H. Dixon as chief overseer and Mr. J. Manning as clerk of
works.* Prisoners of exemplary conduct were selected from Portland and a
ship equipped as a transport. This vessel, the barque Scindian, arrived
at Fremantle on 1 June 1850, and thus the colony celebrated its
twenty-first birthday by assuming the character of an actual penal
settlement. On the Scindian, under the charge of Dr. Gibson, R.N., as
Surgeon Superintendent, were seventy-five convicts, fifty pensioners
(sent out as a guard) forty-two women, seventy-eight children, and
fourteen immigrant girls.** Though the arrival of the convicts was
expected, it was not anticipated that they would arrive so soon after the
Order in Council had been made public. The colonists were rather thrown
into consternation when they saw the first actual evidence of the result
of their agitation, and the local Government found itself totally
unprepared to meet the situation. The old Fremantle jail at Arthur's Head
was much too small to accommodate so large a number of inmates, even if
no others had been expected. To get over the difficulty premises were
rented from Captain Scott,*** and there the first drafts of convicts were
housed until such time as they had, by their own labour, built the large
Fremantle prison for their own safekeeping and the safekeeping of
thousands of others who were to follow them. The stringent measures
adopted for ensuring the security of the convicts in their temporary
quarters and the sense of safety that the inhabitants of Fremantle must
have felt at the presence of this crowd of malefactors may be gauged from
the fact that in October four of the prisoners quietly walked away from
the jail and got drunk! When charged with the offence it was stated in
evidence that they were able to leave the depot at any hour they pleased,
in any dress they liked, and go wherever fancy led them.**** This little
incident caused quite a scare among the inhabitants of Fremantle.

(*Footnote. Earl Grey to Fitzgerald 24 January 1850.)

(**Footnote. Perth Gazette 7 June 1850.)

(***Footnote. Ibid.)

(****Footnote. Perth Gazette 25 October 1850.)

The pensioners who had come out with the convicts were not retained as a
permanent guard over them. In most cases they were accompanied by their
families, and sought a livelihood among the settlers, being liable to
render assistance only in the case of any outbreak among the prisoners.
Every encouragement was given to induce them to become permanent
settlers. To each of them was offered an allotment of ten acres, to be
selected by themselves, to be held on lease for seven years, after which
they were to receive the freehold. To enable them to make a start a
gratuity of 10 pounds was bestowed upon each one, and they were promised
the assistance of convict labour in clearing the ground.* Practically the
whole of them took advantage of the offer, as many pensioner blocks still
held by their descendants testify.

(*Footnote. Ibid 5 July 1850; Earl Grey to Fitzgerald 2 March 1850.)

The actual establishment of the system and the arrival of the first batch
of convicts was the cause of much rejoicing on the part of the colonists.
On 10 July a public meeting was held at Perth* at which resolutions were
passed expressing thanks to Lord Grey for the promptness he had shown in
acceding to the request of the settlers, and asking that convicts be sent
in large numbers, as "unless the permanency as well as the magnitude, of
the convict establishment be secured" only disappointment and distress
could await the greater part of the new arrivals. Later in the year
similar expressions of gratitude were forwarded from York, Northam,
Toodyay, and Wellington districts. In a numerously-signed memorial from
the country centres, embodying these opinions, it was stated that the
memorialists "consider the introduction of convicts on a large scale the
only means of placing the colony in a prosperous condition."** When all
the other colonies were strenuously objecting to convicts, how the Home
Government must have chuckled to find one not only willing but anxious to
receive them, and, like Oliver Twist, keep on asking for more. Even the
Perth Gazette, after two years' enmity to the idea, acknowledged that
much material prosperity was likely to result, though at the same time it
quieted its conscience by averring that the mere introduction of forced
labour did not constitute Western Australia a penal settlement.***

(*Footnote. Ibid 12 July 1850.)

(**Footnote. Perth Gazette 5 July 1850; House of Commons Papers 1851
Number 262 page 43.)

(***Footnote. Ibid 7 June 1850.)

One of the earliest and, from the point of view of the settlers, one of
the most satisfactory features of the new condition of affairs was a
renewal of the stream of immigration. For years previously there had
practically been no gain to the colony by this means. When therefore the
Scindian landed 188 free persons in addition to 75 convicts, and the
Sophia followed a couple of months later with over 200, the inhabitants
of the colony were convinced that the step they had taken was in their
best interests.* Only one other vessel, the Hashemy, arrived with
convicts during 1850. This was the ship which earned a good deal of
notoriety on account of the fact that she carried the last draft of
convicts sent to New South Wales--the draft whose landing was at first
strongly opposed by the colonists there.

(*Footnote. Ibid 2 August 1850.)

By the end of the year the benefits--and in some ways the evil
results--of a penal establishment began to be distinctly manifest. In
addition to the large permanent prison, there were various other public
works under construction; depots for convicts were being established in
various centres; and parties for the purpose of making roads of
communication between the towns were being organised. The increase in the
number of people and the large amount of money distributed by the penal
department provided both the market for local produce and the means to
pay for it, so that by the beginning of 1851 the whole colony seemed to
have been aroused from its state of lethargy and gave every promise of
rapid advancement. The cost of maintaining the convicts was, of course,
borne by the Home Government; any large expenditure in that direction was
therefore viewed by the settlers with a certain degree of satisfaction.
Not so, however, by the Imperial authorities. Nearly every dispatch urged
strict economy on the Comptroller-General, and in April 1851,* the
financial affairs of the establishment were placed in the hands of a
board consisting of the Colonial Secretary, the Comptroller-General, and
the Assistant Commissary-General, with strict injunctions to prevent
anything in the way of extravagance.** One of the first questions this
board had to consider was the proportion of the salaries of magistrates,
police, and other officers necessary for the public protection that
should be borne by the British Government. The advent of the convicts had
necessarily increased the number of these officers, and it was felt that
the whole burden of their cost ought not to fall on the local Government.
It was ultimately arranged that the Home Government should pay two-thirds
of the police expenditure, and make certain grants to the magistrates and
other officials.*** While on the question of protection it may also be
noted that at first there was no provision for a permanent military guard
over the convicts. The pensioners who acted in that capacity on the
voyage out became settlers or servants on arrival, and had no further
liability except that they were expected to hold themselves available in
case of any outbreak of a serious nature. This extremely unsatisfactory
condition of affairs was the subject of earnest representation through
the Governor, and resulted in the pensioners arriving on one convict
transport being engaged to continue in the capacity of guard until the
arrival of a further detachment in the next succeeding convict
vessel.**** These pensioner guards were under the command of Captain
(afterwards Colonel) Bruce. At the end of 1851 the guard was further
strengthened by the arrival of a company of sixty-five sappers and miners
under the command of two officers of the Royal Engineers.*****

(*Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 8 April 1851.)

(**Footnote. Earl Grey to Fitzgerald 12 January 1851.)

(***Footnote. Duke of Newcastle to Fitzgerald 12 December 1853;
Proceedings of the Legislative Council 4 May 1854 Perth Gazette 5 May

(****Footnote. Earl Grey to Fitzgerald 20 December 1850.)

(*****Footnote. Perth Gazette 19 December 1851.)

The necessity for strict control had become manifest early in the year,
when four men succeeded in getting away from Fremantle in a whaleboat*
and another party escaped from a road gang working north of Perth.** The
first were captured at Shark Bay, and the second practically gave
themselves up, convinced that Western Australia did not need artificial
barriers to make it a safe place to keep prisoners. On the whole,
however, the conduct of these early convicts was good, so much so that
the newspapers directed attention to them as "instances from which our
free settlers might take example." As a result all the remaining fear and
opposition on the part of the colonists vanished.

(*Footnote. Inquirer 22 January 1851.)

(**Footnote. Perth Gazette 7 February 1851.)

During 1851 the Mermaid, Pyrenees, and Minden brought 803 convicts and
268 free persons, including children, to the colony. Not many of these
free immigrants were skilled labourers, consequently the old cry of want
of labour was again raised and complaints made that the English
Government was not fulfilling its promises.* There does not seem to have
been any great need for these workmen at the time, and the only reason
for the agitation that appears to have existed was that the desire to
agitate and complain about something had grown into a habit with the
colonists. In any case the blame, if there were any, did not attach to
the officials of the Colonial Office, as the Governor had advised them
that there was difficulty in placing those immigrants who had arrived in
the Sophia.** When Earl Grey was informed*** that mechanics were
required, he lost no time in sending them out.

(*Footnote. Ibid 28 March 1851.)

(**Footnote. Fitzgerald to Earl Grey 29 July 1850.)

(***Footnote. Ibid 25 September 1850.)

One might have expected that the introduction of a large population,
which would in all probability continue to grow, would have stimulated
the settlers to larger production of foodstuffs. This does not seem to
have been the case. The Western Australian farmers seem to have preferred
to get a high price for a limited output rather than a reasonable price
for a greater quantity. They were very incensed when the Governor
intimated his intention to import flour from the eastern colonies, and
held that local industry should be encouraged, even though it cost 5
pounds a ton more for flour to do it. The Governor referred the matter to
Earl Grey, who replied sharply that "convicts were not sent to Western
Australia in order that growers might have an opportunity of selling
their produce at a price of 5 pounds a ton dearer than it could be
procured without their aid."* During the years 1851 and 1852 it proved
impossible to secure sufficient wheat and flour locally at any price,
consequently importations from the eastern colonies were absolutely
necessary, and in the latter year wheat had even to be imported from
Great Britain.

(*Footnote. Earl Grey to Fitzgerald 30 June 1851.)

By the beginning of 1851 many of the convicts of 1850 had become entitled
to tickets-of-leave, and others were continually qualifying, so that the
number available for Government works was not as large as the settlers
could have wished. With them, however, the Comptroller-General entered
upon the construction of various public works. Depots were prepared at
York, Toodyay, and Bunbury for the use of those prisoners waiting to be
hired out as servants, and as quarters for those still in confinement who
were working in the neighbourhoods. Main lines of roads from each place
toward the capital were deemed the most urgent works. The largest body of
convicts, of course, remained at Fremantle, both because the
establishment called for the erection of many public buildings and
because better control could be kept over the worst class of offenders.
The principal work on which they were engaged was the erection of the
prison itself. Some discussion took place over the site of this
structure. It is said that Captain Henderson inclined to the idea that
Mount Eliza would be the most suitable site, but that Western Australia
was saved from what would have been an act of desecration by the
opposition of the Governor,* who finally convinced the
Comptroller-General that Fremantle was the proper place for it. On 16 May
1851 the site was vested in trustees** and the work of erecting the
prison commenced. A good deal of the work was done by the convicts, but
skilled mechanics had to be procured from South Australia to assist.
These public buildings and the making of various roads occupied the
attention of those convicts who remained at the disposal of the
Government up to the end of 1852. During the year 491 men were sent out,
making a total since June 1850 of 1469, but of that number only 156 were
available for employment in Perth and Fremantle; 845 had already been
released on ticket and were in private service, and the remainder were
road-making. In pursuance of the agreement on the part of the Imperial
authorities to dispatch free immigrants to those colonies receiving
forced labour 381 persons of this class also arrived in Western Australia
during 1852, so that the colonial complaint of the dearth of sufficient
labour was more than met. In addition, the English Government*** agreed
to send out, on payment of half the cost of passage, the wives and
families of those ticket-of-leave men who desired to have them. There was
no great anxiety on the part of the men to take advantage of the
concession, and in the case of those who did ask, refusal generally came
from the wife. In 1851/2 the Colonial Office offered to send out the
wives and families of 60 men who had asked for them, but there was little
or no response. Some could not be found, others refused to pay any part
of the passage money, and a third section declined to go under any

(*Footnote. Kimberley, W.B. History of Western Australia page 158. In
view of the following statement in the Comptroller-General's report of 1
January 1851 this may be doubted: "The propriety of the determination
arrived at in the first instance to fix the permanent depot at Fremantle
I see no reason to question." Colonial Secretary Office Records 1851.)

(**Footnote. Ordinance 14 Victoria Number 22.)

(***Footnote. Earl Grey to Fitzgerald 1 January 1851. The cost of passage
was fixed at 15 pounds.)

(****Footnote. Sir John Pakington to Fitzgerald 22 June 1852.)

The general condition of affairs as far as the convicts were concerned
showed little alteration in 1853, except that increased activity on the
part of the English prison authorities resulted in 1129 men being sent
out, of whom 301--sent out in the Robert Small--were Irish prisoners,* a
class specially objected to in the first agreement. The introduction of
this large number made it possible to carry on the policy of extension
and development more rapidly. Various buildings such as hospitals,
lunatic asylum, pensioners' depot, and others were constructed, and fair
progress made with the bridges required on the main trunk road between
Perth and Albany. All these things meant increased comfort and facilities
for the settlers, as well as a greatly improved financial outlook on
account of the large expenditure of money, so that when in 1853 news was
received that the English Government was considering the whole question
of transportation,** with a view to drastic alterations, the settlers
were considerably perturbed, jumping at once to the conclusion that any
alteration would mean discontinuance. Recourse was had to the usual
method of protest--public meeting with a subsequent memorial---and the
inhabitants of Perth, Fremantle, and York*** strongly opposed the
cessation of transportation, urging from the standpoint of the colony
that great advance had been made under the system, and from the
standpoint of the convicts that in the majority of cases they had been
successful in their endeavours to become once more respected members of
society. Some relief was felt when shortly afterwards information was
received that the Home authorities intended, for a short period and to a
limited extent, to continue transportation to Western Australia.****

(*Footnote. Duke of Newcastle to Fitzgerald 16 April 1853; Perth Gazette
26 August 1853.)

(**Footnote. Inquirer 16 May 1853; Perth Gazette 20 May 1853, containing
extracts from speech in House of Commons by Lord John Russell, stating
intentions of the Government. See Hansard third series volume 124 pages
19 to 20.)

(***Footnote. Perth Gazette 3, 10 and 17 June 1853. Text of memorial in
issue of 3 June. The memorial was forwarded by the Governor to Secretary
of State in dispatch 8 June 1853. See also Fitzgerald to Duke of
Newcastle 11 August 1853.)

(****Footnote. Hansard third series volume 124 page 167 speech in House
of Lords by Duke of Newcastle, Secretary of State 17 February 1853.
Reprinted in Perth Gazette 27 May 1853.)

The reply* to the memorial was received early in January 1854, and stated
that it was impossible to fetter the future discretion of Her Majesty's
Government and of Parliament, but subject to that reservation no idea was
entertained at that time of ceasing to send convicts to Western
Australia. The statement in the memorial that the men generally had
rehabilitated themselves was not strictly accurate. From time to time
there were outbreaks that called for stern repressive measures, and many
were the instances of added imprisonment and corporal punishment. Cases
were not infrequent where convicts by careful behaviour had secured
conditional pardons, only to relapse, in the absence of restraint, into
their old habits of vice and debauchery. The Phoebe Dunbar, which arrived
in August, seems to have brought a particularly dangerous and violent
horde. The ship had scarcely anchored when several of them managed to get
rid of their shackles and indulged in a drunken orgy that required the
application of the bayonet before it was quelled.** In November four
convicts managed to escape from a bathing party and made their way to the
Canning district, where they committed various robberies and were
captured only after an exchange of shots. This was one of the cases where
the heavy hand of the system was quickly felt; three of the men received
five years' imprisonment, three weeks on bread and water, and 100 lashes
each; the fourth, on account of the ease of his capture, being let off
the imprisonment.***

(*Footnote. Duke of Newcastle to Fitzgerald 16 September 1853.)

(**Footnote. Perth Gazette 23 September 1853.)

(***Footnote. Ibid 2 and 9 December 1853.)

Had it not been for the establishment of the convict system, combined
with the law that no person could leave the colony without giving notice
to the Colonial Secretary, Western Australia would in all probability
have fared badly at this time. The new gold discoveries in Victoria were
made known in 1851, and emigration to that colony from every other part
of Australia at once set in. Western Australia was fortunate in not
losing more than 400 of her population before the end of 1853, many of
whom were immigrants who caught the gold fever almost as soon as they
landed, and proceeded immediately to the new Eldorado. The loss of even
that small number from a territory so large in extent and yet possessing
a mere handful of people in all was a matter of no little concern. The
settlers became seriously alarmed, and Governor Fitzgerald did not
hesitate to enforce strictly every possible regulation that could hinder
or prevent the exodus. The newspapers viewed it with almost as great
concern as those of the eastern colonies did the emigration to Western
Australia during the nineties.* As one method of stemming the tide,
prospecting parties examined the eastern districts of the colony in the
hope of discovering a local field. Unfortunately they did not proceed far
enough, and the mineral treasures of this State remained hidden for a
further forty years.

(*Footnote. Ibid 16 December 1853 13 January and 10 February 1854.)

The years 1849 to 1853 may well be described as a transition period for
all Australia. Transportation began in Western Australia and ceased in
all other parts with the exception of Van Diemen's Land; Port Phillip
district was no longer a part of New South Wales, being erected into a
separate colony under the name of Victoria; Victoria by the discovery of
her goldfields far outdistanced the other colonies in material progress;
and, lastly, in 1850 the long-promised Act for the Government of the
Australian colonies generally was passed by the British Parliament. This
Act,* the Western Australian provisions of which were not availed of for
many years afterwards, gave power to the colony under certain conditions
to establish a Legislative Council that should be one-third nominee and
two-thirds elected. The total number of members of such Council was to be
fixed locally, and all questions of franchise and arrangements of
electorates were also left in the hands of the colonists. The conditions
precedent required by the Home Government were that the concession should
be asked for by not less than one third of the householders in the
colony, and that the colonists should be prepared to defray all expenses
of Government out of the colonial revenue, including those borne by
Parliamentary grants under the old system. It was this latter condition
which prevented the settlers from taking advantage of the concession;
though they ardently desired representative government they felt that
they were not in a position to bear the whole cost of it, and it was not
until 1870 that the first Legislative Council under representative
Government was established.

(*Footnote. 13 and 14 Victoria c.59.)

Several changes occurred in the existing Legislative Council during the
years under review. Dr. Madden, the Colonial Secretary, resigned his
position in 1848 on the ground of ill-health, and left the colony in
1849. His departure was regretted by the people generally, but not
apparently by the officials. From 1848 till 1851, when Major H.A. Sanford
became Colonial Secretary, the office and with it the Legislative Council
seat were held in turn by R.H. Bland, T.N. Yule, and C.A.J. Piesse. In
1852 G.F. Moore, who had been Advocate-General since 1830, resigned and
returned to England, his place being temporarily filled by B.W. Vigors
until the arrival in 1854 of the new Advocate-General, R. Birnie. In 1852
Captain Henderson, the Comptroller-General of Convicts, became an
official and W.P. Clifton an unofficial member of the Council, and about
the same time Colonel Irwin as Commandant gave place to Captain G.M.

These alterations, however, which practically affected the whole
personnel of the Council, do not seem to have inspired any general public
confidence. For years almost every act of the Council had met with
disapproval,* and changes in the membership were continually advocated;
but when those changes were made they do not appear to have brought about
any modification of the public attitude. It is quite evident that the
object aimed at in this dissatisfaction was a representative Council
where the British Government should find the money and the local
authorities spend it without restraint.

(*Footnote. The newspaper files of the period repeatedly voiced
disapproval of the actions of the Council as a whole as well as of
members individually.)

The compilation of a set of land regulations which should provide, in a
manner satisfactory to all parties, for tillage and pastoral leases,
continued to tax the powers of the Colonial Office as well as of the
local Government. It will be remembered that in 1849 a committee of the
Legislative Council made certain suggestions which received the unanimous
disapproval of the settlers, who suggested others in their place. Out of
the chaos thus brought about, Earl Grey endeavoured to get something like
order. On 22 March 1850 an Order in Council* was passed dealing with both
tillage and pastoral leases over the waste Crown lands of Western
Australia.** The committee's division of the lands into two classes was
adhered to with certain modifications. Tillage leases over land in both
classes could be granted for any term not exceeding eight years, the
annual rental to be 2 shillings per acre with a minimum of 10 pounds, and
the acreage leased not to exceed 320 acres. Pastoral leases could be
granted for only one year at a time over land in class A, but up to eight
years in class B, the annual rental to be 5 pounds with an addition of 10
shillings per 1000 acres, the maximum number of acres allowed being
20,000. In the case of pastoral leases over B land the Governor could put
all or any portion of the land up for sale at the end of any year, the
lessee to have the option of purchase. If he declined, the value of
improvements were added to the value of the land and in case of a sale
paid over to the lessee. The Government also retained the right to rise
from any portion for public purposes and to grant mineral leases over the

(*Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 17 December 1850.)

(**Footnote. Forwarded in Earl Grey to Fitzgerald 23 May 1850; Western
Australian Government Gazette 5 November 1850.)

The regulations suggested by the Legislative Council committee in June
1849 and the amendments proposed by the public meeting in the following
July both named one shilling per acre as the rental for tillage leases.
When it was found that the Order in Council made the rental two shillings
per acre there was considerable dissatisfaction. The amount was
considered prohibitive and not conducive to that extension of
agricultural industries so necessary to the success of the colony.* The
Governor, however, was bound by the instructions he had received, and new
regulations dealing with waste lands were issued on 1 November 1851.**
These included the provisions of the Order in Council together with the
necessary machinery clauses.

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 12 September 1851; Report of Committee of York
Agricultural Society in Perth Gazette 31 October 1851.)

(**Footnote. Ibid 7 November 1851 copy of regulations.)

While on the subject of land, it may be noted that in 1850 the price for
blocks in St. George's and Adelaide terraces was fixed at 22 pounds, for
hay Street blocks 17 pounds, and for other blocks in the town 12 pounds.*

(*Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 18 June 1850.)

Early in 1850 another organisation, the Colonisation Assurance Company,
was formed for the purpose of assisting emigration to the British
colonies, particularly Western Australia, the prime movers being John
Hutt, a former Governor of Western Australia, and R.W. Nash, who had for
many years been a resident of the colony. This Company, which was
incorporated by special Act of Parliament (13 Victoria c.21) was
empowered to hold colonial lands to any extent, and to receive land
script to the amount of 20 pounds for the purchase of colonial lands in
return for every emigrant above the age of fourteen years sent to the
colony. The system upon which the Company worked applied the principle of
life assurance to the purposes of colonisation. To every person seeking
to establish himself in the British colonies the Company offered in
return for an annual premium the immediate possession of 100 acres of
land with reversion in fee simple to himself or to his heirs according as
the policy was for a term of years or for life. It was also prepared to
deal with purchasers for cash, offering them for every 50 pounds three
free passages for labourers and 50 acres of land.* Under this scheme over
100 emigrants were sent to Western Australia. When, however, the Home
authorities declined to place in their hands the whole question of free
emigration to Western Australia and refused to give them control of the
funds voted by Parliament for that purpose, the Company declared that the
object of its formation was entirely defeated,** and little more was
heard of it.

(*Footnote. Earl Grey to Fitzgerald 1 and 2 March and 1 October 1851.)

(**Footnote. Ibid 1 October 1851. Enclosed with this dispatch are the
prospectus and other documents relating to the Company.)

With the advent of the convict system the financial condition of the
colony necessarily improved. The total revenue, which (including the
Parliamentary grant) was 19,137 pounds in 1850, had grown to 37,353 in
1853, and the expenditure in the latter year was 38,052 pounds as against
16,656 pounds in 1850. Imports, which in 1850 were valued at 52,351
pounds, had grown to 126,735 pounds three years later, principally owing
to the requirements of the system. Unfortunately there was no
corresponding growth in exports. Valued at 22,134 pounds in the earlier
year, they reached only 31,645 pounds in the latter one. This was
probably due to the fact that a larger proportion of local products was
required for home consumption; it may also be partly accounted for by the
fall which took place about that time in the only commodities that
Western Australia was able to send abroad. The only export that appears
to have held its own was wool, which was responsible for nearly 20,000
pounds in the export value of 1853.*

(*Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

There does not seem to have been that development of agriculture which
might have been expected from the improved conditions, the increased
amount of money in circulation, and the greater abundance of cheap
labour. The acreage under cultivation increased during the three years
from 7419 to only 10,299.* The reason, no doubt, partly lay in the fear
that additional production would reduce prices, particularly as the
ruling rates in the colony were much higher than the outside market
rates. The comparatively easy task of rearing sheep for wool and mutton
and the large profits to be derived therefrom had also some effect in
restricting cultivation; but perhaps the chief cause may be found in the
statement that the unwonted prosperity of the settlers had induced a
feeling of lethargy, and they were disinclined to labour when labour in
all probability would not bring increased financial result.

(*Footnote. Ibid.)

New avenues of industry were found in the guano deposits of the Abrolhos,
in wine-making, in rearing horses for the Indian market, and in
pearl-fishing; but none of them showed at that time any appreciable
effect on the value of the exports. At first a royalty of 2 pounds per
ton was charged on guano exported,* but though this was afterwards
reduced to 1 pound by direction of the Colonial Office,** very little
accrued from it. Most of the guano taken away was stolen--a state of
things that the authorities had no power to prevent. The existence of
pearl oysters along the north-west coast had been known since 1699, but
no attempt was made to develop a trade until Lieutenant Helpman returned
from Shark Bay with some pearls in 1851. Then an application for the
exclusive right to dredge for pearl-shell was made by a local firm and
granted by the Governor on condition that a royalty of one-eighth of the
value of shell recovered was paid to the Government.*** Unfortunately
this arrangement conflicted with a concession granted to a London firm by
the Secretary of State.**** Some friction ensued, but it was ultimately
laid down that the pearl-fisheries should be open to the public,***** and
that no duty or royalty should be imposed except by ordinance, which the
Secretary of State was not at that time prepared to advise.

(*Footnote. Fitzgerald to Earl Grey 17 February 1851.)

(**Footnote. Earl Grey to Fitzgerald 1 November 1851.)

(***Footnote. Fitzgerald to Earl Grey 11 July 1851.)

(****Footnote. Earl Grey to Fitzgerald 23 May 1851.)

(*****Footnote. Ibid 11 November 1851 and 26 January 1852.)

The greatest industrial development during these years was the settlement
of Geraldton and the Champion Bay district owing to the discovery, by
Surveyor A.C. Gregory in 1848, of lead and copper ore. As a result of
this find the Geraldine Mine had been established in 1849, and it so far
succeeded that pig-lead to the value of 1200 pounds, as well as a small
quantity of copper, was exported in 1853.* The chief benefit to the
colony from the establishment of the mine was, however, not so much the
quantity of lead secured as the fact that it drew attention to the
valuable nature of the surrounding country from an agricultural and
pastoral standpoint.

(*Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

The district being new and the natives inclined to be fierce, the
Government found that in order to work the Geraldine Mine, on which,
among others, ticket-of-leave men were employed, it was necessary to
establish a military post in the neighbourhood. Lieutenant Eliot with a
detachment was sent to Champion Bay for that purpose, and under his
escort the first party set out to open up and work the ore deposits.*
With this party were Messrs. Burges and Drummond, who, recognising the
pastoral possibilities of the district, determined to take up leases.
These they afterwards changed into freeholds, and thus became the
pioneers of a flourishing pastoral settlement. In 1850 their example was
followed by S.P. Phillips, who leased 20,000 acres on the Irwin River. In
the following year the nucleus of the town of Geraldton--named after the
Governor--was surveyed, and the first lots sold.** The expense of opening
up this district formed the subject of correspondence between the local
Government and the Secretary of State. The policy of the Colonial Office
was not favourable to the spread of settlement over a large extent of
country, believing that such a course meant an unnecessary increase in
the cost of administration and made convict supervision more
difficult.*** Every expense, therefore, connected with exploration or the
opening up of new country was charged upon the colonial revenue and not
upon the Parliamentary grant.

(*Footnote. Fitzgerald to Earl Grey 2 February 1850.)

(**Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 3 June 1851.)

(**Footnote. Duke of Newcastle to Fitzgerald 7 May 1853.)

In the matter of exploration these years were devoid of interest. In
fact, the years 1849 to 1853 formed a period of centralisation rather
than extension. Labour was more plentiful than it had ever been since the
foundation of the colony, and much of it was at the call of the
Government at the cheapest rate possible. Consequently we find public
buildings and other necessary conveniences for the settlers springing up
in all the settled towns. The money necessary for these, which came from
the pockets of the British taxpayer, added by its circulation to the
comforts of the colonists and the permanence of the colony. The result
was that more attention was paid to its requirements, and we find in 1852
a regular mail service commenced by the R.M.S. Company, which had decided
to make Albany a coaling station for its steamers trading between London
and Sydney. This, though it took six days to bring the mail from Albany
overland to Perth, was an important development, as regular and (for
those times) fairly rapid communication with England was a boon greatly
valued by the colonists and a step forward in the general progress of the

In social and religious matters the period was generally one of progress.
The comforts of civilised life were more apparent, and there was every
evidence that the hard pioneering days were over. Social amenities began
to be observed and the customs of older lands to find place in the new.
The religious progress consisted chiefly in the extension of native
missions and arrangements for the spiritual welfare of the convicts. The
New Norcia Mission under Father Salvado showed the good results that
could be derived from energy and whole-hearted service in the interests
of the natives. The only cloud on the religious horizon was an
unfortunate dissension that arose among the members of the Roman Catholic
Church, and which brought with it great bitterness of feeling. From the
very first, grave difficulties, financial and other, appear to have beset
that Church in Western Australia. The Bishop, Dr. Brady, impressed with
the vast missionary work that required to be done, seems to have
forgotten that for monetary assistance he was largely dependent on the
few people--and those not of the wealthy class--who composed his
communion in the colony. That under such circumstances the Church should
become encumbered with debt was inevitable. After strenuous endeavours to
cope with the position, in the course of which he sacrificed his own
personal property, Dr. Brady, wearied in body and harassed in mind,
determined in 1849 to ask for assistance in the administration. The total
debt was then about 10,000 pounds.* At that time Dr. Serra, one of the
priests engaged in pioneering the New Norcia mission, was in Europe. He
had left Western Australia in 1847 with the object of raising funds.
During his stay in Rome the question arose of appointing a bishop of the
then projected new colony of the north of Australia, and he was appointed
Bishop of Port Victoria (Port Essington.)** No further steps in the
direction of establishing that colony having been taken when the request
of Dr. Brady for assistance arrived in 1849, Dr. Serra was transferred to
Daulia, in partibus infidelium, and made Coadjutor of Perth and
Administrator of the temporalities of the See.*** No arrangement was made
to place upon the shoulders of Bishop Serra, who returned to the colony
in December of that year, the burden of the debts already in existence,
and consequently the difficulties of the position remained, with a good
deal of confusion added. In the hope of getting the whole matter
straightened out, Dr. Brady left Perth for Rome, where he arrived in May
1850. "During his stay in Rome," says the late Cardinal Moran,**** "he
strenuously advocated the interests of the diocese and of the Australian
Church, and at his last audience with the Holy Father the Pope used the
words, 'You must return to your people.'" The good Bishop set off at once
for his distant diocese, forgetful of the rule that missionary bishops
when paying the visit ad limina are not allowed, under penalty of
censure, to return to their Sees until they receive the sanction of the
Congregation of Propaganda. Dr. Brady reached Fremantle at the end of
1851, and almost simultaneously with his return rumours were circulated
to the effect that he had, when in Rome, been degraded from office and
imprisoned in the St. Angelo. No confirmation of these statements is
forthcoming, but on 9 April 1852 an official communication was received
by Dr. Serra from the Vatican, stating that Bishop Brady had been
suspended, and appointing him (Serra) as Administrator with full powers,
spiritual and temporal.*****

(*Footnote. Moran, Cardinal. History of the Catholic Church in
Australasia Sydney volume 2 page 562.)

(**Footnote. Ibid.)

(***Footnote. Ibid page 563.)

(****Footnote. Ibid page 564.)

(*****Footnote. Text of the decree Motu proprio published in Perth
Gazette 16 April 1852.)

On the same date Dr. Brady was informed of his suspension, the ground
being the manner of his departure from Rome. These documents proved to be
all that was necessary to convert the internal dissension in the Church
into a public scandal. Each party had its supporters, who did not
hesitate to vilify the other side; charges and counter-charges, both in
the courts and in the streets, became distressingly frequent.* So bad was
the position that it called for the intervention of the Metropolitan,
Archbishop Polding, of Sydney, who arrived in June,** and in July
compelled the suspended Bishop to acknowledge his submission and
afterwards proceed to Rome. Later he proceeded to his native diocese of
Kilmore, in Ireland, ultimately dying at Amelu les Bains, in France, in
1871. It is worth while recording that though not permitted to return to
Western Australia Dr. Brady did not resign, nor was he deprived of his
Bishopric of Perth.***

(*Footnote. Moran, Cardinal. History of the Catholic Church in
Australasia volume 2 page 566; Perth Gazette 7 May, 23 July, 13 August

(**Footnote. Moran, Cardinal. History of the Catholic Church in
Australasia volume 2 page 566.)

(***Footnote. Ibid page 564.)

CHAPTER 9. 1854 TO 1860.


The Legislative Council in 1851,* when dealing with the estimates for
1852/3, decided to raise the salaries of most of the officials. This
decision could not become operative without the approval of the Colonial
Office, which was received early in 1852,** the additions to the salaries
of the Governor and Colonial Secretary being charged against the
Parliamentary grant. The action of the Council, however, appears to have
had a further and wholly unintentional effect. Giving evidence as it did
of increasing prosperity in the colony, it was seized by Earl Grey as an
opportunity for considering the question of reducing the Imperial
Parliamentary grant-in-aid. The dispatch went on to point out that the
increase of revenue and the stimulus to commercial activity were due to
the introduction of convicts and might reasonably be expected to
continue; further, the colony was receiving the benefit of the very large
expenditure from British funds on behalf of the convict establishment. In
view of these facts, Earl Grey informed the Governor, the amount of the
Parliamentary grant must be reduced after the year ending 31 March 1853,
provision being made for charging the colonial revenue with the
difference. This instruction was received by the Legislative Council with
feelings almost approaching disgust. It never seems to have struck the
members that the Imperial Government would want to reduce the amount of
assistance in proportion to the ability of the colony to bear its own

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 14 and 21 May 1851
Perth Gazette 16 and 23 May 1851.)

(**Footnote. Earl Grey to Fitzgerald 10 December 1851.)

They were also afraid that this reduction meant the approach of the time
when the Legislative Council would become elective under the Act of 1850,
with the consequent fall of the oligarchy, for there seems very little
question that in those early days Western Australia was governed by a
favoured few almost entirely in the interests of themselves and their
friends. The Governor stated that he had asked for a continuation of the
grant till 1854,* but beyond that he was not prepared to go, as he agreed
with the Secretary of State that the time had arrived for reducing the
amount of financial assistance. The Council failed to see the matter in
that light, and resolved to ask that no reduction be made, on the ground
that it was not in accordance with the understanding of an IMPLIED
CONTRACT ON THE PART OF THE HOME GOVERNMENT that any portion of the grant
should be withdrawn before the revenue of the colony was able to bear the
whole expense of government, and pay the already existing debt, without
the imposition of new taxes. It was also agreed that the adoption of any
course by which a proportion of the annual Parliamentary grant should be
defrayed out of colonial revenue would "lessen the security of the
maintenance of a sufficient permanent provision for the civil, judicial,
and ecclesiastical establishments of the colony when it became entitled
to an elective Legislative Council."** In reply to these resolutions***
the Secretary of State refused to admit the existence of any implied
contract as stated. "It would," he considered, "have been entirely beyond
the constitutional power of the Executive Government to give any
prospective pledge on the subject. Nor is there the smallest ground,
either in theory or precedent, for the supposition that Parliament is
pledged to grant any fixed amount without abatement until such time as
the colony can defray the whole of its expenses without exception."****

(*Footnote. Fitzgerald to Earl Grey 27 April 1852.)

(**Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 19 May 1852 Perth
Gazette 21 May 1852.)

(***Footnote. Forwarded in Fitzgerald to Earl Grey 13 July 1852.)

(****Footnote. Sir John Pakington to Fitzgerald 11 December 1852.)

In a further dispatch* he declined to accede to the Governor's request to
delay the institution of the change for a year, but in order not to
harass the local Government agreed that for the time charges amounting to
only 1973 pounds should be transferred from the parliamentary grant to
the colonial funds, the larger amount--nearly 3700 pounds--representing
one-half the total Parliamentary grant, being deferred until 1854. When
this was brought before the Legislative Council in 1853 it was pointed
out that the only remaining expenses paid from Parliamentary grants were
those incurred through the introduction of convicts, and should therefore
come from convict funds, so as not to preclude the inhabitants of the
colony from taking advantage of the provisions of the Act of 1850 with
regard to the establishment of an elective Legislative Council. M.W.
Clifton, who was responsible for these statements, was the strong
advocate at this time for some change in the constitution of the
Legislative Council which should have the effect of giving to the people
generally a greater voice in the affairs of Government. It was evident
from the tenor of the dispatches of the Duke of Newcastle, then Secretary
of State for the Colonies, that representative government was not likely
to be considered so long as the colony remained a penal settlement. The
only course left open, therefore, was to attempt to increase the number
of the non-official nominees. Clifton succeeded in having a resolution to
that effect passed by the Legislative Council in 1854.** This was
forwarded to the Colonial Office shortly afterwards,*** which replied
asking for further information as to the reasons for the suggested

(*Footnote. Ibid 15 December 1852.)

(**Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 30 May 1854 Perth
Gazette 2 June 1854.)

(***Footnote. Fitzgerald to Duke of Newcastle 17 and 25 August 1854.)

(****Footnote. Sir George Grey to Fitzgerald 17 March 1855 and Lord John
Russell to Kennedy 13 May 1855.)

In July 1855 Governor Fitzgerald's term of office expired, and he was
succeeded by Captain (afterwards Sir) Arthur E. Kennedy. To Captain
Fitzgerald must in the main be ascribed the introduction of convicts to
Western Australia, though it may be pointed out that in urging that
course he was only giving effect to the wishes of the colonists.
Privately he had doubts about the wisdom of the action in the beginning,
and as the years rolled by he did not hesitate to express the conviction
that the colony ought never to have agreed to accept the scourings of
English jails for the sake of possible material prosperity. As an
administrator Captain Fitzgerald was conscientious and painstaking, and,
on the whole, his term of office may be described as successful,
particularly when the difficulties of guiding the colony through so
important a period as the inception of a penal establishment are taken
into consideration. Like all his predecessors he had to submit to a
certain amount of public criticism, but before he left the colony it was
generally conceded by his critics that their adverse opinions had been
too hastily formed. If the criticisms had been confined to the financial
side of his administration they would perhaps have been justified. The
first difficulty that met Captain Kennedy on his assumption of office in
July was to find sufficient money to pay the month's salaries. Captain
Fitzgerald* had stated that it was estimated that on 31 December there
would be a credit balance of 691 pounds, and that at the end of 1856
there would be a probable credit balance of 320 pounds; in place of that
Governor Kennedy found an actual debt of 14,205 pounds and not a farthing
in the Treasury.** Such a state of affairs was rather unfortunate for the
new Governor. It compelled him to use the pruning knife somewhat freely,
a proceeding which exposed him at the very commencement of his term to
the danger of unpopularity.*** That danger was not lessened in 1856 when,
in order if possible to arrange for the gradual liquidation of the debt,
he persuaded the Council to authorise additional taxation, principally
through the customs, estimated to yield 5700 pounds a year.**** These
however, were matters upon which the responsibility of his position
compelled him to take action, and any odium resulting from them would
only have been ephemeral. The same can scarcely be said of his action in
bringing forward an amended Licensing Bill. Being impressed with the
laxity of the liquor laws and astounded at the prevalence of drunkenness,
he introduced into this Bill--and succeeded in passing*****--very
stringent clauses regarding the sale of liquor. Among these was one
providing that conditional-pardon men could not hold a licence.******
This met with very strong disapproval outside the Council, as there were
at the time several holders of licences who were of that class, and it
was contended that vested interests would be interfered with,*******
while at the same time men who were entitled to freedom would be placed
under a disability.

(*Footnote. Fitzgerald to Sir George Grey 28 June 1855.)

(**Footnote. Kennedy to Lord John Russell 17 August 1855. This debt was
made up as follows: to Commissariat Department 2959 pounds; Western
Australian Bank 2577 pounds; Imperial Treasury 2169 pounds; Agent-General
1700 pounds; G. Leake, 800 pounds; Salaries July and August 8000 pounds;
less revenue July to August 4000 pounds; total 14,205 pounds.)

(***Footnote. Kennedy to Lord John Russell 17 August 1855.)

(****Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 17 June 1856 Perth
Gazette 20 June 1856.)

(*****Footnote. 20 Victoria Number 1.)

(******Footnote. 20 Victoria Number 1 section 10.)

(*******Footnote. Perth Gazette 27 June 1856.)

The whole question would be one of merely passing interest if it were not
that the opportunity was seized by the advocates for representative
government to renew their agitation. A public meeting was held on 6
August,* the largest held in the colony up to that time, for the purpose
of considering the Licensing Act and the constitution of the Legislative
Council. On the first subject all those stock arguments in opposition
that are always used against any amendment of a licensing Act were
brought forward; on the second a resolution was passed affirming the
necessity of increasing the number of non-official members in the
Council. Incidentally, the whole tenor of the meeting was a strong
condemnation of the administration of Governor Kennedy. The resolutions
were in due course sent on to the Secretary of State, who replied**
confirming the Licensing Act with the exception of the clause excluding
conditional-pardon men from holding a licence. A further dispatch***
stated that Her Majesty's Government was not prepared to advise the
introduction of elective members into the Legislative Council. Convinced
that non-official members had no power in the Council, Mr. Samson
resigned his seat in October 1856,**** and M.W. Clifton followed suit in
1858. J.W. Hardey was appointed in 1855, and S.P. Phillips and E.
Hamersley in 1857, while Samson was reappointed in 1859. The question of
representative government was once more raised in 1858***** and again in
1860, when it was stated that the absence of unofficial members from the
Council as then constituted would be quite as beneficial as their

(*Footnote. Ibid 8 August 1856.)

(**Footnote. Labouchere to Kennedy 1 January 1857.)

(***Footnote. Ibid 28 January 1857.)

(****Footnote. Perth Gazette 17 October 1856.)

(*****Footnote. Ibid 3 and 10 December 1858.)

(******Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 27 September 1860
Mr. Samson in Inquirer 3 October 1860.)

But even with all this discussion over the constitution of the Council
the colonists did not relax their grasp of the old bone of
contention--the land regulations and the necessity for some alteration in
them. By the opening up of the country round Champion Bay one phase, that
of leasing, had assumed an important aspect. The leadership in this
agitation, too, seems to have devolved upon Marshal Clifton, who was
generally to be found in the forefront of any progressive movement of
that period. In 1854 he suggested the imposition of a tax of 1 halfpenny
per acre on all land, such tax to be remitted when the land was cleared
and brought under cultivation. This proposal, which aimed at preventing
the acquisition of large estates, failed to meet with the approval of the
other members, and the matter was allowed to lapse.* Convinced that some
alteration in the land regulations was necessary, Clifton returned to the
charge in 1856** by proposing that the minimum price of Crown lands at
auction should be 1 pound per acre up to 50 acres, 10 shillings up to
100, and 5 shillings per acre afterwards. His objects were to try to
break up big estates, to restrain squatting, and to bring land under
cultivation. It was admitted that the newly-opened country round Champion
Bay was held in large squatting leases, the areas of most of which were
out of all proportion to the stock carried, and had in many cases been
selected only to prevent agriculturists from getting a footing in the
district. Always ready to consider the question of altering the land
regulations, the Legislative Council agreed to remit the matter to the
Executive Council in the hope that some satisfactory plan might be
devised. The view that Clifton urged was practically the same as that put
before the House of Lords Committee on the Convict System by T.N. Yule
and others, and which had so impressed that committee that it recommended
the Imperial authorities to make a large reduction in the sale price of
waste Crown lands in Western Australia.***

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 20 May 1854 Inquirer 7
June 1854.)

(**Footnote. Ibid 17 October 1856 Perth Gazette 24 October 1856.)

(***Footnote. Report of Select Committee of House of Lords on
Transportation 1856 Number 124 paragraph 10. See also Answers of G.F.
Moore As. 539 to 546, R.McB. Brown As. 626 to 638, T.N. Yule As. 759 to
760, 765 to 768, 829 to 834.)

The Executive Council, to which the matter had been referred by the
Legislature, endeavoured by sending round a list of queries to learn the
views of the inhabitants generally. A committee, consisting of Captain
J.S. Roe (Surveyor-General) F.P. Barlee, and A. O'Grady Lefroy, was then
appointed to take these replies into consideration and formulate such
amendments as seemed to be necessary. This committee reported in June
1857,* and had the satisfaction of finding its report unanimously
approved by the colonists. No alteration in the regulations governing
town allotments were proposed, but drastic amendments in those relating
to Crown lands were suggested. The price was to be reduced to 5 shillings
per acre for cash, or 6 shillings for credit extending over three years;
sales by auction were to give way to sales at a fixed price; the minimum
amount allowed to be forty acres; every adult paying cabin fare from
England and purchasing 40 accrues was to be allowed an additional 20
acres as a grant, such land to be selected within twelve months of
arrival and the selector to reside on it for three years before he
received the title; application fees were to be abolished and the cost of
title-deeds reduced to 20 shillings on all grants. In regard to pastoral
leases no alteration in the prices of either A or B land, as set out in
the Order in Council of March 1850, was suggested. It was proposed,
however, to alter the boundaries of class A in some respects and to give
the Executive Council power to move into class A any land within a mile
of future purchases. In class B the committee proposed that the maximum
lease should be 10,000 acres instead of 20,000, that the term of lease
should be eight years as before, with the right of renewal, but that in
case of renewal the rent should be raised 50 per cent, and another 50 per
cent in the event of a second renewal; that during the first year only
the lessee should have the right to purchase, and that for three years he
should have a preemptive right over two acres for every 100 comprised in
the lease; that subject to the restrictions mentioned any person could
select for purchase areas of no less than 40 acres, the price paid to be
fixed beforehand, and the lessee to be compensated for any improvements
made on the particular block. In view of the proposed reduction in the
price of land the committee recommended the abolition of tillage leases.

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 19 June 1857 Report of Committee.)

The report of the committee was unanimously accepted by the Council.* It
was considered the broadest and most satisfactory proposal put forward up
to that time, and it embraced most of the requests made by the colonists
during the previous twenty years. In due course the land regulations thus
amended were forwarded for the approval of the Imperial authorities,**
and the reply of the Secretary of State was considered at the session of
the Legislative Council in 1858.

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 24 June 1857 Perth
Gazette 26 June 1857.)

(**Footnote. Kennedy to Labouchere 13 August 1857.)

Recognising that the amendments represented the unanimous opinion of the
colonists, Lord Stanley notified his approval of them with only two
exceptions.* He declined to fix the sale price of Crown lands at less
than 10 shillings per acre, and he refused to give any right of renewal
in the case of pastoral leases for eight years. In coming to a decision
he was guided by the opinion of the Land and Emigration Commissioners, to
whom he had referred the whole question. In order to assist further in
preventing land monopolies, against which the amendments had in part been
framed, the Secretary of State suggested the imposition of a tax on
country lands and of a poll tax on sheep and cattle. The Legislative
Council, strongly convinced of the wisdom of its original proposals, and
equally certain that a land tax would be injurious, protested against the
suggestions of the Secretary of State,** but without effect. In August
1859 a dispatch*** was received from the Colonial Office confirming the
previous one on the subject, and directing the Governor to bring the
regulations so amended into operation. A second dispatch**** enclosed a
long report from the Land and Emigration Commissioners in continuation of
their former report, and along the same lines. They contended that if
colonial lands were made too cheap, every colonist would become a
landowner and not one remain a labourer. The requirements of the colony
were not, in their opinion, cheap land and labour, but an increase of
capital, and capitalists were not tempted to a country by the cheapness
of the land, but by the return which could be obtained from it. The fear
that every colonist might become a landowner seems curious in these days
of closer settlement, when the universal cry appears to be "Back to the

(*Footnote. Lord Stanley to Kennedy 1 May 1858.)

(**Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 23 September and 1
October 1858 Perth Gazette 1 and 8 October 1858. The resolutions of the
Legislative Council were forwarded by Kennedy to Secretary of State 13
October 1858.)

(***Footnote. Sir E.B. Lytton to Kennedy 19 May 1859.)

(****Footnote. Ibid 20 May 1859.)

The land regulations passed in 1857 had therefore to be altered in order
to fix the minimum price per acre at 10 shillings and to make the other
amendments required by the Home authorities. Though the colonists were
afraid that the alterations would defeat the object they had in view,
that fear proved to a large extent groundless. In an address to the
Legislative Council in October 1859,* the Governor brought forward
statistics which showed that the leasing provisions of the regulations
had proved satisfactory. Whereas the land leased from the Crown in 1852
amounted to 2,356,239 acres, in 1859 it reached 5,003,336, or more than
double, with a corresponding increase in revenue. In April 1860, when the
first applications for the purchase of land under the new conditions were
received, land to the value of 3050 pounds was sold on the first day,**
and the receipts from that source which in 1850 were 1357 pounds*** had
grown in 1860 to 10,193 pounds.**** In fact, so successful did the
operation of the new regulations prove that no further attempt at drastic
alterations were made for some considerable time.

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 22 October 1859 Perth
Gazette 28 October 1859.)

(**Footnote. Inquirer 18 April 1860.)

(***Footnote. Blue book 1850 page 20. The figures in Statistical Summary
include both sales and rents.)

(****Footnote. Ibid.)

The increased activity in the alienation of land was no doubt largely due
to the improved regulations under which it could be secured. Large
investors were more certain of a return for the money invested, whilst
the smaller capitalist and the provident worker found it possible to
secure freeholds and thus become their own masters. At the same time
there is no doubt that the expansion was partly due to the continued
influx of convicts and to the numbers of immigrants who arrived in
pursuance of the agreement that as many free persons as convicts should
be sent out. Up to the end of 1853 there had been 2598 criminals landed
in the colony, and during the succeeding seven years another 2911
arrived, making in all a total of 5509 during the first ten years of the
operation of the system. In addition, during the five years ending 1855,
the British Government had provided passages for nearly four thousand
free immigrants.* Such a large increase in the general population could
not help but affect every phase of colonial development. For the first
time for many years sufficient labour, free or forced, was available for
the three great needs of the community--improved means of communication
and transport, assistance in cultivating the land, and a market for the
produce. The improved means of communication made it possible for owners
to cultivate profitably land farther from the centres of population,
whilst the labour necessary to assist in that development was easily
procurable and a sufficiently large market to absorb the produce ready to

(*Footnote. Ibid.)

As might be expected from the presence of such a large criminal
population, many of whom were to all intents and purposes at large,
crimes both of trifling and serious character were fairly frequent, but
never so frequent as to be beyond the power of the police to control. The
question as to whether the imperial or colonial funds should bear the
expenses of maintenance of the police force was for some time a bone of
contention. Under the original agreement the Imperial Government agreed
to pay two-thirds of the cost of the police force, but when 10,000 pounds
was estimated as the cost for 1855 objection was taken on the ground of
extravagance, and the Secretary of State refused to contribute more than
6000 pounds in any one year.* Real grievances being scarce, this was
immediately seized by the colonists. Meetings in protest were held in
various centres and a memorial** prepared for submission to the Secretary
of State complaining that the Home authorities should bear at least
two-thirds of the total expense, as they had benefited by the erection of
prisons, depots, quarters, and so on, while the colonists still looked in
vain for their roads and bridges. The memorial further directed attention
to the fact that the free immigrants promised were not being sent out,
while some of the convict vessels carried only men who were entitled to
their tickets-of-leave immediately upon landing, and could not therefore
be employed upon public works. Governor Kennedy duly transmitted the
memorial,*** but displayed no enthusiasm in support of it. In reply the
Secretary of State**** fixed the Imperial contribution at the 6000 pounds
previously notified, and pointed out that so far as emigration was
concerned 3786 free people had been sent out by British funds up to the
end of 1855, while only 3661 convicts had been transported during the
same period. He admitted that the colonists were justified in asking that
the convicts should be employed on public works for some portion of their
sentences, but pointed out that there was not a sufficient number of
suitable convicts to meet the demands.

(*Footnote. Duke of Newcastle to Fitzgerald 28 February 1854; Sir George
Grey to Fitzgerald 26 January 1855.)

(**Footnote. Perth Gazette 14 September 1855 copy of memorial.)

(***Footnote. Kennedy to Lord John Russell 18 October 1855.)

(****Footnote. Labouchere to Kennedy 3 April 1856 in Perth Gazette 19
September 1856.)

Though the moral status of the community can scarcely be said to have
been raised by the introduction of convicts, there is little doubt that
materially the colony as a whole benefited, and that to a great extent,
by their presence. Public works, which had been anxiously desired ever
since the foundation of the colony, were built, and though the erection
of bridges and the making of roads did not proceed quite so expeditiously
as the colonists could have wished, considerable progress was made. Many
complaints of the want of permanent lines of communication were voiced
from time to time, but, as the Governor somewhat sarcastically pointed
out, it was no light task to provide those means in a community numbering
only 11,000 people, who were so scattered that it required 11,000 miles
of road to connect them. One cause of the delay lay in the fact that many
of the convicts sent out were entitled to tickets-of-leave immediately on
landing. The Sea Park, which landed 304 felons in April 1854, provided
only one man for public works, the remainder seeking outside employment
under tickets-of-leave. Though in a way it was fortunate that such a good
class of criminal was sent out, the colonists scarcely looked at the
matter in that light. To them the convict system represented three
things--the lavish expenditure of British funds, cheap labour for their
public works, and a stream of free immigration paid for by the Home
authorities; and to secure those they were willing to take the risk of
being saddled with an incorrigible criminal population. Perceiving this,
the Secretary of State from 1855 did not exercise such great care in the
selection, with the result that criminals were transported who were a
curse to human society.* They certainly were available for Government
works for a long period after arrival, but once they were set free the
colonists recognised that their services had been dearly bought.

(*Footnote. See Captain Henderson's evidence before House of Lords
Committee on Transportation 1856 pages 83 Qs 870 to 874.)

To give some idea of the extent of the work performed by convicts during
this period, it may be mentioned that buildings, bridges, and roads to
the value of over 50,000 pounds had been completed, or were in course of
construction, at the end of 1860. The principal of these was the convict
establishment itself, erected at Fremantle, which now forms part of the
Fremantle Jail. Some hundreds of convicts were engaged upon it, but, as
might be expected, progress was slow, as the men had no fear of being
dismissed on the ground of incompetence. The prison, with the necessary
officers' quarters, pensioners' barracks, and other appurtenances, formed
for many years the principal work of the convicts, and the people of
Fremantle grew accustomed to the clank of the chaingangs as they passed
to and fro. In fact, the unwonted activity seems to have made them so
proud of the town that in 1854* they seriously suggested (but without
effect) to the Secretary of State** that the seat of Government should be
removed from Perth to the port. Other works were the construction of the
present Government House, estimated to cost 7000 pounds, but which, when
completed in 1864, was found to have cost nearly 18,000 pounds; the
erection of a new jail at Perth on the site now occupied by the Public
Library, Museum, and Art Gallery; the building of country depots or
branch convict establishments and invalid depots; and various police
stations, courts, and jetties. The Perth to Fremantle road was also
permanently laid out, and a large swampy lake at the back of the capital,
on which the Central Railway Station now stands, was drained into the
river at Claisebrook. All this activity meant the expenditure, as has
been shown, of large sums of money, all of which was provided by the
British Government, and a great part of which found its way into the
pockets of the colonists. A wave of prosperity passed over the colony,
and the settlers felt that their determination to receive convicts had
been amply justified, more particularly as a large influx of free people
had also resulted.

(*Footnote. Fitzgerald to Sir George Grey 15 December 1854 enclosing
memorial from residents of Fremantle.)

(**Footnote. Lord John Russell to Fitzgerald 1 May 1855.)

Two important matters concerning the administration of the system called
for attention during these years. It was the original intention of the
British Government that a convict, when on ticket-of-leave, should, out
of his earnings, refund 15 pounds--the cost of passage out--to the
Imperial Treasury.* This proved practically unworkable, its only effect
being to raise the price of labour. The convict naturally objected to pay
for a voyage which he did not undertake voluntarily, and the employer did
not relish having to pay higher wages in order that his employee might
reimburse the British Treasury. At the end of February 1857 there was
7200 pounds due on this account, while 400 pounds had been paid in
advance.** When giving evidence on the subject before the House of Lords
Committee, G.F. Moore and others advised that the regulations be
reconsidered, as the expense entailed by it fell not upon the convict,
but upon the settler. The committee, in its report, adopted the
advice.*** Captain Henderson and also Captain Wray, who acted for some
time as Comptroller-General, in successive reports**** also advised that
some alteration be made, stating that the abolition of the regulation
would remove a widespread and very natural discontent among the
ticket-of-leave men and relieve the colonists from a heavy tax by
enabling them to reduce wages. The Governor supported this view, and it
was approved by the Secretary of State.***** In order that there might
not be any dissatisfaction, the authorities refunded the 400 pounds
already paid in advance.****** All payments ceased as from 28 February
1857.******* The same course was adopted regarding the payments towards
the passages of wives and families of convicts.********

(*Footnote. Earl Grey to Fitzgerald 5 January 1850.)

(**Footnote. Kennedy to Labouchere 13 April 1857 with enclosure Captain
Wray to Kennedy 13 March 1857.)

(***Footnote. Report of Select Committee of House of Lords on
transportation 1856 page 4 paragraph 11.)

(****Footnote. See Half-yearly reports of Comptroller-General 188 and
1856 in House of Commons Papers on Convict Discipline and

(*****Footnote. Labouchere to Kennedy 14 September 1856.)

(******Footnote. Kennedy to Labouchere 13 April 1857.)

(*******Footnote. Ibid.)

(********Footnote. Labouchere to Kennedy 4 March 1857.)

It will be remembered that early in the fifties suggestions having in
view the introduction of female convicts had been made by the Home
authorities, but had been strongly opposed by the settlers. The revolting
condition of affairs in Tasmania consequent upon their introduction to
that colony was too well-known, and however anxious Western Australia
might have been to secure cheap labour, it had a decided aversion to that
type of it. One of the reasons which impelled the Duke of Newcastle to
make the suggestion in 1853* was the disparity between the sexes, there
being nearly three males to every female. Public opinion opposed the
idea** and the Governor advised against it,*** so for a time the matter
was allowed to drop. It was renewed by the Secretary of State in
1856,**** when the proportion of males to females had risen to 100:11. A
public meeting held at Fremantle in May 1857***** favoured the
introduction of female criminals, and in June of that year Clifton
succeeded in passing a resolution in favour through the Legislative
Council;****** the Surveyor-General, the Colonial Treasurer, Phillips,
and Hamersley voting against it. The Governor was on the side of the
majority. This resolution led to public meetings in various country
centres, at which strong opposition to the idea was evident. The Governor
made a full report to the Home authorities, faintly recommending a trial
of the experiment,******* but in 1858 the Imperial Government********
finally decided not to transport females to Western Australia.

(*Footnote. Duke of Newcastle to Fitzgerald 14 December 1853.)

(**Footnote. Inquirer 31 May 1854.)

(***Footnote. Fitzgerald to Duke of Newcastle 3 August 1854.)

(****Footnote. Labouchere to Kennedy 16 December 1856.)

(*****Footnote. Perth Gazette 5 June 1857.)

(******Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 23 June 1857
Perth Gazette 26 June 1857.)

(*******Footnote. Kennedy to Labouchere 13 August 1857.)

(********Footnote. Labouchere to Kennedy 17 February 1858.)

Ample evidence of the material advantages derived from the convict
establishment may be found in the trade relations. The value of exports,
which in 1850 stood at 22,135 pounds, had risen in 1860 to 89,247 pounds.
The principal articles exported were, of course, wool and timber,
followed by horses (for the Indian market) and whale-oil. The imports had
also increased considerably, and reached 169,075 pounds in 1860.* This
does not, perhaps, indicate an altogether healthy state of affairs, but
apart from the fact that a portion of it represented materials for public
works and provisions and clothing for the convicts, it shows that the
establishment of the convict system had brought about the introduction of
a large amount of money, the benefits from which were being felt by the
community generally. The revenue and expenditure, too, had grown equally
with the trade. In 1850 the local receipts were 11,722 pounds and the
disbursements (including that from grants-in-aid) 16,657 pounds; and in
1860 the figures were 60,741 pounds and 61,745 pounds respectively.** The
grants-in-aid from Imperial funds, which during the first twenty-one
years of the colony's existence amounted to 375,264 pounds, showed a
marked increase, reaching the sum of 906,000 pounds during the decennial
period 1851 to 1860.*** When we remember that of this amount 450,000
pounds went in pay and allowances and a further 250,000 pounds in payment
for locally produced foodstuffs**** for the prisoners, we readily
understand that at this stage, at any rate, the colonists had no qualms
of conscience over the introduction of convicts.

(*Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

(**Footnote. Ibid. The colonial revenue is taken from the Blue Books 1850
to 1860.)

(***Footnote. Inquirer 13 June 1860 extract from census report.)

(****Footnote. Ibid.)

In addition to trade expansion, to the erection of public buildings, and
the building of permanent roads, further evidence of the prosperity due
to the altered conditions was to be found in the acreage under crop,
24,705 (more than double the area in 1850) and the number of stock,
313,000 (being an increase during the ten years of over 150,000). Of the
total stock, sheep accounted for upwards of a quarter of a million,
showing that squatting had gained a firm hold in Western Australia, as it
had in the eastern colonies. In fact, the wool sent away from the colony
in 1860--49,000 pounds---represented more than half the value of all
exports.* Considerable success was also gained in breeding horses, the
proximity of India and the requirements of the Indian army, particularly
at this time, affording a ready market. Timber and whaling gave
employment to numbers of people, and in every centre of population there
was evidence of activity and progress. The stagnant settlement of 1850
had become in ten years a hive of industry, a change which the colonists
believed to be wholly due to the introduction of convicts. As Governor
Fitzgerald put the matter before the House of Lords Committee, the
convicts had saved the colony.**

(*Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

(**Footnote. Report of Select Committee of House of Lords on
Transportation page 20 Q 189.)

The gold discoveries of Victoria, combined with the proved existence of
lead and copper, served to keep alive an interest in mining. That
interest was stimulated by Robert Austin, one of the Government
surveyors, who as the outcome of a trip through the Murchison district
expressed the opinion that gold might be found there.* Fuel was added by
the exhibition of some specimens of gold said to have been found
somewhere in the eastern districts. The locality of the find could not,
however, be fixed. As a result of these reports, prospecting was carried
on with some degree of assiduity, but without any discoveries being made.
A certain amount of activity was, however, being shown in lead and copper
mining. Lead of good quality was secured from the Geraldine Mine, and
other mines--principally the Wanerenooka and the Wheal Fortune--were
opened up and yielded copper of excellent quality and in considerable
quantity. These mines would doubtless have had a prosperous career but
for the difficulties of transit to the seaboard at Geraldton. The local
Government was approached, without success, with a request for a railway
or tramway, and in 1860 the Imperial authorities were asked** to
guarantee the cost of construction. A refusal*** in this direction also,
combined with a serious fall in the price of copper which occurred at the
time, made profitable working almost impossible, and in consequence the
mines languished.

(*Footnote. Austin, R. Journal of Expedition to Explore the Interior of
Western Australia Perth 1855 page 58.)

(**Footnote. Kennedy to Sir G. Cornewall Lewis 16 March 1860.)

(***Footnote. Sir G. Cornewall Lewis to Kennedy 14 July 1860.)

The search for mineral wealth and the opening up of good pastoral country
round Champion Bay led, during these years, to a revival of exploratory
work. In 1854 Assistant-Surveyor Austin was sent by Governor Fitzgerald
to examine the country to the north and east of the settled districts
with a view to discovering minerals and of opening up further pastoral
and agricultural land. This expedition, which left Moumbakine, near
Northam, in July, traversed and examined a considerable tract of salt
marsh country and discovered several mountains and salt lakes. Further
progress was prevented owing to the death of the horses through eating
the poisonous box-plant, and Austin was compelled to make for the coast.
On his way a halt was made at Mount Magnet, and the district round Mounts
Magnet and Kenneth and Lake Austin examined. This was afterwards
described in his report as probably "one of the finest goldfields in the
world."* Austin finally arrived at the Geraldine Mine in November, after
suffering severely from want of water. In the following years, 1855 and
1856, A.C. Gregory made his well-known journey from the Northern
Territory along Sturt Creek to Lake Termination, in the north-east of
Western Australia, thence returning to his camp on the Victoria Plains,
to the south of the Kimberley goldfield.** The remaining explorations
were conducted by F.T. Gregory, who in 1857 returned to complete the
survey of the unexamined portions of the Murchison River,*** and in 1858
was sent out for the purpose of exploring and reporting on the Shark Bay
and Gascoyne River districts. Leaving the Geraldine Mine in April,
Gregory followed the Murchison River to the neighbourhood of Mount Gould,
proceeding thence to the headwaters of the Gascoyne. Tracing that river
to its mouth, he made his way back to Perth and reported that there were
several tracts of good, well-watered land in the Gascoyne district
admirably suited for pastoral purposes, but suggested a further
examination in the dry season of the year.****

(*Footnote. Austin, R. Journal of Expedition to Explore the Interior of
Western Australia page 58.)

(**Footnote. Favenc, E. History of Australian Exploration Sydney 1888
pages 184 to 187.)

(***Footnote. Gregory, Sir A.C. and F.T. Journals of Australian
Explorations Brisbane 1884 pages 34 to 36.)

(****Footnote. Ibid pages 37 to 50.)

No further explorations of this section of the country were made in those
years, but a good deal of attention was bestowed upon the districts lying
immediately east of York and Northam. Various small expeditions, urged by
the desire to secure good land, went out, and reported in fairly
favourable terms upon land that is now being recognised as comprising
some of the best cereal-producing country in the State.

The material prosperity of the colony was in some measure reflected in
the progress made in religious and educational affairs. The Church of
England, which in 1850 had been made an archdeaconry under the control of
the Bishop of Adelaide, was erected in 1856 into a bishopric, and Perth
by Letters Patent was constituted a cathedral town, "thereafter to be
called the City of Perth."* The first Bishop, nominated by Bishop Short
of Adelaide, was the Right Reverend Matthew Hale,** who had been
Archdeacon since the foundation of the bishopric in South Australia.
Bishop Hale, who was not unacquainted with the colony, arrived in 1856,
but left for England toward the end of the year and was consecrated there
in March 1857. He returned, accompanied by several clergymen, in 1858,***
and immediately set about the organisation of his diocese. The Reverend
George Pownall was appointed Dean of Perth and the Reverend James Brown,
one of the official chaplains, Archdeacon. Other denominations were also
extending their spheres of action. The Roman Catholic Church surmounted
its early troubles and entered upon progressive work, its first district
outside Perth being that of York. The Congregational Church was
established in the colony in 1859, and the Wesleyans were rapidly
launching out in the manner so characteristic of that sect. Educational
interests were fostered both by the Government and the various churches,
and while little in the way of secondary education existed at that time,
the bulk of the children were given an opportunity of acquiring a
knowledge of the primary subjects of instruction.

(*Footnote. Labouchere to Kennedy 23 May 1856 enclosing Letters Patent.)

(**Footnote. Ibid.)

(***Footnote. Perth Gazette 15 January 1858.)

CHAPTER 10. 1861 TO 1868.


The changes in the personnel of the Government during the period ending
with 1868 were few. The principal was the retirement of Governor Kennedy
in 1862 through effluxion of time. Kennedy can scarcely be said to have
been a popular officer. A man of strong opinions and determined will,
once he had marked out a line of action he pursued his course without any
regard to public favour. In this respect he was not unlike Governor Hutt,
but it must be admitted that he had not always the same difficulties to
contend with as that gentleman. The Press, which presumably reflected the
general public opinion of the day, considered him entitled to "every
credit for great ability, and for great unscrupulousness in carrying out
his plans regardless of public opinion however expressed."* And yet to
Governor Kennedy's careful guidance the settlers owed the only system of
land regulations that had up to that time given anything like general
satisfaction. His unpopularity seems to have been caused by an obnoxious
Customs ordinance passed in 1860,** an accusation of interference with
the magistracy, a refusal to spend public money on roads to the Champion
Bay Mines, and a generally restricted policy of public works. The
opposition to the Customs Act certainly had some justification, more
particularly as regards those clauses requiring the lightermen to enter
into heavy bonds before being allowed to discharge cargo. How ill-advised
was the attempt to press a highly technical Customs Act upon a still but
half-organised community was shown on the arrival of the first boat after
the ordinance was passed. No one could be found to enter into bonds,***
and consequently the unloading of the ship had to be carried out by the
Government itself. The inconvenience of such a proceeding was manifest
even to the Governor, who, when the Bill was under consideration, had
steadfastly refused to admit the possibility of such an occurrence, and
as a result the obnoxious clauses were suspended and afterwards repealed.
Captain Kennedy incurred further displeasure in January 1861 by the
removal of the names of Drummond and Lukin from the Commission of the
Peace. It was generally believed that the action was due to the objection
these justices had against being regarded as mere creatures of the
Executive,**** an opinion which was strengthened by the removal shortly
afterwards of Wallace Bickley's name from the Commission. Though there is
not sufficient evidence to prove the truth of the contention, there are
many indications that Governor Kennedy did not view independence on the
part of the magistrates with anything like favour. That may have been
owing to the difficulty of handling a convict population, and the fear
that leniency or sympathy might bring about an increase of crime, but it
was certainly unwise for the representative of the Sovereign to interfere
in the administration of justice. In refusing to spend public money in
order to increase the profits of a private mining company by providing
facilities for transport which the Company should itself have provided,
the Governor ought to have had the support and not the opposition of the
colonists, particularly as there were many necessary public works in the
centres of population which could not be carried out through lack of
funds. Unfortunately, there existed in the public mind an impression that
the Government was not hampered by any lack of funds, but that the
Governor was pursuing a policy of parsimony in order to leave a surplus
at the end of his term, and so secure the credit of being a successful
administrator. There certainly was a sum of about 22,000 pounds lying in
the colonial chest in March 1861,***** notwithstanding pressing demands
for roads, bridges, and buildings, but instead of that being due to
economy, it was brought about by the fact that so few convicts were
arriving that there was not sufficient labour to absorb it.

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 24 January 1862.)

(**Footnote. 24 Victoria Number 5.)

(***Footnote. Inquirer 6 February 1861 Perth Gazette 8 February 1861.)

(****Footnote. Perth Gazette 4 January 1861; Inquirer 13 and 20 March

(*****Footnote. Inquirer 27 March 1861.)

Just prior to leaving the colony Captain Kennedy, without seeking the
sanction of the Legislative Council, authorised a scheme of public works*
which far exceeded the money in hand. For this he was accused of
unwarranted extravagance, and of seriously hampering the operations of
his successor. The colonists had apparently determined to show
disapproval of everything he did, and perhaps the real reason lay in the
fact that he was not one of themselves. Courteous in all his actions and
punctilious to a degree, he never forgot, nor did he allow anyone else to
forget, that he was the Governor. Complaints against his administration
of the convict system were to some extent justified. It lacked
efficiency, and was not usually in the interests of the colony. In fact,
all through his term Captain Kennedy was an Imperial officer, bent on
conserving Imperial interests, and where these clashed with the
requirements of Western Australia he leaned in every case toward the
Motherland. In this respect he differed from his successor, Dr. John
Stephen Hampton, who arrived in the colony in February 1862. Dr. Hampton
had for a time been Comptroller-General of Convicts in Tasmania, where he
had achieved considerable unpopularity through being a strict
disciplinarian. He had a wide experience of convict life, and there is no
doubt that as regards the convict system his administration of the
Government of Western Australia was more successful than that of his

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 3 June 1862 Perth
Gazette 6 June 1862. Second reading of Bill to confirm expenditure for
1861 beyond the amount authorised.)

The only other important official change during this period (if we except
the resignation of Captain Henderson) was in the judicial office. On the
resignation of Judge Mackie in 1857 Judge McFarland had been appointed
Commissioner, and arrived early in 1858. His term of office was short and
not altogether acceptable. In 1861 he resigned, and was succeeded by Mr.
(afterwards Sir) Archibald Paull Burt as Commissioner of the Civil Court
and Court of Quarter Sessions. Shortly after his appointment Burt decided
that under the constitution he had no power to issue writs of habeas
corpus or certiorari.* To meet this difficulty an ordinance was passed in
June 1861,** creating a Supreme Court for the colony and appointing Burt
the first Chief Justice, with G.F. Stone as Attorney-General and A.H.
Stone as Master of the Court.***

(*Footnote. Ibid 12 June 1861 Inquirer 19 June 1861.)

(**Footnote. 24 Victoria Number 15.)

(***Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 25 June 1861.)

The convict system still continued to be one of the most important
features in the history of the colony. In March 1861 the Secretary of
State replied* to the complaint of the Legislative Council concerning the
failure to keep up the supply of convicts. He explained that while the
Imperial Government recognised the importance to the colony of an
adequate supply of forced labour, a difficulty was created by the limited
number of men who were being sentenced to periods of imprisonment
sufficiently lengthy to admit of transportation. The protest, however,
appears to have had some effect, as from 1861 till the cessation of the
whole system in 1868 a reasonable supply was maintained. No doubt the
fact that Western Australia was the only place left to which convicts
could be transported had also some effect in bringing about the increased
supply. Up to the end of 1860 the number of convicts transported to the
colony was 5509; from 1861 to 1868 a further 4212 were sent, making a
total convict population of 9721.

(*Footnote. Duke of Newcastle to Kennedy 15 March 1861.)

The Duke of Newcastle's dispatch was reassuring to the settlers, as while
it did not give any guarantee to send out yearly the thousand convicts
which the Legislative Council considered the colony could absorb, it
showed that, for the time at any rate, there was no intention to abandon
the system of transportation. There certainly had existed, locally, a
fear that transportation might be abandoned, more especially as the
inhabitants of the other Australian colonies had expressed a desire that
it should cease over the whole continent, and some of the Legislatures
had even passed laws to prevent persons who had been convicts in Western
Australia from coming within their limits. The question was referred to
by the Comptroller-General in his report for 1860,* the concluding
paragraph of which states:

"Some doubt seems still to hang over the question of the continuance of
transportation to this colony, and it may not be irrelevant to record
once more that there exist here facilities, and an almost certainty of
success of such a system as that now in force, which in all human
probability will never recur. An extensive territory with innumerable
resources slowly but surely developing themselves, a large leaven of free
settlers anxious and willing to cooperate with the Government in the
progress of transportation as here established, necessaries of life at a
reasonable price, an excellent climate, and a well-organised convict
department with all the means and appliances necessary for the full and
efficient performance of its duties in working a system hitherto
successful, form a combination of facts which may hereafter be sought in

(*Footnote. Further correspondence on the subject of convict discipline
and transportation 8 May 1862 Cd. Paper 3170 page 10.)

The dispatch from the Secretary of State,* referred to above, informed
the Governor that a committee of the House of Commons had been appointed
to inquire into transportation generally, and that the view taken by the
Council in Western Australia would doubtless be considered. This
committee reported in the following May that "while the committee have
not thought it their duty to take evidence as to any possible changes for
the purpose of increasing the supply of convict labour to Western
Australia, they did not think it advisable to interfere with the present
arrangements for transportation to that colony...when Western Australia
is anxious to receive such a number of convicts as this country may from
time to time be able to send there."**

(*Footnote. Duke of Newcastle to Kennedy 15 March 1861.)

(**Footnote. Report of Select Committee of House of Commons on
Transportation 1861 Number 286 page 5 paragraph 12.)

Further reference was made to the subject in the report of a Commission
appointed in 1862,* with Earl Grey as chairman, to take into
consideration the whole question of transportation and penal servitude.
Voluminous evidence was taken by this Commission, and a vast amount of
information regarding the merits of the system as carried out in Western
Australia was given by Captain Kennedy, Colonel Henderson, Dean Pownall,
Major Sanford, and Captain Du Cane.** In its report, dated 20 June 1863,
this commission recommended that with the exception of those who were
physically or otherwise unfit, all convicts sentenced to penal servitude
for any term of years should be ultimately sent to Western Australia.***
The "physically or otherwise unfit" were defined as not fit for manual
labour or those who had been convicted of unnatural crimes. This
restriction upon the class of man sent out was of practical value to the
colony in bringing about an improvement in the morals of those
transported. That a very dangerous element had previously been sent out
was apparent from the evidence given before the Commission. One witness
stated that in addition to men convicted of unnatural offences,
concerning whose sanity there might be doubts, twenty-eight lunatics had
been introduced, while at one time in 1861 there were more than that
number of murderers in Fremantle Prison.****

(*Footnote. Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the
operation of the Acts relating to transportation and penal servitude 1863
Cd. Paper 6457.)

(**Footnote. Ibid volume 2 pages 185, 211, 215, 251, 493 and 513.)

(***Footnote. Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the
operation of the Acts relating to transportation and penal servitude 1863
Cd. Paper 6457 volume 1 page 72.)

(****Footnote. Ibid volume 2 pages 190 to 191 Captain Kennedy Qs 2380 to

The Commission also recommended that the system of granting conditional
pardons, which had obtained in the colony up to that time, should be
abolished.* Strong objection to the system was taken by witnesses from
the eastern colonies of Australia, who pointed out the dangers that might
arise from an exodus of these men to the other more prosperous colonies.
This objection was largely sentimental, as there was little evidence of
the reconviction of conditional-pardon men who had proceeded to Victoria
or South Australia. The recommendation was no doubt chiefly due to the
strong opinion expressed by Captain Kennedy that the practice of granting
these pardons should be discontinued, as the men were subject to no
special control, and it often happened that an industrious and
well-behaved holder of a ticket-of-leave became a confirmed loafer and
parasite on obtaining his conditional pardon.**

(*Footnote. Ibid volume 1 page 57.)

(**Footnote. Ibid volume 2 page 192 Qs 2400 to 2401.)

The question of the wisdom of granting these pardons had already engaged
the attention of the Secretary of State, who in a dispatch of April 1863
had ordered the suspension of the privilege in the case of convicts under
sentence of twenty years or upwards. Later in the year it was decided to
abolish the system altogether as far as it concerned convicts sent out
after 26 September 1863,* and to require that every convict should remain
in Western Australia under surveillance until the completion of his
sentence. That the new system did not meet with the approval of the
convicts is evident from the more frequent and desperate attempts at
escape which took place after the end of 1863.

(*Footnote. Duke of Newcastle to Hampton 26 September 1863. See also
Proceedings of the Legislative Council 22 June 1864 Inquirer 29 June

The principal recommendation of the Commission--the adoption of extended
measures of transportation to Western Australia as a permanent
policy--was, however, set aside at the earnest solicitation of the
eastern colonies.* Though somewhat disheartened by the temporary rebuff
which the report of the Commission gave, the Legislatures and people of
those places continued to urge upon the Home authorities the injustice
accruing to the eastern part of the continent through the presence of a
penal settlement in the West. New South Wales and Tasmania had cast off
the convict yoke; Victoria and South Australia had never come under its
baleful influence; and all joined in energetic protest against its
continuance in any part of Australia, even though the local authorities
in that part desired it.** The arguments used in the east were not always
quite fair to Western Australia***--it is, for example, very doubtful
whether the eastern colonies in any way suffered through the presence of
conditional-pardon men from the west--but the overwhelming moral force
exhibited in the desire to make Australia a free, law-abiding, clean land
could not fail, sooner or later, to bring about the object aimed at.

(*Footnote. Ibid 26 January 1864. See also Circular Dispatch to Governors
of the Australian Colonies 26 January 1864.)

(**Footnote. Correspondence relative to the discontinuance of
transportation 1865 Cd. Paper 11406.)

(***Footnote. Ibid page 11.)

No doubt the Imperial authorities were helped to a decision on this
momentous subject by the discovery of further rich pastoral land in the
north, around Nickol Bay. The local authorities sought consent to send
batches of convicts to this district. People in the eastern colonies were
also desirous of securing land there, but objected to do so while the
chance remained of convicts being drafted to it.* The local application
to send convicts came before the Secretary of State at a time when
various schemes for a general reorganisation of the convict system were
being put forward, and the Minister not only refused to assent, but
informed the colonial authorities that at the end of three years the
whole system of transportation would cease.**

(*Footnote. Correspondence relative to the discontinuance of
transportation 1865 Cd. Paper 11406 page 33 Cardwell to Hampton 26
November 1864.)

(**Footnote. Ibid.)

This decision, so far as it related to the introduction of convict labour
or of persons under a penal sentence into the newly-discovered country,
met with approval both in England and Australia, and there is no doubt
that it saved Governor Hampton, who was favourable to convict labour,
from committing a grave error of judgment.

Possibly owing to the omission to state a definite date upon which
transportation would cease, the decision was not at first taken very
seriously in the colony, but the Imperial Government wasted no time in
showing its earnestness in the matter. Early in 1865 the House of Commons
was informed* that the system would come to an end in three years' time,
and on May 12 the Secretary of State forwarded a dispatch to the Governor
stating: "The present intention of the Government is to send out two
ships containing from 270 to 280 convicts, in each of the years 1865,
1866, and 1867, at the end of which transportation will cease.** This
intention was duly carried into effect, the last vessel to arrive with
convicts being the Hougoumont, which reached Fremantle on 10 January

(*Footnote. Hansard third series volume 177 page 137.)

(**Footnote. Cardwell to Hampton 12 May 1865. See also Cardwell to
Hampton 25 July 1865.)

When the intention to put a stop to transportation became known locally,
the cry for compensation--so usual when a concession is withdrawn--was
immediately raised. The Perth Chamber of Commerce, with a self-confidence
befitting the tailors of Tooley Street, resolved that:

"No time should be lost in asserting the claim of the colony to
compensation; that free emigration at the expense of the Imperial
Government should be continued for ten years; that the Home Government
should furnish a steamer for coast communication; that, as the convicts
have been employed in the erection of buildings for their own occupation,
and that now when those buildings are completed we are to be deprived of
that labour which should be available for roads, a grant of 250,000
pounds, paid annually in sums of 25,000 pounds, from the Imperial funds,
be asked for."*

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 27 January 1865.)

Outside the Chamber these requests were treated with ridicule,* but at
the same time serious attempts were made by colonists and others
interested to secure some compensation to Western Australia for the
withdrawal of the convicts. Major Sanford and Mr. Mangles interviewed the
Secretary of State upon the subject,** but received no satisfaction
beyond the assurance that the question would be considered.***

(*Footnote. Ibid.)

(**Footnote. Correspondence relative to the discontinuance of
transportation 1865 Cd. Paper 11406 pages 51 to 53.)

(***Footnote. Ibid page 53 T.F. Elliot to Mangles 6 February 1865.)

Apart from this, the cessation of transportation appears to have come
about without any great demonstration on the part of the colonists. As in
the beginning opinions had been fairly evenly divided in the matter of
inaugurating the system, there seemed at its close to be much the same
evenness of opinion as to the wisdom of abandoning it. On the whole,
perhaps the balance was in favour of the Imperial Government's action, as
many of the colonists felt that they could not derive further benefit
from the convicts, while the presence of them debarred the colony from a
fuller voice in the management of its own affairs. In addition, public
opinion on the subject of the treatment of criminals generally was
undergoing a drastic change, and the report of the Convict Superintendent
in 1865 shows that convict officials realised it. "Sooner or later," he
says, "the industrial employment of prisoners will be abandoned in all
civilised countries, and for it will be substituted a system of
comparatively short sentences, to be passed in the strictest solitary
confinement, on a reduced diet, without books other than the Bible and a
few of the best religious works, without the possibility of communication
with fellow-prisoners or friends, without any of those reliefs and
consolations, whether physical, moral, or mental, which constitute the
external mechanism of enjoyment, cheerfulness, and happiness to mortal

Though the actual transportation of convicts ceased at the beginning of
1868, years passed before the final adjustment of affairs was made
between the Imperial and local authorities. One contentious matter was
that of the number of free immigrants introduced at the expense of the
Home Government. According to the arrangements made in 1850 the English
authorities, in consideration of the colony receiving convicts, agreed to
dispatch an equal number of free immigrants. For a few years preceding
1868 this supply had not been kept up, and in July of that year the
Legislative Council appointed a committee to consider the question. By
counting two children as one adult this committee came to the conclusion
that only 6122 immigrants had been introduced as against 9721 convicts,
leaving the Imperial Government still liable for a further 3599 free
persons.* The report also claimed that the dearth of farm labourers,
shepherds, and domestics showed an urgent need for an immediate supply,
and asked that two emigrant ships be equipped at once by the Imperial
Government. The Governor forwarded the report** to the Secretary of State
with a recommendation, but the only reply was one practically refusing
the request. The Home Government pointed out*** that the claim could not
be recognised, as immigrants who ought to have been included were
omitted, and the computation on the basis of STATUTE ADULTS was wrong.
Apart from that the Colonial Office failed to see that there was any
obligation to continue the emigration policy, which only provided that
emigrants should be sent where they were required, and it was evident
from the census returns that many of those sent to Western Australia
failed to find sufficient inducement to remain there. Naturally this
plain statement of fact on the part of the Secretary of State did not
meet with approval from the colonists. In their opinion his ignorance of
local conditions was deplorable, and his good faith was seriously
questioned.**** The matter, however, rested there.

(*Footnote. Report of Committee 21 July 1868 Inquirer 5 August 1868.)

(**Footnote. Hampton to Duke of Buckingham and Chandos 13 August 1868.)

(***Footnote. Lord Granville to Weld 26 July 1869.)

(****Footnote. Herald Fremantle 23 October 1869.)

The number of men actually under control at the end of 1868 was 3158, the
difference between that and the total number sent out (9721) being made
up of those who had served their sentences, were out on conditional
pardon, or had died. Unfortunately the sources of information are
incomplete. Two fires amongst the records during the early sixties, and
the official destruction of many papers and documents on the withdrawal
of the convict establishment, have considerably restricted the
opportunities for securing information.

The most important event in the local administration of the system was
the resignation early in 1863 of Comptroller-General E.Y.W. Henderson. He
had, with one short absence on leave, controlled the system from the date
of its inauguration, and its success was no doubt largely due to his
wisdom and tact.* A strict disciplinarian, he was always just, and
impressed upon all who had charge of convicts that they must regard them
as men who, though they had transgressed man's laws, must not be regarded
as necessarily forever without the pale. To Colonel Henderson more than
to anyone else is due the fact that convictism has left so little mark on
Western Australia, and never gave rise to those horrors, so frequent and
appalling, that occurred in New South Wales and Tasmania. Captain
Newland, his successor, arrived in the colony on 14 January 1863. With
the system so well organised his task was not a hard one, but
unfortunately continual disagreements with Governor Hampton made the
position untenable,** and he returned to England early in 1866.***
Pending the arrival of a successor, the Governor bestowed the acting
appointment upon his son, Mr. G.E. Hampton.**** This gave rise to bitter
controversy and opposition. Mr. Hampton had no particular qualifications
for the post; straightened held more than one lucrative office; and he
was personally unpopular. The general opinion was that the position
should go to H.M. Lefroy; and, above all, there was the charge of
nepotism on the part of the Governor involved.

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 6 February 1863.)

(**Footnote. Hampton to Secretary Cardwell 19 October 1864, 12 April, 17
June and 9 and 19 September 1865.)

(***Footnote. Inquirer 21 February 1866; Perth Gazette 23 February 1866.)

(****Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 8 May 1866.)

When to those reasons is added the fact that high-handed proceedings
generally on the part of the Governor had caused his early popularity to
wane, the strong disapprobation of public, Press, and convicts, may be
readily understood.* This was accentuated in May by the decision of the
Governor to grant his son the lodging allowance of 100 pounds per annum
to which the Comptroller-General was entitled. As Mr. Hampton resided at
Government House, it was not considered that he would apply the money to
the purpose for which it was granted, "unless," wrote the Perth Gazette,
"His Excellency intends to charge him rent for the rooms he occupies in
his residence, in which case, of course, the amount will be placed to the
credit of the colonial revenue under the head of Miscellaneous
Receipts.** That, as a result of the feeling displayed, charges of
inefficiency should be continually urged against Mr. Hampton was only to
be expected. Probably many of them were the result of this, and had no
basis of justification, but there is no doubt that the efficiency of the
system suffered under his control and the convicts chafed more under
restraint. Attempted escapes became more numerous, due partly to sending
out on road-parties men who ought to have been kept in durance at
Fremantle, and partly to the fact that well-behaved convicts were for
trivial offences consigned to the chaingangs. During the eight months
ending March 1867, over ninety attempts at escape were recorded***--more
than three times the number of any previous period of the same length.

(*Footnote. Inquirer 2 and 9 May 1866; Perth Gazette 4 May 1866.)

(**Footnote. Perth Gazette 1 June 1866.)

(***Footnote. Ibid 22 March 1867.)

Evidence of the want of wisdom in the appointment and of inefficiency on
the part of Mr. Hampton were not wanting. Accusations of tyranny and
oppression were made which the perusal of the criminal records of the
period seem to bear out. Further, the Board of Visiting Magistrates, the
only protection against officialdom which the prisoners possessed, was
abolished in March 1867, and the convicts were left without any redress
from the actions of the Comptroller-General except the right of appeal to
the Governor. Unfortunately this condition of affairs, which in some ways
calls to mind Tasmanian methods, did not long continue. The Imperial
Government reproved the Governor for making the appointment, and
appointed Mr. Wakefield to the position. This officer arrived in May
1867, and assumed duty at once, making immediate inquiries into the
circumstances under which special punishments had been given, and
remitting many of them, at the same time greatly reducing the chaingang.
The system so carefully built up by Colonel Henderson, and which had
proved so successful, was, in fact, quickly reverted to, and the cause of
dissatisfaction removed.

The period 1861 to 1868 was one of distinct progress as regards public
works. Operations in this direction had somewhat languished during the
previous couple of years, mainly on account of the fact that convicts in
sufficient numbers to keep works going had not been forthcoming. It was
also said by the colonists, though without reason, that Governor Kennedy
was delaying the construction of necessary buildings in order to leave
behind him a satisfactory credit balance. It will be remembered that as
an answer to that accusation Captain Kennedy, just before leaving the
colony, authorised public works to an extent which not only absorbed all
the money then available, but so ear-marked prospective funds as to make
the task of meeting expenses during the next couple of years somewhat
hard for his successor. In fact Governor Hampton found himself not only
unable to authorise new works for 1862, but had to submit measures for
legalising 25,375 pounds unauthorised expenditure on the part of his
predecessor.* In refusing requests for new works, he assured the
colonists that he would use every endeavour to render convict labour
available for purely colonial work. To that end he increased the numbers
employed upon public buildings and improved the lines of road between
various centres, so that, right up to the end of the convict regime, the
prisoners were employed with considerable advantage upon works of
permanent value to the colony itself. Doctor Hampton proved himself in
that direction a most capable administrator, and would have received
nothing but praise but for the fact that the employment of convicts meant
the abandonment of private contracts, and consequently did not meet with
universal approval.

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 3 June 1862 Perth
Gazette 6 June 1862.)

With 1868 the convict system came to an end. Reviewing it as a whole must
be admitted that from a material standpoint it conferred lasting
advantages upon Western Australia. Public works were erected, lines of
communication opened, and shipping facilities provided which the
colonists themselves could not possibly have procured, having neither the
labour nor the money. The impulse given brought about results which
without convicts Western Australia could not have achieved after years of
struggling. Faith in the colony was strengthened by the presence of those
large sums of money which the system distributed, and general prosperity
made itself felt with the wider market thus provided. From these points
of view transportation was an undoubted success, and though it is not
perhaps possible to say the same from a moral standpoint, the passage of
time has proved that whatever moral taint existed was merely evanescent
in character. The opponents of the system blamed it for every sign of
moral deterioration and physical degeneracy that appeared; for the
increase in drunkenness, crime, and lunacy--for, in fact, all those evils
which were reputed to follow in the train of transportation. But
statistics prove that the convict was little more addicted to drink than
the free man; that serious crime has never been an outstanding feature of
Western Australia; and that the colony was held, and still holds, a lower
percentage of insane and imbecile than some of the other Australian
States.* Improvidence was certainly a marked feature in the lives of
convict expirees, and raised a fear that the colony might in the long run
have to pay dearly for the present help. In a measure this was true, and
there are still some few receiving Government assistance. But, on the
other hand, many men were reclaimed to society, and after completing
their sentences became possessed of a competence and raised themselves
once again to respected positions in life. Even Mr. Willoughby, who at
the request of the Argus examined the conditions existing in 1864, and
who could scarcely be said to look upon the system with a favourable or
unprejudiced eye, admitted that a visitor saw little that was
exceptional.** Captain Du Cane told Earl Grey's Committee in 1863*** that
even then no moral influence of an injurious character was apparent in
the colony. Even if there were it was not permanent in effect, for no one
else will claim that any moral deterioration exists in the Western
Australia of today. Of course there does exist the fact that Western
Australian history has been tainted by a convict period--and no material
prosperity that ensued at the time will ever efface the stain. At that
price all that accrued was dearly purchased.

(*Footnote. Commonwealth Year Book Number 12 page 898.)

(**Footnote. Transportation: the British Convict in Western Australia
London 1865 page 9.)

(***Footnote. Report of Select Committee on Transportation etc. 1863
volume 2 page 213 Q. 2710.)



Perhaps the most important phase in the history of Western Australia
during the sixties was the attention paid to exploration, more
particularly of that portion of the territory lying northward of
Geraldton to which the term The North-West is popularly applied. Beyond
the surveys of King and the incidental notices of earlier navigators,
little was known of that part of the colony, and it was therefore
inevitable that the desire, apparently inherent in the British, to
explore the unknown--generally in the hope of material profit--should
find vent in that direction.

In 1860 F.T. Gregory, then in London, secured through the Royal
Geographical Society the approval of the Colonial Office to a proposal
for the exploration of the northern part of the colony, 2000 pounds of
the expense to be borne by the Imperial Government and the remainder,
estimated at another 2000 pounds, by the colony.* Upon his return in
January 1861 Gregory applied to the local Government for a grant towards
the cost of the expedition. He pointed out that it was their intention to
land in Nickol Bay and explore the country inland from that point; that
arrangements had been made for the personnel of the expedition and the
supply of horses, and that he himself was devoting 250 pounds towards the
expenses. The amount required from the Government was 1350 pounds, and
this amount was voted by the Legislative Council.**

(*Footnote. Under Secretary Fortescue to Kennedy 26 October 1860 with
enclosure from Royal Geographical Society 24 August 1860.)

(**Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 16 January 1861 Perth
Gazette 25 January 1861.)

Arrangements having been made, the party, which consisted of F.T. Gregory
(leader) J. Turner (second in command) E. Brockman, W.S. Hall, J.
McCourt, and A. James, sailed on 23 April 1861, in the barque Dolphin,
for Nickol Bay. At Champion Bay they were joined by Maitland Brown, P.
Walcott, and J. Harding. From Gregory's journal* we learn that he landed
near the mouth of the Maitland River, and followed the river to its rise
in the ranges. Crossing the watershed he turned southwards, proceeding
until he reached the Fortescue River, a few miles below Millstream, a
district marked by rough and precipitous ranges. Still continuing to the
south, he crossed the Hamersley Range and followed the Hardey River to
its junction with the Ashburton, and from that position he sighted Mount
Augustus and the Lyons, which he had visited on a previous trip up the
Gascoyne. Retracing his steps up the Ashburton, he noted the excellent
pastoral country on Baring Downs, and then turned eastward back through
the Hamersley Range, crossing the headwaters of Yule and Shaw Rivers, now
known as the Nullagine. This he traced to its junction with the Oakover,
which, in turn, he followed to its source near Mount McPherson. In this
waterless territory he got into difficulties, and but for the superior
powers of endurance of Maitland Brown would probably have perished of
thirst. On his return to the coast Gregory marked on the plan the fine
areas of pastoral country on the De Grey and lower Yule, the broad
Sherlock Plains, and that fine stretch of volcanic country between the
Sherlock and Roebourne on the Harding River, and also further west across
the Nickol to the Maitland River. Then, after a trip of six months, as
the weather was getting hot and the water scarce, he returned to
Fremantle, arriving there about the middle of November. Gregory had thus
explored practically the whole stretch of country unfavourably commented
upon by King and Stokes, and so far from finding it hopelessly barren
proved it to be capable of great development. The rivers Ashburton,
Fortescue, De Grey, and Oakover were fresh, and carried fish far inland;
excellent land was discovered, of which over 2 million acres were
suitable for grazing purposes and 200,000 for tropical agriculture;** in
addition, numbers of pearls and many tons of pearl shell were secured
from the neighbourhood of Nickol Bay.***

(*Footnote. Gregory, Sir A.C. and F.T. Journals of Australian
Explorations pages 52 et seq.)

(**Footnote. Ibid page 296.)

(***Footnote. Ibid.)

The report attracted considerable attention, not only from the leading
settlers in the colony itself, but from many squatters in Victoria and
South Australia, who, like all colonists of the eastern states, had
previously looked upon Western Australia as for the most part a barren
desert, with here and there patches of fair arable and pastoral land.*

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 14 February 1862.)

The pioneer of settlement was Walter Padbury.* He secured from Gregory a
definite expression of opinion to the effect that the north-west was a
stony country not so fertile as Queensland, but far beyond the average in
the settled districts of Western Australia, and afforded a fair prospect
of success to judicious settlers. Convinced that the country was at least
worth a trial, Padbury applied to the Government for special concessions.
This application directed the attention of the authorities to the
necessity for special land regulations, which were accordingly
prepared,** and with the approval of the Secretary of State*** came into
operation at the beginning of 1863.**** These applied to two districts
termed respectively the North and the East. The North district comprised
all that part of the colony lying north of the Murchison River and of a
line drawn due east to the boundary through the summit of Mount
Murchison. The East district was comprised of the country lying east of
the meridian 121 degrees east longitude and south of latitude 30 degrees
south. The lands were divided into two classes. Class A included the
islands off the coast and all mainland within two miles of the sea, while
class C comprised the remainder. Class A land could be held only on
annual licence, but land in class C could be secured on pastoral lease
for eight years. In order to encourage settlement, the Government offered
to persons desiring to settle in these districts free pasturage for
twelve months. During this time they could select land to the extent of
100,000 acres which they were allowed to occupy free of rent for a
further three years, and after that under the ordinary conditions for an
additional eight years. A further concession was made in July 1864,*****
when a remission of rent on 100,000 acres was offered to the first person
who drove stock from any part of Western Australia (not within the
northern district) to any other part situated to the north of the Tropic
of Capricorn. The object of this was to establish, if possible, an
overland route between the settled districts in the south-west and the
newly-opened northern areas.

(*Footnote. Inquirer 8 April 1863.)

(**Footnote. Hampton to Duke of Newcastle 19 July 1862.)

(***Footnote. Duke of Newcastle to Hampton 20 October 1862.)

(****Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 23 December 1862.)

(*****Footnote. Ibid 26 July 1864.)

So far the regulations had dealt only with leaseholds, but in January
1865* a new set was issued dealing with the sale, letting, disposal, and
occupation of waste Crown lands within the northern district, and also
for the sale and letting of mineral lands generally, auriferous land and
coal measures being excepted. Under these regulations the first 150,000
acres selected were to be sold at a price of 7 shillings per acre, but if
not purchased within twelve months then the price was to be raised to 10
shillings per acre or whatever happened to be the minimum price
established in the colony generally. Applications for country lands had
to be for 80 acres or some multiple thereof, and purchasers of 160 acres
or more could obtain a town allotment of half an acre at the same price.
The most pertinent clause in the whole regulations was the following: "No
convict or person holding a ticket-of-leave, or person under sentence or
order of transportation or of penal servitude, shall be introduced or
allowed to remain within the northern portion of the territory of Western
Australia to which these regulations apply."** This was included by
direction of the Secretary of State, in spite of the opinion of Governor
Hampton, at the request of settlers both in Western Australia and the
eastern colonies.*** Lands deemed to be mineral lands, those bearing gold
or coal excepted, were offered at 3 pounds per acre in lots of not less
than 80 acres. They could also be secured on yearly licence at a fee of
not less than 8 pounds, or on lease for periods up to ten at a rental of
8 shillings per acre.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 20 January 1865.)

(**Footnote. Regulations section 26.)

(***Footnote. Hampton to Secretary Cardwell 24 June 1864; Murdoch
(Emigration Board) to T.F. Elliot 2 November 1864; Secretary Cardwell to
Hampton 26 November 1864. These are printed in Cd. Paper 11406 1865.
Correspondence relative to the discontinuance of transportation.)

While on the subject of land regulations it may be mentioned that the
regulations affecting the colony generally were subjected to revision
about this time. It was felt that those framed in 1860 had not proved
entirely satisfactory, and required some alteration. The question was
remitted by the Legislative Council in August 1863 to a committee, which
reported in the following month. The recommendations were, shortly,* that
mineral lands should be sold at a minimum of 5 pounds per acre in blocks
of not less than 80 acres, 1 pound per acre of the purchase money to be
paid on approval and the balance in annual instalments of 1 pound per
acre; that in regard to general land conditions, owners of fee-simple
grants should be allowed free pasturage for stock over the surrounding
waste lands to the extent of one head for every ten acres; that at the
expiration of the lease of class B land, the lessee should have a
preferential claim to a renewal. These suggested amendments were
forwarded to the Secretary of State for his consideration, and, in the
meantime, the agricultural societies were asked to express their
opinions. The principal suggestions from these** were a right of renewal
for a further eight years of expiring leases of class B land, and a
readjustment of the boundaries of the lands comprised in class A. They
also asked that mineral lands should be leased at 2 shillings per acre
for the first year and 3 shillings afterwards, with a right of purchase
in 100 acre blocks at the end of two years for 2 pounds per acre.
Ultimately the suggestions of the committee were in the main adopted by
the Government, and the new regulations, approved by the Secretary of
State, were gazetted in August 1864.*** As regards mineral lands they
were the same as those mentioned above, which were adopted in 1865 for
the northern areas.

(*Footnote. Inquirer 30 September 1863.)

(**Footnote. Perth Gazette 15 January 1864.)

(***Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 24 August 1864.)

But to return to the settlement of the North-West. With characteristic
foresight, anticipating favourable concessions in the regulations, W.
Padbury procured stock from the east toward the end of 1862 and made full
arrangements to enter upon the task of pioneering in the new district.
Early in 1863 he purchased a small vessel, the Mystery, to maintain
communication between Fremantle and Nickol Bay, and also chartered the
Tien-Tsin to convey his party and the stock to their destination.* The
Mystery, with C.C. Hunt and J. Turner on board, left Fremantle on 4
April** and proceeded slowly up the coast, taking soundings in various
harbours as they went. The Tien-Tsin followed on the 24th, with Padbury,
Samson, Ridley, McCourt, Nairn, Brown, Jones, Swift, and five natives,
and carrying the consignment of stock--11 horses, 6 bullocks, and 540
sheep.*** Hunt and Turner, having found that the mouth of the De Grey did
not provide a suitable landing-place for stock, selected one to the west
of the De Grey and named it Tien-Tsin Harbour. The animals having been
safely landed, the surrounding district was searched without success for
satisfactory pasturage. Padbury then, with Captain Jarman, and Samson,
Turner, and Nairn, proceeded down the Harding, and leaving the party
there returned to Fremantle in the Tien-Tsin.****

(*Footnote. Inquirer 8 April 1863.)

(**Footnote. Ibid.)

(***Footnote. Inquirer 29 April 1863.)

(****Footnote. Ibid 3 June 1863 report by Padbury; Perth Gazette 29 May.)

The vessel sailed again for Nickol Bay with further stock in June. This
was under the care of McCourt, who proceeded to look for the first
party.* After some time it was found that they had moved to the De Grey
River and established a settlement there.** The next squatter to settle
in the north was J. Wellard, who was accompanied by S. Hall, H. Logue, W.
Scott, and others.*** In May 1863, K. Brown, S. Hamersley, A. Brown, B.
Clarkson, F. Pearce, and Dr. Martin chartered the Flying Foam and left
Fremantle for Camden Harbour and the Glenelg. They sailed up the river as
far as the rapids--about twenty-eight miles--and there landed the stores
and equipment. In July K. Brown, Clarkson, and Dr. Martin, with five
horses, set out for Camden Harbour, which they reached without
difficulty. The country traversed was, they reported, a very fine one,
with abundance of grass and water. Later in the month a second party went
farther up the river in boats. They experienced some trouble with the
natives, and had to use their firearms to scare them away. This was the
country which Grey had reported as among the finest in the world, with
grass so high that he could not see over it. The later explorers not only
confirmed the opinion expressed by Grey, but considered he had not done
justice to the luxuriance of the grass.****

(*Footnote. Ibid 24 June and 1 July 1863.)

(**Footnote. Ibid 23 September 1863.)

(***Footnote. Ibid 12 August 1863.)

(****Footnote. Ibid 2 September 1863 report of expedition.)

Ridley, one of the original party which accompanied the Padbury, was a
Government surveyor, charged with the duty of making a full report to the
Government. This report was couched in such favourable language* that it
led to other attempts to find good squatting areas in the north.

(*Footnote. Inquirer 30 September 1863 containing Ridley's report dated
21 September 1863.)

In September 1863 C. von Bibra selected a large tract of land on the
Gascoyne River,* and by the end of the year there were three runs of
100,000 acres each being stocked in the newly opened areas. In January
1864 a squatter from Victoria applied for a lease of Dirk Hartog
Island,** which was said to contain over 200,000 acres of good feeding
ground with excellent water. Maitland Brown, about the same time,
proceeded to Shark Bay and established a station in the neighbourhood of
Freycinet Harbour.*** In March,**** Withnall sailed for Nickol Bay in the
Sea Ripple with 650 sheep, 5 horses, and 2 cows, and took up a further
large area, while a month or two later the Burges brothers tried the
district round Exmouth Gulf. This proving barren, they moved on to the
Gascoyne River.***** Thus not only was extensive settlement proceeding
along the north-west coast, but it was being established in such a manner
as to provide links of communication with the older settled districts and
make an overland route practicable.

(*Footnote. Ibid 23 September 1863.)

(**Footnote. Ibid 27 January 1864.)

(***Footnote. Ibid.)

(****Footnote. Ibid 30 March 1864.)

(*****Footnote. Ibid 22 June 1864.)

The efforts of Padbury, Wellard, and Withnall were by this time showing
signs of success, and the arrival at Fremantle in August 1864* of the
first wool-clip--seven bales--had the effect of establishing confidence
in the possibilities of the territory. Unfortunately, carried away by the
desire to become rich quickly and with little exertion, and dazzled by
the Government's liberal land regulations, many others made attempts to
settle, but without the success that attended the endeavours of the
hardier and more experienced men.

(*Footnote. Ibid 17 August 1864.)

Another expedition went to Exmouth Gulf and Camden Harbour in 1864 as the
result of a tale circulated by a convict named Wildman.* This man, who at
one time had been a ship's officer, stated that while repairing his ship
near Camden Harbour in 1856 he had made a trip up a river and there
secured gold to the value of 416 pounds, which he had afterwards sold in
Liverpool. He offered to disclose the locality provided the Government
would, when the story was confirmed, remit the sentence of fifteen years
which he was then undergoing. The mere mention of gold was sufficient to
rouse public excitement, and an expedition was rapidly equipped to test
Wildman's story. To this the Government, after, it is said, testing the
truth of the story as regards selling the gold, contributed 150 pounds.
Dr. Martin was commissioned to act as Surveyor and Botanist, and the
leadership was given to the Inspector of Police, Panter, who took with
him Turner, Stokes, Langoulant, F. and H. Caporn, Scott, and Du Boulay,
as well as Wildman and a couple of natives.** As might have been expected
under the circumstances, no trace of gold was discovered. Wildman either
could not or would not divulge the locality where he had previously found
it, and independent search by the party proved unsuccessful. In other
respects, however, the trip was not without result. The surrounding
country was carefully inspected, and on the way back Panter called at
Roebuck Bay and made further explorations. In his report he spoke very
favourably of that country, pointing out that there were thousands of
acres of excellent pasturage, and that water was easily obtainable at a
depth of a few feet.*** Dr. Martin was even more explicit and pronounced.
Vegetation, he said, was luxuriant; animals, birds, and fish abundant;
pearl oysters plentiful; and, above all, millions of acres of good
pastoral country were available.****

(*Footnote. Ibid 27 January 1864.)

(**Footnote. Inquirer 2 March 1864.)

(***Footnote. Ibid 8 June 1864. See also issue of 15 June.)

(****Footnote. Ibid 22 June 1864 Dr. Martin's report.)

The outcome of these reports was the formation of the Roebuck Bay
Pastoral and Agricultural Association,* which sent forward a party with
stock to Roebuck Bay, where a suitable location was secured, and
additional stock procured from Fremantle. After its arrival the party
decided to go farther afield in the hope of discovering additional
pastoral country, and on 9 November 1864, Panter, Harding, and Goldwyer,
members of the party, left camp with the object of exploring the country
toward Lagrange Bay. They had provisions sufficient for about three
weeks, and when that time passed without their return Burges became
somewhat anxious for their safety. He tracked them as far as a mangrove
swamp in Lagrange Bay, but there lost all trace of them. When the Nile
left Roebuck Bay early in January 1865, they were still missing.** When
the news was received in Perth a search-party was immediately organised
by the Government, and instructions given to the leader (Maitland Brown)
to search thoroughly the whole country between Roebuck Bay and Padbury's
location on the De Grey.*** The party, which, in addition to the leader,
comprised Burges, Francisco, Williams, D. Brown, and two native
policemen, left at once in the Clarence packet, and on arrival at Roebuck
Bay plunged straightway into the bush. In a little while they learnt from
some natives that three white men and four horses had been seen some
three months before by the Wargnarry tribe at the River Boola Boola. The
informers went on to say that the white men slept by the river and on the
next day were attacked by natives, whom they succeeded in repulsing
without injury to themselves. The following night the blacks, in stronger
force, made another attack, in the course of which the whites were
wounded, though not seriously, but over a dozen of their adversaries were
killed. Knowing that Panter and his companions were wounded, the natives
appeared with further reinforcements soon after daybreak, and by
overwhelming force of numbers speared and clubbed the unfortunate white
men to death. As the same story was told by other natives, two of them
were seized and ordered to conduct the search-party to the scene. After
leading the party astray they attempted to escape, and were shot by the
native policemen. Finally, Brown was rewarded by finding the bodies at
Lake Ingedana, in Lagrange Bay. Nothing had been stolen, showing the act
to have been one of brutal murder to satisfy the savage lust for blood.
From Panter's diary it was evident that they were killed on 13 November,
only four days after leaving the settlement. While returning with the
bodies, Brown's party was followed by large numbers of natives, and on
one occasion had to fight its way through an ambush--with disastrous
results to the blacks.**** This tragedy does not seem to have deterred
settlement to any considerable extent.

(*Footnote. Ibid 3 August 1864 prospectus.)

(**Footnote. Perth Gazette 10 February 1865 extract from journal of L.C.

(***Footnote. Ibid 10 and 17 February 1865.)

(****Footnote. Perth Gazette 12 May 1865.)

An exhaustive pamphlet on the resources of the district, prepared by the
Surveyor-General (Captain J.S. Roe) probably had some influence in
directing attention to the North-West.* Settlers from Victoria and South
Australia determined to try their fortunes there. The Camden Harbour
Pastoral Association Limited was formed in Melbourne with a capital of
20,000 pounds.** The object of the association was "to settle the very
superior well-watered pastoral and agricultural country round Camden
Harbour by placing one head of cattle on every 1000 acres." With the
20,000 pounds the promoters expected to secure 4 million acres of land
and 4000 breeding cattle to stock it. Each share entitled the holder to a
passage to Camden Harbour, rations for twelve months, a lease of 20,000
acres for twelve years (the first four rent free) and twenty head of
cattle. The Company claimed to have a preemptive right over the area
leased.*** This, of course, was a deliberate misstatement, as the land
regulations gave no privilege of the kind. The promoters were evidently
of opinion that a prospectus should be glowing rather than truthful. The
Secretary further stated to a meeting of those interested that settlers
could go back 270 miles from the coast, forty miles of which was on the
sea side of the ranges.**** The existence of mountainous country close to
the coast was quietly ignored. Probably the directors thought that anyone
going there could find out such small matters for himself. That public
interest throughout Australia was roused is shown by the fact that by the
end of 1864 seventy-three applications had been made by Victorians for
land in the Camden Harbour district. Each applicant required 100,000
acres and promised to place from 40 to 150 sheep upon it. It is a pity
that so much enthusiasm should have been wasted on a movement doomed to

(*Footnote. This pamphlet was published at Perth in 1864 and the gist of
it is given in the Inquirer 31 August 1864.)

(**Footnote. Inquirer 20 July 1864 prospectus.)

(***Footnote. Ibid.)

(****Footnote. Melbourne Herald 29 July 1864.)

The first shareholders in the association left Melbourne in November
1864, and arrived at Camden Harbour in the following month, the most
forbidding time of the year. All the country round was parched and burnt;
the tall, waving grass had disappeared, water was almost unobtainable,
and a fierce sun beat down upon them with a most intense heat. Being
young and sturdy, they set about improving their position at once. Some
of them struck out for the Glenelg, and were surprised, and not a little
disappointed, to find that it was a tidal river. On the way back they
were fortunate enough to discover a small pool of fresh water, and on
arrival at the Harbour learnt that an excellent spring had been

(*Footnote. Inquirer 26 April 1865 report from R.J. Sholl Government
Resident dated 17 March 1865.)

By the end of December two other vessels with a large number of settlers
and some 4000 head of stock put in an appearance. The only pasturage was
that round Murray's spring, and was totally insufficient. Added to the
scarcity of water, some disease occurred among the stock. The sheep died
in hundreds from some unknown cause, possibly an unrecorded poison weed.
To save the remnant a move was made farther inland to good dry grass and
abundant water. The tropical rains, too, made their appearance, and
luxuriant grass sprang up like magic. Nothing, however, seemed to lessen
the increasing mortality among the sheep. Hooley and others explored
toward the north-east along Prince Regent's River, but could not find a
more suitable location. While grass was abundant and the scenery
majestic, the locality was altogether too rough for pastoral purposes. By
the end of March little more than one-fourth of their stock was alive.*

(*Footnote. Ibid.)

Other causes, too, combined to make the men dispirited and to bring about
total failure of the attempt at settlement. Three died within a few days
of their arrival. One of the ships, the Calliance, struck a reef on the
way to Camden Harbour, and was only saved with difficulty. When she
arrived at her destination the wind drove her onto another reef, and she
became a total wreck, the captain losing his life in an attempt to secure
assistance. In face of all these hardships it is no wonder that many of
the settlers took the first opportunity to leave the district. During
January and February seventy-two departed, and many of the others
remained only till they could manage to get away.*

(*Footnote. Inquirer 26 April 1865 R.J. Sholl's report of 17 March 1865.)

The possibility of a permanent settlement being effected induced Governor
Hampton to appoint various officials to exercise control within its
confines.* R.J. Sholl was appointed Resident Magistrate, with his son as
clerk; and, in addition, a surveyor, a surgeon, a customs officer, and
three policemen. Sholl reached his sphere of duty early in 1865, and his
report of the condition of affairs was anything but complimentary to the
Camden Harbour Association. The members of the Association who were on
the spot were, he considered, a good type of individual, but they lacked
all knowledge of bushcraft and of management. There was no leader, no
arrangement of the stores or settlement, with the result that every man
was doing as he pleased, and the provisions were left lying on the beach
at the mercy of the sun, wind, and tides. The sheep which might have been
saved were neglected through ignorance, and no attempt made to shield
them from the tropical heat or the tropical rains. As to the country
itself, Sholl considered it to be very deceptive; while it appeared to be
excellently grassed and in every way suitable for pastoral purposes, it
really consisted of a series of rocky knolls, so covered with verdure
that the stony nature was hidden. The great extent of fertile country
seen from Mount Lookover, he said, "consisted mainly of grass-covered

(*Footnote. Inquirer 26 April 1865 R.J. Sholl's report 26 April 1865.)

Convinced that the venture had no chance of succeeding, the Governor
instructed the Resident Magistrate to assist those remaining to get away
if they could not provide funds for their own passages.* In this way
numbers were removed to Fremantle or eastern ports. Some, however,
desirous of making further efforts, petitioned for permission to exchange
their land for selections in the Nickol Bay district, and as a result
something like 300,000 acres of additional country was added to that
already selected in this area.**

(*Footnote. Ibid 3 May 1865.)

(*Footnote. Ibid 10 May 1865.)

So much for the fortunes of the Camden Harbour Pastoral Association. A
failure from the very start, it had ceased to exist in May 1865,* though
it was not finally abandoned by the Government Resident until the
following October. Within a year it had ruined most of those who had
embarked upon it, had been responsible for the deaths of several, and had
cost the Western Australian government over 5000 pounds.

(*Footnote. Inquirer 26 July 1865 R.J. Sholl's report 20 May 1865.)

Being practically freed from official duties, Sholl employed the time
between May and October in exploring the district. During April he made a
trip to the south of the Glenelg, finding the country to be mostly of a
rocky nature, with precipitous hills, but with grass everywhere, and here
and there indications of gold. His progress was stopped by the Leopold
Ranges. Soon after his return to the camp the Harbour was visited by a
fleet of Malay proas and canoes, containing about 300 men. The visit
apparently was for the purpose of securing natives as slaves.*

(*Footnote. Ibid.)

Satisfied that nothing further was to be gained by staying at Camden
Harbour, Sholl abandoned it on October 29* and sailed with all his party
for Port Walcott, Nickol Bay, in the Kestrel. On his way he stopped for a
few days at Roebuck Bay, and sent Cowle, the Assistant Surveyor, with
some of the party, to proceed overland to Port Walcott. On his arrival
there Cowle reported that for the most part the country was well grassed
and suitable for pastoral purposes.

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 12 January 1866 supplement Sholl's report 2
December 1865.)

Another association, formed shortly after the Camden Harbour venture, met
with the same fate. The Denison Plains Association,* established in
Melbourne in 1865, proposed to land settlers on the headwaters of the
Victoria River and send them forward to Denison Plains. Neither the
promoters nor shareholders seem to have had any definite idea of the
exact position of Denison Plains or of the class of country comprised in
them, so that the failure of the venture is not to be wondered at. To
break up their homes, spend large sums of money in stock and equipment,
and sail for an unknown territory, are not qualifications that give
evidence of the foresight necessary in those who would be successful
pioneers. The first band of prospective settlers, headed by C.E.
Broadhurst, left Melbourne by the Warrior, and arrived at Fremantle early
in May 1865. During the stay of the vessel at that port the members of
the party were informed by the Governor of the failure of the Camden
Harbour project, and advised to proceed with very great caution.** On the
way up the coast they stopped at Nickol Bay and obtained land in that
locality. Various trips inland, west of Roebourne and along the Fortescue
and Ashburton Rivers, were made, principally under the leadership of H.W.
Venn, in the hope of discovering satisfactory pastoral country. The party
never reached Denison Plains. Those who were competent and saw a chance
of success in the North-West were not prepared to be bound by cooperative
conditions, whilst those who saw nothing but failure in front of them had
only one desire--to get back to the eastern colonies as quickly as
possible. The association was wound up early in the following year, and
the stock divided among the creditors.***

(*Footnote. Ibid 20 January 1865.)

(**Footnote. Inquirer 10 May 1865.)

(***Footnote. Report to R.J. Sholl 21 April 1866 Inquirer 16 May 1866.)

In spite of the want of success of these large undertakings, individual
settlers were establishing themselves in various parts of the North-West
and were proving that it was possible to achieve good results. These
settlers gradually extended the knowledge of the North-West generally, so
that by the end of 1865 the initial stages may be said to have been
passed and the prospects of an extensive pastoral settlement assured.
According to the official statistics nearly 3 million acres were held
under lease at the beginning of 1866, and these were stocked with 16,000
sheep, 300 cattle and 120 horses.*

(*Footnote. Western Australian Blue Book 1865 pages 234 and 246.)

Settlement was further assisted by E.T. Hooley's success in opening up an
overland route from Geraldton to Nickol Bay about the middle of 1866.*
Starting out with nearly 2000 sheep, he arrived with a loss of only
eight, proving that there was excellent food and water on the way, and
that stock could be transported by land both more cheaply and with
greater safety than by sea.

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 14 December 1866.)

Permanent settlement being assured, it was determined to form a township
near Port Walcott, and in 1866 the site of Roebourne*--named after the
Surveyor-General--was surveyed, the first town lots being sold on 3
September at an upset price of 5 pounds each.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 21 August 1866.)

Owing to various circumstances the progress of the district was greatly
hindered during 1867. Far away from Perth, the settlers had to depend for
provisions mainly upon the small vessels that traded up and down the
coast. Through various causes several of these were wrecked, with the
result that the new community was brought within the reach of
starvation.* The famine was averted by the action of Charles Harper, who
led a small party overland to Champion Bay under circumstances of great
difficulty.** The Flying Foam was dispatched at once from Fremantle,***
and arrived at Roebourne not a moment too soon. As the result of these
difficulties, selections aggregating over 1 million acres were abandoned
in 1867, but over 2 million were taken up afresh, making the total under
leasehold at the end of that year 5,805,000 acres,**** and at the end of
1868 the total stock had increased to nearly 40,000.*****

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 12 July 1867.)

(**Footnote. Ibid.)

(***Footnote. Ibid 26 July 1867.)

(****Footnote. Western Australian Blue Book 1867 page 258.)

(*****Footnote. Ibid 1868 page 266.)

Concurrently with the exploration and settlement of the North-West,
renewed activity was shown in examining and opening up the country to the
east and south-east of the settled districts round York. Between 1861 and
1868 much of the country far inland was explored, but little of it was
brought into use, as there seemed to be a general opinion that settlement
was impossible without wells, as surface water was not obtainable. Of
these various explorations, those by C.C. Hunt in 1864 and 1866 had
perhaps the greatest bearing upon the development of the colony. In the
latter year Hunt succeeded in reaching the area now known as the Hampton
Plains,* his main object being to cut a track and sink wells so as to
make land available for pastoralists. No use was made of this track at
the time, but thirty years later it was used by the prospectors who
discovered the Yilgarn and Coolgardie goldfields. Meanwhile settlement
was also extending rapidly in the explored south-western and eastern
districts. During the eight years under review the area under licence and
lease almost doubled, something over 11 million** acres having been taken
up by the end of 1868.

(*Footnote. Inquirer 21 November 1866 and following issues.)

(**Footnote. Western Australian Blue Book 1868 page 278.)

The expansion of the colony during this period was not limited to
exploration. Trade and industry showed signs of distinct revival, and,
with the cheap labour available, every phase of development gave evidence
of renewed vigour. The report of Gregory's explorations of the north-west
coast in 1861 directed attention to pearling and the pearl-shell
industry, but no success was attained for some years. The export of shell
to the value of 556 pounds in 1867 was sufficient, however, to prove that
the work was worth taking up seriously, and in 1868 some ten boats were
employed, the divers being principally natives--many of them women. The
results were beyond expectation, the value of pearls and shell reaching
in that year the respectable total of 5554 pounds.*

(*Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

Wool, of course, continued to be the staple export. In the eight years
the export totalled 620,330 pounds, that for 1868 being 98,254 pounds as
against 54,297 pounds in 1861. The number of sheep had increased from
260,000 to 600,000. The trade in sandalwood was equally lucrative,
maintaining throughout these years an average export value of over 20,000
pounds annually, and rising in 1868 to nearly 26,045 pounds. The same
could not be said of timber generally. The value of jarrah and karri sent
away, which represented 2497 pounds in 1861 and rose in 1865 to 15,693
pounds, had by 1868 declined to 638 pounds.* The market for such woods
does not seem to have been extensive at that time, though the amount
exported is no criterion of the amount of output, a great deal being used
locally on the various public works. Agriculture also expanded to a
considerable extent. The 27,018 acres under crop in 1861 had extended to
50,014 in 1868, while flour and grain, which in 1861 were only sufficient
for local needs, became by the end of 1868 very appreciable items in the
export trade, representing in the latter year a total of 21,367 pounds.**

(*Footnote. Ibid.)

(**Footnote. Ibid.)

The Champion Bay lead and copper mines were also responsible for a
considerable part of the colonial trade, though the increased cost of
production and the distance from the markets of the world were rapidly
reducing them below the level of paying industries. Copper showed a
distinct falling-off from 1864, but lead increased very decidedly, the
two together being valued for export in 1868 at 14,451 pounds.* Other
products, such as whalebone and oil, gum, wine, and raisins, also figured
on the list of exports, but not to any great extent.

(*Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

The actual state of the colony and the expansion that had taken place may
be seen from a comparison of the figures representing the first and last
years of the period under review: Exports 95,789 and 192,636 pounds;
imports 147,913 and 225,614 pounds; income of colony, 67,261 and 99,496
pounds; expenditure 81,087 and 89,726 pounds. In 1868 the colony was free
from public debt.*

(*Footnote. Ibid.)

Attempts were made about this time, principally by the York Agricultural
Society, to encourage the cultivation of cotton and tobacco,* but neither
seem to have gone beyond the experimental stage, though there was an
attempt to form in London a Western Australian Cotton Company with a
capital of 20,000 pounds.**

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 2 August 1861.)

(**Footnote. Inquirer 15 October and 31 December 1862.)

Interest still continued to be displayed in the search for gold. In 1861
parties prospected over the Darling Ranges, and got indications,* but not
sufficient to justify actual mining. Inspector Panter, after scouring the
district around Northam, returned to that town in December with
specimens.** On the strength of these the Government offered a reward of
five thousand pounds to the discoverer of a payable goldfield within 150
miles of Perth, the condition being that 5000 ounces should be secured
before 1 July 1863.*** Needless to say, the reward was not paid. Being of
the opinion that the country was worth testing, the Government engaged
E.H. Hargraves in 1862**** to prospect for a period of six months. He
reported unfavourably, being of opinion that gold in any quantity would
never be found in the colony.***** A little over thirty years later this
"barren" territory was recognised as one of the greatest gold-producing
countries of the world!

(*Footnote. Ibid 24 July, 7 August and 13 November 1861.)

(**Footnote. Ibid 11 December 1861.)

(***Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 11 February 1862.)

(****Footnote. Perth Gazette 16 May 1862 letter from Hargraves to
government offering services on certain terms and 6 June 1862 Proceedings
of the Legislative Council 3 June 1862 accepting offer.)

(*****Footnote. Perth Gazette 27 March 1863 copy of report.)

The agitation for representative government, which had of necessity lain
dormant during the convict period, was revived when it became known that
transportation would cease altogether in 1868. The Secretary of State, it
will be remembered, had before 1850 stated that Western Australia would
be able to secure some form of elective representation as soon as the
colonists were prepared to do without a parliamentary grant, in other
words as soon as the local revenue was sufficient to meet all the
colonial expenses. The Imperial Act of 1850 (13 and 14 Victoria c.59) for
the better government of the Australian colonies provided that when that
stage had arrived the existing Legislative Council could, on a petition
from one-third of the householders of the colony, pass an ordinance
establishing a new Legislative Council, one-third of whose members should
be nominated and the other two-thirds elected. Simultaneously with the
passing of the Act, however, came the establishment of the convict system
in Western Australia. This, the Secretary of State pointed out, made it
impossible for the Imperial authorities to agree to any form of
representation, as the bulk of the expenses of the colony, under the
circumstances, would of necessity fall upon the Home Government.

This difficulty being removed by the decision to stop sending out
convicts, a public meeting under the chairmanship of the Sheriff was held
in Perth on 21 February 1865,* and a committee was appointed at that
meeting to draft a petition for presentation through the Governor to the
Legislative Council.** On being presented, the petition, which contained
1303 signatures, was referred to a committee consisting of the Colonial
Secretary, Commandant, Attorney-General, and L. Samson, to examine the
signatures, call witnesses, and report to the Council.*** In the course
of examination the number of signatures was reduced to 898, the others
being struck out as those of persons unknown, convicts, or
non-householders. As this total was still in excess of the one-third
householders required by the Act, the committee reported that the
petition was in form and fulfilled the necessary requirements.****

(*Footnote. Inquirer 22 February 1865.)

(**Footnote. Ibid.)

(***Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 29 June 1865
Inquirer 5 July 1865.)

(****Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 18 August 1865
Report of Committee in Inquirer 23 August 1865.)

The members of the Council, while not prepared to concede the full
request of the petitioners, were prepared to do something toward
introducing a popular element. An amendment to the petition was therefore
carried, the effect of which was to add two additional non-official
members to the existing four and to reduce the term of office of the
whole six to three years.* This amendment, which really negatived the
petition, was a severe blow to the progressive party, and objections were
raised against the Council's action. Samson, in a formal protest,
asserted that the fulfilment of the conditions laid down in the Imperial
Act made it obligatory on the part of the Council to agree. The
Attorney-General, however, ruled that the Council had discretionary

(*Footnote. Ibid Inquirer 23 August 1865.)

(**Footnote. Ibid.)

Public opinion seems at this stage to have been divided upon the matter,
though on the whole there was a leaning toward representation. A second
petition circulated in September with the object of supporting the
amendment, while approving the appointment of six non-official members,
finished by declaring that an election by the people would be

(*Footnote. Ibid.)

As in all progressive movements, the temporary reverse, especially as it
was brought about by official action, only served to fan the flame.
Meetings were held and resolutions carried protesting against the
rejection of the final petition, so that by the following year a certain
degree of enthusiasm in favour of representative government existed.

The Governor (Dr. Hampton) carefully refrained from any expression of
opinion while the subject was under discussion in the Council, but in
reporting to the Secretary of State* he stated that he had reason to
believe that the majority of the colonists would vote against the
requests contained in the petition. By the middle of August, however, his
view seems to have undergone some change, as in a further dispatch** he
informed the Secretary of State that he was convinced it would be
impossible to arrest the movement unless some concession was made. By
December he had veered round still farther and wrote, when forwarding the
original petition:*** "Such a change, to me, seems to be very immaterial,
seeing that to whatever extent I might be allowed any voice in the
matter, I should endeavour to nominate the persons most acceptable to the
free inhabitants generally and fairly representing every interest
throughout the colony--a very difficult task which I would gladly see
delegated to the electors."

(*Footnote. Hampton to Cardwell 21 July 1865.)

(**Footnote. Hampton to Cardwell 22 August 1865.)

(***Footnote. Ibid 21 December 1865.)

Some delay in attending to all this correspondence seems to have occurred
in the Colonial Office. It was not until September 1867 that a reply was
received from the Secretary of State.* This signified the assent of the
Crown to the Legislative Council's proposal to appoint non-official
members equal in number to the official and to limit the term of office
to three years. No mention was made of the petition or of Samson's
protest against the action of the Council. The decision was received with
mixed feelings, but the steps taken to carry it into effect were such
that the new Council was practically a representative body. A public
meeting, presided over by the Sheriff, was held in October,** at which it
was agreed to accept the concession approved by the Secretary of State,
an amendment to the effect that no concession except the franchise be
accepted being rejected. A resolution was then passed affirming that the
colony should be divided into six districts, and the settlers in each
district allowed to select one unofficial member for appointment by the
Governor.*** A committee was appointed to carry the resolution into
effect. This committee met a few days after the public meeting, and
transmitted the resolutions to the Colonial Secretary with a request that
the Governor should favour them with suggestions. The Governor strongly
supported the steps proposed, and promised to give official assistance in
securing a proper ballot.****

(*Footnote. Duke of Buckingham to Hampton 9 July 1867.)

(**Footnote. Perth Gazette 18 October 1867.)

(***Footnote. Ibid.)

(****Footnote. Ibid 25 October 1867.)

As it was necessary to choose representatives quickly so as to give time
for the Governor to get the consent of the Imperial authorities to their
appointment, letters were sent to all the prominent settlers asking for
their assistance.* The colony was then divided into six districts--Perth,
Fremantle, Champion Bay, Eastern Districts, Guildford and the Swan, and
the Murray, and each district given the right to elect one member. All
free males of adult age had the right to vote, but no proxies were
allowed. The elections resulted in the selection of J.G.C. Carr (Perth)
W. Bateman (Fremantle) W.L. Brockman (Guildford) J.G. Lee Steere (Murray)
and E. Hamersley (Eastern District).** The Champion Bay settlers refused
to take advantage of the concession to select a member, and Governor
Hampton had in consequence to select a sixth man. His choice fell upon
J.W. Hardey,*** The man responsible for the amendment which defeated the
original petition. The names were then submitted to the Governor and by
him to the Secretary of State for approval. On 4 May 1868 an Order in
Council was passed**** appointing them members of the Legislative Council
of Western Australia for a period of three years.

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 25 October 1867.)

(**Footnote. Ibid 29 November and 27 December 1867.)

(***Footnote. Ibid 27 December 1867.)

(****Footnote. Duke of Buckingham to officer administering the government
of Western Australia 22 May 1868 enclosing Order in Council. See also
Western Australian Government Gazette 14 July 1868.)

As might be expected from a Council thus constituted, the tendency was
towards representative government, and no time was lost in bringing the
whole question forward once more. At a public meeting held in February
1868, at Perth, it was agreed that immediate steps should be taken to
secure representation, and that a second petition in favour should be
circulated for signature and presented to the Legislative Council at its
next meeting. A committee was appointed to carry out the decision, and
Lee Steere was requested to introduce the memorial, when ready, into the

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 28 February 1868.)

The requests contained in the petition had, however, been forestalled in
part by Governor Hampton, who, in December 1867,* when recommending the
appointment of the six names selected, had also recommended that at the
end of the three years half the Council should be elected by popular vote
and the other half should consist of official nominees, the Governor to
have a casting vote. To this suggestion the Secretary of State,** in
March 1868, gave his approval, but required that the electoral
subdivisions proposed and the qualifications of electors should be
submitted to him before being finally settled by the local authorities.
When the Governor announced the course that was to be followed there was
some demur on account of the casting vote, which in popular opinion left
the balance of power still on the side of officialdom.*** Consequently
signatures to the petition continued to be sought.

(*Footnote. Hampton to Duke of Buckingham 27 December 1867.)

(**Footnote. Duke of Buckingham to Hampton 27 March 1868 Number 40.)

(***Footnote. Perth Gazette 15 May 1868.)

This was the position in November 1868, when Dr. Hampton resigned and
left the colony. His administration could scarcely be described as
peaceful, and there is no doubt that much of the public criticism of it
was justified. His interference in matters relating to the convicts, his
tyrannical methods toward them, and his action in appointing his son to
the position of acting Comptroller-General, were strongly, and without
doubt justly, resented. There certainly was not equally good ground for
accusing him of delaying the inauguration of representative government,
though it is questionable whether he would have urged it had not the
force of public opinion become too strong to be resisted. There was one
phase of his administration, however, that was eminently successful--that
of the erection of public works. More than any previous Governor he
applied himself to meet the needs of the settlers in that direction, and
many public buildings still in use bear testimony to the success of his
efforts. He used convict labour largely for these purposes, it is true;
but, after all, Western Australia was entitled to any benefit she might
receive from that labour as some return for consenting to allow the
incubus of a criminal population to rest upon her. On the whole the
benefits he conferred were lasting in nature, while his mistakes were but

During the period which elapsed between Dr. Hampton's departure and the
arrival of his successor, the affairs of the colony were administered by
the Commandant, Lieutenant-Colonel Bruce. The only matter of interest
that occurred at this time was the visit of the Duke of Edinburgh, who
landed at Fremantle on 3 February 1869, and remained in the colony for
four days, during which there was much feasting and rejoicing.



The new Governor, Frederick A. Weld, arrived in the colony on 30
September 1869. He was not without colonial experience, having spent many
years in New Zealand, during which he had on more than one occasion been
a Minister of the Crown. From 1864 to 1865 he was Premier of that colony,
resigning on account of ill-health. The position of Governor of Western
Australia was offered to him to mark the Secretary of State's
appreciation of his successful management of New Zealand affairs. One of
his first acts in his new sphere of duty was to gain a general practical
knowledge of the territory he was called upon to govern, and to this end
he travelled over most of the settled districts to the south-west and
east, forming his own conclusions of the possibilities of the colony. In
a dispatch upon the subject* he described the country from north to
south, except where areas had been cleared for cultivation, as one vast
forest in the sense that it was heavily timbered. While the good land, so
far as wheat-growing was concerned, was patchy and scattered, yet in most
places it was possible to grow something. The lightness of the crops was
"owing in a great measure to over-cropping and slovenly farming."
Vine-growing, in his opinion, deserved very much more attention than it
received, and the wine produced, though unscientifically prepared, was
likely to possess many of the qualities of Spanish wines. The roads (as
might be expected where convict labour had been at work) he found
wonderfully good, and the country had great facilities for the
construction of roads, railways, and telegraphs.

(*Footnote. Weld to Earl Granville, 3 March 1870 published in Perth
Gazette 8 July 1870.)

All this goes to show not only that Weld was an accurate observer, but
that he had a first-class knowledge of the things that were necessary for
the country's prosperity, and his administration proved that he had both
the energy and ability required to put them into successful operation.

The principal matter that he had to deal with at the outset of his term
was that of representative government. Successive Secretaries of State
had informed Governor Hampton that the Imperial authorities were
favourable, but the conclusion of his term arrived before the idea could
be carried into effect. The matter was taken up by the Legislative
Council in 1869, a committee being appointed* to draft a Bill and to
divide the colony into electoral districts so that there might be a
definite scheme to place before the new Governor. At the same time the
petition prepared in accordance with the resolution of the public meeting
of February 1868 was presented by Lee Steere to the Legislative
Council.** As Governor Weld was expected shortly afterwards,
consideration was deferred until his arrival. Fortified by his previous
experience in colonial affairs, Weld's views in favour of representative
government were as strong as those of any of the colonists. He warned
them, however, that representative government must in due course be
followed by responsible government, for which, in his opinion, the colony
would not be prepared for some considerable time. He further pointed out
that whatever scheme of representation might be approved, the Home
Government would still insist upon a strong voice in local affairs, at
any rate for so long a period as Imperial funds were being expended
within the colony. This favourable attitude towards a change in the
constitution so greatly desired by the people of the colony not only gave
a fresh impetus to the movement, but instilled in the minds of everyone a
definite hope of a satisfactory result. This hope was strengthened by the
Governor's announcement in March 1870*** that he had received from the
Secretary of State for the Colonies, Lord Granville, a dispatch to the
effect that he saw no reason why the form of government provided by the
Act, 13 and 14 Victoria c.59, should not be adopted if the colonists
desired it.

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 5 July 1869 Perth
Gazette 9 July 1869.)

(**Footnote. Ibid 7 July 1869 Perth Gazette 16 July 1869.)

(***Footnote. Perth Gazette 18 March 1870.)

Encouraged by these statements, the advocates for the change did not
allow public feeling to grow cold. Meetings were held at various centres,
and resolutions urging the introduction of the Bill were passed. At
Bunbury, Lee Steere expressed himself forcibly to the effect that "he was
shocked and indignant at the indifference shown to public opinion by the
Executive; that it was the arbitrary will of one man prevailing over a
Council of ciphers in the machinery of government."* The Governor, while
advocating the desires of the colonists, did not, however, hesitate to
express to the Secretary of State** his candid opinion of the conditions
existing in the colony.

"I see no reason," he wrote, "to suppose that under the present system
the colonists will ever become more fitted for self-government, and I
greatly dread that if its introduction be long deferred they will become
far less fitted. At present there are still men among them whose English
education and English reminiscences would guide them in the almost
forgotten path; the younger generation may grow up with less political
education and far less thought, I fear, of the real responsibilities of
good citizens and loyal subjects. An almost primitive simplicity and
kindness of manners, very pleasing to see, strangely enough coexists in
the same country that holds a large proportion of the criminal class; and
I should be unjust were I not to point out with gratification that it is
not uncommon to find men formerly belonging to the latter classes who
have made good settlers and have raised themselves to a position of
respectability and independence. An influx of population and riches, such
a "rush" as has heretofore taken place in almost every other portion of
the Australian colonies, would, did it find us under the present system,
result in an almost irresistible demand for universal suffrage and
responsible government at a time when such a concession would be unsafe
and pregnant with disastrous consequences."

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 8 April 1870.)

(**Footnote. Weld to Earl Granville 1 March 1870.)

By the provisions of 13 and 14 Victoria c.39 1850, and certain provisions
of 5 and 6 Victoria c.76 1842, and 7 and 8 Victoria c.74 1844, which
relate to the constitution of the Legislative Council, and under which
the new Bill was prepared, the Governor was empowered, subject to the
assent of the Imperial Government, to establish a new Legislative Council
on providing for the payment out of colonial funds of all expenses of the
civil establishment. Such Council should consist of nominated and
official and elected members, the nominated and official to number
together one-third of the whole, and the elected to represent electoral
districts which were to be determined. With any increase in elected
members there must be a corresponding increase in nominees to preserve
the ratio of one-third to two-thirds. Every adult man of twenty-one years
of age was to be entitled to vote, provided he owned property worth 100
pounds, was a householder paying 10 pounds a year, or held a depasturing
licence. No person could be elected as a member unless he possessed
property of the annual value of 100 pounds or the capital value of 2000
pounds. The nominated members were to hold office for five years, except
in case of a dissolution, and were to be appointed by the Queen. Power of
appointment might be delegated to the Governor. Forfeiture of a seat
followed upon absence for two successive sessions, insolvency, or fraud.
The term of election was five years. The Council must meet at least once
in every year at such time and place as the Governor deemed expedient,
and the Governor could prorogue or dissolve the Council whenever he
considered such a course necessary. A member of the Council must be
elected as speaker, and the election approved by the Governor, before any
business was transacted.

The Governor, who under the new system ceased to be a member of the
Council, was required to transmit for the consideration of members such
Bills as he desired to introduce. All Bills before becoming law must,
after passing through the Council, be assented to by the Governor, who
was bound by the provisions of the Act and also by whatever instructions
he might receive from the Imperial authorities. Permission to make laws
for the appropriation of Crown lands was specially withheld, and Bills
dealing with certain other questions, as e.g. divorce, must be reserved
for Imperial sanction. Alterations in the Constitution also required the
assent of the Crown. Beyond these matters the Council had general
legislative authority. These were the main provisions of the Act of 1850.
Any Constitution framed under it was to come into effect upon the issue
of the writs for the elections.

The Bill which was introduced by Governor Weld on 23 May 1870,* in
accordance with the provisions of this Act, provided for a Council of
eighteen, of whom twelve were to be elected, three to be nominated by the
Governor, and three official members--the Colonial Secretary, the
Surveyor-General, and the Attorney-General.

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 23 May 1870 Perth
Gazette 27 May 1870.)

The fact that the Governor retained the power of veto rather discounted
the value of the concession in the eyes of some, whilst others were
disappointed because the local legislature would not be able to make land
laws. A few were anxious, notwithstanding the financial aspect, to secure
full responsible government, and a still smaller section, representing
the old conservative element, could see no prospect of advantage in any
change at all. The Bill, as Governor Weld said, was not perfect, but
there is no doubt that it was a distinct step forward, and provided all
that could reasonably be expected under the circumstances.

The Bill caused an animated discussion in the Council, opinion being very
much divided upon the subject. Several members failed to see that any
advantage would be derived from it, while others opposed any alteration
of a system that seems to have suited their particular requirements. On
the second reading, however, it was carried by seven votes to five, those
in favour being Governor Weld, the Colonial Secretary (E.P. Barlee) the
Attorney-General (G.F. Stone) and Lee Steere, Carr, Brockman, and Newman,
and those against, the Commandant (Lieutenant-Colonel Bruce) the
Surveyor-General (Captain Roe) the Colonial Treasurer (A. Lefroy) and
Phillips and Hardey.*

(*Footnote. Ibid 25 May 1870 Perth Gazette 27 May 1870.)

The Bill was finally passed on 1 June,* and the writs for the new Council
were issued on 18 July 1870.** There were ten electoral districts: Perth,
Fremantle, Geraldton, York, Toodyay, Swan, Greenough, Wellington, Vasse,
and Albany. Perth and Fremantle were entitled to elect two
representatives, and the other constituencies one each.*** The elections
were held during October and the early part of November, with the
following result: J.G.C. Carr and L.S. Leake (Perth) E. Newman and W.F.
Moore (Fremantle) T.C. Gull (Swan) John Mckail (Albany) J.H. Monger
(York) Major Logue (Geraldton) George Shenton (Greenough) James Drummond
(Toodyay) J.G. Lee Steere (Wellington) and J.G. Bussell (Vasse.)

(*Footnote. Ibid 1 June 1870 Perth Gazette 3 June 1870 containing copy of
the Act 33 Victoria Number 13.)

(**Footnote. Perth Gazette 22 July 1870.)

(***Footnote. Ibid.)

These twelve gentlemen, with the six nominees--three official and three
unofficial--formed the first Legislative Council under representative
government in Western Australia. The official members were the Colonial
Secretary (F.P. Barlee) the Surveyor-General (M. Fraser) and the
Attorney-General (R.J. Walcott); the unofficial nominees were S.P.
Phillips, M. Brown, and W.E. Marmion.* Two old and tried servants of the
colony retired from their positions on the inauguration of the new
system. These were the Surveyor-General (Captain J.S. Roe) and the
Attorney-General (G.F. Stone). Both were pioneers, and had done sound and
excellent work for their adopted country. To Captain Roe, who had held
office as Surveyor-General from 1829 and had been a member of the
Legislative Council since 1832, Western Australia is specially indebted.
His ability, wisdom, tact, and judgment were always at the service of his
fellow-settlers, and no official did more--if any did so much--to further
the interests of the colony.

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 9 December 1870.)

The new Legislative Council met for the first time on 5 December 1870.
L.S. Leake was elected Speaker and J.G.C. Carr Chairman of Committees.*

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 5 December 1870 Perth
Gazette 9 December 1870.)

From the very first it was evident that there were two parties in the
House. The Colonial Secretary, the leader of the Government, was
supported by the nominee and official members as well as by the more
conservative of the elected representatives, while the more radical
section followed J.G. Lee Steere, who was the accepted leader of the
Opposition. At the outset it also became plain that the Council did not
intend to be a mere echo of the Executive, but was determined to exercise
to the full the legislative powers conferred upon it. This was especially
noticeable on the introduction of a Bill* to amend the representation in
the Council whereby it was sought to remedy a defect in the wording of
the Legislative Council Act,** under which conditional-pardon men were
unintentionally excluded from the Franchise, and also to remove the
qualification necessary for members. The Bill was referred to a
committee, which recommended the following alterations: (a) that while
the property qualification should be reduced it should not be abolished
altogether, (b) that no person holding an office of emolument under the
Crown should be allowed to sit as an elected member, and (c) that no
person attainted of treason or guilty of felony or other infamous offence
should be capable of being elected.*** The suggestions of the committee
were adopted by the House,**** with the result that the Governor referred
the Bill back for further consideration. The Council promptly returned it
without alteration,***** and it was then reserved for Her Majesty's
assent, notification of which was given to the Council in August.******

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 14 December 1870 Perth
Gazette 23 December 1870.)

(**Footnote. 33 Victoria Number 13. The qualification of voters in the
Act was that set out in 13 and 14 Victoria c.59.)

(***Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 11 January 1871
Perth Gazette 13 January 1871.)

(****Footnote. Ibid.)

(*****Footnote. Ibid 16 January 1871 Perth Gazette 20 and 27 January

(******Footnote. Ibid 17 August 1871 Perth Gazette 18 August 1871.)

The first distinct step in the direction of municipal government was
taken during this session. In the past the towns and rural districts had
been subject to Roads Trusts, bodies with power to levy rates for certain
purposes, more particularly the making and maintenance of roads, jetties,
and other means of communication. The Municipalities Act, passed in
1871,* gave the local councils jurisdiction over roads, drains, wharves,
public buildings, pounds, boundaries, fences, and sanitation, with power
to rate and also to borrow money for the purposes set forth. Under this
Act Perth was proclaimed a municipality early in January, and was
followed shortly afterwards by Fremantle, Guildford, Albany, Bunbury,
Busselton, Geraldton, and York.** At the time Perth had an estimated
population of over 5000.***

(*Footnote. 34 Victoria Number 6.)

(**Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 1871 pages 42 and 57.)

(***Footnote. Census 31 March 1870 gives population of Perth as 5007.)

About the same time a Local Roads Boards Act* was passed for the
government of those rural districts which were not prepared to assume the
responsibilities of municipalities. Both these Acts were amended in 1876.
In the Municipalities Act the right of voting was given to owners or
occupiers of property who had paid their rates and had not been in
receipt of public relief. Property rated under 25 pounds carried one
vote, with an additional vote for every increase of 25 pounds in annual
value up to a maximum of four votes. Any voter could become a councillor,
but the Chairman must be qualified to serve as a Grand Juror. Under the
Roads Boards Act the qualification was somewhat lower. A rateable value
of 50 pounds per annum secured the maximum of four votes.

(*Footnote. 34 Victoria Number 26.)

Probably feeling that it was incumbent upon a representative body to do
something in the way of developing the resources of the country, one of
the early actions of the Legislative Council was to pass a loan bill
authorising the raising of 60,000 pounds for carrying out public works*
including 30,000 pounds for a new jetty at Fremantle. There was a good
deal of opposition to the inclusion of this 30,000 pounds, and ultimately
it was agreed not to proceed with that work, so that although the
Governor forwarded the Bill for 60,000 pounds to the Secretary of State
for approval,** he stated in a further dispatch that the idea had been
abandoned.*** The Colonial Office therefore declined to sanction the Bill
as drafted, but suggested that in its place the local Council should
agree to one for 35,000 pounds for certain public works which the
Secretary of State enumerated.**** This advice was acted upon,***** and
the amount was raised in 1872 at six per cent.

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 17 August 1871 Perth
Gazette 18 August 1871.)

(**Footnote. Weld to Earl of Kimberley 11 September 1871.)

(***Footnote. Ibid 8 November 1871.)

(****Footnote. Earl of Kimberley to Weld 24 January 1872.)

(*****Footnote. 36 Victoria Number 3 Schedule of works is appended to

The second session of the Council was opened in July 1871, when several
matters of grave moment to the prosperity of the colony were decided.
Principal among these were those relating to education and the land
regulations. For years it had been the custom of the old Legislative
Council to pass an annual grant for educational purposes. There had been
growing dissatisfaction on the part of the Catholic community with the
manner in which this grant had been apportioned. Addresses were presented
to the Council in 1869 asking that Catholics be allowed a separate
grant.* Upon this being refused, a petition was forwarded to the
Secretary of State** requesting that a proportionate part of the grant be
allotted for Catholic schools. Convinced that the matter was one for the
local administration, the Imperial government declined to interfere,
leaving it to the representative Council to deal with.*** That body also
declined at its first session to make any alteration in the existing
system, but the question became so acute during the recess that at the
second session an Elementary Education Act**** was passed, and a
satisfactory settlement arrived at. Under the provisions of the Act,
Government schools confined themselves to a purely secular education,
while the schools founded by the various religious denominations gave
instruction in accordance with their creeds. These latter were entitled
to receive Government aid to the amount of the income they derived from
fees or subscriptions. Religious teachers could also give instruction in
Government schools for one hour either before or after the ordinary day's
work, the attendance of scholars being voluntary. Inspectors could not
examine in religious subjects. All children between the ages of six and
fourteen, residing within three miles of a school, were required to
attend. The Central Board of Education consisted of the Colonial
Secretary as chairman and four laymen of different denominations
appointed by the Governor for three years. This Board had control of all
schools receiving Government aid, but only so far as secular instruction
was concerned. District Boards, subject to the Central Board, were also
established; these consisted of five members elected for three years by
the people of the district. In order to carry out these provisions
thoroughly, 6181 pounds was placed on the Estimates of 1871 for
educational purposes.***** This Act met the needs of the community
admirably, and with slight amendments continued in operation till 1895,
when the enormous expansion of the colony due to the discovery of the
goldfields rendered a more modern measure necessary.

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 6 July 1869 Perth
Gazette 9 July 1869.)

(**Footnote. Perth Gazette 23 July 1869 copy of petition. Petition
forwarded in Colonel Bruce to Earl Granville 4 August 1869.)

(***Footnote. Earl Granville to Weld 26 November 1869. See also Earl of
Kimberley to Weld 13 August 1870.)

(****Footnote. 35 Victoria Number 14.)

(*****Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 4 August 1871
Perth Gazette 11 August 1871.)

As one of the grounds of opposition to the old Council had been its
ingenuity in framing land regulations that did not meet with the approval
of the colonists generally, it was only to be expected that the
representative body would take the subject into consideration at an early
stage of its existence. New regulations were framed by a Select
Committee* in 1871** under which all lands fit for the purposes of
agriculture were reserved for sale as agricultural areas, the price being
fixed at 8 shillings per acre, payable in annual instalments of 1
shilling per acre under certain conditions relating to occupation and
improvement. In the opinion of some members of the Council the price was
too high, but at the request of the Governor, who feared the Secretary of
State might object, no reduction was made. Rural sections were fixed at
100 acres, with provision for selecting smaller plots for garden
purposes. Under special circumstances other unreserved lands could be
reduced in price. Pastoral leases for twenty-one years at low rents to
secure improvement were approved, and the fee simple offered for clearing
and fencing poison lands. New mineral regulations were also framed,
restricting the areas to 200 acres and allowing a right to mine for two
years on payment of 1 pound a year rent. Leases for twenty-eight years
for mining purposes could also be secured, starting at 5 shillings per
acre and rising by 5 shillings per acre every seven years. A Commissioner
of Crown Lands was appointed to carry out the provisions of the
regulations. Crown lands being one of the subjects that required Imperial
consent, the proposed regulations were forwarded to the Secretary of
State for his approval.*** This was given,**** with slight amendments,
towards the close of the year, and the regulations came into force in
March 1872,***** remaining in operation until the introduction of the
Torrens system in 1875 rendered them practically obsolete. Lord
Kimberley's dispatch showed how difficult it was for a man without
practical knowledge of colonisation to understand the conditions existing
in a new country. Like most of his predecessors in office he deprecated
the extension of settlement into new districts, mainly on account of the
increase in the administrative expenses that would necessarily ensue. The
dispatch also refused to allow the Governor in Council to make
alterations in the regulations, as that would involve the surrender by
the Crown of its control over waste lands.

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1871 Paper

(**Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 9 August 1871 Perth
Gazette 11 August 1871.)

(***Footnote. Weld to Earl of Kimberley 9 September 1871.)

(****Footnote. Earl of Kimberley to Weld 26 December 1871.)

(*****Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 20 March 1872.)

The stumbling-block over which the first representative Council finally
came to grief was the question of Customs duties. These had been imposed
only from the standpoint of revenue, the general public opinion being
always in favour of free trade. That was still the view when the new
Tariff Bill was introduced into the Council at the close of 1870, the
provisions of which did not make any drastic or far-reaching alterations.
Under the existing tariff, stock, grains, flour and meal, agricultural
implements and machinery, and other goods specially exempted by the
Governor, were admitted free, whilst spirits were charged with a duty of
15 shillings a gallon, tobacco 1 shilling and 9 pence a pound, and the
remaining articles with an ad valorem duty of 7 per cent. The new Tariff,
which came into force at the beginning of 1871,* made little difference
beyond restricting the free list and raising duties upon luxuries. The
increases were adopted not from the standpoint of protection, but as a
means of increasing the revenue, which was showing distant signs of
falling off owing to the diminishing convict expenditure, poor seasons,
and a general fall in prices of those commodities which the colony was
able to export. Several of the country members, however, no doubt looking
for a good local market, were anxious to see duties placed on flour and
other articles that could be locally produced; in other words, favoured a
protective tariff. The question was warmly debated during the recess, and
soon after the second session of the Council met in July 1871 it formed a
subject for further consideration. A proposal to remove flour and meal
from the free list on the grounds that it would benefit the farmers and,
at the same time, assist the revenue, was strongly opposed, but in the
end the advocates for protection, some of whom professed to be free
traders, carried the day by a narrow majority, which was increased when
the resolution was embodied in a Bill.**

(*Footnote. 34 Victoria Number 17 details in Perth Gazette 20 January

(**Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1 August 1871
Inquirer 9 August 1871.)

The members of the Free Trade League, which was at this time a
particularly active institution, waited upon the Governor and asked him
not to assent to the Bill. Convinced that the tax would not produce much
in the way of revenue, and that it would press harshly upon the poorer
classes, Governor Weld on 17 August* applied the veto. As the
notification of the Queen's assent to the Act passed in the first session
to amend the representation of the people had been received just
previously, he considered the time opportune for putting it into force,
and thus by a dissolution solve the difficulty created by his rejection
of the Tariff Bill, and allow the people as a whole, by means of a fresh
election, to express their opinion upon that matter.**

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 17 August 1871 Perth
Gazette 18 August 1871.)

(**Footnote. Ibid.)

The Legislative Council was therefore formally dissolved on the date
mentioned, with an expression of the Governor's confidence in the
beneficial effects of those free institutions which he had endeavoured to
foster during his term of office. Though in a larger community there
would be little to attract attention in the amount of work performed,
there is no doubt that in a small colony (which from the standpoint of
population Western Australia then was) hitherto ruled by an official
class which did not always see eye to eye with the people, the results of
the Parliament marked a very distinct step forward. The Survey Department
had been reorganised; more liberal land regulations passed; a
comprehensive and equitable educational system brought into operation;
and a useful programme of public works arranged. On the whole, there was
every reason to feel satisfied with the change brought about by the
introduction of representative government.

The chief question during the elections was that of tariff reform, and
the new Council, which met in the middle of 1872, reflected the opinion
of the constituencies upon that subject. The Governor was in favour of
low duties, if not of complete free trade, and chose as his unofficial
nominees men holding the same views. The representatives of the larger
towns also supported the Government, but those from the rural
constituencies were strongly protectionist. When the question came up for
consideration it was evident that the protectionist section had a
majority,* and the resulting Tariff Act,** though it would scarcely be
called protective nowadays, had a distinct leaning in that direction.

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 26 August 1872
Inquirer 28 August 1872.)

(**Footnote. 36 Victoria Number 4.)

Out of these discussions upon the tariff question arose the beginning of
the agitation for responsible government. In the first place, the
attitude of the Governor towards the suggestion of protective duties
raised the question whether officialism was not still supreme. To throw
greater power into the hands of the representatives of the people, Lee
Steere proposed to double the number of elected representatives. In order
to prevent such a drastic step from being taken, the Governor compromised
by offering to increase the representation by creating two new
constituencies, claiming at the same time an additional official
nominee.* These proposals were embodied in a Bill introduced by the
Colonial Secretary in July 1873.** The new districts were termed the
Northern, and the Murray and Wellington. To this Bill Lee Steere moved a
series of sweeping amendments,*** to the effect that the constitution of
the Executive Council should be altered by the addition of elected
members, so as to bring its decisions more into harmony with the
Legislature and with public opinion; that with the exception of four
officials--the Colonial Secretary, Attorney-General, Surveyor-General,
and Colonial Treasurer--all members of the Legislative Council should be
elected by a constituency; that the constituencies returning one member
should for the future elect two; and that provision be made for
regulating voting by proxy. The suggestions were vigorously opposed by
the Colonial Secretary as leader of the Government, and ultimately all of
them, with the exception of that relating to proxy voting, were
withdrawn,**** and the Bill was passed.*****

(*Footnote. This increase was foreshadowed in the Governor's speech at
the opening of the Council on 30 July 1872, but the Bill was not actually
introduced until the following session.)

(**Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1 July 1873 Inquirer
2 July 1873.)

(***Footnote. Ibid 11 July 1873 Inquirer 16 July 1873.)

(****Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 11 July 1873
Inquirer 16 July 1873.)

(*****Footnote. Ibid 23 July 1873 Inquirer 30 July 1873.)

All this is evidence of the growing feeling in favour of a wider form of
government. Representative government it was considered had not fulfilled
the people's expectations. Lee Steere, one of the strongest advocates in
favour of it, confessed that it was "ill-suited for the requirements of
this colony or any other"* and many others who had been among its warmest
advocates became bitter opponents. Such opinions, widely disseminated,
were bound to lead in the direction of responsible government, and by
1874 the desire for a change became the burning question of the hour. In
June of that year a public meeting was held at Bunbury in favour of the
change, and Lee Steere--who had previously doubted the wisdom of such a
course--agreed to support responsible government as more likely to
advance the interests of the colony than the existing system.** In the
following month he moved a resolution in the Legislative Council
affirming that responsible government would tend to the future progress
of the colony, and asking for a Select Committee to frame a
Constitution.*** After some discussion, an amendment was passed affirming
the integrity of the existing Government and asking the Governor to
introduce a Bill providing for autonomy and to recommend Her Majesty
approve of it.****

(*Footnote. Ibid 11 July 1873 Inquirer 16 July 1873.)

(**Footnote. Inquirer 8 July 1874.)

(***Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 22 July 1874
Inquirer 29 July 1874.)

(****Footnote. Ibid.)

Governor Weld, rightly judging that the wisest course to pursue was to
assist rather than oppose, promised to prepare such a measure, and in
case of its adoption to recommend it to the favourable consideration of
the Crown.* In pursuance of that promise, a Bill to establish a
Constitution for Western Australia and to grant a Civil List to Her
Majesty was introduced into the Council on 3 August 1874 by the Colonial
Secretary.** It provided for the establishment of an Upper and a Lower
House, the one to be wholly nominated by the Governor in Council, and the
other to consist of twenty-five elected members. The Lower House was to
have the sole power of originating money bills, and of imposing,
altering, or repealing taxes. It was to be elected for five years.
Judges, ministers of religion, and public contractors were debarred from
sitting in either House, and any member accepting an office of profit
under the Crown would thereby forfeit his seat. The control of the lands
was to come under the Parliament, subject to a Civil List charge of 9729
pounds annually. Compensation was provided, either by way of pension or
retiring allowance, for those officers whose positions would be abolished
by the change.

Owing to the nominee character of the proposed Upper House, the scheme
did not meet with any degree of acceptance. Lee Steere proposed that
consideration of the measure be postponed until the country had been
given an opportunity of expressing its opinion.* This was negatived by
the House,** but acted upon by the Governor, who dissolved the Council on
the following day.*** The result of the election showed that public
opinion strongly favoured responsible government. The matter was not,
however, brought before the new House, which met in November to pass
supply, Governor Weld explaining that as he was on the eve of departure
from the colony, it would be more fitting to allow his successor to deal
with it, especially as he would probably be more in touch with the views
of the Home authorities.**** At the risk of anticipating a little, it may
be said that the proposal for responsible government came to nothing at
that time. One of the first actions of the new Governor (Sir William
Robinson) was to read to the Council a dispatch from the Secretary of
State mildly censuring Governor Weld for being a little too precipitate
in his desire to meet the wishes of the colonists, and pointing out that
the Imperial Government was not prepared to recommend responsible
government, more particularly as Weld himself had on previous occasions
deprecated any such extension. After referring to this, Lord Carnarvon

"It is with some surprise and regret that I now learn that without any
previous intimation that such a measure was contemplated, or any
reference to the opinions of Her Majesty's Government, the Governor has
publicly pledged himself that this most serious change shall immediately
be made, and that a Bill dealing with many questions of difficulty, in
respect of which care must in any case be exercised, has been considered
by the Council...We are dealing with a colony of vast extent, at present
inhabited by a population estimated at 26,000 persons, of whom it is
stated some 8000 are adult males, and of these, as I understand, between
5000 and 6000 are persons formerly transported as convicts from this

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 5 August 1874 Inquirer
12 August 1874.)

(**Footnote. Ibid.)

(***Footnote. Ibid 6 August 1874 Inquirer 12 August 1874.)

(****Footnote. Ibid 18 November 1874 Inquirer 25 November 1874.)

(*****Footnote. Earl of Carnarvon to Robinson 18 November 1874.)

After pointing out the large increase in expenditure that responsible
government would entail in the way of administration as well as in the
direction of providing for the supervision of the remaining convicts, and
stating that he had promised Governor Weld to give the matter due
consideration, he concluded:

"But on a calm review of its present circumstances and conditions, I
cannot but question whether this great alteration is not somewhat
premature, and I feel it my duty, though not a grateful one to me
personally, to withhold any hasty consent, and to interpose such prudent
delays as will secure a full and dispassionate consideration of a
decision which is fraught with such important consequences to the

(*Footnote. Ibid.)

This dispatch practically settled the matter for the time being. Every
now and again an endeavour was made to resuscitate it, and the press
occasionally inferred that it was on the eve of being granted, but
Governor Robinson gave it little or no support, and gradually the whole
discussion fell into abeyance.

Notwithstanding the large amount of time and interest that was given to
constitutional questions during the term of office of Governor Weld,
opportunity was also found to consider many matters of vital importance
to the material well-being of the community. As regards facilities for
communication and transit, Western Australia lagged far behind the rest
of the civilised world. Up to 1869 there was not a single mile of
telegraph line or railway in the colony. Requests had been repeatedly
made to the old Legislative Council to take these matters in hand, but
always without result. The first move was made by two private citizens,
Edmund Stirling and Cumming, who on their own responsibility erected a
telegraph line between Perth and Fremantle and opened it for public
business in June 1869.* This created such a stir that in 1870 the
government felt compelled to take the question of telegraph extension
into consideration. In May of that year a resolution was passed by the
Legislative Council authorising the construction of lines between Perth
and Albany, Bunbury, York, and Newcastle.** The work was undertaken by a
private company and completed in 1872. When the loan of 35,000 pounds
allowed by the Secretary of State was floated in 1872, 12,000 pounds out
of the proceeds were applied to the purchase of these lines by the
Government,*** and arrangements were made for rapid extension. The loan
was soon absorbed, and in 1873 a further amount of 100,000 pounds was
authorised.**** The first moiety of this was raised in Melbourne in
1874,***** and the second shortly afterwards. It was wholly applied to
railway and telegraph extension. Communication by wire was established in
1874****** between Newcastle and Geraldton, and in January 1875,*******
just prior to leaving the colony, Governor Weld installed the first pole
of an overland line between Perth and Eucla. This line was completed by
the end of 1877, and as Eucla was already connected with Adelaide, and
Adelaide with London, it brought Western Australia into touch with the
outside world.

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 25 June 1869.)

(**Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 26 May 1870 Perth
Gazette 27 May 1870. See also prospectus of Electro-Magnetic company in
Perth Gazette 1 July 1870.)

(***Footnote. See 36 Victoria Number 3 schedule A.)

(****Footnote. 37 Victoria Number 19.)

(*****Footnote. Inquirer 21 January 1874.)

(******Footnote. Ibid 10 June 1874.)

(*******Footnote. Ibid 27 January 1875.)

Following closely upon the institution of the telegraph came the
development of a railway system. The first efforts in that direction were
made by private companies operating in the timber forests, and the lines
were built primarily to facilitate the transport of timber to the coast.
Towards the end of 1871 the Western Australian Timber Company built and
opened a line connecting their jetty at the Vasse with the timber forests
about twelve miles away.* Shortly afterwards Mason, Bird & Co, who were
working a timber concession in the Darling Ranges, established a railway
from the Canning to Rockingham, and a tramway from the Canning to the
jarrah forests.**

(*Footnote. Ibid 20 December 1871.)

(**Footnote. Inquirer 14 February 1872.)

Movement by private firms in the direction of railway extension seems to
have spurred on the Government to take action. In 1872 a committee was
appointed to report on the subject of a railway to York and the eastern
districts.* Public opinion urged that this should be undertaken, together
with one from Geraldton to Northampton, so as to cheapen the cost of
transport for agricultural produce and for minerals. Acting on expert
advice, the Government decided to construct the Geraldton to Northampton
line,** but want of funds prevented the commencement being made until
1874,*** and the line was not completed until 1879.**** For the first few
years its earnings were not sufficient to meet working expenses.

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1872 Paper

(**Footnote. Report on Geraldton to Northampton Railway Votes and
Proceedings 1873 Paper Number 6.)

(***Footnote. Inquirer 28 October 1874.)

Contrary to expectation, it was not until 1873 that any suggestion was
made definitely to connect Perth with Fremantle and Guildford by a
railway. In that year it was discussed in the Council, and though a
resolution was passed favouring a trial survey, it was apparent that the
weight of opinion was against it.* There seems to have been a fear that
it was too great an undertaking for a small community, as well as a
suspicion that it would in some measure interfere with vested interests,
such as the carrying trade of the river. Consequently the question was
allowed to lapse for a time.

(*Footnote.Proceedings of the Legislative Council 25 July 1873 Inquirer
30 July 1873.)

Notwithstanding the generally hopeful feeling that prevailed on Governor
Weld's assumption of office, the revenue and expenditure during the early
years of his administration gave some cause for disquiet. The cessation
of transportation naturally brought about a decrease in the convict
expenditure. Added to this, the year 1870 was subject to a severe
drought, generally affecting both the pastoral and agricultural
industries, and a scourge of red rust, which had first made its
appearance in 1868, grew more pronounced.* These causes combined brought
a shrinkage in income which at first promised to be serious, and called
for the use of the pruning-knife in retrenchment, more especially as the
expenditure, through the operation of the very same causes, increased
yearly by a fairly considerable amount.**

(*Footnote. Western Australian Year Book 1902 to 1904 pages 40 to 41.)

(**Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

The general expansion of trade and industry fortunately acted in some
measure as a counterpoise, and the depression had little more than a
passing effect. Before the end of 1872 there were signs of returning
prosperity, though it was not until 1874, when the exports exceeded the
imports, that stability was again assured.* Wool, of course, continued to
be the staple commodity--even though the pastoral industry was hampered
by dry seasons and other drawbacks--the quantity sent away in 1874 being
valued at 215,624 pounds.** After wool came sandalwood, timber, pearls
and pearl shell, guano, and minerals. The sandalwood trade varied with
the local demand for general labour, and also with the prices ruling at
Singapore and other ports to which it was sent, but during these years it
reached its highest point of development. From 1869 to 1874 the total
value exported was 273,838 pounds, of which 70,572 pounds was dispatched
in the latter year.***

(*Footnote. Ibid.)

(**Footnote. Ibid.)

(***Footnote. Ibid.)

The hardwood timbers were not quite so much sought after, though the
foundations were being laid for the important trade in these woods which
has since been developed. In 1869 Lieutenant-Colonel Bruce informed the
Legislative Council that over 100,000 pounds worth of orders for jarrah
from India had been refused owing to the difficulty of transport to the
sea.* This was surmounted by railways and tramlines, and the industry
began to forge ahead. In 1871 a Victorian company began operations at
Wonnerup, and others followed.** The inclusion of jarrah (1871)*** and
karri (1873)**** by Lloyds among the A class of ship-building timbers
brought these hardwoods more permanently before buyers, and the export
trade, which in 1872 had fallen to 2590 pounds, rose in 1874 to 24,192

(*Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 26 June 1869 Perth
Gazette 2 July 1869.)

(**Footnote. See ante.)

(***Footnote. Earl of Kimberley to Weld 15 December 1871 enclosing letter
from Lloyd's Register.)

(****Footnote. Inquirer 10 September 1873.)

(*****Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

The development of the pearl and pearl-shell industry, which had
attracted considerable attention during the early sixties after the
opening up of the North-West, received a strong stimulus early in 1869
through the discovery of a pearl valued at 260 pounds. Like the finding
of a nugget by a prospector, this caused a mild rush to engage in
pearling, especially as shell at that time would bring 180 pounds per
ton. The number of boats engaged in the trade was largely increased, and
pearling became one of the recognised industries of the colony. In 1869
about 54 tons of shell were raised, and sold for 6490 pounds; from then
onward the amount increased every year and in 1874 308 tons were sold for
62,162 pounds, as well as pearls to the value of 12,000 pounds.*

(*Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

The principal fishing-grounds were off the coast around Nickol Bay. The
diving was performed by natives, many of whom were women, and the
treatment of these latter was certainly not in many instances creditable
to the white pearlers. So acute did the moral aspect of the question
become that in the interests of the aborigines the Legislative Council
was compelled to pass an Act prohibiting the employment of women as
divers.* This prohibition led to the engagement of Malays, who were found
to be more satisfactory in the deeper waters.** In 1874 some 500 divers
of all classes were engaged along the coast.

(*Footnote. 34 Victoria Number 14. See also Proceedings of the
Legislative Council 14 December 1870 Perth Gazette 23 December 1870.)

(**Footnote. Inquirer 28 April 1875.)

The lead and copper mines in the Champion Bay district continued to be
adversely affected by the difficulties of transport, and the output
fluctuated considerably. In 1870, 1215 tons of ore valued at 14,604
pounds were raised, but in the following years there was an appreciable
decrease, and it was not until 1874 that any evidence of progress was
apparent. In that year 2211 tons of lead and copper ore were exported and
sold for 26,723 pounds.*

(*Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

The search for gold still continued, spurred on by the Government's offer
of a bonus of 5000 pounds, which had been extended to cover the discovery
of a payable field within 300 miles of any declared port.* In 1869 traces
were discovered at North Dandalup, on the strength of which the
prospectors applied, without success, for the reward. In 1870 several
reports of discoveries were received--one on the Blackwood River and
others on the Murchison. Gold certainly was found on the Upper Irwin, but
not in sufficient quantities to make it worth mining under the extremely
unfavourable conditions that existed, though several attempts were made.
During this year (1870) the Secretary of State notified that the Crown
waived all right to minerals on Crown lands,** but the concession did not
bring any payable field to light. Samples of quartz from Kelmscott,
Newcastle, and Baylup, assayed in Sydney in 1872, were all found to
contain traces of gold, and the Rockingham Bay Mining Company found it on
the Serpentine. These discoveries*** over such a wide area induced the
council in 1873**** to devote 1500 pounds for the purpose of prospecting,
and a private party found specimens at Kendenup, about 40 miles from
Albany. A company was formed to work this district, but its endeavours
were without result. To afford every facility, a quartz battery was
erected at Fremantle in 1874 to crush specimens found. All efforts,
however, were fruitless, and though reports of gold discoveries continued
to be made known, the colony was not able at that time to add gold to the
list of exports. Boring for coal was also carried on, but without any
satisfactory result.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 20 July 1869.)

(**Footnote. Earl Granville to Weld 16 February 1870.)

(***Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 23 June 1873 Perth
Gazette 27 June 1873.)

(****Footnote. Perth Gazette 8 August 1873.)

Amongst all the energy and activity displayed, it is regrettable to find
that the great primary industry--agriculture--suffered a serious reverse.
Fields that had been tilled regularly for years were abandoned, and some
of the smaller settlements almost deserted. The reasons for this
unfortunate state of things were many. Foremost among them were the bad
seasons and the repeated attacks of red rust in the wheat. Then ignorance
of proper farming methods had almost exhausted the soil, and consequently
the yields diminished even in good seasons. Timber-cutting and pearling
also exercised some influence, and many of the farmers turned to those
callings which, though more hazardous, promised greater returns for
considerably less labour and afforded better opportunities for social
intercourse. Perhaps, too, the absence of specie and the system of barter
that obtained in most of the rural districts had some effect. There was
little desire for increased returns when the increase could only be
exchanged for other commodities and was rarely the means of bringing
actual money to the producer.

The areas affected by red rust were principally the Victoria, Champion
Bay, and Irwin districts. In 1869/70 the trouble was accentuated by
drought.* To prevent the ruin of many of the smallholders, Colonel Bruce,
as Acting Governor, spent over 3000 pounds in seed wheat for distribution
under a bond for repayment after the harvest.** This temporarily gave
heart to the farmers, and a fall in the price of sandalwood in 1871
caused many who had deserted to return to the plough, as at any rate a
surer means of livelihood. In that year flour to the value of 4822 pounds
was exported.*** A return of the red-rust plague in 1872 brought great
distress to the settlers in the districts mentioned, and the flour
exported that year was reduced by half. The evil was more apparent still
in the succeeding years. In 1873 the area under wheat was 6000 acres less
than in the previous year, and in 1874 a further drop of 2000 acres
occurred. In both these years, and for many years afterwards, flour and
grain became articles of import in place of export.**** This loss of
interest in agricultural pursuits is the one instance of regression
during Governor Weld's administration.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Year Book 1902 to 1904 pages 40 to 41.)

(**Footnote. Proceedings of the Legislative Council 26 June 1870 Perth
Gazette 2 July 1870.)

(***Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

(****Footnote. Ibid.)

Settlement in the North-West received a severe setback in March 1872,
through a hurricane of exceptional violence. The district had previously
been visited by cyclones, but none had done such serious damage. Within
half an hour the little town of Roebourne was destroyed by the wind and
rain, and many of the townspeople were injured. Cossack--a new town on
the coast--also suffered, though not to the same extent. Many of the
squatters round about were disastrously affected, and all within the
sphere of influence suffered more or less. In a few hours the results of
many years' privations and hard work were swept away.*

(*Footnote. Report of Government Resident 26 April 1872 Inquirer 15 May

The importance of the convict establishment rapidly dwindled with the
cessation of transportation. Where in 1869 there were 2836* men under
prison control, in 1878 there were but 608.** One serious feature was the
growing number of convict paupers and infirm persons. In 1871 there were
estimated to be nearly 800 in the colony who had to be supported by the
Government. An attempt was made to persuade the Imperial Government to
bear this burden, but without success.*** It was one of the penalties
that followed in the wake of the system, and for years was a heavy tax
upon the community. More than eight per cent of the revenue in 1872 went
to support jails, hospitals, and poorhouses.****

(*Footnote. Western Australian Blue Book 1869 page 169.)

(**Footnote. Ibid 1878 page 93.)

(***Footnote. Perth Gazette 19 April 1872.)

(****Footnote. Western Australian Blue Book 1872 pages 14 and 16.)

Out of a question of convict administration there arose in 1870 a very
serious case involving the liberty of the Press, which not only created
widespread public interest, but gave rise to a bitterness of feeling that
lasted for very many years. A ticket-of-leave holder named Young was
brought back to the prison on the warrant of the Comptroller-General for,
it is believed, making reflections on the management of Fremantle Prison.
Doubting the legality of the proceedings, Young's wife retained Mr. (now
Sir) S.H. Parker, and instructed him to apply for a writ of habeas
corpus. Parker had an interview with Young, who was inclined to wait the
result of an appeal for mercy to the Governor before taking other steps.
This appeal failed, and when Parker applied to see Young over the matter
his application was refused on the ground that Young had declined to see
him. Parker visited the prison, but was refused access, whereupon he made
the affidavit supporting the application himself.* The
Comptroller-General complained that the affidavit was materially wrong,
as it did not state that Young declined to see Parker. Parker urged that
the point had really nothing to do with the question, as he had actually
been refused access to the prisoner. Judge Burt, however, thought
differently, and fined Parker for malpractice and misconduct.** Smarting
under what he felt was an injustice, Parker wrote a letter to the
Inquirer criticising the judge's action and practically imputing
prejudice--an imputation which an impartial review of the whole a fair
will sustain.*** The Perth Gazette also espoused his cause, and made some
scathing remarks about both the judge and the Comptroller-General.****

(*Footnote. Inquirer 19 October 1870.)

(**Footnote. Ibid.)

(***Footnote. Inquirer 19 October 1870.)

(****Footnote. Perth Gazette 21 October 1870.)

Out of these remarks arose the second stage of the proceedings, which
came dangerously near a travesty of justice. Stirling Brothers, editors
of the Inquirer, and Arthur Shenton, editor of the Gazette, were called
by Judge Burt before himself to explain their actions. The editors
regretted publication, but Shenton made some attempt to justify what he
had done on the ground that the actions of public men were open to fair
and legitimate comment. Judge Burt then, after making some attempt to
explain why he sat in judgment on a case in which he was one of the most
interested parties, sentenced the Stirlings to thirty days' imprisonment,
and poor Shenton to two months with 100 pounds fine in addition.* At a
subsequent stage Parker also was fined 100 pounds for his share in the
proceedings.** The editors went to jail, but yielding to persuasion they
agreed to publish apologies and were released.*** Shenton then petitioned
for a remission of the fine, but without avail. The judge threatened
attachment unless the fine was paid forthwith. Both Shenton and Parker
then petitioned the Secretary of State,**** but he declined to
interfere.***** Ultimately Shenton's fine was remitted, but not until
after his death, when the judge's harshness could follow him no farther,
though it may have contributed towards his decease. The incident then
closed, but the Express, a younger newspaper, was not far from the truth
when it declared that the whole community was "seriously alarmed at the
discovery of what a fearful engine the laws apparently provide and place
in the hands of the sole judge."****** The community ought to have been
more concerned about the purity of the administration of justice.

(*Footnote. Ibid 4 November 1870.)

(**Footnote. Inquirer 9 November and 14 December 1870; Perth Gazette 16
December 1870.)

(***Footnote. Express Fremantle 10 November 1870.)

(****Footnote. Weld to Earl of Kimberley 26 January and 1 February 1871.)

(*****Footnote. Earl of Kimberley to Weld 29 April 1871.)

(******Footnote. Express 10 November 1870.)

Native troubles, except in the North-West, had by this time practically
disappeared, and the efforts of the Legislature were directed rather
towards the protection of the aborigines than towards repression. A
Select Committee in 1871 suggested grants of land under certain
conditions,* and in a revision of the land regulations made some years
later this idea was carried into effect.

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1871 Paper

A case showing the desire of the Government to afford the natives the
protection of the law arose in 1872. L.C. Burges was charged at Perth
before the P.M. (E.W. Landor) and three justices for shooting at a native
with intent to kill. As a matter of fact, the black was actually killed
in attempting to escape after capture for stealing Burges' saddle while
the settler was making a trip from Nickol Bay to Geraldton through a
district infested with savages. After hearing the evidence, the
magistrates reduced the charge to one of shooting with intent to do
bodily harm.* For this Governor Weld, no doubt actuated by a desire to
protect the natives, suspended Landor on the ground of partiality in
favour of the accused,** who was a member of an influential family. The
justices then resigned in protest.*** Burges was tried at the Supreme
Court in September, and the jury were instructed by Judge Burt to return
a verdict of murder or manslaughter. He was found guilty of the latter
and sentenced to five years' penal servitude.**** The severity of the
sentence caused a great outcry,***** and the Secretary of State was
appealed to. That official directed the Governor to reinstate
Landor,****** but refused to remit the whole of the sentence on Burges,
although he reduced it to one year.******* The wisdom of punishing Burges
at all may be doubted. Although in the settled districts little trouble
was caused by the natives, they were still hostile in the North-West, and
murders of white settlers caught napping were not infrequent. Men who
undertook the burdens of pioneering and went out into unknown districts
carried their lives in their hands, and to shoot quickly was often their
only safeguard. Such men may have been technically guilty of murder, but
even that was preferable to being stalked like game and treacherously
slain by blood-thirsty savages.

(*Footnote. Perth Gazette 7 June 1872.)

(**Footnote. Ibid 21 June 1872.)

(***Footnote. Ibid.)

(****Footnote. Ibid 13 September 1872.)

(*****Footnote. See succeeding issues of Perth Gazette and Inquirer.)

(******Footnote. Earl of Kimberley to Weld 5 and 25 September and 19
November 1872.)

(*******Footnote. Ibid 27 December 1872.)

In the matter of exploration* the period under review was perhaps the
most important in the history of Western Australia, embracing as it did
the memorable series of journeys undertaken by John Forrest and his
brother, Alexander Forrest, which have since made the name of Forrest
famous in the geographical annals of the world. Up to 1869 every attempt
to secure information about the great interior of Australia, stretching
eastward from the coastal districts of the West to far within the borders
of South Australia, had been unsuccessful. Stuart from the eastern side
of the continent, Eyre along the southern coast, A.C. Gregory from the
north-west, and Hunt, Lefroy, and the Gregorys travelling eastward from
Northam and York, had all been forced back by the great desolation which
met them on the edge of the desert, barren, so far as could be gauged, of
everything necessary to sustain life. To the men who have shown
hardihood--perhaps recklessness--in their endeavours to penetrate that
awful barrenness and give to science an accurate knowledge of it,
Australia owes a debt of gratitude that no expression of admiration can
fully repay. The first attempt, that made by Western Australia's greatest
son, John Forrest, was primarily undertaken in the hope of solving the
mystery surrounding the fate of Leichhardt. While exploring in the
Hampton Plains district in 1866, Hunt and Roe had been told by the
natives stories of white men murdered farther east, on the shores of a
great lake. The accounts were so circumstantial that hopes were raised
that at last the fate of Leichhardt's party was to be set at rest. Dr.
(afterwards Baron) Von Mueller, who had accompanied A.C. Gregory in 1856,
and was in 1866 in the employ of the Government of Victoria, offered to
lead an expedition to the spot, and the Legislative Council made a grant
towards defraying the expenses of the trip. Fortunately, perhaps, for
Australian discovery, Von Mueller found that his engagements would not
permit him to go, and the leadership was conferred upon John Forrest.
Then a young officer in the Survey Department. With him went George
Monger (as second in command) Malcolm Hamersley, and David Morgan, as
well as two native guides, Tommy Windich and Jemmy Mungaroo.

(*Footnote. Authorities: Favenc, E. History of Australian Exploration
1888; Calvert, A.F. Exploration of Australia 1844 to 1896 1896; and
published journals of explorers. Where other authorities are used they
are specially mentioned.)

Leaving Perth on 15 April 1869, Forrest made for the locality where the
bones were said to lie, questioning the natives as he went. The result of
these interrogations led him to believe that the bones were not those of
white men, but those of Austin's horses lost near Poison Rock in 1856.
Satisfied that to proceed farther in that direction would be fruitless,
he turned his steps eastward and continued as far as longitude 122
degrees 50 minutes east, naming as he went his various discoveries--Lake
Barlee, Mounts Ida, Leonora, Malcolm, Margaret, and many smaller features
of the country. Returning by a more northerly route through barren
territory, the explorers reached Newcastle on the 4th and Perth on 6
August, having been absent 113 days, and having travelled over 2000
miles. Though he failed in the main object of the expedition--to set the
fate of Leichhardt at rest--Forrest obtained a reliable survey of a
district hitherto unknown, and withdrew one more district from the
unexplored regions of the colony. The country traversed was, he stated,
worthless for pastoral or agricultural purposes, but would well repay
thorough geological examination, as it gave every indication of being an
auriferous zone.

Soon after the return of the explorers, Dr. von Mueller suggested that
Forrest should be placed in charge of an expedition to examine thoroughly
the country between the Murchison River and the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Governor Weld felt that such a journey would involve too great an
expense. At the same time he was anxious to secure further information
concerning the southern coast, and consequently in the following year
(1870) Forrest entered upon his memorable trip from Perth to Adelaide by
way of Eucla. Since Eyre's trying experience, no one had succeeded in
traversing the whole distance, though Major Warburton, in 1860, from the
South Australian side, reached a point nearly a hundred miles beyond the
head of the Great Australian bight, and Delisser in 1865 had just crossed
the border from the east.

Funds were voted, and arrangements were made for the schooner Adur to
meet the explorers with supplies at Esperance Bay, Israelite Bay, and
Eucla. The party consisted of John Forrest (leader) Alexander Forrest
(second in command) H. Mclarty, W. Osborne, and Tommy Windich and another
native. The party, with fifteen horses, left Perth on 30 March 1870,
being accompanied for a few miles out by Governor Weld. Taking a
south-easterly course through Kojonup and across the Fitzgerald and
Phillips Rivers, Forrest reached Esperance Bay, where the schooner met
them with supplies. From that point an easterly stretch of 130 miles
brought the explorers to Israelite Bay. Starting afresh from there on 30
May, they were compelled through want of water to strike northwards to a
permanent supply discovered by Eyre, and then make a dash through
waterless country to Eucla, where the schooner was to await them. On this
portion of the journey they suffered severely from thirst, intensified by
the difficulties they had to encounter. After a short trip inland,
Forrest left Eucla on 8 July and entering South Australian territory
pressed on to Adelaide, which he reached on 27 August, having
accomplished the distance between the two capitals in five months.
Forest's opinion of the country passed through on the Western Australian
side was distinctly favourable. The land was well grassed, and in some
places water was procurable at moderate depths. "If," he said, "water
could be procured on the tableland, it would be the finest pastoral
district of Western Australia." The party returned to Perth by sea,
arriving there on 27 September, after an absence of 182 days.

In 1871 Alexander Forrest with a small party set out eastward in search
of new pastoral land, but owing to the lateness of the season when they
started, the leader was compelled to make for the coast after penetrating
for some distance beyond the spot upon which Kalgoorlie now stands. After
reaching Esperance he returned to Perth, having traversed some 600 miles
and discovered pastoral country much of which has since been occupied.*

(*Footnote. Inquirer 22 November 1871.)

The tale of exploration was now taken up, both officially and privately,
in South Australia, and endeavours were made by travelling westward from
the overland telegraph line to secure more definite knowledge of the
still unknown interior. The first of these expeditions was commanded by
Ernest Giles, an old digger and government official, who must always
remain in the front rank of those explorers who have conferred great
benefit upon Western Australia. Being provided only with horses, Giles
failed in his first attempt in 1872 even to reach the border, and in his
second only succeeded in penetrating a little beyond it, being driven
back by want of water. The desire to explore the Great Australian Desert
still, however, remained, and in 1873 two expeditions went out. One of
these, promoted by the Government of South Australia, was under the
leadership of William Christie Gosse, Deputy Surveyor-General of South
Australia, and the other, due to the liberality of Mr. (afterwards Sir)
Thomas Elder and Captain Walter Hughes, was commanded by Major P. Egerton
Warburton. Gosse left Alice Springs in April, and though he did not
succeed in reaching the west coast, entered Western Australia near the
Tomkinson Ranges, and examined those and the Cavenagh and Barrow Ranges.
Major Warburton's expedition was more successful. Starting from Alice
Springs on 15 April with a small party, and using camels in place of
horses, he reached a tributary of the Oakover on 4 December and De Grey
station on 11 January 1874. Though the desert had been crossed, little
information was gleaned about the country. Owing to repeated delays,
provisions ran short and sickness occurred. Warburton therefore
determined to push through as quickly as possible, travelling by night,
and thus there was little opportunity of examining the character of the
surrounding desert. Such opinions as they were able to offer were
distinctly unfavourable: the country was sterile, watercourses of a
permanent nature did not exist, and any attempt to cross with horses must
end in disaster.

Meanwhile, John Forrest was urging the desirability of a further
expedition setting out from Perth with a similar object in view: to
settle the question as to the character of the great central desert and
ascertain whether a practicable route could be found between Western
Australia and the more advanced eastern colonies. In 1872 he offered to
led an expedition from Champion Bay along the course of the Murchison
River and across the interior to the South Australian telegraph line. The
Governor recognised the value that such an undertaking would have, and
the Legislative Council voted 400 pounds towards the cost of the
expedition, the public subscribing the remainder. The official
instructions were "to obtain information concerning the immense tract of
country from which flow the Murchison, Gascoyne, Ashburton, De Grey,
Fitzroy, and other rivers falling into the sea on the western and
northern shores of this territory." After that, the further course of the
expedition was to be at the discretion of the leader. The party, which
consisted of John Forrest (leader) Alexander Forrest (second) James
Sweeney, James Kennedy, and the native Tommy Windich and another
aboriginal, left Perth, equipped with twenty-one horses and eight months'
stores, on 18 March 1874. Leaving Yuin a month later, and striking the
Murchison River, they followed it as far as the Robinson Range, and then
turned south-east to Mounts Bartle and Russell, whence they followed a
north-easterly course to the Kimberley and Frere Ranges and reached Weld
Springs, where an abundance of excellent water could be obtained. So far
they had met with no difficulty, having traversed a district admirably
suited in the main for grazing purposes, but from Weld Springs eastward
the country was principally spinifex desert, with fresh water only here
and there. So greatly did they suffer from want of water that a return on
their tracks at one time seemed inevitable. The indomitable courage of
the leader, however, encouraged them to press forward, and ultimately
they reached permanent water at Barlee Springs in a neighbourhood already
traversed by Giles and Gosse. From this point on, though difficulties and
privations were encountered, these were not to be compared with those
they had surmounted, and the whole party reached the Peake Telegraph
Station on 27 September and Adelaide on 3 November. The course had been
largely determined by the possibility of finding water. Forrest was
unable on this account to proceed as far into the tropics or explore as
much to the south as he wished, but in spite of these drawbacks the
journey will always rank as one of the most remarkable feats of endurance
on record. Starting with twenty-one horses to cross a desert where it had
been declared horses could not live, he saved twelve of them, and that
without hurrying. Careful notes were made of all the country traversed,
and every precaution taken to make the results valuable to geographical
science. To no one does the history of Western Australian exploration owe
more than to John Forrest.

In the following year (1875) Giles, through the generosity of Sir Thomas
Elder, was enabled to make a third attempt to cross the continent. This
time, equipped with camels, he succeeded with comparative ease, and
demonstrated the great superiority of those animals over horses in
exploratory work over waterless country. Reaching Perth on 18 November,
he started on his return journey in the following January, taking a
course between those of Warburton and Forrest. This journey also he
accomplished in safety, thus gaining the honour of having twice traversed
the continent. His experiences confirmed those of Forrest, that the
interior of Australia is a sandy desert unfit for settlement of any kind.
The desert had been pierced in four places, and though it showed no trace
of land suitable for agricultural purposes, the results of the
expeditions were invaluable to science, and set at rest for good the
question of the existence of an inland sea.

Towards the end of 1874 Weld was appointed Governor of Tasmania, and left
Western Australia in December for his new sphere of duty. As Governor of
Western Australia he was not altogether popular. Several of his actions
failed to meet with approval. Perhaps the chief cause was to be found in
the determined opposition he showed towards a protective tariff, and to
the fact that during his administration the people learned how small was
the kernel within the shell of representative government. Viewed from a
distance of nearly half a century, Governor Weld's term of office marks
the turning-point in the history of Western Australian settlement. The
change involved by the cessation of transportation, with the necessary
diminution of Imperial expenditure, was brought about without any ill
results; modern methods and conveniences were brought into operation;
extensive exploration was encouraged and furthered; and every effort made
to bring Western Australia into line with her more favoured sisters in
the east. Far-seeing and determined, and yet at the same time courteous
and conciliatory, Frederick Weld must be considered one of the most
successful governors who had up to that time guided the destinies of the

CHAPTER 13. 1875 TO 1883.


Governor Weld's successor, Mr. (afterwards Sir) William Cleaver Francis
Robinson, arrived at Fremantle from Albany in the Georgette on 11 January
1875. Trained in the Imperial Service, Mr. Robinson differed from
previous Governors in that he was conversant with Colonial Office methods
and intentions, and had therefore a better idea of how colonial
aspirations were likely to be viewed by the Home authorities. We have
seen how he used that knowledge to discourage the proposals for
responsible government. The agitation was revived with the advent of Sir
Harry St. George Ord as Governor in 1877, but he was equally disinclined
to give it any favourable support. The same attitude was observed by Sir
William Cleaver Robinson during his second term, which lasted from 1880
to 1883; consequently but little progress was made towards bringing the
matter to a head.

In July 1878 Mr. (now Sir) S.H. Parker, then newly elected to the
Legislative Council, moved for the introduction of a Bill to amend the
Constitution.* The debate showed that the members were not at that time
prepared to assent to any drastic change, though it was generally
admitted that continued vexatious interference on the part of the
Colonial Office would inevitably strengthen the hands of those who
desired responsible government. Though Parker's motion was lost,** he did
not cease to advocate a change, and there is no doubt that the grant of
full self-government to the colony some dozen years later was largely due
to the earnest efforts which he put forth. An attempt was made, though
without any marked success, to make the question a vital one during the
election campaign for the Legislative Council in 1880,*** and in 1882
Parker was again defeated on moving that an address be presented to the
Governor asking for the introduction of a Bill.****

(*Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 3 pages 213
to 218, 221 et seq.)

(**Footnote. Ibid volume 3 page 218.)

(***Footnote. Inquirer 25 February 1880.)

(****Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 7 pages
227 and 246.)

At a later date he moved, and this time with success, that an address be
presented asking the Governor to obtain from the Secretary of State a
statement of the terms and conditions upon which autonomy would be
granted to the colony, as it was felt that the financial requirements of
the Act 13 and 14 Victoria c.59 could be carried out.* Here the matter
was allowed to rest for the time, more especially as the Council was
then, and had been for some years previously, busily engaged over
questions of more immediate concern to the material welfare of the
people. Out of the discussions, however, there came what appeared to the
colonists to be an advantage--an alteration in the constitution of the
Executive Council. In 1873 Mr. Lee Steere had urged that this body should
be made consultative rather than be allowed to remain as it really was,
the actual governing power of the community; and this expression of
opinion was not without effect. On 4 July 1878, the Governor was
empowered by Royal instructions "to appoint, in addition to the
ex-officio members, such persons as he may think fit to be members of our
said Executive Council, but so that the number of such unofficial members
shall never exceed the number of two."** Of course any such appointments
were to be subject to the approval of the Crown. At the same time
provision was made whereby the Governor could appoint some particular
member to preside in the case of his absence, failing which the senior
official member would act. Additional Royal instructions were received in
1879*** limiting the official members to six and regulating their
precedence, the two unofficial appointments being still allowed. The
permission to include unofficial members in the Executive Council was not
really acted upon until 1884, when J.G. Lee Steere was appointed,****
although J.H. Thomas, Commissioner of Public Works, had been made an
"unofficial" member in 1879.***** The only alteration which took place in
the Legislative Council was made in 1882, when by the creation of the
Gascoyne district the membership was increased to twenty-four.******
Proxy voting had already (in 1877)******* been abolished in favour of the
system of voting by ballot in vogue in the eastern colonies.

(*Footnote. Ibid volume 8 pages 33 to 37.)

(**Footnote. Hicks-Beach to Sir Harry Ord 4 July 1878 enclosing copy of

(***Footnote. Hicks-Beach to Officer administering government of Western
Australia 8 April 1879.)

(****Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 7 August 1884.)

(*****Footnote. Ibid 27 May 1879.)

(******Footnote. 46 Victoria Number 24. Queen's assent notified in
Western Australian Government Gazette 27 February 1883.)

(*******Footnote. 41 Victoria Number 15. Queen's assent notified in
Western Australian Government Gazette 8 April 1879.)

In the matter of legislation the period 1875 to 1883 was not particularly
prolific. The tariff question, which seems to have become a hardy annual
in Australian politics, was again raised in 1876, when a Commission was
appointed to report upon the advisability of revision. This Commission
recommended* that corn, flour, meal, salt meat, and various minor
commodities should be placed upon the free list. Although these were the
very articles over which the advocates of protection and free trade had
had some very warm arguments, the report seemed to have been agreed to
almost without remark,** and free trade to have been recognised as the
accepted policy, duties being restricted to the requirements of the
revenue. But as the taxation through the customs amounted to over 3
pounds per head,*** the free trade principle must have been considerably
modified by protectionist practice. This became more apparent in 1879,
when the colony was faced with a depression, and customs duties were
looked to as a means of securing sufficient revenue. These duties,
imposed at the instance of the government, had, it was explained, nothing
to do with the principle of free trade, but were merely a matter of
expediency and would only last for three years.**** The speaker (Sir Luke
s. Leake) and S.H. Parker***** strongly opposed the proposals, especially
in regard to flour, bran, corn, and other grain, but in face of the
necessity of securing money by some form of taxation they were adopted.
The cry that the duties were a burden upon the working classes was
quickly raised, and during the succeeding two years efforts were made to
have them reduced, but without avail. In fact, when the three years for
which they were imposed had expired, instead of being abrogated the
duties were confirmed and made permanent, and general feeling then being
that if money for the necessary public works was to be secured, the
policy of the country must be one of protection.******

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1876 Report
of Commission Paper Number 2.)

(**Footnote. Ibid pages 47 to 48.)

(***Footnote. Western Australian Blue Book 1876: customs receipts 85,177
pounds, population 27,321.)

(****Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 4 page

(*****Footnote. Ibid pages 271, 274 to 275.)

(******Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 7 pages
61 et seq and 102 et seq.)

Besides the tariff, the only matters of importance from a legislative
standpoint were a reform in the method of issuing land-titles, and
various revisions of the land regulations. Robert R. Torrens, in South
Australia, had evolved a simple method of transferring land-titles which
had been found to work admirably. By its operation the whole complex
system of conveyances was swept away and its place taken by a simple
document, which not only showed at a glance the various transactions that
had taken place with regard to the land, but also disclosed at once to
the purchaser any encumbrances in the way of mortgage or charge that
might be in existence; "everything was concentrated into one plain and
portable compass." A Bill based upon the South Australian Act was passed
by the Council in 1874* and came into operation on 1 July 1875;
amendments have been made from time to time, but the principle still
remains in operation. The establishment of this system was considered a
favourable opportunity for a complete revision of the land regulations,
and a committee was appointed by the Council** to draft necessary
alterations. Included in these was one made at the instance of the
Surveyor-General, providing that persons holding a special occupation
licence or the fee simple should have the right to depasture four head of
stock on adjoining Crown lands for every 100 acres, with a maximum of
twenty head. If the land owned or licensed was cultivated, then the owner
or licensee could depasture one head (up to twenty) for every seven acres
under cultivation.

(*Footnote. 38 Victoria Number 13.)

(**Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council page 21;
Report of Committee ibid Paper Number A3.)

The report of the committee was adopted by the Council in 1876* and the
amended regulations forwarded for the approval of the Colonial Office.**
The Secretary of State was "not indisposed to assent," but sought further
information on certain clauses.*** On receipt of this**** the regulations
were approved,***** and came into force in September 1878.***** By them
all previous regulations except so far as they referred to existing
contracts were repealed.****** Assent to the regulations was much more
easily gained than in previous years. The Imperial authorities seem to
have been slowly learning that the colonial legislatures were fairly
competent to deal with local matters, and that as regards land
regulations particularly they had a more intimate knowledge of the
conditions necessary for the development of successful land settlement
than any English Minister was likely to possess.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates 1876 page 175.)

(**Footnote. Robinson to Earl of Carnarvon 20 February 1877.)

(***Footnote. Earl of Carnarvon to Officer administering Government 13
July 1877.)

(****Footnote. Colonel Harvest to Earl of Carnarvon 27 September 1877.)

(*****Footnote. Earl of Carnarvon to Sir H. Ord 30 November 1877.)

(******Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 14 September

(*******Footnote. Regulations clause 1.)

The new regulations, under which the Surveyor-General became in addition
Commissioner of Crown lands, divided the colony into four districts--the
Central, Central-Eastern, Northern, and South-Eastern--the lands in each
being classified as town, suburban, rural, and mineral. All rural lands
in the Central district were available for sale in lots of not less than
40 acres, at a minimum of 10 shillings per acre; in the other districts
400 acres was the minimum section and 5 shillings per acre the upset
price. Pastoral lands were divided into two classes instead of three as
formerly; first-class land was that comprised in the area bounded on the
south and west by the sea-coast, on the north by the Murchison River, and
on the east by a line drawn from the summit of Mount Bompas through the
summits of Wongan Hill and Mount Stirling to the mouth of the Fitzgerald
River; while the second class comprised the remaining pastoral lands in
the colony. First-class land could be secured by annual licence in blocks
of not less than 3000 acres, except where other boundaries intervened, or
could be leased for fourteen years in blocks of 10,000 acres or over.
Second class land could be leased for fourteen years in blocks of 20,000
acres, the rent to be 5 shillings per 1000 acres for the first and 10
shillings per 1000 acres for the second seven years. Lessees could also
under certain conditions secure a preemptive right during the currency of
the lease over blocks of not less than 1000 acres, but in such cases an
annual rental of 5 pounds per 1000 acres had to be paid in advance. The
cost of the fee simple of such lands in the Northern district was 5
shillings per acre during the first seven years and 10 shillings per acre
afterwards; in other districts 2 shillings and 6 pence and 5 shillings
per acre according to the time of purchase. The regulations also provided
for timber licences at the rate of 20 pounds for each 640 acres of timber
country; such licences, however, did not permit the cutting, hewing, and
removing timber in bulk or for piles. For this a fee of 3 pounds per
month for each man employed was required, and for each sawyer 5 shillings
per month. Licences to cut sandalwood or bark cost 2 shillings and 6
pence per month. Special licences for fourteen years for cutting timber
could also be procured. Little or no change was made in the existing
regulations regarding poison and mineral country, but special grants were
allowed to volunteers who had served two years or more and to immigrants.
This latter concession was not, however, sufficient to induce suitable
persons from the United Kingdom to emigrate to Western Australia.

The opening up of the Kimberley district made it necessary that special
regulations should be framed dealing with the lands of that area.* These
were issued in November 1880,** and provided that the price of the fee
simple in rural sections of not less than 200 acres should be 10
shillings per acre. A bonus of 500 acres in fee simple was offered to the
person or company producing tropical or semi-tropical products, with an
additional 500 acres to the first two persons who earned the bonus. The
minimum areas of pastoral leases were 50,000 acres with a river frontage
and 20,000 without, the leases to extend to the end of 1893. The rent was
to be 10 shillings per 1000 acres, on condition that before the expiry of
two years from the date of the lease each 1000 acres was to be stocked
with two head of cattle or twenty sheep.

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1880 Paper
Number 20 containing dispatch Governor Robinson to Earl of Kimberley 25
June 1880 enclosing copy of proposed regulations and cable from Lord
Kimberley 26 August 1880 generally approving. See also Earl of Kimberley
to Sir William Robinson 14 September 1880 directing slight alterations.)

(**Footnote. The regulations were published in Western Australian
Government Gazette 21 September 1880 and were regazetted with slight
alterations as directed on 29 November 1880.)

In 1882 these special regulations were included in a revision of the land
regulations generally, when certain modifications were made in those
published in 1878.* Instead of four the colony was divided into five
districts, Kimberley being the fifth. The limit of two years for stocking
in the Kimberley district was increased to three,** but no drastic
alterations were made in the general regulations.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 1882 pages 357 to 384.)

(**Footnote. Land regulations 1882 clause 73.)

These regulations were condemned without hesitation by the Commissioner
of Crown Lands (John Forrest) in 1883, who pointed out* that the right of
free and unfettered selection by purchase permitted, if it did not
compel, leaseholders to buy up the springs and waterholes on their leases
in order to secure their runs from outside purchasers. The result was
that the whole country was being spoiled by small fee-simple locations
being dotted all over it. It would have been better, he considered, to
have given leaseholders reasonable protection and longer leases if
necessary, but not a preemptive right over any portion of them. When
necessity arose, the squatter should be required to give way to the
agriculturist, but until that state of things actually happened, he
should be made secure in his lease. A committee, of which Forrest was a
member, was appointed in 1883 to consider the matter, and recommended,**
though not unanimously, that the squatter should be entitled to a renewal
of his lease for a further term. As the recommendation meant leasing the
land until 1901 at the same rent as was paid at the beginning,
considerable diversity of opinion was shown, but in the result the
principle of renewal in the case of Kimberley pastoral leases was
conceded by the Legislative Council*** and approved by the Secretary of

(*Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 8 pages 266
to 267.)

(**Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 2nd session
1883 Paper A12.)

(***Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 8 pages 310
et seq, 400 to 410.)

(****Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 1884 page 389.)

Though these two matters--the Tariff Act and Land
Regulations--constituted the bulk of the legislative work during these
years, the Government was particularly active in the direction of
immigration and of public works, especially railways. Provision for
encouraging immigration had been made in the land regulations, but had
not achieved any distinct result; the growth of industries and the
development of an export trade, which might reasonably have been expected
to bring new people, had not done so; neither did any influx follow the
cessation of transportation. Not only were these causes looked to as a
means for bringing about a satisfactory addition to the population from
outside; they were reasons why such addition was necessary. The cessation
of convicts meant that ticket-of-leave men were not available to supply
the labour market; the development of industries could not proceed
without labour; and land settlement could not be extended unless farmers
with some means and agricultural experience could be induced to make
Western Australia their home. Other means having failed, the suggestion
of assisting immigration was mooted in 1873, and in 1874, after some
discussion, the Legislative Council authorised the Governor to spend such
an amount as he might consider necessary for immigration purposes, 1000
pounds of it to be spent in bringing out Chinese or Javanese coolies.*
Steps were at once taken to carry out the purpose of the vote, and
between 1875 and 1877 nearly 2000 persons were brought to the colony at a
cost of about 15,000 pounds.** To hold them after they arrived, it was
provided that each adult immigrant of the labouring class would, after
two years' residence, be entitled to select up to 50 acres of the
unimproved Crown lands open to selection, while those between the ages of
sixteen and twenty-one were allowed 25 acres. No family could, however,
receive in the aggregate more than 150 acres. Certain improvements had
then to be effected within three years to secure the fee simple.*** The
inducements, however, do not seem to have proved sufficiently strong. A
large proportion of those assisted, attracted no doubt by the superior
advantages and more settled conditions of the eastern colonies, made
their way thither, and it became evident that practically Western
Australia was paying away money to increase the population of Victoria
and New South Wales. To prevent this, all immigrants landed after 1876
were, at the suggestion of Governor Robinson, compelled to enter into an
agreement to remain for three years in the colony or refund the whole of
their passage money.**** Even with this restriction the number of people
who arrived was far from satisfactory, and in 1878 it was decided to
spend 4500 pounds in obtaining Chinese or coolie labour, and 2500 pounds
on European immigrants.***** On account of the opposition manifested
towards the idea,****** only a few Chinese were imported, and those under
a three years' contract.

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1874 pages
58 to 59 and 71 and Paper A4.)

(**Footnote. Western Australian Blue Books 1875 to 1877.)

(***Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1874
report of Select Committee Paper A4.)

(****Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 1 page 3.)

(*****Footnote. Ibid volume 3 pages 131 to 136.)

(******Footnote. Inquirer 3 July 1878.)

The conduct of these was deemed by some to be so satisfactory that it was
proposed to spend an additional 2000 pounds in 1879 on the introduction
of others. This was very warmly debated, and though ultimately approved
by the Council* was never carried out, as Governor Ord, evidently
impressed by the arguments of the Opposition, considered the introduction
of contract aliens would be extremely unsatisfactory. The general
question of introducing Chinese into Australia was considered at an
inter-colonial Conference held in Sydney in 1881, at which Chief Justice
Wrensfordsley represented Western Australia. Though instructed not to
enter into the discussion,** he unofficially pointed out that a policy of
non-introduction which suited Victoria and South Australia might not be
agreeable to either Queensland or Western Australia, both of which had
tropical areas to develop.*** The Conference, being strongly opposed to
the importation of Chinese into Western Australia, decided to refer the
matter to the Secretary of State,**** who replied that he would require
definite information of serious injury to the eastern colonies to justify
him in interfering with the arrangements of the Western Australian
Government.***** Other immigration was not successful; any increase
through arrivals was more than counterbalanced by departures; the
population, which in 1878 stood at 28,166, had only reached 31,700 in
1883, an increase which the births would fully account for.******

(*Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 4 pages 7 and
146 to 152.)

(**Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 2nd session
1881 Paper Number 12.)

(***Footnote. Ibid page 8.)

(****Footnote. See Minutes of Proceedings of the Conference in New South
Wales Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly 1880 to 1881
volume 1 page 353.)

(*****Footnote. Earl of Kimberley to Sir W. Robinson 11 May 1881.)

(******Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

Even if it did not in every way give that satisfaction which was expected
from it, representative government certainly justified its establishment
by the energy with which it undertook a progressive public works policy,
more especially in the direction of railway extension. The Geraldton to
Northampton line, the first Government line in the colony, was, after
many vicissitudes caused through the questions of gauge and unexpected
expenditure, opened for traffic in 1879. Before that was accomplished it
had also been decided to construct a line from Fremantle to Guildford
through Perth, to form the first section of a trunk line to the eastern
districts. It was originally suggested that this line should be built by
a private company, the Government guaranteeing 6 per cent interest on the
capital for a term of years.* The Secretary of State** did not look with
favour upon the proposal, as in so many cases of private construction of
national utilities the ultimate burden fell upon the public purse, and
often meant larger outlay than would have occurred in case of Government
construction. He intimated that he would be prepared to authorise a loan
for the purpose if he were satisfied as to the necessity for the line and
were furnished with an estimate of the cost. The Governor replied*** that
the Director of Public Works (J.H. Thomas) had prepared estimates showing
that a line along the south bank of the river would cost 99,121 pounds,
as against 87,098 pounds for one on the northern side, and that the
estimated balance of profit upon working, after paying interest and
expenses, would be over 12,000 pounds. As usual in such cases, a battle
of routes was entered upon, and after much discussion the northern route
was fixed, and a contract for the work let to John Robb, of Adelaide, for
74,591 pounds.**** The first sod was turned on a spot near the present
Perth station by Governor Ord on 3 June 1879. The railway was formally
opened by Governor Robinson on 1 March 1881, and up to the end of the
year earned a profit of 105 pounds over and above expenses and interest.

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1875 to 1876
Paper A5. See also Sir W. Robinson to Earl of Carnarvon 16 February 1876
Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1876 Paper Number 1.)

(**Footnote. Earl of Carnarvon to Sir W. Robinson 19 June 1876 ibid 1876
Paper Number 9.)

(***Footnote. Sir W. Robinson to Earl of Carnarvon 6 June 1877 ibid.)

(****Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 1879 page 101.)

Its failure to earn more was due principally to the continued popularity
of river carriage for the transport of goods. The total cost of
construction, exclusive of surveys, was 127,935 pounds.* The loan of
200,000 pounds authorised in 1878 having been floated at 4 1/2 per cent
it was determined to continue the line eastward in the hope of securing
better returns for the Guildford to Fremantle section. The question of
route again became a matter of moment. Three were advocated--one to
Northam by way of Spencer's Brook, a second to the same destination by
way of Chidlow's Well, and a third via Chittering to Newcastle. The
Council finally authorised the construction of a line to Chidlow's
Well*** and then on to York,**** and loans for 150,000***** and 254,000
pounds****** were raised for the work.

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1882; Public
Works Report Number 18.)

(**Footnote. Ibid.)

(***Footnote. 44 Victoria Number 18.)

(****Footnote. 46 Victoria Number 16.)

(*****Footnote. 44 Victoria Number 22.)

(******Footnote. 46 Victoria Number 22.)

In the case of the first loan, money was required for other purposes in
addition to the railway. Through some error in the method of bookkeeping,
a false idea of the state of the finances existed. In 1876 Mr. Lefroy
(Acting Colonial Secretary) assured the Council that there was a surplus
of over 26,000 pounds,* and a portion of this money was devoted to the
erection of the Eucla telegraph line. In 1879 it was asserted by Mr.
Parker that the figures were wrong, and that as a matter of fact there
was a deficiency in 1876. An examination of the accounts proved that he
was partly right, that in 1876 there was only a credit on general account
of 3909 pounds, and that at the end of 1879 there was a deficit of 79,897
pounds.** This was reduced by July 1881 to 59,844 pounds, and with the
help of an improved revenue and the repayment of sums properly chargeable
to loan account, the ledger was balanced by the end of July 1882.***

(*Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates 1876 page 135.)

(**Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1879 Paper
Number 33; 1880 Papers Numbers 14 and A15.)

(***Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 7 page 2.)

Meanwhile tenders for the second section of the line--from Guildford to
Chidlow's Well--had been called, and that of J. Wright for 53,043 pounds
accepted.* Certain private lands had to be resumed, and this caused some
slight delay, but the work was started in the following March. The
construction was pursued with as much rapidity as straitened finances
would allow, and the line was opened in March 1884, the actual cost being
95,940 pounds.** To pay for this and provide money for the further
extension to York, another loan of 254,000 pounds at 4 per cent was
authorised by the Council in 1882. Clayton T. Mason, then acting as
Commissioner of Railways, estimated the whole cost of the Guildford to
York section at 192,350 pounds, which proved to be not far wide of the
mark, as the tender for the Chidlow's Well to York section was let to
Edward Keane in 1883 at 105,312 pounds.*** The whole line from Fremantle
to York was opened for traffic at the end of June 1885,**** and though
the expectations of greatly increased revenue were not at first realised,
there is no doubt that the railway cheapened production and assisted very
materially in the development of all the eastern districts.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 1882 page 11.)

(**Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 9 pages 2
and 139.)

(***Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 1883 page 443.)

(****Footnote. Report on railways 1885 Votes and Proceedings of the
Legislative Council 1886.)

From returns showing imports and exports for the period 1875 to 1883,* it
is evident that apart from the increased facilities, which followed
railway construction, there was a general development in the industrial
affairs of the colony. It will also be seen that the colony until 1883
held its position as an exporter rather than an importer, a fact of no
little moment in a consideration of its financial condition, especially
as, during all these years, enormous quantities of material for railways
and telegraphs had necessarily to be imported. The list of chief exports,
with their value, tabulated in the Summary, shows that wool, timber of
various kinds, and pearls and pearl shell still continued to be the
principal items, minerals rapidly diminishing in value until they became
almost a negligible quantity for the time.

(*Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

The one omission of importance from the list of exports is the item
comprising wheat, grain, flour, and agricultural produce generally.
Unfortunately the blight that had overtaken farming since 1869 still
continued, and the area under crop remained stationary or showed a slight
decrease. This, in conjunction with the increase of population, made the
importation of flour, grain, and other produce a necessity, and from 1875
to 1883 the value of these commodities imported reached some hundreds of
thousands of pounds.* In other avenues of trade and industry, however,
notwithstanding a temporary depression in revenue between 1876 and 1880,
solid progress was being maintained in every direction except the raising
of lead and copper ore, where the cost of production, in face of a
falling market, made mining operations less and less lucrative.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Blue Books 1875 to 1883.)

Pearling, particularly during the years 1875, 1876 and 1879,* yielded a
rich harvest, in spite of the many disastrous storms and the restrictions
placed by the Government upon the employment of natives and Malays as
divers. That these restrictions were necessary is quite evident from the
many recorded instances of cruelty and ill-usage. Though pearlers were
nominally compelled by the Pearling Act to observe certain conditions in
the treatment of their divers, supervision in such out-of-the-way places
was rather lax, and there were not wanting disreputable traders whose
only aim was to get every possible ounce of work, short of actually
killing him, out of the unfortunate native who had signed on as a diver
for the period of twelve months allowed by the Act.** So unhealthy were
the conditions under which the divers worked, and so cruel their
treatment by unscrupulous white masters, that the Dutch Government at
Timor was compelled to make regulations governing the conditions under
which Malays could be secured for the trade.*** It must not for a moment
be thought that all white pearlers were guilty of inhuman treatment, but
the reputation of the pearling industry suffered greatly from the acts of
those who were, and every effort was made to formulate conditions of
employment stringent enough to include the worst cases. An inspector of
Pearl Shell Fisheries was appointed**** to see that the Act was carried
out, and by that officer's vigilance considerable improvement in the
treatment of native divers was effected.

(*Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

(**Footnote. Inquirer 28 April 1875; Proceedings of the Legislative
Council 8 December 1875 Inquirer 15 December 1875.)

(***Footnote. Ibid 25 August 1875.)

(****Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 1879 page 350.)

The most serious trouble that the industry had to face was the loss of
life and damage to property resulting from the periodical cyclones which
swept over the pearling grounds. In 1876* one of these storms caused the
loss of four schooners with practically the whole of their crews, and a
still more severe visitation in 1881 wrecked over a dozen boats and was
responsible for a serious loss of life. In this case the storm was
accompanied by a tidal wave, said to have been 30 feet in height, which
submerged Twin Islands and materially altered the position of the various
shoals and banks, while the wind travelling up the Ashburton River did
considerable damage among the stations in the locality. Fortunately these
storms, which still cause great loss and suffering amongst the pearling
fleets, are restricted in operation, and consequently the whole extent of
the fisheries, which spread from Shark Bay along the north-west coast, is
never devastated at the one time.

(*Footnote. Inquirer 12 January 1876.)

A new source of export during these years was found in the guano deposits
on the islands off the north-west coast. Some attempt had, it will be
remembered, been made in 1850 to turn these deposits to profitable
account, but without success, and practically nothing further was heard
of them until 1876. In that year an American named Roberts landed at the
Lacepede Islands from a French vessel, and claimed them as an American
possession on the ground that they were more than a league from the
mainland. Some time previously the Western Australian Government had
given a Melbourne firm (Poole, Picken & Co) permission to remove the
guano, with which the island abounded, on payment of a royalty of 10
shillings a ton. Vessels were at the time being loaded by Geddes, the
firm's representative. Roberts, on the authority of the American Consul
at Melbourne, laid claim to the cargoes of these vessels, a claim which
Geddes strongly disputed. Geddes then proceeded to Roebourne to complain
to the Government Resident, and being sworn in as a special constable
returned to attach the French vessel chartered by Roberts, who publicly
proclaimed American sovereignty over the islands and asked for 30,000
pounds as compensation. The Government Resident, untroubled by any
question of sovereignty, fined Roberts 100 pounds, and ordered the
captain of the French barque to pay the costs. The captain discreetly
sailed for Fremantle, and having paid the royalty of 10 shillings per
ton, made off with the cargo for Mauritius.

(*Footnote. Inquirer 12 January 1876.)

The next step was taken by the American Consul. One of Poole, Picken &
Co's boats, carrying guano, arrived at Melbourne and was attached on
behalf of the American Government, instructions being given to take the
same action at Mauritius in regard to the French barque. The Consul then
visited Perth to discuss matters of compensation. Arrangements were made
for remitting the question of sovereignty to the governments concerned,
Roberts being in the meantime permitted to load guano on payment of the
royalty, such royalty to be refunded if his contention was upheld.* The
American Government at once admitted that the Consul's claim was without
foundation,** and the only result of the whole proceedings was a good
advertisement for the guano industry. To prevent the recurrence of
trouble, legislation was passed in 1876*** dealing with trespassing on
Crown lands, which the Secretary of State approved, though he considered
the penalties for illegally removing guano were very severe.**** The
amount of guano exported from the Lacepede Islands during 1878 and 1879
was very large, but unfortunately for the Government the supplies were
not inexhaustible. A contract was made with Beaver & Co to take away a
certain number of full cargoes, but when the time for fulfilment of the
contract arrived it was found that only inferior guano remained, and not
sufficient of that to load the ships. In consequence, the firm claimed
compensation, and a Select Committee of the Council appointed in 1881
awarded 6968 pounds, remarking that the Government was entirely to blame
and had been guilty of a want of business acumen that deserved to be
called by a harsher name.***** During 1881 and 1882 no guano at all was
exported, but the trade was revived in 1883 by Charles E.
Broadhurst,****** who secured a lease of the Abrolhos Islands, on which
were large deposits of phosphatic guano, and continued to export until
1904, when the lease expired, and further export was prohibited.

(*Footnote. Inquirer 6 and 20 September, 4 and 25 October, 1 November

(**Footnote. Earl of Carnarvon to Robinson 5 December 1876 and 31 May
1877. See also Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1877
Paper Number 15.)

(***Footnote. 40 Victoria Number 9.)

(****Footnote. Earl of Carnarvon to Robinson 7 March 1877.)

(*****Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1881
Paper A13.)

(******Footnote. Ibid 1901 to 1902 volume 4 Paper A21.)

The trade in sandalwood reached its highest point of development during
this period;* thereafter it began to decline, but its place was more than
taken by the increasing demand for hardwood timbers, which were being
recognised as perhaps the best possible woods for certain classes of
work, as they were impervious to the attacks both of whiteants and
sea-worms. New mills were opened and the old ones extended, and the
foundations of the enormous trade which has since been developed were
laid. Tramways and other means of transport were provided, and greater
endeavours made to meet the demands of a continually increasing industry.

(*Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

The pastoral industry, to the success and development of which Western
Australian progress was still chiefly indebted, received an immense
impetus through the discovery of the Kimberley pastoral country in 1879
as a result of an exploratory trip made by a party under the leadership
of Alexander Forrest. Forrest was instructed to examine, map out, and
report upon the country between the De Grey River in Western Australia
and the Victoria River in the Northern Territory.* Leaving the De Grey
River Station on 25 February, he reached Beagle Bay on 10 April, and
started upon the actual work of the expedition. Proceeding eastward to
King Sound he followed the Fitzroy River for some distance, finding it
deep and rapid, and then tried to penetrate the rugged passes of the
Leopold Range. Realising this to be an impossibility, he was compelled to
go round and steer a course up the valley of the Margaret River,
discovering on the journey the well-watered Nicholson Plains, which he
deemed the finest part of Western Australia he had seen. Still keeping an
eastward course he came to the Ord River, which seemed likely to repay
examination, but want of provisions and sickness amongst the party
compelled him to make all speed for the overland telegraph line, which he
struck at Daly Waters Station in the beginning of October,** after much
suffering and privation.

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1879 Paper
Number 1.)

(**Footnote. Ibid 1880 Paper Number 3 Journal of expedition.)

Forrest reported that about 25 million acres were suitable for pastoral
development or tropical agriculture, while at Beagle Bay there was a good
site for a township. The country along the Fitzroy was liable to floods
during the wet season (from December to March) but from the river across
to the South Australian border this drawback did not exist, though the
whole area was well watered.* The scientist (Mr. Hill) found traces of
copper, and hazarded the opinion (to be afterwards confirmed) that gold
would probably be found among the ranges and toward the head waters of
the Fitzroy.**

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1880 Paper
Number 3 Journal of Expedition page 40.)

(**Footnote. Ibid page 43.)

The discoveries made by this expedition were of the greatest possible
importance to the colony, and the opening up of the Kimberley district
for pastoral and grazing purposes, which resulted from the reports made
by Forrest, marks a new era in the development of Western Australia. Good
country such as this could not remain unused, and the Government was
besieged with inquiries as to the conditions under which settlement would
be permitted. These conditions were set out in the special land
regulations for the Kimberley district issued in November 1879, to which
reference has already been made. Though the regulations were not
considered entirely satisfactory, they did not prevent extensive
occupation of the territory during the succeeding years. Within the
tropics, and a long distance from the settled areas, life in the
Kimberleys was even more trying than in the North-West district, but the
land was richer and results more certain; consequently many were found to
endure the trials, and their endurance was rewarded with success.

Settlers were attracted from all parts of Australia, but more
particularly from Victoria. Pastoral associations to work portions of the
land were proposed, and though they were generally abandoned, private
settlement spread rapidly. Large selections were made in 1880, and in
1881 leases to the extent of 5.5 million acres were taken up, an amount
which, though large, was, according to the Surveyor-General's report,
more than trebled by June of the following year.* To make an accurate
survey of these leases, many of which were larger than some European
principalities, was out of the question. The course adopted was to fix
prominent points and to make traverses of the rivers, so that the work
partook largely of the nature of exploration.** So actively was it
carried out that in July 1883 the Colonial Secretary reported to the
Legislative Council that lands to the extent of 47,928,080 acres were
leased and were producing an annual rental of 19,716 pounds.*** The
Surveyor-General (John Forrest) visited the district in the same year and
furnished an interesting report on the progress of settlement. From it we
learn that there were at the time eight stations in the Kimberleys,
employing some fifty-two white men besides numbers of natives.***

(*Footnote. Ibid 1882 Paper Number 12.)

(**Footnote. Information supplied by the Under Secretary for Lands.)

(***Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 8 page 37.)

This, although the principal factor in the expansion of the pastoral
industry, was by no means the only one. Development of a satisfactory
nature was taking place in the North-West (Gascoyne) district, which
would have shown even better results than were apparent had it not been
for the repeated occurrences of cyclonic storms. Some of these,
particularly those of 1881 and 1882, caused considerable damage to
stations on the Ashburton and to the districts round Roebourne and
Cossack, on one holding alone over 1000 sheep being destroyed.*

(*Footnote. Western Australian Year Book 1902 to 1904 page 43.)

Strenuous efforts were also made to settle pastoralists in the Eucla
district, concerning which very favourable reports had been received. The
great drawback was the absence of permanent water. This reduced the
chances of success to a minimum. Artesian boring it was thought might
overcome the difficulty, but there was little inclination to undertake
the expense, especially as ample land of the same quality was available
in districts not by any means so arid.*

(*Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 8 pages 453
to 454 and 503 to 511; volume 9 pages 318 to 319.)

Exploration during these years was practically limited to the expedition
of Alexander Forrest, which has been already referred to, and to the
success of which the opening up of the valuable Kimberley district was
due. A surveying trip was, however, made through the same district in
1883 by a party of which John Forrest was the leader.* Landing at Roebuck
Bay they examined most of the Kimberley division. From La Grange Bay they
made their way to the Fitzroy River and tested the country as far as St.
George's Range, finding it to consist in the main of well-elevated,
richly-grassed, and well-watered plains. Round the lowest part of the Ord
River the land was equally good. In the course of their travels the party
examined the Fitzroy, Margaret, May, Lennard and Richenda Rivers, and
made surveys of the country through which they passed. With them was the
Government Geologist (E.T. Hardman) who compiled a valuable geological
map of the district, and reported that there were indications, in various
parts, of the existence of gold.** The surveying work was continued in
1884 under the command of H.F. Johnston, and the triangulation from Mount
Pierre to the junction of the Negri and Ord carried out.*** The course
was some distance to the south of Alexander Forrest's track in 1879, and
led to the discovery of several rivers and watercourses, among them being
Hall's Creek, upon which is located the township of that name, the
headquarters of the East Kimberley goldfields. Hardman's second report
regarding the possibility of gold discoveries was confirmatory of his
former one.****

(*Footnote. Forrest, J. Report on Kimberley District Votes and
Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1883 2nd session Paper 23.)

(**Footnote. Hardman, E.T. Report on the Geology of the Kimberley
District in Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1884 Paper
Number 31.)

(***Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1884 Paper
Number 15 pages 18 to 20.)

(****Footnote. Hardman, E.T. Report on the Geology of the Kimberley
District in Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1885 Paper
Number 34.)

In the year 1883 an expedition was also undertaken by W.J. O'Donnell and
W. Carr-Boyd. Starting from the overland telegraph line, they crossed in
the direction of Roebourne, and added further areas to the already large
amount of good country discovered in the Kimberley district.*

(*Footnote. Western Australian Year Book 1902 to 1904 page 83.)

The existence of the convict system was rapidly drawing to a close, and
in 1886 the establishment was disbanded and the few remaining convicts
handed over to the control of the Colonial Government.* The
Comptroller-General and all the organised machinery disappeared, and the
Sheriff of the colony and the local prison system took their places. Most
of the convicts had served their terms and were free men in Western
Australia or other places. The few remaining became ordinary prisoners
until such time as they had completed their terms. Road parties and other
convict bands vanished from the country districts, and only the buildings
and a few dissolute and debauched paupers remained to show that Western
Australia had ever suffered from the harassing effects of a penal colony.
Long years before its actual disestablishment it had disappeared from the
place of importance it formerly held, but there still remained various
matters of administration that required settlement before the colony
could be said to be wholly free. From the inception of the convict
system, the proportion which the Imperial Government should contribute
towards the expenditure upon the police and magistracy had been a matter
of contention. In 1853 an arrangement was arrived at under which the Home
authorities agreed to pay 1000 pounds a year towards the expenses of the
magistracy and two-thirds of the cost of maintaining an efficient police
force, with a maximum contribution of 6000 pounds. This arrangement held
for a number of years so far as the proportion was concerned, but the
actual amount paid from the British Treasury at the time of the cessation
of transportation was considerably over 15,000 pounds. The largeness of
the sum attracted attention in 1864, when it was suggested that the
Imperial proportion be reduced to one-half, but in view of the
contemplated cessation of the system consideration was deferred until
after that event had taken place. Either by accident or design the
question was not raised again until 1877, when Governor Robinson proposed
that the sum should be 15,000 pounds for 1877/8, and should decrease by a
certain amount annually until 1893, in which year it would expire. The
assistant Comptroller-General recommended as an alternative that there
should be an immediate drop to 10,000 pounds and a diminution of 1000
pounds a year until 1887, when the contribution would finally cease.**
Neither of these suggestions quite met the view of the Lords of the
Treasury, who decided*** that the grant for 1877/8 should be 14,000
pounds, that it should sink by 1000 pounds a year till 1883/4, and then
by 2000 pounds annually until 1887/8, when--twenty years after
transportation had come to an end--it would cease altogether. The terms
were in themselves fair and equitable; the sting lay in the concluding
portion of the dispatch; "My lords have only to add, in regard to both
these grants-in-aid for magistrates, police, and chaplains, that payment
of them will depend absolutely upon the colony not being
given...responsible government. If such form of government be insisted
upon, all payments will cease."**** The Treasury also proposed to disband
the pensioner force, as its continuance seemed unnecessary since all the
remaining prisoners were confined in Fremantle Jail. On further
consideration, however, it was decided to retain the services of the
pensioner guard until 1887.***** The terms, or rather the conditions
attached to them, were not altogether palatable to the local authorities,
but it was ultimately agreed to adopt them, and thus another phase of
convict administration automatically came to an end in 1888.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates 1886 page 5.)

(**Footnote. Treasury to Colonial Office 6 April 1877 in Earl of
Carnarvon to Sir Harry Ord 21 November 1877.)

(***Footnote. Ibid.)

(****Footnote. Treasury to Colonial Office 6 April 1877 in Earl of
Carnarvon to Sir Harry Ord 21 November 1877.)

(*****Footnote. Ibid.)

In the meantime the various establishments necessary to a convict system
had by arrangement been transferred to the colonial authorities. The
pensioner force, which it had been decided should continue till 1887, was
disbanded in 1880, and in its place a contribution of 4000 pounds was
made toward the cost of maintaining order. In 1883 the Lunatic Asylum,
built originally for the care of insane convicts, was handed over to the
colony, a payment of 42 pounds per annum per head being made for each
convict lunatic. In the same year negotiations were commenced for the
transfer of the prison itself. This building, erected to hold 600 men,
contained only seventy-five at the time, and the Governor suggested that
the Colonial Government should accept control in return for an annual
payment of 45 pounds for each Imperial convict and the transfer to the
colony, free of charge, of all buildings and stores remaining under the
charge of the Comptroller-General. At the same time Imperial officers
were to be pensioned by the Home authorities and allowed, without loss of
pension, to accept office under the local Government.* The Secretary of
State (Sir William Harcourt) asked in reply that the Legislative Council
should submit definite terms.** A committee was appointed in 1884 to
consider these, and in its report,*** dated 13 July 1885, advised that
the terms suggested by the Governor be adhered to, with the addition that
the Imperial Treasury should pay the cost of the water police between
1881 and 1885. The date suggested for the transfer was 31 December 1885.
The Secretary of State, after some hesitation, approved of the terms
generally, and the transfer was effected on 31 March 1886.**** There were
at the time barely 200 convicts remaining, and less than half of these
were under actual control, the rest being at liberty under
ticket-of-leave or conditional pardon. Those in prison were of the type
likely to remain a charge upon the colony, and, as a matter of fact,
after gaining their liberty had to be maintained in the Old Men's Depot.
From 1886 they, with the colonial prisoners, were employed pumping water
from wells within the prison enclosure in order to provide an efficient
water supply for Fremantle. Thus, after thirty-six years' existence, an
end was put to the colony's Esau-like method of improving its position.

(*Footnote. Correspondence respecting the transfer to the colony of the
Imperial Convict Establishment Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative
Council 1884 Paper Number 22.)

(*Footnote. Sir W. Harcourt to Governor 21 July 1884.)

(**Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1885 Paper
Number 25.)

(***Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 11 page 5.)

(****Footnote. Inquirer 19 and 26 April and 8 November 1876.)

The only incident of interest in connection with the Establishment itself
during these years was the escape of six Fenian prisoners in 1876.* This
was effected through the instrumentality of an American (John Collins)**
assisted by Captain Antony of the American whaler Catalpa. Arriving at
Fremantle late in 1875 Collins secured employment in a carriage factory,
and quietly made himself thoroughly conversant with the methods of the
Convict Establishment and the nature of the country to the south of
Fremantle. Through the medium of a Fenian expiree he was brought into
communication with six Fenian convicts who, on account of their good
behaviour, were not subjected to strict supervision. A favourable moment
for escape arrived when the Catalpa put in to Bunbury. By arrangement the
six men left Fremantle in buggies on 18 April 1876 for Rockingham. When
their departure became known they were hotly pursued by the police, who
found on arrival at Rockingham that the convicts had been picked up by a
whaleboat in waiting. The Catalpa being the only whaler known to be on
the coast, the police returned to Fremantle and put off in the
police-boat in search of her. After sighting her they fell in with the
steamer Georgette, also in search, and learned that the Catalpa had been
spoken to, but denied having convicts on board. Deciding to watch, they
saw the whaler move northward, and on following observed a whaleboat
making toward her. An exciting chase ensued, but the police were
unsuccessful in preventing the Catalpa from picking up the boat and had
to return to Fremantle. The Georgette was then sent out armed in the hope
of meeting the whaler in territorial waters. The two ships met outside
Rottnest. The Superintendent of Police demanded the convicts and
threatened to fire. The captain of the Catalpa denied that any convicts
were on board, and quietly pointed to the American flag. The police,
chagrined, had to return empty-handed to Fremantle, after intimating that
the United States Government would be communicated with. Governor
Robinson forwarded a full account to the Secretary of State,*** who after
investigating the circumstances decided that the matter was not one for
diplomatic negotiations, and the Fenians remained under the United States
flag. No doubt the British Government was not displeased to get rid so
easily of men who, after all, were only political prisoners.

(*Footnote. Inquirer 19 and 26 April and 8 November 1876.)

(**Footnote. See note at end of chapter.)

(***Footnote. Robinson to Earl of Carnarvon 19 April and 15 May 1876.)

The natives in the north-west and in the far south-east still continued
to give considerable trouble, though the more enlightened methods pursued
in regard to them and the earnest endeavours to conciliate them were not
without effect. If these methods had been pursued by the squatters
without exception, the natives would possibly have shown a disposition to
be friendly. Cases of ill-treatment of their fellow-aborigines and more
particularly of abuse of their women were, however, not unknown, and
these occurrences roused the desire for retaliation. Unfortunately, the
sufferer was often some innocent shepherd or selector who had not even a
knowledge of the crime for which he was being called upon to bear the

In 1881 and 1882 serious allegations of depredations by natives in the
Murchison district were made by the squatters, and Mr. Robert Fairbairn
was sent by the Government to make inquiries. He found that the losses
suffered were in many instances greatly exaggerated, and were usually due
to either laxity of supervision or laxity of morals on the part of the
white settlers. Thefts were only to be expected where sheep and cattle
were placed in the care of native shepherds far away out in the bush,
while reprisals were not to be wondered at when white settlers failed to
let the native women and girls alone. Mr. Fairbairn's report,* though
unpalatable to many of the settlers who desire to be a law unto
themselves, was warmly approved by the Governor, who was anxious to put a
stop to the intercourse that was going on.

"Their women," he wrote, "are surely as valuable to them as our flocks
and herds are to us, and so long as we outrage those feelings which human
nature has planted in a greater or less degree in even the most savage
breast, what right have we to expect that they will respect the property
of the aggressor? What right have we to be surprised when we hear that a
native, "sulky" with a shepherd for taking his woman away, has put the
white man to death? Let us set them a good example, and then, perhaps, we
may talk of the iniquity of their proceedings--proceedings which, after
all, considering the utter savages we are dealing with, have not been so
black as they are painted."**

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1882 Paper
Number 33.)

(**Footnote. Ibid page 13.)

How to put a stop to the practises that were going on was, however, a
difficult question. Some attempt to solve it was made by increasing the
police protection and by appointing an itinerant magistrate (Mr. Foss)*
with power to deal with cases of wrongdoing as they arose. This had some
effect in reducing the trouble within limits, but it was impossible to
put an end to it. Cases of native depredation and murder and of
intercourse between white and black continued to occur, and are not
unknown even now, though the march of civilisation and a more enlightened
public opinion have brought their number down to a minimum.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 1882 page 321.)

The population of the whole colony at the end of 1883 was only
31,700*--an increase of less than 5000 during the eight years under
review--not more than that of an ordinary English town. More than half of
these were resident in the towns and villages, which clamoured for
recognition as duly organised municipalities. Perth, with a population of
about 5000, was raised to the dignity of a mayoralty in 1881; Fremantle
became a corporation in 1883, and others followed shortly afterwards.

(*Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

In ecclesiastical affairs, outside the general development resulting from
a progressive community, little of moment occurred beyond the resignation
of Bishop Hale in 1875 and the appointment of Bishop Parry as his
successor, under whose episcopate the foundation-stone of the present St.
George's Cathedral was laid in 1880.

Note. It is not generally known that "John Collins" was really John J.
Breslin, a prominent Fenian, at one time Chief Hospital Warder in
Richmond Bridewell, Dublin. In 1865 he arranged the escape of James
Stephens, the leader of the Fenians, from that prison, and at the time
that he was being received as persona grata by the convict officials at
Fremantle, the British police authorities were offering a large reward
for information that would lead to his arrest.



After the departure of Sir William Robinson in February 1883, the Chief
Justice, Sir Henry Wrensfordsley, administered the Government until June,
when the new Governor (Sir Frederick Napier Broome) arrived. With a short
recess from November 1884 till June 1885, during which he visited England
for the purpose of floating a public works loan of 525,000 pounds, that
officer held the reins until the end of 1889, when he returned to London,
leaving Sir Malcolm Fraser in charge. Sir Malcolm continued to act as
administrator until October 1890, when Sir William Robinson was again
appointed Governor and entrusted with the task of inaugurating
responsible government in the colony.

Governor Broome arrived at the time when settlement in the north and
north-west was rapidly extending, and agitation for more liberal land
regulations was becoming more pronounced, aided and furthered by the
known opinions of the Commissioner of Crown Lands, Mr. John Forrest. In
order to delay any further alteration, the Governor in 1884 suggested
that as a general election was pending it would be unwise for an expiring
Council to take so important a question into consideration.* When the new
House met in July 1885, he deprecated any unnecessary interference with
the regulations, but pointed out that as many of the older leases were
coming to an end the time might be opportune for a reconsideration of the
whole subject.** He was no doubt assisted toward this decision by a
complete scheme for a more liberal system which Mr. Forrest had put
forward just previously.*** The object of this scheme was, as the
Commissioner stated, to settle population--"a bold peasantry"--on the
soil; to see the country utilised and occupied; to encourage the
agricultural progress of the colony; and, while doing this, to give as
much security as possible to the pastoral tenant, especially in centres
not suited for agricultural development.**** To do this he advised that
the tenure of leases be extended, that improvements be compulsory, and
that rents be reduced. Governor Broome was doubtful about the wisdom of
some of these recommendations, but remitted them in full to the Council
in order that the fullest possible consideration might be given to the
whole question. The Legislative Council appointed a Select Committee*****
to report upon the proposals.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 9 page 2.)

(**Footnote. Ibid volume 10 page 32.)

(***Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1885 Paper

(****Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1885
Paper 29 pages 9 to 10.)

(*****Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 10 pages
95 to 99.)

The report of his committee,* which was not on all points unanimous, was
considered later in the year, but final discussion was postponed till the
following session.** During the recess the Governor gave the committee's
draft close consideration, and when the time came for discussion upon it
in 1886 was prepared with certain amendments. These were considered in
conjunction with the draft, and certain of them adopted. Other
alterations were made, and the whole draft regulations, thus amended,
were then passed*** and forwarded by the Governor for approval of the
Secretary of State.**** This was given in due course,***** and on 2 March
1887 the new regulations--the most liberal and satisfactory yet
framed--were proclaimed.******

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1885 Paper

(**Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 10 pages 390
to 391.)

(***Footnote. Ibid volume 11 page 556.)

(****Footnote. Sir Napier Broome to Secretary Stanhope 12 November 1886.)

(*****Footnote. Sir Henry Holland to Broome 14 January 1887.)

(******Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette pages 127 to 166.)

Under them land could be acquired, subject to certain conditions of
residence and improvement, upon very easy terms, and pastoral leases
could be secured without the harassing limitations that had previously
existed. The colony was divided into six districts--the South-West,
Gascoyne, North-West, Kimberley, Eucla, and Eastern. The South-West
comprised the originally settled areas in the south-western portion of
the colony, and the Eastern district comprised the central portions.
Eucla was formed into a division in the hope that the inducements offered
would bring about settlement in the far south-east.

Town and suburban allotments in all divisions were to be sold by public
auction, at such upset price as the Governor in Council deemed
reasonable, and any prospective purchaser could apply to have a surveyed
allotment put up for auction on depositing 10 per cent of the upset
price. Land in the South-West district, which was recognised as the
agricultural portion of the colony, could be obtained under four
different modes of conditional purchase: (1) by deferred payment, with
residence, within agricultural areas; (2) by deferred payment, with
residence, outside agricultural areas; (3) by deferred payment, without
residence, irrespective of the location; and (4) by direct payment. The
Governor in Council had power to declare agricultural areas of not less
than 2000 acres. No one could secure selections of less than 100 or more
than 1000 acres, the price being determined by the Governor, but not to
be less than 10 shillings per acre, payable in twenty annual instalments
of 6 pence per acre. On the approval of any application a licence was in
the first instance granted for five years, the licensee being compelled
to reside upon the land within six months and to fence the whole
selection within the five years. Provided the conditions were carried
out, a lease was then granted for fifteen years, and the Crown grant
could be secured during its currency or on its termination, on proof that
improvements to the value of the purchase money had been made and the
full purchase money paid. In case the applicant did not intend to reside,
the cost was 20 shillings per acre instead of 10 shillings and the yearly
payments 1 shilling in place of 6 pence per acre. The other conditions
necessary to secure the full grant were the same. Under the fourth mode a
maximum area of 1000 acres within and 5000 without an agricultural area
might be secured at a price fixed by the Governor in Council. The land
had to be fenced within three years, and improvements to the value of 5
shillings per acre effected within five years. Garden land in plots of
from 5 to 20 acres could be secured at 20 shillings per acre on the
condition that the plot was fenced and one-tenth of it planted with
vines, fruit, or vegetables within three years. In the other districts
the area that could be secured on conditional purchase was not less than
100 or more than 5000 acres, the price and conditions being the same as
in the declared agricultural areas.

Squatting leases were granted for twenty-one years at a rental that
varied according to the district and the class of land. The rental for
every 1000 acres was: South-West division, in blocks of not less than
3000 acres 20 shillings; Gascoyne and Eucla divisions, in blocks of not
less than 20,000 acres 10 shillings for each of the first seven years, 12
shillings and 6 pence for the second seven, and 15 shillings for the
third; North-West division, in blocks of not less than 20,000 acres 10
shillings, 15 shillings, and 20 shillings for each year of the three
periods; Eastern division, in blocks of not less than 20,000 acres 2
shillings and 6 pence, 5 shillings, and 7 shillings and 6 pence;
Kimberley division, in blocks of not less than 50,000 acres with river
frontage and 20,000 without, 10 shillings, 15 shillings, and 20
shillings. The Kimberley squatter (if within five years he had placed ten
sheep or one head of cattle for every 1000 acres upon his run) and the
Eucla squatter (if he had fulfilled the same condition or had spent 8
pounds per 1000 acres upon water conservation) could obtain a reduction
of rent to the extent of one-half for the first fourteen years; while in
all divisions except the South-West double rent was imposed where the
stocking conditions were not carried out within seven years. Mining
leases (not auriferous) could be secured over lots of from 20 to 200
acres on payment of 5 shillings per acre yearly rent, the leases to run
for seven years and to give way to a Crown grant when machinery to the
value of 3 pounds per acre had been erected. New timber regulations were
also provided, and the Government was permitted, with the approval of the
Legislative Council, to make concessions of land in return for the
construction of railways, the establishment of industries, or the
promotion of settlement. These land regulations, with trifling
amendments, remained in force for many years.

As soon as the land regulations were settled in 1886, the question of
tariff revision called for attention. Since 1882 no change had been made
in the customs duties except to impose a special charge of 20 shillings
per pound upon opium. The burden upon the finances, however, due
principally to the borrowing policy necessitated by railway extension,
began to be so heavy that means had to be sought to increase the revenue.
As in the past, indirect taxation through the customs was considered the
most feasible method, especially as, in the opinion of several members of
the Council, it had the effect of fostering local industries. A tariff
commission appointed in 1887 recommended a general increase "to promote
the establishment of new industries and encourage the development of
industries and manufactories already established."* A Tariff Bill was
introduced in December 1887, and in the course of its passage through the
House, Alexander Forrest, the leader of the few who acknowledged
themselves to be protectionists, succeeded in increasing the duties on
livestock in order TO PROTECT the local grower.** The new tariff, which
was assented to in 1888, materially increased the duties all round, and
was an undoubted admission that the future policy of the colony must be
one of protection.

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1887/8 Paper
Number 4.)

(**Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 13 pages 76
to 77.)

An Agricultural Commission was also appointed in 1887 to consider the
whole question of agricultural development, and suggest, if possible, a
means of ending the stagnant condition into which the industry had
certainly fallen during the previous fifteen years, during which the
acreage under crop had for all practical purposes remained stationary.
The members of the Commission made a close study of the subject, and
their report, published in 1891,* forms a valuable record of the progress
of agriculture in the colony. They expressed the opinion that though
agriculture as a pursuit had not all the elements in its favour necessary
to make it a thoroughly prosperous industry, Western Australia under a
fair system of farming was not behind the other colonies in the
productivity of certain soils. "Close observers of cause and effect,"
says the report, "will be able to trace many conditions under which
agricultural pursuits have suffered, but these conditions are incidental
to the peculiar circumstances of the colony; its early settlement, its
isolation from general commercial intercourse with the other colonies; to
the absence of those attractions which have taken people past our shores
to the sister colonies; and are not directly traceable to any inherent
infertility of soil."*** Stagnation in enterprise was attributed to the
absence of cash sales, and the establishment of a barter system which
provided only a precarious market and not one likely to stimulate
production. The commissioners also drew attention to the question of
bonuses such as those in operation in Victoria, to State aid to farmers,
and to all matters likely to be of assistance in the development of
farming or the diffusion of agricultural knowledge.****

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly 1891/2
Paper Number 1.)

(**Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly 1891/2
Paper Number 1 page 3.)

(***Footnote. Ibid pages 12 to 15.)

(****Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

The industry seems to have received some slight impetus in the two years
following the publication of the report, but it was not until many years
later that agriculture in the colony began to receive that serious
attention to which its importance and the capabilities of the soil
entitled it. But though increasing requirements made further taxation
necessary, and though no assistance was received from the great primary
industry, the returns of the revenue and expenditure of the colony from
1883 to 1890* prove that the public finances were in a distinctly healthy

(*Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

The indebtedness under loan authorisations had, it is true, grown from
nothing at the establishment of representative government to 1,367,444
pounds at the end of 1890. This was a fairly heavy burden for a
population of 46,290* persons to bear, but as the greater part of it was
invested in reproductive works, which, if not revenue producing, at least
met the working expenses and interest, the weight of debt did not press
too heavily. When, however, the ordinary income failed to meet the
expenditure in 1887, Governor Broome thought it necessary to sound a note
of warning concerning new expenditure. "Loans," said he, "cannot be
looked upon as a remedy for depression or as a substitute for real
progress and development."** This fact was impressed upon the Government
in the following year when a further deficit occurred. The Governor asked
for approval for an additional loan, a portion of which was to be used to
recoup revenue account, some 50,000 pounds advanced to meet capital
charges.*** To this the Secretary of State refused his sanction, but
agreed to the issue of Treasury Bills for 50,000 pounds.**** The returns
for 1889, however, showed a balance on the side of revenue which went a
long way toward adjusting the accounts.

(*Footnote. Ibid.)

(**Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 13 page 3.)

(***Footnote. Broome to Lord Knutsford 23 July 1888.)

(****Footnote. Telegram Lord Knutsford to Broome 18 September 1888.)

The comparative statement of imports and exports from 1883 to 1890 is not
so reassuring (see Statistical Summary). In every instance the value of
imports was greater than that of exports, showing that the colony had
lost its position as an exporter. This was in part due to the fact that
the discoveries of gold at Kimberley and Yilgarn had attracted
considerable increase in population, consisting chiefly of miners or
those interested in mining. These had at least to be fed and clothed, and
this necessitated larger importations of foodstuffs. An examination of
the schedules of imports* shows that in every year the excess of value in
imports is represented practically by the amount paid to outside sources
for agricultural produce--commodities that the colony itself could easily
have produced in abundance, and probably would have done but for the
lethargic condition into which the farming industry had fallen, a
condition from which not even the existence of so excellent a market at
their very doors seems to have aroused the farmers.

(*Footnote. See Western Australian Blue Books 1883 to 1890.)

In other avenues of industry there was steady progress. Wool, pearls and
pearl shell, sandalwood, timber, guano, and lead and copper ores
continued to form the principal articles of export, wool accounting for
nearly half the total value, and pearls and pearl shell averaging over
100,000 pounds a year for the years 1886 to 1890.* In 1887 another of
those distressing storms to which the North-West is so subject swept over
the pearling areas, carrying ruin and disaster with it, and flooding a
large part of the Kimberley district. In the course of the tempest it is
estimated that from 150 to 300 persons, mostly Malays, perished.**

(*Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

(**Footnote. West Australian 29 April 1887.)

Turning from financial matters to questions affecting the internal policy
of the colony, it may be mentioned that early in the eighties were heard
the first whisperings of that desire which twenty years later was
realised in the establishment of the Australian Commonwealth. In 1880, at
the instance of Sir Graham Berry, a conference of representatives of New
South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia was held in Melbourne to
discuss the question of border duties. Other questions of wider
importance being raised, it was decided to adjourn the conference till
January 1881, and invite representatives from all the colonies. Western
Australia being a Crown colony, the only one remaining in Australia--the
Cinderella of the group, as Sir William Robinson with curious foresight
termed her--it was impossible to send from there a representative with
power to speak upon any subject with finality, as all doings of the local
Government were subject to Imperial approval. This difficulty was
explained, and it was finally agreed that Chief Justice Wrensfordsley
should attend as delegate from Western Australia for the purpose of
watching the proceedings and expressing an opinion on behalf of the
colony, on the understanding that such opinion would be subject to the
approval of both the local and Imperial governments. The principal matter
affecting Western Australia that was dealt with was the erection, at the
joint expense of all the colonies, of a lighthouse on Cape Leeuwin, but
from a general standpoint the importance of the conference lay in the
introduction by Sir Henry Parkes of the Federal Council of Australia
Bill, really a proposal for a modified form of federation.* Owing to
general lack of interest in the subject the Bill lapsed at the time, but
its proposer had sounded a new note in Australian politics--one destined
to have far-reaching results. A further convention was held in Sydney in
1883,** when the proposal to establish a Federal Council for Australia
was approved. The necessary provisions to enable Western Australia to
become a member of the Council were passed by the Legislative Council in
1884, and during 1885 the Federal Council Act*** was passed and came into
operation at the close of the year. As all the colonies did not join in
the scheme its usefulness was considerably restricted, but it helped to
pave the way for the wider movement which followed, and which was
foreshadowed by Governor Broome when proroguing the Legislative Council
in 1885.****:

"It will be a matter for congratulation in the future that the
Legislature of Western Australia has from the first heartily supported a
scheme which, as I believe, will in the course of time result in uniting
the whole of this portion of the Empire in a political organisation
similar to that which has given strength and greatness to the Dominion of

(*Footnote. Minutes of proceedings of Conference. In New South Wales
Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly 1880/1 volume 1 pages
327 et seq.)

(**Footnote. New South Wales Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative
Assembly 1883/4 volume 9.)

(***Footnote. 49 Victoria Number 24.)

(****Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 10 page

The first meeting of the Council was held at Hobart in January 1886, J.G.
Lee Steere, a member of both the Executive and Legislative Councils,
being commissioned to represent Western Australia. Its deliberations were
confined chiefly to simplifying legal processes between the colonies and
facilitating legal proof of official documents. Defence was also
considered, and on the motion of Lee Steere it was agreed that King
George's Sound and Torres Strait should be fortified for the general
protection of the continent.*

(*Footnote. Journals and Papers of the Federal Council of Australasia
volume 1 page 27.)

A second session of the Federal Council was held at Hobart in 1888, when
the only question of importance discussed was one relating to the
Queensland beche-de-mer fisheries.*

(*Footnote. Ibid volume 2.)

In addition to this movement a Colonial Conference was held in London in
April 1887, in order to give the representatives of the colonies an
opportunity of discussing matters of general import with the Imperial
Government. The delegates from Western Australia were John Forrest and
Septimus Burt.*

(*Footnote. Instructions Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council
1887 paper A3.)

Although Sir Frederick Broome displayed many qualities of statesmanship
in dealing with large issues, more particularly those arising during the
latter portion of his term, his internal administration was marred by
repeated disagreements with prominent officials and others who occupied
important positions in the community. A man of strong will, he resented
any apparent encroachment upon his functions, and was inclined to reject,
upon many points, the advice of those whose intimate local knowledge
fully qualified them to venture an opinion. With the Surveyor-General,
John Forrest, he was continually in conflict, and that the official
generally got his way was probably due to the fact that he possessed the
same qualities as the Governor in an even more marked degree. The
Attorney-General (A.P. Hensman) next incurred the Governor's opposition,
and deemed it wise, after justifying his own position, to retire from the
Executive.* The most serious disagreement took place between the Governor
and the Chief Justice, Mr. (afterwards Sir) A.C. Onslow. Mr. Onslow was
not then sole judge, Mr. (afterwards Sir) Edward A. Stone having been
appointed Puisne Judge in 1883. The trouble began to assume a serious
aspect in 1884, and was perhaps influenced to some extent by the
relations between the Governor and Mr. Forrest. The Chief Justice had on
one occasion declined to advise the Governor upon an ad misericordiam
appeal for a remission of sentence. Sir Frederick Broome, doubting the
stand taken by Mr. Onslow, referred the point to the Secretary of State
for the Colonies (Sir Henry Holland) who decided that the Judge was right
in the particular case, but that it was his duty to advise upon petitions
other than ad misericordiam. Certain other petitions were now referred by
the Governor, but Mr. Onslow again refused to advise, and appealed to the
Secretary of State. Pending a reply to his communication he unwisely
retained possession of the petitions and refused to allow the Governor to
have access to them. The Governor then charged the Chief Justice with
detaining important State documents in disobedience to direct orders, and
called upon him to show cause why he should not be suspended. The Judge
thereupon returned the petitions and forwarded the whole correspondence
to the Press.**

(*Footnote. Inquirer 31 March 1886. See also 14 September 1887.)

(**Footnote. Ibid 14 September 1887; West Australian 15 September 1887.)

In September 1887 the correspondence was published,* showing that Mr.
Onslow had made serious accusations against the Governor to the Secretary
of State. "I ask you," he wrote, "to consider the position in which I am
placed. Is it possible for me to satisfactorily carry on the
administration of justice if I am perpetually to be exposed to the
harassing and insulting treatment which for so long a time I have met
with at the hands of Sir F.N. Broome?"** Sir Frederick Broome, naturally
incensed, declared the statements were untrue, and called upon the Chief
Justice to withdraw them in writing within a given time. In reply the
Judge took up the attitude that the matter was in the hands of the
Secretary of State, and that the Governor could not legally take any
action. Governor Broome, however, was not the type of man to sit down
tamely and wait. The Executive Council was appealed to, and the Chief
Justice was informed that he must retract or he would be suspended.***
Continuing to be recalcitrant, Mr. Onslow was "interdicted" by the
Governor from exercising the functions of his office,**** and Mr. G.W.
Leake was appointed Acting Chief Justice. By this time the dispute had
become a matter of public concern. The legal fraternity expressed their
sympathy with the deposed official, and the public generally took sides
for and against. A public meeting held in Perth indignantly demanded the
removal of the interdict and the recall of the Governor, whom it
considered to have been guilty of "a gross interference with the
independence of the Bench and an attack upon the liberties of the
people."***** To conclude the proceedings, which must have been fairly
interesting in themselves, a torchlight procession was formed and the
Governor burnt in effigy.****** Similar meetings were held in the other
centres of population. That the unofficial portion of the community
should favour the Chief Justice is not surprising. From the date of the
colony's foundation there had practically been two sections in the
community, the Governor and the officials forming the one and the
ordinary population the other. Every Governor had fallen more or less
under the ban of popular displeasure. In this case it was more pronounced
because, probably, something in the nature of a reason existed.

(*Footnote. Ibid.)

(**Footnote. Onslow to Sir Henry Holland 6 September 1887.)

(***Footnote. Minutes of Executive Council 12 September 1887.)

(****Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 15 September 1887.)

(*****Footnote. West Australian 19 September 1887.)

(******Footnote. Ibid.)

Governor Broome, undeterred by ebullitions of popular feeling, called a
meeting of the Executive Council for 5 December, and summoned Mr. Onslow
to show cause why he should not be suspended. That gentleman demanded
that, as the proceedings would be of the nature of a criminal trial, the
case should be heard in public, and that he should be allowed to employ
counsel. These requests were refused, and he declined to appear. The
Council met as summoned, and decided to suspend the Chief Justice on

(*Footnote. West Australian 7 December 1887; Western Australian
Government Gazette 8 December 1887.)

Public feeling became more acute after this second development. The West
Australian supported the cause of the Governor, while the Inquirer, true
to its traditions as an opposition journal, sympathised with the Chief
Justice. Early in 1888 information was received that the Secretary of
State had referred the whole matter to the Privy Council,* the decision
of which was received by cable in the following May.** The three phases
of the dispute were considered in turn. On the first the Privy Council
was of opinion that there was not sufficient ground for a formal charge
against the Chief Justice, though he had certainly acted indiscreetly in
refusing to return the documents, on the second the decision stated that
though, through irritation apparently arising from the first charge, the
Chief Justice had used improper language in his correspondence with the
Governor, there were no adequate grounds for a charge intended to lead to
suspension; on the third the Council looked much more seriously, inasmuch
as the correspondence referred to, and the letter to the Secretary of
State, couched in language of great animosity to the Governor, had been
handed to the newspapers for publication, together with confidential
information which the Chief Justice had not the right to give. Taking
these facts into consideration, the Committee of the Privy Council had
some hesitation in not confirming the suspension, but as no moral laxity
in the exercise of his judicial functions was imputed to the Chief
Justice, it decided to remove the suspension, at the same time remarking
that the relations between the Governor and the Chief Justice must be
prejudicial to the colony, and if continued would lead to deplorable
results.*** The Privy Council decision having been confirmed by Order in
Council and the suspension removed, Mr. Onslow took his seat on the bench
as Chief Justice on 15 May amid the congratulations of the Bar, voiced by
Mr. Hensman. Unfortunately, this was not the end of the trouble. Several
libel actions pending against Harper and Hackett, the proprietors of the
West Australian, were tried before the Chief Justice. Mr. A.P. Hensman,
who had been the advocate for Mr. Onslow all through the dispute with the
Governor, obtained damages against the newspaper, and an application for
a new trial was refused. There being only two judges, in case of a
disagreement between them in Full Court cases, the opinion of the Chief
Justice carried the day. Another libel action (referred to later) brought
by the reverend J.B. Gribble, was also tried by the Chief Justice, who
was accused of showing partiality toward the plaintiff.

(*Footnote. Telegram Colonial Office to Broome 24 January 1888; Dispatch
Sir Henry Holland to Broome 26 January 1888.)

(**Footnote. Lord Knutsford to Broome 10 May 1888.)

(***Footnote. Lord Knutsford to Broome 11 May 1888 enclosing Privy
Council judgment and Order in Council confirming it.)

From these and other instances the proprietors of the newspaper were
convinced that Mr. Onslow's decisions were not impartial. They therefore
drew up two documents, couched in similar language--the one a petition to
the Legislative Council* and the other a memorial to the Secretary for
the Colonies.** The concluding paragraph, practically the same in both,
shows how acute the position must have been:

"For nearly five years have we suffered as we have set forth. Our
business, our properties, our reputations are imperilled. The baser kind
of journalist and public speaker assails us confidently and with
impunity. We cannot obtain justice in the Supreme Court. Persecuted,
plundered, and insulted, we are helpless and without relief before the
chief tribunal of our Queen. To Your Honourable House (Your Lordship) we
appeal to aid in ending a state of things which is a scandal to the
Bench, a menace to the welfare of the colony, and a dishonour to the

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1888 Paper

(**Footnote. Ibid 1889 Paper Number 4.)

The petition to the Legislative Council, which asked that the Governor be
requested to appoint a third judge, was presented by Mr. Parker. After a
long and not always courteous debate it was decided to refer it to the
Chief Justice for his answer.* When that was received, further
consideration was deferred, pending the reply of Lord Knutsford to the
memorial. Mr. Onslow about the same time forwarded his side of the case
to the Secretary of State,** accusing Harper and Hackett of making
"outrageous and malicious statements."

(*Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 14 pages 59
et seq.)

(**Footnote. Onslow to Lord Knutsford 27 October 1888 Votes and
Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1889 Paper Number 4.)

In January 1889 the Executive Council held at exhaustive inquiry* into
the whole matter in the presence of the parties, but came to no decision,
preferring to leave the question, which was really of a judicial
character, to the Colonial Office. The Secretary of State then requested
the Legislative Council to consider it,** and lengthy resolutions were
carried*** by that body to the effect that in certain cases the Chief
Justice had used language not becoming the dignity of his office, and had
shown decided sympathy with the plaintiff in the Gribble case, which
ought to have been left to the second judge; that there was no reason to
impugn His Honour's integrity of purpose, but that his warm, impulsive
temperament led to hasty and unconsidered condemnation; and that as the
community had been divided into hostile camps over the matter, peace and
harmony could not be hoped for so long as Mr. Onslow remained in the
position of Chief Justice. These resolutions were forwarded to Lord
Knutsford, who replied that the Executive Council should complete the
proceedings by suspending or acquitting.****

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1889 Paper
Number 4 pages 75 et seq.)

(**Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 15 pages 254
to 255.)

(***Footnote. Ibid pages 313 to 335.)

(****Footnote. Telegram Lord Knutsford to Broome 15 March 1889.)

The Executive Council declined the responsibility,* and decided to
forward the whole matter to the Secretary of State.** At the same time
the Chief Justice applied for and obtained leave of absence to visit
England,*** where he remained until 1891. Shortly after Mr. Onslow's
departure the Secretary of State considered the whole question and
decided that there was no justification for his removal,**** and he
returned to take up his position again as Chief Justice of the colony, to
the apparent satisfaction of everyone and without any signs of a
recurrence of the old trouble. Meanwhile Sir Frederick Broome's term of
office had come to an end, and a third judge, Mr. A.P. Hensman, was
appointed shortly after Mr. Onslow's return.

(*Footnote. Telegram Broome to Lord Knutsford 22 March 1889.)

(**Footnote. Ibid 6 April 1889.)

(***Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 11 April 1889.)

(****Footnote. Lord Knutsford to Broome 11 July 1889.)

The Gribble case referred to above rose out of an article published in
the Inquirer* and a lecture delivered in Perth by the reverend J.B.
Gribble on the ill-treatment and cruelty meted out to the aborigines in
the Gascoyne district.** Mr. Gribble had travelled the district for some
months as a missionary, and was deeply impressed with the unsatisfactory
condition of affairs. His enthusiasm, and perhaps lack of judgment, led
him to make serious accusations against the squatters without due
consideration of all the circumstances. These utterances were strongly
resented, and resolutions condemnatory of them were passed by the
Legislative Council.*** That they had, however, some effect is shown by
the passing, during the year, of an Act for the protection of the
aborigines, providing for the punishment of those guilty of offences
against the natives.**** The Act was not wholly successful, and the
Governor in the following year expressed a desire to amend it.*****

(*Footnote. Inquirer 13 January 1886.)

(**Footnote. Ibid 16 June and 23 June 1886.)

(***Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 11 pages
582 et seq.)

(****Footnote. 50 Victoria Number 25.)

(*****Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 12 page

Notwithstanding the resolutions of the Council, Mr. Gribble continued on
every possible occasion to reiterate his views.* The West Australian then
published an editorial reflecting upon his character, terming him a liar
and a canting humbug.** In return the missionary instituted proceedings
for libel. Contrary to ordinary practice it was decided that the two
judges--the Chief Justice and Mr. Justice Stone--should sit together,
without a jury, to hear the case. The trial lasted a month, and the
verdict was not given till some weeks afterwards. The decision declared
that the defendants had proved their plea of justification and were
entitled to a verdict. The proprietors of the newspaper, however,
considered that though the Chief Justice gave a verdict for them he
delivered judgment in favour of the plaintiff, and his action in the
matter was made one of the charges in the petition and memorial presented
against him.***

(*Footnote. See e.g. Daily Telegraph Melbourne 9 July 1886.)

(**Footnote. West Australian 24 August 1886.)

(***Footnote. Petition of Harper and Hackett in Votes and Proceedings of
the Legislative Council 1888 Paper A1.)

Matters such as the foregoing are, however, only of passing interest. The
outstanding features of permanent value to the development of the colony
and of paramount importance in its history were the progressive public
works policy; the gold discoveries at Kimberley and Yilgarn; and the
successful consummation of the long-continued agitation in favour of
responsible government.

The financial results of the railways in operation up to the end of 1885
had by no means equalled the expectations--on the Eastern line there was
a profit of 65 pounds and on the Geraldton to Northampton line a loss of
899 pounds--but the convenience afforded convinced both the Government
and the public that further extension was necessary. Proposals had been
made to build branches on the land-grant system from the main line to the
various agricultural and pastoral centres, but the Government, no doubt
keeping in mind the Secretary of State's opinion, decided that any
extensions or branches must be part of the Government policy. This
decision did not, however, refer to suggestions then in the air to build
a railway on the land-grant system from Albany to Beverley or York, thus
connecting with the existing eastern line. When these suggestions came to
be considered as practical proposals it was found that the concessions
asked for the York to Beverley portion were too great to be granted, and
the Legislature therefore passed an Act authorising the construction of
this section from loan funds. The contract was let to Mr. Edward Keane,
the price being 59,878 pounds, on 21 April 1885, and the line was opened
in August 1886. In order to give equal facilities to Northam and
Newcastle, and so bring the whole of the then existing agricultural area
within reach of the railway, it was decided in 1886 to throw out a branch
from Spencer's Brook to Northam, and in 1887 from Clackline to Newcastle.
The first of these was opened for traffic in October 1886, and the second
in January 1888. Authority was also given for the construction of a line
from Geraldton to Greenough and of a tramway from Roebourne to Cossack.
These were opened in 1887.*

(*Footnote. Western Australian Year Book 1902 to 1904 page 756.)

The desire to build railways to almost every township and village in the
colony, irrespective of the results likely to accrue, seems to have
actuated many of the colonists during these years. Suggestions, mostly on
the land-grant or other principle advantageous to the proposers, were
made to connect Busselton, Albany, Eucla, Geraldton, and even the far
north by railway with Perth. Most of the suggestions were, wisely, not
heeded by the Legislature, but a Parliamentary Committee advocated the
construction of a line through Pinjarra to Busselton by a private company
under a guarantee of interest.* The Council itself listened favourably to
the proposal,** but the Secretary of State vetoed it.***

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1887 Paper

(**Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 12 pages 428
et seq.)

(***Footnote. Sir Henry Holland to Broome 11 November 1887.)

The idea of a land-grant railway to connect Albany with the terminal of
the eastern railway was first mooted in 1880, and in reply to Governor
Robinson* the Secretary of State promised to give Imperial sanction to
any scheme proposed by responsible and competent persons the terms of
which were advantageous to the colony.** In September 1881, the Colonial
Secretary requested the Legislative Council to vote 600 pounds for the
purposes of securing information about the country through which the line
would pass, and of bringing the idea before English capitalists. The
Surveyor-General (Mr. Fraser) suggested in a report*** "that in
consideration of European capitalists constructing a railway of a similar
class to the New Zealand lines (3 feet 6 inches) and undertaking the
settlement of not less than, say, 5000 people in the colony, the Crown
should grant in fee two million acres of land, to be selected by them
between Beverley and King George's Sound."

(*Footnote. Robinson to Earl of Kimberley 9 June 1881.)

(**Footnote. Earl of Kimberley to Robinson 27 July 1881.)

(***Footnote. Surveyor-General to Governor 29 January 1881 in Votes and
Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1881 Paper Number 24.)

Offers to construct the line were quickly forthcoming. In January 1882
Mr. Jules Joubert, on behalf of a syndicate in the eastern colonies,
proposed to build and equip the line and hand it over to the Government
by the end of 1885 on the following terms: The contractors to introduce
not less than 2000 European immigrants, who should accept land in part
payment for their services; the Government to grant to the syndicate in
fee 10 million acres, one-half along the line of railway, one-fourth east
of the line towards the South Australian border, and the other fourth
westward toward Geographe Bay. The cost of construction was estimated at
1 million pounds.* The Governor, who favoured the acceptance of the
offer, submitted it to the Council, which after long consideration
decided that the offer was not in the best interests of the colony, and
wisely declined it.**

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1882 Paper
Number 1.)

(**Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 7 page 340.)

The next proposal came from Mr. Audley Coote,* who, on behalf of a
Tasmanian syndicate, offered to build the line provided the Government
would guarantee 3 1/2 per cent interest on 1 million pounds for
twenty-five years. The net profit above 7 per cent on capital was to be
divided between the Government and the syndicate, the former to have the
option of purchase at any time on giving one year's notice. Much as the
Western Australians desired the railway, they were not prepared to assent
to terms so one-sided, and the Council without much ado rejected the

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1882 Paper
A8; 1883 session 1 paper A1.)

(**Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 8 pages 5 to

Three other offers on behalf of separate syndicates were put forward
during the following year.* The most important of these was that made by
Mr. Anthony Hordern on behalf of a syndicate, which, after amendment, was
ultimately accepted by the Government. Mr. Hordern offered** to
construct, equip, maintain, and work a line of railway from York to
Albany upon the same gauge as the Government railways, the line to be
completed within five years from the date of acceptance of the
conditions. In return the syndicate asked for alternate blocks of land in
sections of 12,000 acres along the line of route for every mile of
railway construction, the grants to be made upon the completion of each
20 miles, with the option of selecting land south of Perth and east and
south of York, when the land along the route was unsuitable. To enable
this to be done the Government was to withdraw from sale for eight years
all land within ten miles of either side of the line. The syndicate also
asked for the privilege of declaring alternate town-sites along the
route, and for the admission of all materials of construction free of
duty and free of railway freight charges. The syndicate further proposed,
after completion of the York to Albany section, to continue the line on
the same terms along the western seaboard northward to Cambridge Gulf,
and conjointly with the scheme to introduce 50,000 European immigrants,
for doing which they would require 120 acres for each adult and 60 acres
for each child over fifteen years of age.

(*Footnote. Ibid page 69.)

(**Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1883
session 1 paper Number 3.)

Mr. Hordern's proposal was referred forthwith by Governor Robinson to a
committee with instructions to make full inquiry into the matter. This
committee reported in March.* In the first place the members pointed out
that most of the land between York and Beverley was already alienated,
and that it was impossible to compensate with grants of land any
syndicate for constructing a railway between those places. Such a line
ought to be built by the Government, and Beverley made the starting-point
for any proposed land-grant railway to Albany. In regard to Mr. Hordern's
proposal the committee considered that the route should be fixed by the
Government, and no deviation that would lengthen any section of 20 miles
by more than three permitted without the approval of the Government
Engineer; that the permanent way and rolling stock should be equal to
that used on Government lines; that one train should start from either
end daily, the tariff being subject to Government approval; and that
materials for construction be admitted duty free, but freight at a
reduced rate charged for carriage over Government lines. So far as the
provisions for land grants were concerned, the committee advised that all
alienated land within thirty miles of the railway on either side be
withdrawn from sale until the full amount agreed upon had been assigned
to the syndicate, which should have power to declare town-sites along the
route; that 12,000 acres for each mile constructed was fair compensation,
but that it must be selected in blocks of not less than 60,000 acres
within the limits set out by the committee, and that 25 per cent of the
land should not be handed over until the satisfactory completion of the
contract. With regard to the immigration proposals, the committee felt
that there was not sufficient information to warrant their immediate
acceptance, but advised that the syndicate should be paid 10 pounds per
statute adult for 5000 immigrants, to be introduced within five years
from the commencement of the railway.

Following upon this report Mr. Hordern submitted an amended proposal,*
practically embodying the conditions laid down by the committee, but
suggesting in addition that upon the agreement being signed the syndicate
should be allowed 240,000 acres, representing the first twenty miles of
the line, so that land might be immediately available for immigrants and
workmen. The idea of building a line to Cambridge Gulf was dropped, but
the large immigration scheme was further urged at considerable length.
The question of a transcontinental railway between Perth and Port Augusta
on the land-grant principle was also raised, but at a later date it was
admitted that there was no chance at the time of making any arrangement
with the South Australian Government.**

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1883 2nd
session Paper A3.)

(**Footnote. Sir J. Vogel and A. Hordern to Crown Agents 28 February 1884
in Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1884 Paper A14.)

In the meantime two other offers to construct the Beverley to
Albany--known as the Great Southern--line were received by the
Government. Colonel McMurdo offered to construct the line to Albany and
thence to the border of South Australia in return for a grant of 10,000
acres per mile (to be selected in alternate blocks along the line) and
power to issue mortgage bonds to the value of 4000 pounds per mile upon
which the Government should guarantee 3 1/2 per cent interest for thirty
years. In lieu of taxes, stamp duties, and other charges the Government
was to receive 10 per cent of the net earnings yearly. The syndicate also
agreed to introduce forty selected immigrants for each mile of the

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1883 2nd
session Paper Number 18.)

A more ambitious scheme was put forward by Sir Julius Vogel and Mr.
Audley Coote. They offered to build a railway from Beverley to Eetakup,
and thence easterly and northerly to Eucla, skirting the coast as surveys
to be made might suggest. The conditions were in the main those laid down
by the committee, the most important exceptions being that trains should
be run twice a week until additional services should be required to
connect with mail steamers, and that twelve years be allowed for the
completion of the work. An amended proposal offered as an alternative a
line from York through Hampton Plains to Eucla. The syndicate also
proposed to undertake the improvement of Fremantle Harbour in return for
payment partly in land and partly in debentures, or wholly in

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1883 2nd
session Paper A15.)

The three proposals were referred by the Legislative Council to a Select
Committee, which recommended* that negotiations be entered into for the
construction of two lines: (1) from Beverley to Albany and (2) from York
through the Hampton Plains to Eucla. These routes were likely to be most
beneficial in promoting the internal development of the colony, and the
latter would be the most direct for communication with the eastern
colonies. Recognising that the completion of a line through Eucla to
Adelaide would possibly make Fremantle the terminal port of call for mail
steamers, and that in such case harbour facilities would be required
there, the committee inclined toward the proposal submitted by Sir Julius
Vogel and Mr. Coote.

At this stage Governor Broome asked for and obtained permission for the
Government to conclude negotiations, on the understanding that if radical
alterations were made in the terms they would have to be ratified by the
Legislative Council. The receipt of Mr. Hordern's amended proposals made
it necessary to appoint a further Select Committee. The report of his
committee* favoured the schemes of Sir Julius Vogel and Mr. Hordern, but
as the South Australian Government had shown itself opposed to a
transcontinental line on the land-grant principle, the York to Eucla
section was allowed to drop.** This left Mr. Hordern's Great Southern
Railway proposal to be considered by the Legislature. After discussion,
terms consisting in the main of those recommended by the committee were
agreed to, and the contract was signed on 25 October 1884.*** The line
being 243 miles long, the syndicate was entitled to 2,916,000 acres of
land. They deposited 10,000 pounds as a guarantee for the fulfilment of
the contract, and agreed to introduce 5000 immigrants at the rate of not
under 700 or over 1000 a year.****

(*Footnote. Ibid Paper A22.)

(**Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 9 page 306.)

(***Footnote. Western Australian Year Book 1902 to 1904 page 44.)

(****Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1884
Paper A33 containing copy of contract. For descriptive information
concerning the Great Southern Railway see Mennell, P. The Coming Colony
London 1892 chapters 5 to 8 and Hart, F. Western Australia in 1891 Perth
1891 pages 59 to 62.)

Mr. Hordern's schemes for the development of the colony were not confined
to building railways. In 1884 he proposed,* on behalf of a syndicate, to
erect a college of agriculture, the suggested curriculum of which would
really have made it a technical school. The syndicate asked for the right
to select in any district of the colony 25 million acres of land upon a
ninety-nine years lease at an annual rental of not more than 40 shillings
per 1000 acres for first-class and 20 shillings per 1000 acres for
second-class lands, with the option of purchase at any time during the
lease at the upset price fixed by the land regulations of 1882. The
college was to be built and an experimental farm established upon the
first land selected, and the syndicate required the right to sell or
lease other areas to students or farmers who might desire to cultivate
them under the guidance of the college authorities. As a guarantee, the
syndicate proposed to make a first selection of 100,000 acres and expend
a sum of at least 5000 pounds in erecting buildings and other
improvements, failing which the whole would revert to the Crown at the
end of five years. If successful the scheme would be enlarged by the
erection of further colleges and the establishment of butter, cheese, and
oil factories and wine-making plants. After fully considering the
proposals the Legislative Council decided not to agree to them.** The
same course was taken in the case of suggestions by Mr. Hordern to build
tramways between Perth, Fremantle, Bunbury, Busselton, and Kojonup.

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1884 Paper

(**Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 9 page 307
to 308.)

In order to carry out his agreement to build the Great Southern Railway,
Mr. Hordern formed in London the Western Australian Land Company, with a
capital of 300,000 pounds and a debenture issue of 500,000 pounds, Mr.
T.W. Powell being the first chairman of Directors. Mr. Hordern then left
London with the intention of organising operations in the colony, but
unfortunately fell a victim to the heat of the Red Sea and died before
reaching Albany. His contract was transferred to the Western Australian
Land Company by the Legislative Council in April 1888, with the exception
of the clauses relating to immigration.* Several large bands of
immigrants were introduced in 1886 and 1887, but in June of the latter
year the Company declared itself unable to absorb any more and asked to
be released from the obligation. Judging from the ideas put forward, Mr.
Hordern's death, at a comparatively early age, was a distinct loss to
Western Australia. A man of large outlook and immense business capacity,
he would almost certainly have done much to develop the colony's
resources and raise it to a position of prominence in keeping with its
undoubted possibilities. To the withdrawal of the guiding mind may be
ascribed the want of success of the Land Company.

(*Footnote. 51 Victoria Number 30.)

The contract to build the Great Southern Line was secured by Millar
Brothers, of Melbourne, who commenced at both ends and proceeded so
rapidly that the line was opened to traffic on 1 June 1889.* While under
the direction of the company it was only a modified success, caused
probably by the failure of the Company to dispose of the lands along the
route. Only a small portion was sold or leased, and still less cleared
and cultivated. Town-sites were declared at Lakeside, Mount Barker,
Cranbrook, Broomehill, Katanning, Wagin, Narrogin, and Pingelly. Apart
from the interests of the Company, the line proved a great convenience to
established settlers along the railway, and was of considerable service
to the colony. The Company's property, including the railway, was
purchased by the Government in December 1896** for 1.1 million pounds,
and formally taken over on 8 January 1897.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Year Book 1902 to 1904 page 45.)

(**Footnote. Under 60 Victoria Number 43. See also files of West
Australian December 1896 and January 1897.)

Other schemes for land-grant railways followed upon the agreement with
Mr. Hordern. Between 1885 and 1889 several attempts were made by a
syndicate holding land in the Esperance Bay and Hampton Plains districts
to secure an agreement to connect the two by railway under conditions
similar to those adopted for the Great Southern Line, but the Legislative
Council declined to give its assent. A provisional agreement was entered
into in 1889,* but was never carried out. Another proposal was made in
1888 by Dr. Boyd** to build a line from the eastern terminus of the
Government line to Eucla. The offer was referred to a Select Committee,
which recommended*** that the gauge should be 5 feet 3 inches, that
20,000 acres should be allowed for each mile constructed, and that 50,000
pounds be deposited as a guarantee that the work would be carried out.
The conditions proving too stringent, the proposal lapsed, and another
opportunity--the last for several years--of connecting east and west by
railway was lost. Other offers were made by syndicates to build lines
from Derby and from Wyndham to the newly-opened Kimberley goldfields on
either the land-grant principle or Government guarantee, but the
authorities declined to approve them.

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1889 2nd
session Paper A2; third session Paper Number 5.)

(**Footnote. Ibid 1888 Paper A7.)

(***Footnote. Ibid Paper A11 and Western Australian Parliamentary Debates
volume 14 page 482.)

The only other railway on the land-grant principle that was built was the
outcome of a proposal made by Mr. John Waddington* in 1884 to construct a
line from York to Geraldton by way of Northam and Newcastle. The terms
were based upon those in the agreement with Mr. Hordern. The proposal was
referred to a Select Committee, which advised** that the line should
start from Guildford and run via the Victoria Plains, Upper Irwin, and
Dongara to Walkaway, the southern terminus of the Government line from
Geraldton. On the recommendation of the committee the Government was
empowered to negotiate with Mr. Waddington on the same terms as with Mr.
Hordern, except that the land taken for the railway in passing through
town-sites and freehold property should be only one chain in width, and
that no land should be reserved from sale until the agreement had
actually been concluded. The area of 12,000 acres for each mile of
railway was to be selected in alternate blocks within 40 miles of either
side of the line and so as not to interfere with freeholds already
granted. The agreement was signed in February 1886,*** and the contract
for building the railway was let to Edward Keane. The cost of the work,
complete with rolling stock and other appurtenances, was estimated at
about 1 million pounds Stirling. Want of success on the part of Mr.
Waddington in obtaining the necessary capital caused the suspension of
operations in 1887,**** but they were resumed in 1890 with the assistance
of certain English capitalists, and the whole line was opened to traffic
in 1894. It still remains the property of the Midland Railway Company,
which during recent years has fallen into line with the Government in the
endeavour to extend the agricultural possibilities of Western Australia.

(*Footnote. Ibid 1884 Paper A31.)

(**Footnote. Ibid.)

(***Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1886 Paper
Number 20 copy of contract.)

(****Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 13 page

Concurrently with the building of railways there was considerable
extension of the telegraph system, all of which was carried out by the
Government with the assistance of money derived from loans. The only
offer made to build a telegraph line on the land-grant system was one to
connect Geraldton with Roebourne, which was declined. In 1882 the Council
authorised the work out of loan funds, and the contract was let to J. and
W. Bateman. By it Shark Bay, the Gascoyne, Ashburton, and Fortescue were
all linked with Perth, and an extension was almost immediately made to
Cossack. In 1889 the line was continued to Derby, a distance of about 500
miles, and eventually carried on to Wyndham and Hall's Creek.

In 1883 Sir Julius Vogel* proposed to lay a cable to the north-west coast
to connect with the European system, but afterwards abandoned the idea.
Millar brothers then suggested** (in 1888) running one from the
north-west coast to India or Ceylon, but before negotiations were
concluded the Colonial Office arranged with the Eastern Extension Company
to extend its system from Banjoewangi in Java, to Broome.*** This was
opened in February 1889, and under agreement Western Australia agreed to
transmit all cables to and from the eastern colonies over local lines at
half rates, 1000 pounds a year in receipts being guaranteed. In 1887 the
Perth Telephone Exchange was opened, and the same convenience given to
Fremantle in 1888.

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1883 2nd
session Paper A1.)

(**Footnote. Ibid 1887/8 Paper A2.)

(***Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1888 Paper

We have already seen that in connection with various land-grant railway
schemes offers were made to construct harbour facilities at Fremantle.
Other suggestions had been made from time to time during the history of
the colony, but none of them had inspired confidence in their
practicability. During the seventies plans were submitted to Sir John
Coode, who proposed two possible schemes--one to provide 29 feet of water
in a safe anchorage at a cost of 638,000 pounds and the other to provide
20 feet at a cost of 242,000 pounds.* To consider either in the then
financial condition of the colony was out of the question. The matter was
therefore allowed to rest until 1886, when Sir John Coode was invited to
visit the colony and make suggestions after an exhaustive inspection. In
his report** he expressed the opinion that the difficulties attendant
upon the formation and maintenance of suitable and safe approaches in
Cockburn Sound were so great, and would be accompanied by so large an
expenditure, that there would be no alternative but to consider the
utilisation of the shelter and deep water as impracticable.

(*Footnote. Coode, Sir John. Report on the question of harbour
improvements at Fremantle, in Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative
Council 1878 Paper Number 26.)

(**Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1887 Paper
Number 18.)

With regard to a proposal to build moles and cut a canal through to Rocky
Bay, he considered that the cost of sheltering moles erected in suitable
positions would be so great as to make the idea inadmissible. There was a
grave objection to a corresponding treatment of the existing entrance of
the river, as the limited tide and consequent small backwash for scouring
purposes would probably cause a sandbar to form at the improved entrance
and thus materially affect its utility. The Rocky Bay project he did not
think was feasible. To provide for the unimpeded movement of the sand it
would be requisite that any sheltering work at Fremantle must be detached
from the mainland, connection with the shore being effected by means of
an open viaduct, so arranged as to admit the unrestricted passage of the
sand without causing its deposition. Altogether Sir John Coode's report
was not favourable to the construction of a harbour at Fremantle, and the
Government felt compelled to drop the matter for the time and do what was
possible toward the improvement of existing anchorages.

CHAPTER 15. 1883 TO 1890 (CONTINUED).


The belief that at some time gold in payable quantities would be
discovered in Western Australia seems to have existed almost from the
inception of the colony. The "colour" had repeatedly been found, now
here, now there, but beyond intermittent attempts at prospecting no
strenuous endeavour had been made to discover payable metal. Specks of
alluvial from Dardanup, small scraps from somewhere east of Northam,
"colour" from the Blackwood, and the suggestion of it from the Darling
Ranges comprised the total result up to 1850. Zest was then added to the
search by the discovery in Victoria of goldfields rich beyond
description, and the flame of desire kindled anew. The old navigators'
reports that the north-west seemed to be a land wherein the precious
metal might lie hidden were remembered, but at that time it was
"undiscovered country" so far as Western Australian colonists were
concerned, and no one was hardy enough to brave its possible dangers.
Being of opinion, however, that the territory within reach should be
tested, the Government imported half a dozen prospectors from Ballarat
and engaged a geologist of more or less competence to advise upon mineral
areas. In 1854 Surveyor Robert Austin, passing through the Murchison,
expressed the view that around Mount Magnet lay possibly one of the
richest goldfields of the world. But the renewed activity was doomed to
disappointment, and for a further thirty years the treasures remained
beyond the ken of man. The only result was the careful preparation of
papers for learned societies on the non-auriferous nature of Western
Australian rocks.* Little more was done for many years. After the opening
up of the north-west the Government Resident (Mr. R.F. Sholl) and some of
the settlers occasionally drew attention to what appeared to be promising
mineral areas, and in 1882 a small nugget weighing 14 pennyweight was
found between Cossack and Roebourne by Mr. Alexander McRae. After that
Governor Broome, in a dispatch to the Colonial Office, predicted that the
discovery of payable gold was almost certain, and suggested that
regulations should be framed "for immediate application in case of

(*Footnote. See Paper by E.C. Hargreaves in Proceedings of the Royal
Geographical Society London 1864 volume 8 page 32.)

(**Footnote. Broome to Lord Derby 16 November 1883.)

The actual discovery of gold was due to the advice of the Government
geologist, Mr. E.T. Hardman, a scientist of proved ability and
experience. Mr. Hardman accompanied Mr. H.F. Johnston in the Kimberley
surveying expeditions of 1883 and 1884, and in each case issued
comprehensive reports on the geology of the country. In the first report,
dated April 1884,* he regretted that the hurried nature of the survey
made a systematic examination for gold impossible, but he considered it
extremely likely that that part of the district occupied by the
metamorphic rock would eventually prove to be, in some degree at least,
auriferous. He recommended that a thorough search be made in the country
between the Napier Range and Mount Broome, on the Lennard and Richenda
Rivers, particularly about ten or twelve miles up, where the slate
country commenced. He stated that he had observed continuous exposures of
metamorphic rocks and numerous quartz veins, varying in width and
apparently bearing north-west.

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1884 Paper
Number 31.)

The survey of 1884 passed through the Ord River country, and Mr. Hardman
was especially careful to examine it, as repeated discoveries of fine
alluvial gold had been made by settlers along the course of the river.
His report* was more hopeful than before, and, curiously enough, though
he never secured sufficient gold to cover a threepenny piece, the places
pointed out by him as probably gold-bearing were afterwards proved by
practical miners. The gravel along the bed of the Ord, Elvire, and Panton
Rivers yielded good prospects wherever tested, and the granite rocks
stretching for many miles from the McClintock Ranges were intersected
with quartz veins in which gold was here and there visible. He found that
it was possible to secure indications over a distance of nearly 150

(*Footnote. Ibid 1885 Paper Number 34.)

Mr. Hardman's report--the first from a competent authority--led to
preparations for a prospecting party. By resolution of the Legislative
Council,* the horses of the Kimberley surveying expedition were lent, and
the party, most of whom were experienced miners from the eastern
colonies, left Yeeda Station at the end of August 1885 for the locality
named by Mr. Hardman. Following the Panton River to its junction with the
Elvire, they prospected in the neighbourhood for some days, and succeeded
in collecting about 10 ounces of gold. They then tried the Margaret, Ord,
and Panton Rivers, finding indications everywhere, but were compelled to
leave the spot through lack of provisions and make for Derby, some 400
miles away.** Their claim to be regarded as the discoverers of the
Kimberley goldfield was, however, disputed by Mr. Carr-Boyd, an explorer,
who prior to their advent had sent a parcel of stone from the district to
Melbourne to be treated. In any case the finding of the gold was a much
more important matter to Western Australia than the question of who found
it. The success of the prospectors was quickly noised abroad, and other
parties followed in their wake. The reports which from time to time were
received from these roused general excitement throughout Australia, and
in 1886 the Kimberley rush set in.*** Men came from the eastern colonies
to try their luck, and most of them were, at any rate, rewarded by the
sight of gold. By April 1886, 400 ounces had been received at Derby, and
soon after Carlisle and party arrived with 56 ounces, Keelan with 24, and
others with smaller quantities. In May the Kimberley goldfield was
proclaimed,**** and by June it was estimated that between 200 and 300
miners were scattered over the area embraced within its boundaries. Derby
being somewhat distant from the field, a new port--Wyndham--was
established at Cambridge Gulf in September,***** and the Government
officials stationed there.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 10 pages 195
and 197.)

(**Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 1885 pages 449 and

(***Footnote. The principal sources of authority for the history of the
development of the goldfields are the newspapers of the day from the
beginning of 1886 onwards, the chief papers consulted being the West
Australian, the Inquirer, and, later, the Kalgoorlie Miner and the
Coolgardie Miner. Where other authorities are used, special references
are given. See also Western Australian Year Book 1902 to 1904 part 9.)

(****Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 19 May 1886 page

(*****Footnote. Western Australian Year Book 1902 to 1904 page 102.)

At the opening of the Legislative Council in June, Governor Broome
reported with satisfaction "the discovery of an extensive goldfield of
rich promise" in the Kimberley district, and advised that an Act to
control it be at once passed.* This was assented to in August,** and
provided that miners' rights should be issued on payment of 1 pound per
year, but that no right be issued to an Asiatic or African alien during
the first five years after the proclamation of any goldfield.
Consolidated miners' rights could be obtained by companies on the basis
of the number of individual rights under which the claims were first
taken possession of. Leases could be granted for twenty-one years at a
rental of 20 shillings per acre, and could be surrendered with the
consent of the Warden provided the conditions had been carried out up to
the time of surrender. Business and residual licences could be secured at
a rental of 4 pounds per year for ten years, and these could be
transferred on payment of 5 shillings. No lease could be for more than
twenty-five acres or be granted until two years after the field had been
proclaimed. Any portion of Crown lands could be proclaimed a goldfield by
the Governor, and pastoral leases existing over it suspended or
cancelled. The administration of the Act was carried out by a Warden, who
had the general powers of Justices in Petty Sessions. The Governor in
Council would reward discoveries of a goldfield with a sum not exceeding
1000 pounds. A few days later an export duty of 2 shillings and 6 pence
per ounce was imposed.***

(*Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 11 page 4.)

(**Footnote. 50 Victoria Number 18; Western Australian Government Gazette
14 December 1886 regulations.)

(***Footnote. 50 Victoria Number 21.)

Before the end of 1886 the excitement in Western Australia, and, indeed,
throughout Australia generally, was intense. Nearly 2000 men were at work
in the district, and the Government was busily occupied in providing
proper means of communication. Derby and Wyndham were both used as
landing ports, and became for the time being busy and prosperous centres.
Late in the year Mr. C.D. Price was appointed Warden, and reported* that
when he arrived at McPhee's Gully, four miles from the point where cart
traffic from Derby stopped, he found numbers of men camped, some of them
prepared to give the field a trial, but more about to return to Derby or
Wyndham, disappointed and disheartened. Crossing over to Elvire gorge,
the terminus of the Wyndham road, he found men scattered all over the
area, but congregated chiefly at Hall's Creek, the Twelve-Mile Camp,
Elvire Gorge, and the neighbouring gullies. He was not pleased with the
prospects of the field. There was no alluvium, no lead; the usual
practice was to scrape the surface of the ravines and test the soil by
dry-blowing, or to seek for grains in the bars of the creeks. The average
result was about a pennyweight a day; occasionally more was found in
isolated pockets, but the majority of the men barely secured enough to
keep body and soul together. They stayed merely in the hope that the
rainy season would bring about an improvement. Finding that it did not,
their only desire was to get away. Mr. Price reported that the loss of
valuable property was very great--expensive outfits were sacrificed to
enable the owners to leave, horses were sold for one-fourth of their
value, and in many cases wagons and carts were abandoned. New arrivals
were discouraged from the outset, and many of them never ventured farther
than the end of the cart tracks. So adverse were the reports that met
them that they had only one desire--to get rid of their impedimenta at
whatever price was offered and leave the country in disgust. Mr. Price
intimated that the average cost of outfit was at least 100 pounds per
man, and that very few took that amount away in gold.

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1887 Paper
A19 Annual report on the Kimberley Goldfield.)

Notwithstanding Mr. Price's gloomy report, a certain amount of gold was
secured. The amount exported in 1886 was 302 ounces, valued at 1147
pounds,* but this does not by any means represent the whole output. The
miners objected to the export duty of 2 shillings and 6 pence per ounce,
and whenever possible got out of the country without declaring their
gold. In fact the duty had returned so little (30 pounds) by the end of
June 1887 that the Legislature decided to repeal it.**

(*Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

(**Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 12 pages 54,
126 and 141.)

Early in 1887 it was evident to Mr. Price that the field would not
realise the expectations formed of it. By February there were only about
600 men remaining, and these were congregated chiefly at Twelve-mile Camp
and Brockman's River. In the latter place water was difficult to procure;
for domestic purposes it had to be carried about seven miles, and the
fact that two or three hundred men were prepared to walk that distance
for it every day led him to believe that they were, at any rate, securing
payable results, but he was unable to get any reliable information. After
the December rains rich patches were occasionally discovered, and of
course led to those rushes to the spot on the part of less fortunate
diggers in other places, which are so common a feature of mining camps.
The heaviest pieces of metal were found on the Panton River, the coarsest
on the Brockman, and the finest near Mount Dockrell toward the
south-west. The prospects of alluvial mining were not, however, in
themselves sufficient to keep the men on the field. The real inducement
was the existence of quartz outcrops giving fair indications of gold.*
These encouraged the prospectors to continue the search. The first reef
to be opened up was the Jackson, at Hall's Creek, on the Elvire, in
September 1886. Gold was then obtained from the Lady Broome, Lady
Margaret, and Brockman reefs, and in places sufficient of the metal to
pay expenses was secured by dollying the surface stone. But the ore did
not improve with depth. The Jackson Reef was traced for a considerable
distance, and showed gold all along the way. Two reefs north of the
Panton were tested, rich leaders were discovered at Mount Dockrell, Spear
Gully, and at Two-mile Gully, east of McPhee Gully. From the last-named
130 ounces of gold were quickly obtained. Mr. Carr-Boyd took 11 hundred
weight of quartz from the Jackson reef to Melbourne for treatment, and
reported that it yielded 43 ounces to the ton. By the middle of June
1887, thirty-four quartz claims had been registered--twenty at Hall's
Creek, four at Brockman River, five at Mount Dockrell, and five at Panton
River, the number of men employed being 147.** It was found that the
leasing clauses of the Goldfields Act were very unfavourable to quartz
mining, as no lease could be procured until two years after the
proclamation of the field. The Government geologist, Mr. Hardman,
strongly advised that the clause should be repealed. Mr. Price, to whom
the suggestion was referred, just as strongly opposed it. The object of
the clause, he pointed out, was to prevent large areas of untried
grounds, which might maintain numbers of individual miners, being taken
up by speculators who had no intention of working them, but whose only
object was to float bogus companies. As an instance he quoted the
Northern Territory of South Australia: "There, with equally stringent
regulations, hundreds of acres are locked up, and have been for years;
not a man at work, and costly machinery utterly destroyed through
neglect."*** All this, he considered, was due to the fact that leases
were granted when the field was first discovered. Notwithstanding this
adverse view, the Act was amended in 1888 so as to allow leases to be
granted immediately.****

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1887 Paper
A19 Annual report on Kimberley Goldfield.)

(**Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1887 Paper
A19 Annual report on Kimberley Goldfield.)

(***Footnote. Ibid Paper A17.)

(****Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 13 pages
147 to 150.)

As usually happens in new mining settlements, where men are intent upon
the one object, the finding of gold, the men at Kimberley suffered
greatly from want of proper sanitary precautions and from scarcity of
provisions. Disregard of sanitation in an area so well within the tropics
brought in its train fever and ague, scurvy and dysentery, diseases that
were increased in severity by want of proper nursing and nourishment, and
the mere fact that so many stayed there is evidence either that they were
making more than a competency or were strongly inoculated with the virus
of perseverance. The prospects certainly improved during 1887. Good
alluvial gold was discovered in various places and small nuggets
occasionally brought to light. One party conveyed over 1500 ounces to
Derby in one trip. Companies were formed to work the quartz mines, and
machinery for one of them--the Nicholas, on the Margaret reef--reached
Hall's Creek in November. The Lady Carrington Mine was purchased by a
London syndicate, conditionally upon the first crushing yielding 2 ounces
to the ton--not usually a difficult condition to fulfil. Other mines were
also successfully floated, and a belief in the permanence of the field
began to arise. The official returns show that 4873 ounces, valued at
18,517 pounds,* were entered at the Customs for export during the year.

(*Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

Developments were continued in 1888, and at the same time the search for
alluvial gold was carried on. The returns were not so large as for 1887,
the total being 3493 ounces, valued at 13,273 pounds,* not quite all of
which came from Kimberley. Further extensions of plant in the way of
batteries and so forth were made during 1889 and 1890, but it became
evident that the cost of raising the ore and treating it was greater than
the value of gold secured. The returns show that in 1889 the district
yielded 2464 ounces, and 4474 in 1890,** but by the end of that year the
Golden Crown was the only mine paying expenses, and most of the others
were shut down. Though gold had been proved to exist both in reefs and as
alluvial, the want of capital and the cost and difficulties of transit
made it impossible to work the field on a large scale at a profit.
Doubtless when these obstacles can be overcome, attention will once more
be directed to the district, with better prospects of success. After 1890
the population of the field dwindled to about 300. These eke out a living
more or less comfortably in searching for alluvial, or in the hope of
securing a Government bonus are testing the old reefs from which rich
stone was formerly obtained. But though the Kimberley field, from which
so much was expected, must be regarded as a comparative failure, it
served an excellent purpose in directing attention to the fact that gold
DID exist in Western Australia, and that there was every reason to expect
that the country would well repay examination by those whose experience
and ability fitted them for the task. This impression was strengthened by
an incident that happened in 1887. In that year Mr. Charles Glass of
Mugakine,*** while digging a tank on his property, situated about 100
miles east of Newcastle, found a large speck of metal which on
examination proved to be gold. This, combined with the fact that from
time to time indications of gold had been reported from the country east
of Northam, led to proposals to equip a prospecting party to test the
district. At the instance of Mr. (afterwards Sir) George Shenton, the
Legislative Council voted 300 pounds toward such a project,**** and with
this assistance the Settlers' Association of the eastern districts fitted
out a party under the leadership of Mr. B.N. Colreavy. Colreavy worked
over all the country between Newcastle and the Yilgarn Hills, a distance
of some 200 miles, but his labours were practically fruitless, though he
was so much impressed with the appearance of the country that he
immediately set out on a trip on his own account. While Colreavy was out
on his second trip, quite a sensation was caused by the return of Mr. H.
Anstey from Yilgarn with some rich specimens of quartz. Mr. Anstey, on
behalf of a syndicate, had gone out in the same direction as Colreavy,
and had discovered an outcrop at Lake Deborah, from which a member of the
party named Paine had broken off the first specimen. Anstey returned to
Perth with the stone, while the rest of the party remained, and in course
of prospecting found four other reefs, one of which was traced for 1200
yards. Another party, under Mr. Seabrook, also discovered quartz reefs in
the same neighbourhood, and some excellent specimens were obtained by Mr.
von Bibra. Unfortunately it was found that Anstey's reef, though good at
surface, soon pinched out and showed no indication of gold upon sinking a
shaft. This happened just about the time that Colreavy, who was
prospecting at Golden Valley some 30 miles to the south, discovered a
reef that carried gold throughout, and Mr. W.J. Parker, some 40 miles
farther south again, discovered good indications at a place which he
called Parker Range. This caused a mild rush, with the result that
various new reefs were struck to the south and east by Riseley and
others--representing the Phoenix Company--who named their principal find,
some 30 miles east of Golden Valley, Southern Cross, by reason of the
fact that they had used the constellation as a guide when travelling by

(*Footnote. Ibid.)

(**Footnote. Western Australian Geological Survey Bulletin Number 16
Perth 1904 page 17.)

(***Footnote. Western Australian Year Book 1902 to 1904 page 894.)

(****Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 12 page

In February 1888 Mr. H.P. Woodward, F.G.S, who had been appointed
Government geologist in succession to Mr. E.T. Hardman (who died in 1886)
visited the fields and reported* very favourably upon their prospects.
The Government at a later date awarded Mr. Anstey 500 pounds, and Messrs.
Colreavy and partner 250 pounds each, as rewards for the discovery of the
Yilgarn goldfield.

(*Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1887/8
Number 7.)

The chief difficulty that faced the prospectors was want of water. To
surmount this the Government spent 1000 pounds on water conservation
during 1888, and on 1 October of that year proclaimed the district as a
goldfield.* Mr. A.F. Thompson was appointed Warden (being shortly
afterwards succeeded by Mr. J.M. Finnerty) and Mr. A.E.F. Compton, Mining
Registrar. Very little development took place until the following year,
and then not so much around Golden Valley as in the neighbourhood of the
newly-discovered Southern Cross. Here true lodes, holding rich quartz,
were found, and companies to work them formed in Perth and Fremantle, and
in Adelaide. The Central, Central Extended, Fraser's, and Fraser's South
Mining Companies were floated and machinery ordered. Condensers for
supplying fresh water were erected, stores set up, and the beginnings of
a mining township followed quickly. The Government geologist, convinced
that the district would prove productive, advocated the building of a
railway. The activity abated toward the middle of the year, as from want
of machinery no returns had been secured by the companies. Mills were
started at the Central and Fraser's toward the close of 1889, and after
some difficulty the pure gold was separated from the black, muddy amalgam
caused by the action of the saltwater on the refuse from the machinery.
The results gave confidence in the prospects of the district, and,
combined with continual new discoveries of quartz, brought about an air
of permanence, though the unpleasant nature of the climate and the
uncomfortable conditions under which work had to be done led the
Government to grant exemption to the mines during the heat of summer. As
an instance of the primitive conditions prevailing, it may be mentioned
that the courthouse was a bush structure and that the Warden dispensed
justice while sitting on a gin-case, a candle-box being provided for his
clerk. During the year seventy-one leases, representing 684 acres, were
applied for; two claims and eighteen protection areas were occupied; and
nineteen business licences and 394 miners' rights issued. The output of
the field for 1889 was 1858 ounces.** A breakdown of the machinery at
Fraser's Mine during the early part of 1890 had a tendency to lessen
public confidence in the prospects generally, but the declaration of a
dividend--the first on the field--of 6 pence a share in the following
November did much to restore it. The Commissioner of Crown Lands visited
the district in June, and was met with quite a number of requests, most
of which, being impressed with the possibilities of the locality, he
recommended, but they were not carried out at the time owing to
constitutional changes being imminent. The amount of gold exported from
Yilgarn in 1890 was 2277 ounces, valued at 8652 pounds.***

(*Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 1888 page 585.)

(**Footnote. Western Australian Geological Survey Bulletin Number 16 page

(***Footnote. Ibid.)

Yilgarn did not, however, show such encouraging results as another
gold-producing area discovered about the same time. In 1888 a lad named
Withnall, at Mallina, some 70 miles east of Roebourne, found a speck of
gold in a stone he was about to throw at a bird. The Kimberley excitement
having made everyone alert, the district was prospected, and two
promising reefs--the Mallina and the Pedawah--were discovered, and
shortly afterwards several others were found. In July a rich alluvial
find was made at Pilbara Creek and a large quantity of gold secured in a
very short time. Several nuggets of from 30 to 40 ounces each were
unearthed, and in November Mr. A. Villars secured one weighing 127
ounces. The Pilbara goldfield* was proclaimed on the same day as the
Yilgarn--1 October 1888--and Mr. C.W. Nyulasy appointed Warden until June
1889, when Mr. W.L. Owen took up the position. The discovery of rich
alluvial at points scattered throughout the district caused quite a rush
during 1889, the excitement extending beyond the confines of the colony.
Syndicates were formed in Melbourne and other centres to work the mines
at Pilbara and Mallina, and prospectors were soon scattered over the
whole field. The chief centre of the goldfields was called Marble Bar,
from the fact that at the place where it was erected a bar of mottled
quartz, believed at first to be marble, crossed the Shaw River. Most of
the miners were to be found where alluvial gold was richest. Early in the
year a party of prospectors discovered good alluvial diggings on the
Oakover, from which some hundreds of ounces of gold were gathered in a
very short time. At Nullagine many alluvial claims were returning
handsome yields. In August a new field was discovered eleven miles east
of Roebourne by a Chinaman, and named the Nickol field. It was only of
small area, and being near the sea was covered with water at high tide.
No great results were obtained from it.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 1888 page 585.)

In the same year gold was found near Lake Austin on the Murchison, and
also on the Ashburton, but no results were secured sufficient to justify
any excitement. Gold was also taken from the district south of
Cuddingwarra, and specimens were obtained from the Wongan Hills, some 60
miles north-east of Newcastle, but during 1889 and 1890 the principal
yields came from Pilbara. In 1889, out of a total export of 15,492
ounces, 11,170 came from that field, and in 1890, out of 22,806 ounces,
it accounted for 16,055.*

(*Footnote. Western Australian Geological Survey Bulletin Number 16 page
19 and Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

Another commercial metal--tin--was also discovered in 1888, owing
probably to researches made by Mr. E.T. Hardman some years earlier. On
one occasion, when engaged officially in the Blackwood district, he was
accompanied by Mr. Stinton, to whom he suggested the probable occurrence
of tin-bearing deposits. Having this in mind, Mr. Stinton in 1888, while
out kangaroo hunting at Greenbushes, found a small quantity of stream tin
in a gully near the Blackwood River, just off the main road, and about
nine miles from Bridgetown. Several leases were taken up, but as the
mining regulations did not at the time contain any labour clauses, very
little work was done. In 1891 Mr. Stinton's discovery was rewarded by a
grant of 250 pounds from the Government.

We now turn to the last phase of the long-drawn-out struggle for
responsible government.* It will be remembered that in 1882 Mr. Parker
asked that the Governor should obtain from the Secretary of State
definite information as to the terms and conditions upon which autonomy
would be granted. Feeling convinced that the finances of the colony
warranted the step, he did not wait for a reply, but in 1883 moved in the
Council "that the time has arrived when it is desirable that the colony
of Western Australia should adopt a system of responsible government."**
The motion gained considerable support, mainly because there was an
impression that the Government was holding back funds that ought to be
spent in various works of development. It was, however, defeated by an
amendment proposed by Mr. Lee Steere*** to the effect that having asked
for the opinion of the Secretary of State no definite steps ought to be
taken until a reply had been received.

(*Footnote. The various dispatches and communications regarding
responsible government in Western Australia will be found printed in the
Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council between 1883 and 1890
and also in Great Britain Parliamentary Papers Cd. Number 5743, 5762,
5919 and Commons Paper Number 120 1890.)

(**Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 8 page 282.)

(***Footnote. Ibid page 296.)

The then Secretary for the Colonies (Lord Derby) appears to have been
disinclined to commit the Imperial authorities to any decisive course of
action. So far from encouraging the idea of autonomy, he seems to have
thought it his duty to stand in the way. In his reply* he followed the
line of Lord Kimberley, and pointed out the difficulty of administering
the northern and southern parts of the colony together, inferring that
this could be more satisfactorily done if Western Australia remained a
Crown colony. After pointing out that the separation of Queensland from
New South Wales became unavoidable long before its districts in the
latitude of Kimberley had been occupied, and that most probably the same
would occur between the northern and southern portions of Western
Australia almost immediately after responsible government had been
granted, Lord Derby proceeded:

"I am therefore not disposed to anticipate that the request for
responsible government will be pressed at this time, or that, if urged by
the residents in the southern part of the colony, it would be equally
acceptable to those who are now developing the tropical districts in the
belief that their interests are protected by the Crown. And while I am of
opinion that under responsible government the control of the Crown lands
generally would have to be vested in the Colonial Parliament, it appears
to me, as at present advised, that it would be necessary to make an
exception in respect of those northern Crown lands which would be likely
to form a separate colony at an early date. With a view to meet a
contingency (which, however, I hope may not arise for a considerable
time, as there appears to be no reason why the colony should not continue
to prosper for a further period under its present form of government) I
think it desirable that a separate account should be kept of the revenue
raised and expended in each district of the colony; and it will also have
to be considered whether, in any future Bill, it must not be declared
that the lands and revenues of the Kimberley and some other portions of
the northern districts will not form part of the security for the

(*Footnote. Lord Derby to Broome 23 July 1883.)

(**Footnote. Lord Derby to Broome 23 July 1883.)

The dispatch concluded by requesting that a full statement of the
conditions of the colony, with exhaustive tables and financial returns,
should be forwarded by the Governor to the Colonial Office, in order that
if the demand was persisted in, the Imperial authorities might be in
possession of all possible information.

As the Colonial Office, almost from the inception of the colony, had been
looked upon by the settlers as the chief obstacle in the way of progress,
this dispatch, which was not only aimed at discouraging the desires of
the colonists, but seemed to contain a veiled threat as to what would
happen if the agitation were continued, had the almost immediate effect
of stimulating public interest in the question. Many of those who had
been more or less apathetic awoke to an active interest in the situation.
Governor Broome compiled the report asked for, giving not only tables and
other necessary data, but a clear expression of his own opinion.

"Though I see no valid reason," he wrote,* "for withholding free
institutions from the colony after its inhabitants shall have expressed a
general and decided wish to take upon themselves the burden and the
responsibility of that form of government, I am strongly of the opinion
that until such a wish shall have been expressed, which certainly it has
not been as yet, it would be a mistake to make this great and
irretrievable change. Furthermore, while I concede that the colony has
reached a stage at which a claim to its birthright, if deliberately
insisted upon, should not be refused, I nevertheless think that Western
Australia would do well to delay its majority for a time, until its
wealth and population shall have still further increased, and until (what
is hardly the case as yet) the community contains within itself a good
ballast weight of public opinion, and a sufficient complement of
qualified public men to govern on the party system. By qualified public
men I mean not only men of ability and capacity for public affairs (for
these already exist in full proportion) but men in whom good social
standing is joined to means and leisure sufficient to allow them to
devote themselves to political business. It is in this respect a
deficiency would, I think, be felt. But the deficiency is not so serious
as to be absolutely prohibitive. With respect to the class of politicians
to whom the affairs of the colony would be confided under responsible
government, the constituencies at present place in the Legislative
Council gentlemen who are among the most leading, most intelligent, and
most public-spirited men of the colony, and who would be a credit to any
community. There is no reason to suppose that the electors would cease to
do this under responsible government."

(*Footnote. Broome to Lord Derby 9 April 1884.)

The Governor then proceeded to advise that Her Majesty's Government
should intimate that responsible government would not be refused if a
very decided and general wish for it should find utterance at the
elections, which must take place not later than "next year"*--a wish that
had not so far been expressed--but concluded by pointing out that he did
not consider a change necessary or desirable so long as representative
government gave reasonable satisfaction.

(*Footnote. Broome to Lord Derby 9 April 1884.)

Governor Broome's estimate of the existing state of affairs was both
accurate and impartial; there was not at that time any decisive public
desire for autonomy, but his report and the reply of Lord Derby to it
went a long way towards creating one. In this reply, which was vague,
indefinite, and unsatisfactory, the Secretary of State wrote:*

"I am not prepared at present to authorise you to announce that
responsible government could be granted, if at the general election of
next year there should be a strong expression of opinion in favour of the
change; because, as I pointed out in my dispatch of last year, there are
important political and financial questions which would have to be
satisfactorily settled before any such steps could be taken, and I
confess that I anticipate considerable difficulty in dealing with some of
those questions. If, however, the electors should declare themselves very
generally and decisively in favour of a change in the Constitution,
having had before them the considerations explained in my dispatch of 23
July 1883 (regarding the possible separation of the northern portion of
the colony) Her Majesty's Government would not refuse to examine the
details of the arrangements which it would be necessary to make if
responsible government should be introduced; but, without full and
careful inquiry, they would not be prepared to give any definite
assurance that the introduction of responsible government is now

(*Footnote. Lord Derby to Broome 14 July 1884.)

Few references were made to the subject during the 1884 session of the
Legislative Council, which was held before the receipt of the foregoing
dispatch. The opinions that were voiced were mainly from opponents, and
were designed really to raise the bogey of possible separation of the
northern districts if the agitation for autonomy were continued. At no
time does there seem to have been any desire evinced by the settlers in
those districts, but the fact that the Secretary of State's dispatches
hinted at the possibility was sufficient for the opponents of responsible
government to use it as an argument. To strengthen their case they quoted
the dissatisfaction that existed over the land regulations, the small
amount of public money spent in the Kimberley and Gascoyne districts, and
the useless way in which the money that was voted was expended. The
discussion was, however, purely academic; the settlers in the north took
no interest in it, and it must be admitted that at that time, at any
rate, it had no practical bearing on the question of autonomy. All that
the northern settlers wanted was better representation in the existing
Legislature, and this they secured in 1886, when the Kimberley electorate
was formed, of which Mr. Alexander Forrest was the first elected
representative, Mr. D.K. Congdon being at the same time nominated to a
seat in the Council.

The elections referred to in Governor Broome's dispatch were held in
October and November 1884. The desire for responsible government was made
as far as possible a test question, but the results were not markedly in
favour of any change. In the absence of any definite mandate from the
people, no pronounced movement was made by the Council in 1885. Certain
information as to the terms under which Queensland and Victoria were
separated from New South Wales was obtained, and questions bearing upon
the possible separation of the northern districts were asked,* but beyond
that the agitation was allowed to slumber. Before the Council met in
1886, certain changes had taken place in its personnel, which had
probably some effect in making the demand for autonomy more insistent.
Sir Luke Leake, who had been Speaker ever since the introduction of
representative government, died in London, and Mr. J.G. Lee Steere was
elected to the position. Dr. E. Scott was elected to represent Perth in
the place of the deceased knight, and about the same time Mr. Maitland
Brown and Mr. Septimus Burt gave place to Mr. R.F. Sholl and Captain T.
Fawcett. The Attorney-General (Mr. A.P. Hensman) resigned his office
early in the year owing to a serious disagreement with the Governor, who
formally interdicted him from exercising the functions of his position.
As usually happened when Sir Frederick Broome exercised the power of
interdict, the Colonial Office cancelled it, but Mr. Hensman did not
again take up the Attorney-Generalship. For a time it was held by Mr. S.
Burt, and then by Mr. G.W. Leake until a new Attorney-General (Mr. C.N.
Warton) arrived from England.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 10 pages 128
et seq.)

No reference was made to the question of autonomy by the Governor in his
opening address to the Council in 1886, but later in the session a motion
proclaiming that the time had arrived when Western Australia should adopt
responsible government was moved by Mr. H.W. Venn,* whose views seem to
have been received with distinct favour by the audience,** if not by the
Council. The motion was seconded by Dr. Scott and strongly supported by
Captain Fawcett, both of whom were convinced that by responsible
government alone could the prosperity of the colony be assured. Mr.
Crowther opposed the motion on the ground that seven-tenths of the people
were averse to any change, and Mr. Charles Harper and Mr. George Shenton
moved and seconded an amendment to postpone consideration till the
following session, mainly on the old cry that the time was
inopportune.*** Mr. Parker, the acknowledged leader of the movement,
objected to postponement, but in the end it was carried by eleven votes
to eight, the official members, at the request of the Governor,
abstaining from voting. The vote was probably affected by the fact that
it was not moved by Mr. Parker, and was not regarded as the official
utterance of the party favourable to the change. The reason for this was
that important alterations of the land regulations were under
consideration at the time, and it was felt that they ought to be disposed
of first as being of more pressing necessity than prospective alterations
of the Constitution. The discussion had, however, one important result.
It led the people to consider the question in all its bearings and to
take an active interest in it.

(*Footnote. Ibid volume 11 pages 270 and 378 et seq.)

(**Footnote. Ibid page 385.)

(***Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 11 page

The Governor communicated the substance of the Council debate to the
Secretary of State, and ventured the opinion that from the indications
available the advocates for responsible government appeared to be gaining
ground.* The presumption of mere colonists in daring to suggest that they
knew enough about their own colony to govern its affairs seems to have
angered the Colonial Office, and the Secretary of State replied sharply,
reiterating the statement of his predecessor, "that if responsible
government were introduced it would not be practicable for Her Majesty's
Government to surrender to a Parliament representing a small population
principally resident in the southern districts the control of all the
vast territory now included in Western Australia."** How that "vast
territory" could be more satisfactorily controlled by one man removed by
thousands of miles from the spot, and absolutely ignorant of local
conditions and requirements, he did not attempt to explain.

(*Footnote. Broome to Secretary Stanhope 18 November 1886.)

(**Footnote. Sir H.T. Holland to Broome 4 February 1887.)

Governor Broome referred to this dispatch at the opening of the session
of 1887,* and gave it as his opinion that though he was not opposed to
responsible government, separation would be too great a price to pay for
it, particularly if by waiting a year or two the threatened division of
the colony could be avoided. At the same time he was prepared, should the
Council adopt an address in favour of it, to transmit such address to the
Secretary of State and request the views of the Imperial authorities on
the matter. Upon the receipt of those views he would make them public and
at once dissolve the Legislature so that the constituencies might
pronounce their judgment.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 12 page 3.)

In agreeing to transmit an address, if presented to him, Sir Frederick
Broome had probably a fairly good idea of what was likely to occur. On 24
June Mr. Parker presented to the Council a petition from the citizens of
Perth* asking for responsible government, and on 6 July he followed up
the petition by moving:

"That in the opinion of this Council the time has arrived when the
Executive should be made responsible to the Legislature of the colony;
and that it is further the opinion of this Council that Western Australia
should remain one and undivided under the new Constitution."**

(Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 12 page 8.)

(**Footnote. Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1887 page

A long and interesting debate* ensued, in which every possible argument
for and against seems to have been adduced; in the result the first
resolution was carried by thirteen votes to four, and the second on the
voices.** The official members again refrained from voting, and Messrs.
Shenton, Marmion, and Harper took the same course, as they were not
convinced that the time was ripe.*** These resolutions were then embodied
in an address and forwarded to the Governor, by whom they were dispatched
to the Secretary of State**** with a covering letter strongly supporting
them, but advising that adequate provision be made for the protection of
the aborigines in the north, and that power be reserved, independently of
the local Legislature, to erect any portion of the territory into a
separate colony should future events render that course necessary. The
separation question he discussed at some length, believing it to be (as,
indeed, it subsequently became) a very important factor in the
discussion. As to the details of the new Constitution, he suggested a
Legislative Council of not less than fifteen members, and a Legislative
Assembly of thirty, the first Council to be nominated for a short term
but to be elective afterwards. Questions of franchise ought, he
considered, to be left to the local authorities. Finally he asked for the
earliest possible intimation of the views of the Imperial authorities.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 12 pages 84
et seq.)

(**Footnote. Ibid page 121.)

(***Footnote. Ibid.)

(****Footnote. Broome to Sir H.T. Holland 12 July 1887.)

Some fortnight later the Governor forwarded a second dispatch,* urging
that as a second session of the Council should be called in December to
deal with the Estimates and the question of further loans, it was
absolutely necessary that the members should know the intentions of the
Imperial Government on the question of possible separation of the
northern portion of the colony. At the same time he stated that he was
engaged with the Attorney-General in preparing a draft Bill for a new
Constitution which would not, however, be submitted to the Council
without the Secretary of State's consent. In August a cable was received
from Sir Henry Holland to the effect that he was prepared to accept both
resolutions of the Council, with the reservation of special provisions
for the protection of natives and the government of the north.** This was
followed in September by a further cable stating that legislation for the
next session was premature, and that nothing should be done until the
views of the Home Government were known.***

(*Footnote. Broome to Sir H.T. Holland 28 July 1887.)

(**Footnote. Telegram Sir H.T. Holland to Broome 31 August 1887.)

(***Footnote. Ibid 17 September 1887.)

Up to the time the Council met in December these views had not been
received, but a request for a further loan had been refused on the
grounds that constitutional changes were impending.* In a frame of mind
almost approaching disgust, the Council regretted that the views of the
Imperial authorities had not been received, and requested that before it
passed the Estimates for 1888 it should be informed of the date upon
which such views might be definitely expected.**

(*Footnote. Sir H.T. Holland to Broome 18 October 1887.)

(**Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 13 pages 56
to 60.)

The dispatch replying to the Council resolutions of July 1887 was
received in January 1888,* and was not at all satisfactory to the
colonists. Beyond merely agreeing to the principle of responsible
government it did not advance the question a step, all the suggestions
made with regard to detail being vague and inconclusive. Sir Henry
Holland admitted that 40,000 persons raising a revenue of 400,000 pounds
should, if confined within reasonable geographical limits, be deemed
capable of governing themselves, but demurred about handing over to that
number of persons, mostly congregated in one corner of it, a vast
territory capable of sustaining millions of people. Representations had,
he said, been made that the northern districts should not be placed under
the control of a parliament elected by so small a population, most of
which was resident in the south. If some means could be devised by which
the unalienated lands of the outlying portions could be preserved for the
benefit of future inhabitants, it might be possible to establish
responsible government in Western Australia. He then proposed that the
colony should be divided into two portions by latitude 26 degrees, and
that the Crown lands of the northern part should remain under the control
of the Imperial Government, and the returns from sales be invested to
form a fund for the benefit of any colonies that might in the future be
created out of the districts concerned.

(*Footnote. Sir H.T. Holland to Broome 12 December 1887.)

A further dispatch* was received in February 1888, suggesting that for
the time being, at any rate, the Legislature should consist of a single
Chamber, with power to create a second Chamber when the population
reached, say 80,000. If two Chambers were considered necessary at the
beginning, then the first Upper Chamber ought to consist of members
nominated for a term, at the end of which the elective principle would
operate. The Upper Chamber should not have power to deal with Money
Bills. Protection should be assured to the natives by the establishment
of an Aborigines Protection Board on the lines laid down by the Governor.

(*Footnote. Sir H.T. Holland to Broome 3 January 1888.)

Responsible government now became the burning question in Western
Australian political life. On 21 March Mr. Hensman moved in the Council a
series of resolutions* setting out the principles which he thought should
be embodied in the new Constitution. Briefly they were: that the
Executive Council should consist of the Governor and five Ministers of
the Crown; that the Parliament should consist of a single Chamber of
thirty members, to be called the Legislative Assembly, which should have
power to create a second Chamber at a future time if two-thirds of the
members were in favour of so doing; that the colony be divided into
twenty-eight electoral districts, each of which should return one member
except Perth and Fremantle, which should be entitled to two; that the
Assembly should be elected for three years; and that the members should
be paid actual expenses when sitting, but not more than 50 pounds in any
one year.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 13 pages 212
to 213.)

After some discussion these were adjourned so as to allow Mr. Parker to
move a further series dealing with the same subject. These, the
consideration of which was entered upon on 23 March,* provided that to
indicate the possible future boundary of a northern political subdivision
was premature and open to serious objection; that no statutory
reservation of northern Crown lands was necessary, as control of
legislation over such could be exercised by the Royal veto; that in view
of the recently revised land regulations any arrangement for funding the
proceeds of sales of northern lands was a needless complication; that the
Constitution should provide for two Chambers from the beginning; that the
second House should be elected by the people; that the two Houses should
have equal authority in legislation; that provision be made for
deadlocks; and that there was no necessity to place the protection of the
aborigines under a body independent of the Colonial Ministry. These
proposals were debated for some days and finally agreed to, those of Mr.
Hensman being withdrawn.** The whole were thereupon embodied in an
address to the Governor requesting that in forwarding them to the
Secretary of State he would point out the "extreme importance attaching
to an early settlement of this most important question."***

(*Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 13 page 220.)

(**Footnote. Ibid pages 273 to 274.)

(***Footnote. Ibid. The resolutions were forwarded in Broome to Lord
Knutsford 14 April 1888.)

Governor Broome then, with the assistance of the Executive, applied
himself to the task of drafting a Bill. In this he was not a little
hampered by the Secretary of State, who had been raised to the peerage as
Lord Knutsford. Lord Knutsford, recognising that the colonists were
serious in their demand for autonomy, and having admitted the general
principle, entered upon a voluminous correspondence in regard to the
details.* One of the difficulties to be overcome was the Secretary's
strong desire for a single Chamber. This the Governor rigorously opposed.
"There is nothing," he wrote, "so far as I know, within the limits of the
British Empire that can be called a precedent for the experiment of a
single Chamber in Western Australia, and I think such an experiment full
of danger. Much irremediable harm might be done before the Constitution
could be changed. Further, it is well known that there is nothing more
difficult in politics than to persuade a representative Assembly that it
should surrender power; and, whatever rights were reserved to Her Majesty
in Council, there might be considerable difficulty in altering a
Constitution once granted."** For these reasons the Governor adhered to
his contention that there should be two Houses, as in the other
Australian colonies, and that both should be elected by the people. The
remainder of the dispatch was confined to a statement of the various
clauses of a Bill which he had drafted, with the reasons which impelled
him to insert them. He suggested a 500 pound qualification for members
and a Civil list reservation of 9850 pounds; this would mean an
additional charge on the revenue of 6910 pounds each year, including the
pensions to those officials deprived of office by the passing of the
Bill. The provision for an Aborigines' Protection Board was inserted, and
5000 pounds set down as the sum to be expended annually upon the natives.

(*Footnote. See Lord Knutsford to Broome 14 July 1888 telegram; 30 July
and 31 August 1888.)

(**Footnote. Broome to Lord Knutsford 28 May 1888.)

The copy of the Bill as drafted by the Governor was forwarded with the
dispatch. This the Secretary of State amended in various ways,* the
principal alteration being to make the Council a nominee Chamber, and to
insert a wider power to divide the colony at any time into two or more
colonies if such a course should be deemed wise. The method of procedure
agreed upon with regard to the Bill was that it was to be introduced into
the Council, and after the opinion of members had been obtained the
Council was to be dissolved and the constituencies given an opportunity
of pronouncing upon the measure.** It was then to be considered by the
new Council, and if passed, transmitted for the approval of the Imperial

(*Footnote. Lord Knutsford to Broome 30 July and 31 August 1888.)

(**Footnote. Broome to Lord Knutsford 13 October 1888 and Lord Knutsford
to Broome 26 November 1888.)

The Bill was formally introduced into the Council on 19 October 1888,*
and the debate upon the second reading took place during the first week
in November.** The Colonial Secretary, Sir Malcolm Fraser (knighted in
1887) moved its acceptance, and incidentally drew attention to the fact
that no provision was made for a member to vacate his seat on being
appointed a Minister of the Crown.*** Strong opposition to a nominated
Upper House was shown by Messrs. Parker**** and Hensman,****** and
equally strong support given to the idea by Mr. John Forrest.****** Mr.
Parker suggested that the first Council should be nominated for a term of
six years, but that on the expiration of that period it should become
elective. The provision for possible future separation of the colony also
evoked considerable adverse criticism, but in the end the Bill passed its
second reading by thirteen votes to nine.*******

(*Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 14 page 91.)

(**Footnote. Ibid page 177 onwards and 218 onwards.)

(***Footnote. Ibid page 179.)

(****Footnote. Ibid page 182.)

(*****Footnote. Ibid pages 196 to 197.)

(******Footnote. Ibid pages 189 to 190.)

(*******Footnote. Ibid page 234.)

In accordance with the arrangement agreed upon, Governor Broome prorogued
the Council in the following month, and shortly afterwards it was
dissolved in order that the Bill might go before the people. In the
meantime Sir Frederick Broome had advised the Secretary of State of the
debate which had taken place,* and secured the Minister's approval** to
an alteration in the constitution of the Legislative Council so as to
make it a nominee body for the term of six years after the inauguration
or until the population reached 60,000. On the fulfilment of either of
these conditions the Council was to become elective.

(*Footnote. Broome to Lord Knutsford 6 November 1888.)

(**Footnote. Lord Knutsford to Broome 2 January 1889 telegram.)

The elections were held in January 1889, and disclosed a decisive vote in
favour of responsible government. The principal factor in bringing about
this result was no doubt the desire of the people to govern themselves,
but it was greatly assisted by the refusal of the Imperial authorities to
sanction loans on the ground that constitutional changes were impending.

The session opened on 13 March, and on the 18th the Constitution Bill was
again introduced and the second reading moved by Sir Malcolm Fraser. The
debate that ensued* was earnest in spirit and almost academic in
character, marking the high-water level of Western Australian politics up
to that time. Many of the clauses of the Bill which were to some degree
repugnant to the colonists were accepted in order that as far as possible
everything calculated to jeopardise the measure in its passage through
the Imperial Parliament might be avoided. Argument centred chiefly round
three questions--the control of the lands, the electoral qualifications,
and the Civil list, and these phases were ably discussed in Committee.
The land clauses in the Bill were vague, and did not actually give the
Legislature the control of Crown lands. It was understood that Lord
Knutsford was prepared to concede absolute control over lands to the
south of latitude 26 degrees and partial control over the remainder. Mr.
Burt proposed that the entire control of the lands in the South-West,
Eucla, and Eastern divisions should be given to the Colonial Parliament,
and Mr. Shenton moved, and eventually carried, an amendment vesting all
lands south of the Tropic of Capricorn.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 15 pages 22
et seq.)

The franchise was altered so as to give a vote to a lodger who had
occupied for twelve months a room or rooms of the clear annual value of
10 pounds, and the duration of the Assembly was reduced from five to four
years. The Civil List and Pensions' Schedule were then considered, and
reductions to the extent, in all, of 1900 pounds were made. The Bill was
reconsidered in Committee on 2 April and other minor alterations made,
and on the 5th the third reading was carried on the voices.* After the
Bill had passed through Committee the Governor cabled the fact to the
Secretary of State,** and on the 6th a reply*** to the effect that the
only amendments he could agree to were those making the duration of the
Assembly four years and giving lodgers the franchise. The Governor then
returned the Bill to the Council,**** which, after consideration, decided
to insist upon its amendments regarding the land questions***** and the
Civil List.*****

(*Footnote. Ibid page 246.)

(**Footnote. Broome to Lord Knutsford 4 April 1889.)

(***Footnote. Lord Knutsford to Broome 6 April 1889.)

(****Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 15 page

(*****Footnote. Ibid pages 266 to 288.)

A deadlock seemed imminent, but it was avoided by the Secretary of State,
who intimated that he was prepared to concede control over all lands
south of latitude 26 degrees.* The measure was then returned to the
Council for the third time,** and on the advice of the Governor,
supported by the earnest appeal of Mr. Parker,*** the land boundary was
accepted and the amendment regarding the Civil List withdrawn. The
Constitution Bill finally left the Legislative Council on 26 April.****
On the 29th a memorial was adopted for presentation to the Secretary of
State drawing attention to various points--more particularly in regard to
the Civil List--which seemed to press hardly upon the colony, and
asserting that these matters had been dropped merely in order not to
imperil the safety of the Bill.*****

(*Footnote. Lord Knutsford to Broome 13 April 1889 telegram.)

(**Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 15 pages 299
to 300 and 337 to 338.)

(***Footnote. Ibid page 340.)

(****Footnote. Ibid page 391.)

(*****Footnote. Ibid pages 403 to 404 copy of memorial.)

The troubles of the measure were, however, by no means at an end. After
reaching London it passed the scrutiny of the Colonial Office
successfully and was approved without delay by the House of Lords.* When
it reached the House of Commons it met with a distinctly hostile
reception. Both sides of the House showed definite antipathy to it, and
the Enabling Bill to give effect to it was shelved after the first
reading,** without the slightest consideration being shown to the colony
which for two years had relegated almost every other matter to the
background in order that responsible government might be secured. When
Lord Knutsford cabled*** to the Governor that there was little or no
prospect of the Bill becoming law during the session of 1889, something
like consternation was evinced in the colony, as it was felt that further
delay would only cause stagnation, but would materially affect the future
of Western Australia as a whole. The Legislative Council during a second
session passed a resolution**** to the effect that the anticipated delay
in the passage of the Enabling Bill would most seriously affect the
material prospects of the colony, and tend to destroy confidence in the
integrity of the House of Commons. The Governments of the eastern
colonies were asked to help by addresses, and to instruct their
Agents-General to jointly impress upon the Imperial Government the
necessity of passing the Bill before Parliament was prorogued. They all
responded to the call,***** but their united efforts failed to affect the
matter. The session of 1889 ended without the Constitution Bill being
passed into law.

(*Footnote. Hansard third series volume 337 page 1105; volume 338 pages
86, 378 and 515.)

(**Footnote. Ibid page 1536; volume 339 pages 75 to 77; volume 340 pages
89 to 91.)

(***Footnote. Lord Knutsford to Broome 23 July 1889.)

(****Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 16 pages
18 and 43. The resolution was cabled to Lord Knutsford 27 July 1889.)

(*****Footnote. Ibid pages 42 et seq. See also Command Paper 5919 page 5
et seq.)

During the recess Lord Knutsford informed the Governor that in all
probability the House of Commons would refer the Bill to a Select
Committee.* It had been suggested** that a delegation should be sent from
Perth to assist generally in forwarding the interests of the colony in
regard to the measure. To this Lord Knutsford agreed,*** and advised that
Governor Broome, whose term of office was on the point of expiring,
should be one of the delegates, and should be accompanied by an
unofficial member of the Council. A third session of the Legislative
Council was then called toward the end of 1889, and it was decided that
the delegates should be the Governor (Sir Frederick Broome) Sir T.
Cockburn-Campbell, and Mr. S.H. Parker.**** Later in the session Messrs.
John Forrest and W.E. Marmion were commissioned to visit the eastern
colonies in order to awaken further interest there,***** but the
Secretary of State refused to consent to such a mission,****** much to
the indignation of the colonists.

(*Footnote. Lord Knutsford to Broome 6 September 1889.)

(**Footnote. Broome to Lord Knutsford 17 August 1889.)

(***Footnote. Lord Knutsford to Broome 12 October 1889.)

(****Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 17 pages
80 and 86.)

(*****Footnote. Ibid page 226.)

(******Footnote. Lord Knutsford to Officer administering government 17
January 1890.)

The delegates left for England in December, Sir Malcolm Fraser being
appointed as Administrator during the absence of the Governor, for whose
return for a second term representations had been made.* The Secretary of
State was unable to assent to the request, but agreed not to send out a
new Governor until the spring of 1890,** so as not to deprive Sir
Frederick Broome of his official standing during the negotiations.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates volume 16 pages 123
to 128.)

(**Footnote. Lord Knutsford to Broome 15 and 22 August 1889.)

The dispatch of the delegation was without doubt a very wise move on the
part of the colony. Without the active interest and earnest advocacy of
its members it is more than likely that Western Australia would not have
received justice even during the session of 1890. The Imperial Government
had not at that time emerged from the narrow and shortsighted view of
colonial affairs which it had always been the custom of British statesmen
to take. In the minds of some the colonies seem to have been regarded as
useless excrescences, except in so far as they could be made the target
for fancy and utterly impracticable theories or serve as a dumping-ground
for those types whose absence from England would make England sweeter.
Many of the opponents of the Western Australian Constitution Bill may
with truthfulness be entered in this category, and while it would be
unfair to include Lord Knutsford, as he seems to have been sincere in his
desire to grant autonomy, it is doubtful whether he was anxious to grant
it without further delay or without unreasonable restrictions upon the
control of the lands.

The Enabling Bill, empowering the Queen to assent to the Constitution
Bill passed by the Legislative Council of Western Australia, was
introduced into the House of Commons in February 1890.* Some alterations
had been made in the Constitution by the Colonial Office; power was given
to the Crown to veto any colonial Act aimed at the exclusion of
immigrants, and the Secretary of State's pet proposal to give the colony
control of the Crown lands south of the 26th parallel of latitude was
introduced as an integral part of the Bill.** These two
points--immigration and control of the lands--were immediately seized
upon by the opponents of the measure, which was under the control of the
Under-Secretary of State, Baron de Worms.***

(*Footnote. Hansard third series volume 341 page 211.)

(**Footnote. Ibid page 1354.)

(***Footnote. Hansard third series volume 341 pages 1359 to 1367.)

The head and front of the opposition was Sir George Campbell, who
announced his intention of blocking the second reading. To prevent this a
conference between Sir George and some of his followers on the one hand,
and Baron de Worms, Sir Frederick Broome, Sir William Robinson (nominated
as the new Governor) Sir T. Cockburn-Campbell, and Mr. Parker was held,
but without any success at the moment.* When, however, the second reading
was moved, the opponents refrained from blocking it, and it was carried
on 27 February.** Had the block been persisted in, the results might have
been disastrous to Western Australia, as the Salisbury Government had its
hands more than full of contentious matters upon which its very existence
depended, and would not have been likely to invite further trouble over a
measure which in its view was not really pressing.

(*Footnote. Letter from Sir T. Cockburn-Campbell 26 February 1890 in West
Australian 2 April 1890.)

(**Footnote. Hansard third series volume 341 page 1396.)

After the second reading had been agreed to, the Bill was referred to a
Select Committee of nineteen members, with Baron de Worms as chairman.
Between 13 March and 6 May twelve meetings were held, in the course of
which the Western Australian delegates were subjected to a searching
examination, which was so ably met that much of the opposition to the
Bill was dispelled.*

(*Footnote. See Report of Select Committee House of Commons Papers 1890
Number 120.)

Sir Frederick Napier Broome reiterated even more strongly the arguments
put forward in his numerous dispatches, more especially those which
related to immigration and the control of the lands. Mr. Parker was still
more emphatic. The people of the colony were, he said, anxious to have
the change, and at the preceding elections not one candidate had
advocated the retention of the existing method of government. That the
financial conditions of the colony were not then very strong he admitted,
but considered it was due to the shortsighted policy of the Colonial
Office in refusing to agree to loans on the ground that changes in the
Constitution were impending. He was in favour of an immigration policy,
but considered that the colony should have at its command the capital
necessary to settle people on the land. Unrestricted immigration would
not give good results either to the colony or the immigrant, especially
as the south-west portion was the only part where immigrant labour would
have a chance of success. He was particularly opposed to the idea of the
Colonial Office retaining control over any portion of the lands of the
colony, and considered that the clause inserted by the Secretary of State
should be omitted. So far as defence matters were concerned, the policy
of the Imperial Government and of the colonial authorities was the same,
and Western Australia would welcome whatever fortifications in the way of
protection the Home authorities thought wise to construct. Sir Thomas
Cockburn-Campbell's opinion was on much the same lines. He thought that
colonial administration of the lands was wiser than Colonial Office
administration, as past experience had shown that in its desire to get
rid of the lands the latter had not always kept clear of the land jobber.
With regard to the aborigines, there was little objection to an
Aborigines' Protection Board, which, after all, was merely designed to
satisfy the qualms of Exeter Hall.*

(*Footnote. See Report of Select Committee House of Commons papers 1890
Number 120.)

The report of the committee was more favourable than the delegates
expected. The objections urged against the Bill were made light of, and
shown to be opposed to fact. The report further recommended that the
complete control of the lands of the colony should be given to the
Colonial Legislature without any restriction.*

(*Footnote. Ibid page 8.)

Between the date of presentation of the report and the date of its
consideration every nerve was strained, alike by the members of the
delegation, Sir William Robinson, and the various Australian Governments,
to secure the safe passage of the measure. The Agents-General waited upon
Mr. W.H. Smith, the First Lord of the Treasury, and secured from him a
promise that the Bill would be pressed during the session. This was
necessary, as the opponents of the measure persisted in their attitude,*
and now argued that the whole measure was so conservative in character
that it could not possibly be acceptable to the people generally in the
colony. The earnestness and ability of the delegates, however, combined
with the favourable report of the Select Committee, proved too strong to
combat, and the Enabling Bill passed its third reading on 4 July 1890,**
the Constitution having been altered in the directions advised by the
committee. Very little time sufficed to secure the approval of the House
of Lords, and the Royal Assent was given on 25 July.***

(*Footnote. See the debates in Hansard third series volumes 345 and 346.)

To apportion individual credit for the success is perhaps difficult, but
the two who seem to stand out as most worthy of recognition are Mr. (now
Sir) S.H. Parker and Sir Frederick Broome. Mr. Parker, with unusual
farsightedness, had been earnest, in and out of season, in his advocacy
for responsible government, and Western Australia owes not a little to
the ability and astuteness with which he guided the party which was
favourable to it. Sir Frederick Broome, trammelled by Colonial Office
regulations, started his administration as the opponent of any change,
but experience in the colony and of its people led him firstly to admit
that as a principle autonomy had much in its favour, and lastly to give
his strong adherence to the movement for securing it. That so favourable
a Constitution was framed and ultimately passed is due in no small
measure to the masterful qualities of statesmanship that he displayed.

The new Act* made provision for the establishment of a Legislative
Council and Legislative Assembly, the former to consist of fifteen
members nominated in the first instance by the Governor, and the latter
of thirty members elected by the people. Each Chamber was to meet at
least once in every year. No member of the Council could hold any office
of profit under the Crown, except such as was held under military
regulations. One responsible Minister at least must be a member of the
Council. The first Council was to last for six years or until the
population of the colony reached 60,000. On the occurrence of either
event the Council was to become elective, for which purpose the colony
was divided into five provinces--the Metropolitan, the Northern, the
Central, the Eastern, and the Southern--each returning three members,
whose tenure of office should be for six years. The members would retire
in rotation, the senior member to go before the electors every two years.
The franchise was limited to leaseholders of 200 pounds capital value,
and householders and leaseholders of 30 pounds annual value. The first
President was to be appointed by the Governor, but as soon as the
elective principle came into operation the Council was to elect its own

(*Footnote. 52 Victoria Number 23 Enabling Act 53 and 54 Victoria c.26.)

Writs for the election of members of the Assembly were to be issued by
the Governor, and the Assembly could proceed to business, provided not
more than five writs were not returned. The duration of the Assembly,
which elected its own Speaker, was set down at four years. The
qualification of membership in either House was freehold in lands or
tenements to the capital value of 500 pounds, or annual value of 50
pounds, the possession of which had to be declared. Supreme Court judges,
the Sheriff, clergymen, undischarged bankrupts, persons whose affairs
were in liquidation, and those attainted or convinced of treason or
felony were disqualified from membership in either House. Contractors to
the Government were also debarred, and the acceptance of a contract by a
member rendered his seat vacant. There were to be five Executive
Ministers, and the offices they held were to be declared by the Governor
within one month of the coming into operation of the Act.

For the purpose of elections to the Legislative Assembly the colony was
to be divided into thirty districts, irrespective of its population--a
provision that at a later date gave rise to curious anomalies of
representation. The electoral districts were East Kimberley, West
Kimberley, Roebourne, De Grey, Ashburton, Gascoyne, Murchison, Geraldton,
Greenough, Irwin, Moore, Swan, Perth, East Perth, West Perth, Fremantle,
North Fremantle, South Fremantle, Murray, Wellington, Bunbury, Nelson,
Sussex, Toodyay, Northam, York, Beverley, Williams, Plantagenet, and
Albany. Every man was entitled to be registered and to vote who was of
full age and not subject of any legal incapacity; who was a natural born
or naturalised subject of Her Majesty or a denizen of Western Australia;
who had possessed within his electoral district for at least one year
before registration a freehold of the value of 100 pounds or a leasehold
or licence of the annual value of 10 pounds, or occupied a dwelling or
lodging of the annual value of 10 pounds. Those who had been attainted or
convicted of treason, felony, or infamous offence, and had not served the
sentence or been pardoned, were disqualified.

The financial clauses provided that all Money Bills must originate in the
Assembly, by message from the Governor. The Civil List amounted to 9850
pounds, apportioned as follows: Governor 4000 pounds; Private Secretary
300 pounds; Clerk of the Council 250 pounds; Chief Justice 1200 pounds;
Puisne Judge 900 pounds; and five Ministerial salaries 3200 pounds. The
pensions to those officers who lost their positions by virtue of the Act
were set down as: Colonial Secretary (Sir Malcolm Fraser) 700 pounds;
Attorney-General (C.N. Warton) 333 pounds 6 shillings and 8 pence;
Colonial Treasurer (A.O'G. Lefroy) 550 pounds; and Surveyor-General (John
Forrest) 500 pounds. In case of reappointment under the Crown, the
pension merged in the salary during the term of the appointment.
Provision was also made for the payment of 5000 pounds annually to an
Aborigines' Protection Board for the amelioration of the condition of the
aborigines, the amount to become 1 per cent of the gross revenue when
such revenue advanced beyond half a million sterling.

The Act was to be proclaimed and come into operation within three months
of the receipt in the colony of official information that the Royal
Assent had been given.

These were the main provisions of the Act, and though in many ways they
would be accounted liberal today, they were a distinct step forward at
the time, and they placed the power of liberalising them, when such a
step was deemed necessary, in the hands of the colonists themselves. For
many years Western Australia had struggled to throw off the shackles of
the Colonial Office, and the fact that this had at last been accomplished
gave extreme satisfaction to the people generally, even if for the time
being they were debarred through want of population from a full voice in
their country's affairs.



The task of bringing the new Constitution into operation and of guiding
it in the early stages was entrusted to Sir William Robinson, who had
already served two terms as Governor of the colony, and was an able and
experienced officer in the Public Service. He arrived amid much
rejoicing, due no doubt as much to his mission as to his personality, on
20 October, and on the following day--21 October 1890--the Act was
proclaimed,* and Western Australia witnessed the consummation of many
years of waiting.

(*Footnote. West Australian 22 October 1890.)

The first matter to be settled, according to the popular idea, was the
selection of a Ministry. The rival claimants, each of whom had active
support, were Mr. S.H. Parker and Mr. John Forrest. The one could fairly
claim that his twelve years' tenure of membership in the old Legislative
Council had given him a full grasp of the political needs of the time,
and that he, in a special sense, had been the leading spirit in that
long-continued agitation which had just been brought to a successful
conclusion. The other had won his spurs as an administrator, having
controlled for many years the most important phase of colonial
expansion--the land system at its development. As an explorer, too, he
was deservedly popular, especially among that section which accounted
deeds of more importance than words. Governor Robinson wisely decided to
make no choice until the Parliament had been chosen and he was in a
better position to judge which claimant was the more likely to form and
carry on a stable government. It was decided to hold the elections in
December, and the campaign was entered into with great activity and
enthusiasm. Most interest centred round the speeches of the claimants to
leadership, whose policies in the main agreed. Mr. Parker, on the one
hand, looked for population as a preliminary to securing loans; while Mr.
Forrest advocated an extensive loan policy as a means of inducing
immigration. Both recognised that a vigorous public works policy was
necessary to the prosperity of the colony.

From the result of the elections it was evident that Mr. Forrest
commanded a larger following than Mr. Parker, and he was consequently
commissioned by Governor Robinson on 22 December* to form the first
Ministry under responsible government in Western Australia. Two days
later he submitted the names, which were approved by the Governor, and
the Ministry was sworn in on the 29th.** The Cabinet consisted of John
Forrest, C.M.G. (Premier and Colonial Treasurer) George Shenton (Colonial
Secretary) S. Burt, Q.C. (Attorney-General) W.E. Marmion (Commissioner of
Crown Lands) and H.W. Venn (Commissioner of Railways and Director of
Public Works).*** All, with the exception of Mr. Shenton, who represented
the Government in the Council, were members of the Legislative Assembly.
The Governor appointed Sir Thomas Cockburn-Campbell President of the
Legislative Council, and the Assembly elected Sir James G. Lee Steere as
Speaker.**** Parliament then adjourned till 20 January 1891, to allow
Ministers to go before their constituents. All were returned unopposed.

(*Footnote. West Australian 23 December 1890.)

(**Footnote. Ibid 30 December 1890.)

(***Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates new series volume
1 page 5.)

(****Footnote. Ibid pages 1 and 3.)

One of the first matters which claimed the attention of the Government
was the reorganisation of departments in order to meet the altered
conditions of administration.* Following upon that the Aborigines'
Protection Board, which was necessary under the Constitution, was
appointed, and the money required for the protection of the aborigines
together with the administration of all matters dealing with them was
placed under its charge.

(*Footnote. Ibid page 6.)

The Ministers were so much occupied in this administrative organisation,
and in an examination of the exact financial condition of the colony,
that little time was left in which to prepare an extensive political
programme for submission to Parliament. Such a programme was also to an
extent unnecessary at the time, as it had been decided that the session
should be a short one, in order to allow the colony to be represented at
a National Australian Convention to be held in Sydney early in March to
discuss a proposal for the federation of all the Australian colonies.

Parliament met for business on 20 January, as stated, and the Governor's
speech showed that the principal measure to be submitted was a Loan Bill
of some magnitude,* by means of which a vigorous public works policy was
to be initiated. The amount asked for, which somewhat staggered the older
members, who were accustomed to speak of public finance only in
thousands, was 1.336 million pounds.** With this money it was proposed to
extend the railway system of the colony so as to increase transport
facilities for the agricultural, timber, and mining industries; to
improve the harbour accommodation at Fremantle and other ports; to bring
country districts into telegraphic communication with the capital; to
erect a lighthouse at Cape Leeuwin, and to extend the public buildings so
as to provide accommodation for the necessarily increased staff.*** So
varied was the list that Mr. Parker, who had become a candid critic of
Government actions, seemed to think that it was an attempt to catch votes
by giving every member something.**** The Bill, however, was pushed by
Mr. Forrest, whose majority turned out to be even greater than was
anticipated, and after a short debate was carried, members generally
expressing the conviction that the future of the country was promising
enough to justify it. After having elected representatives to the Federal
Convention,***** which will be discussed in the succeeding chapter, the
two Houses were prorogued on 26 February. Before they met again the
honour of knighthood had been conferred upon the Premier.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates new series volume 1
page 6.)

(**Footnote. 54 Victoria Number 9. It may be noted that Sinking Funds are
provided in connection with public loans in Western Australia. At the
present time (1921) these funds for all loans amount to 7,641,563

(***Footnote. 54 Victoria Number 9.)

(****Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates new series volume
1 pages 137 et seq.)

(*****Footnote. Ibid page 375.)

Sir William Robinson left the colony in September 1891, and from that
date until his return in the following July Chief Justice Onslow occupied
the position of Administrator. In that capacity he opened the second
session of the Parliament in December, and commented in favourable terms
upon the improved condition of the colony generally. The session, which
lasted until March 1892, was a fairly busy one, especially in those
matters necessary to complete the administrative organisation, to provide
authority for railway construction, and to bring the local legislation
more into line with modern thought. Nothing of an ambitious,
far-reaching, or experimental character was attempted. Many questions of
importance did from time to time arise, but these were generally the
outcome of some important phase of thought, activity, or development in
the colony itself, and may more fittingly be discussed in connection with
the circumstances which brought them into being. So far no party policy
had been enunciated; the only aim of the Government was the development
of the country.

In the third session of the Parliament, which occupied the closing months
of 1892, two measures were brought forward, which, though they did not
then become law, give a good indication of the progressive spirit of Sir
John Forrest and his colleagues. These were an amendment of the
Constitution and a Homesteads Bill. The objects of the first* were to
abolish the property qualification of members, to extend the franchise,
and add two new members to the Legislative Council and three to the
Legislative Assembly. The Lower House was in favour of the scheme,** but
the Council, in its character of a drag upon hasty legislation, would not
agree to it.*** The second measure, the Homesteads Bill, aimed at
encouraging settlement by making free grants of restricted area to
settlers who were prepared to live upon and work the land in accordance
with conditions laid down. The Bill passed the second reading by a narrow
majority;**** that it gained a majority at all seems to have been more
out of compliment to the Premier than belief in the measure. But so
adverse were the opinions expressed that the measure was withdrawn at
that stage.***** The session concluded with the Midland Railway Loan
Act,****** authorising the Government to guarantee payment of principal
and interest up to 500,000 pounds. This was rendered necessary by the
fact that the Company had found it extremely difficult to raise the money
needed for the construction of the line, and there was every possibility
of the work being indefinitely suspended.******* Happily, the action of
the Government averted this possibility, and more happily still, perhaps,
it brought home to the colony the knowledge that land-grant railways,
from whatever point they were viewed, were not conducive to development.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates new series volume 3
pages 105 to 112.)

(**Footnote. Ibid page 351.)

(***Footnote. Ibid page 385.)

(****Footnote. Ibid page 242.)

(*****Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates new series
volume 3 pages 319 and 335.)

(******Footnote. 56 Victoria Number 19.)

(*******Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates new series
volume 3 page 538.)

The hopefulness that prevailed after the establishment of responsible
government, and the enterprise and determination shown by Ministers in
providing for the needs of a great colony, are seen by the efforts made
to secure proper harbour facilities at Fremantle. This was one of the
questions that had agitated the public mind for years, and upon which
advice had more than once been sought but no finality reached. Sir John
Coode, it will be remembered, had feared sand-travel if harbourage was
attempted at the mouth of the river, and advocated a passage through
Success Bank into Owen Anchorage, and, if necessary, through Parmelia
Bank into Jervois Bay and Cockburn Sound.* With this idea the
Engineer-in-Chief did not agree. There was, in his opinion, no direct
evidence of sand-travel which would prevent the construction of a river
harbour; but if it was found that sand did accumulate, it could easily be
removed by dredging. He advocated the construction of breakwaters from
Arthur and Rous heads, the dredging of a channel between them, and the
excavation of a basin within the mouth of the river, where wharves and
storehouses could be erected. The estimated cost was 560,000 pounds, or
800,000 pounds if the scheme were enlarged.** At first the Government was
inclined to adopt Sir John Coode's idea,*** but as Mr. O'Connor's scheme
was approved by other engineers they referred the whole question for
investigation to a joint committee of both Houses.**** This committee
reported in favour of the Engineer-in-Chief's scheme,***** and the report
was formally adopted in 1892.****** In November 1892 Lady Robinson tilted
the first load of stones to form the mole or breakwater, and the work,
which has resulted in the present admirable harbour at Fremantle, was
entered upon--a monument to the foresight of the Forrest Government and
to the ability of the Engineer-in-Chief of the time--Mr. C.Y. O'Connor.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Votes and Proceedings 1891/2 Paper 17.)

(**Footnote. Ibid Paper A2.)

(***Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates new series volume
2 pages 186 to 188.)

(****Footnote. Ibid page 329.)

(*****Footnote. Western Australian Votes and Proceedings 1891/2 Paper

(******Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates new series
volume 2 pages 808 and 816.)

This and other works of magnitude show that progress had replaced the
stagnation and that the colony was rapidly emerging from the slough of
Crown colony days. The abnormal development of the goldfields was no
doubt a prominent factor in the result, as it also was in preventing the
bursting of the eastern colonies' boom from being appreciably felt in
Western Australia. In fact, the speeches in Parliament during 1893
expressed a confidence in the colony such as had never before been
apparent. There still, however, remained one little rift within the lute
in the nominated character of the Upper House. The general feeling that a
nominee Chamber was a bar to progress prevailed, and this was accentuated
by the Council's refusal to pass the amendment to the Constitution Act
brought forward in 1892. By the end of that year the population of the
State was nearly 59,000,* with every prospect of reaching in a few months
the 60,000 required to turn the Legislative Council into an elected body.
The amendment was therefore reintroduced in 1893 and passed through the
Assembly without difficulty.**

(*Footnote. See Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

(**Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates new series volume 4
pages 66, 89 and 337.)

In the Council it again met with opposition, mainly through a desire, as
the newspapers put it, to give representation to "land, sand, sheep, and
kangaroos." Several alterations were made to which the Assembly declined
to agree,* and a conference between the two Houses was then resorted to.
This failed to come to a decision,** but the difficulty was solved by a
catch vote in the Council on the same evening by which the Assembly
gained its way,*** and the Bill was passed practically as it left the
Lower House. It was assented on 13 October 1893,**** and provided for an
elected Legislative Council of twenty-one members, three from each of the
following provinces: Metropolitan, West, North, Central, East,
South-East, and South-West; and a Legislative Assembly of thirty-three
members, representing the original thirty electorates and three new ones
comprising the goldfields, Pilbara, Nannine, and Yilgarn. The property
qualification for membership was abolished in both Council and Assembly,
but the qualifying age was raised to thirty in the case of the Council.
The electoral qualification for the Council was reduced to a 100 pound
freehold or 25 pound annual value basis, but the owner or occupant must
have been in possession for twelve months before registration. The
Assembly voter only needed to have resided in one place in Western
Australia during the preceding twelve months. As regards Money Bills the
Council was given power to return them to the Assembly with a request for
the omission or alteration of any items therein. No provision for the
compilation of electoral rolls was inserted in the Act, and a special
session of Parliament had to be summoned in December to remedy the

(*Footnote. Ibid volume 5 pages 723, 929 and 932.)

(**Footnote. Ibid page 1033.)

(***Footnote. Ibid pages 1024 to 1025.)

(****Footnote. 57 Victoria Number 14.)

The Assembly elections were held in June 1894, and the Council elections
in July. In both cases there was considerable alteration in the
personnel. The new Council was composed of men more in touch with the
life of the community than were those of the nominated body, but it was
still a cautious rather than a progressive Chamber; an advantage,
perhaps, at the time, as the gold discoveries were not altogether
conducive to a sane and safe outlook. In the Assembly there were several
new members, but there was little change from a political point of view,
except that the representatives of the goldfields, with one or two
others, formed a nucleus of an opposition, which, however, did not become
of appreciable strength during the long term that Sir John Forrest held
office. The session of the reconstituted Parliament held in 1894 was
mainly devoted to questions of public works and railway development which
the unexpected expansion of the colony rendered necessary. Two further
amendments of the Constitution were brought forward. The first, which was
agreed to, reduced the penalty recoverable from a member who sat without
possessing the necessary qualification;* the second, which was also
passed by Parliament but vetoed by the Crown, referred to the abolition
of the Aborigines' Protection Board.** Under the Constitution the
Government was required to pay over 1 per cent of the gross revenue, when
that revenue exceeded 500,000 pounds, to that Board for disbursement in
connection with the natives. The revenue had passed the half-million mark
and the clause came into operation, but ministers disapproved, and it
seems rightly, of paying away a large sum of money over the expenditure
of which they had no control. They desired, and Parliament supported
them, that the money should be expended under the direction of a
responsible Minister. The Home authorities failed to agree, and Royal
Assent to the amendment was withheld. This led to a lengthy
correspondence with the Colonial Office,*** and in the result the Bill
lapsed in accordance with the provision that a reserved Bill, not
assented to within two years, lapses. A new Act was passed during
1897,**** which received the Royal Assent and was proclaimed early in
1898.***** There is very little doubt that the natives, so far from
losing, have gained by the change.

(*Footnote. 58 Victoria Number 15.)

(**Footnote. 58 Victoria Number 37.)

(***Footnote. See Votes and Proceedings 1894 Paper A2; 1895 page 236;
1896 Paper Number 18. Also Debates new series volume 8 pages 658, 1116,
1184 et seq.)

(****Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates new series volume
11 pages 393 to 401 and 419 61 Victoria Number 5.)

(*****Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 1898 page 813.)

In view of the growth of the mines and other departments consequent upon
the development of the mining industry and the rapid increase in
population, it became necessary toward the end of 1894 to rearrange the
Ministerial offices. The resignation by Mr. Marmion of the Lands
portfolio on 4 December offered the opportunity which the Premier was not
slow to seize. The Lands Department was accepted by Mr. A.R. Richardson,
and Sir John Forrest took the Colonial Secretaryship in addition to his
post as Treasurer. To Mr. Parker, thus dispossessed, was offered the new
post of Minister of Mines and Education, but as he differed from the
Premier on the education question he declined it, and the portfolio was
accepted by Mr. (now Sir) E.H. Wittenoom. The desire seems to have been
to secure a Cabinet whose members would be amenable to one strong will.

Early in the following year the colony lost the services of Sir William
Robinson, who left for England in March. While not, perhaps, in every
respect an ideal Governor, there is no doubt that as constitutionalist he
stood in the first rank, and the country could not have had a wiser head
to direct its first steps along the path of responsible government. After
his departure Sir Alexander Onslow (knighted in 1893) acted as
Administrator until the following December, when the new Governor,
Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Gerard Smith, arrived.

For a full understanding of the subsequent position of the colony, it is
necessary at this stage to digress somewhat in order to chronicle the
rise and development of the goldfields. There is no doubt that the most
striking and important feature of Western Australian history during the
period 1891 to 1900 was the abnormal gold discoveries--discoveries which,
with the rush of population consequent thereon, had not only wide and
far-reaching effects upon the administration, but affected every phase of
life and industry in the community.

The gold almost seems to have waited for the advent of responsible
government to declare itself, or perhaps it was that a freer, more
independent, and more enterprising spirit came upon the people through
the change. Whatever may have been the impelling cause, the story of the
rise of Western Australia from the position of an almost neglected
territory to the status of one of the greatest gold-producing countries
of the world possesses all the elements of a romance. It is not necessary
to enlarge upon the many incidents, some humorous, some pathetic, but all
intensely interesting, which occurred on the different fields. Putting
all those aside, however, even the most simple and unvarnished narrative
almost suggests that the lamp of Aladdin had found a resting-place under
the protecting wing of the Black Swan.

The proposal of the Government to extend the eastern railway from Northam
to Southern Cross* seems to have had the effect of establishing
confidence in the possibilities of the Yilgarn field, and as a result
capital was more freely invested and prospecting carried on over a wider
area. Southern Cross became quite an active little mining town, and
though the returns for 1891 did not altogether justify the large
expenditure necessary to build a railway, the field produced the largest
yield in the colony for the year--12,833 ounces, out of a total of
30,311, Pilbara being next with 11,875.**

(*Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates new series volume 2
pages 133 to 137 and 330 55 Victoria Number 12.)

(**Footnote. Western Australian Geological Survey Bulletin Number 16
pages 19 and 34; and Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

These returns encouraged the belief that somewhere in Western Australia
there existed gold in large quantities, and attention was directed to
those districts where, in former years, the possibility of its occurrence
had been suggested. As far back as 1854 Mr. Robert Austin, when exploring
along the Murchison River, had described the country as of promising
mineral character, and from time to time odd specimens of gold had been
found here and there throughout the district. Mr. H.P. Woodward, the
Government geologist, after examining the locality in 1889, supported Mr.
Austin's view, and reported upon the encouraging appearance of the ground
between the great bend of the Murchison and Milly Milly. In 1890 gold was
found at Yuin, and in August 1891, Mr. J.F. Connolly reported the
discovery of rich alluvial about 200 miles east of the coast.* Before the
end of September there were between 300 and 400 men scattered over the
field, most of whom were making good wages, and some of whom were
securing excellent returns. Nuggets varying from 2 to 40 ounces were
picked up, mostly on the surface; in fact, all the gold was found either
on or within a few feet of the top of the ground. The Murchison goldfield
was proclaimed on 24 September 1891, and Mr. W.A.G. Walter was appointed
the first Warden.** Its headquarters were at Nannine, but the centre of
activity was soon moved to Cue, a township that sprang up in a large
field of exceptional richness discovered by Messrs. Cue and Fitzgerald,
where gold could be secured by the simple processes of "specking" and
"dry-blowing." These finds led to extensive prospecting over the whole
district, and from time to time reports of further discoveries were
announced. Rich gold-bearing reefs were found at various places, notably
at the "Island" in Lake Austin, where in addition to rich quartz a
channel of cement was found which for a time gave marvellous returns. The
report of gold at Yuin, in the Nancarrang Hills, made in 1890, led to the
opening up of the Yalgoo field, where from the cap of a reef gold to the
value of 15,000 pounds was "dollied." From Day Dawn, a little to the
south of Cue, and from Mount Magnet, about thirty miles still farther
south, excellent results were secured; in fact, throughout the whole of
the Murchison district gold was obtained, often in small, sometimes in
large quantities, and the official returns for 1892 show that it had
wrested from Yilgarn the pride of place, exporting 24,356 ounces, as
against 21,209 ounces. The Pilbara field in the same year yielded 12,892
ounces, and the Kimberley 1088 ounces. The total value was 226,284
pounds--a large amount for a country described by some scientific men as
being non-auriferous.***

(*Footnote. See note above and also Summary on mineral discoveries in
Western Australian Year Book 1902 to 1904 part 9.)

(**Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 1891 pages 697 and

(***Footnote. Western Australian Geological Survey Bulletin Number 16
pages 17, 19, 27 and 34 and Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

Meanwhile prospecting was being assiduously carried on over the Yilgarn
field with varying success. Two adventurous spirits, Speakman and Ryan,
struck out toward the north-east and found a good reef in the direction
of what was later to achieve an unenviable reputation under the name of
Siberia. Attention was also directed toward the district known as Dundas,
south-east of Southern Cross, and in the vicinity of Fraser Range. A Mr.
Moir, looking for grazing areas, had found some indications of gold in
the neighbourhood in 1890, and Mr. David Lindsay, of the Elder Exploring
Expedition, who passed over it in 1891, spoke of it as a possible mineral
area.* With a companion named Stewart, Moir prospected the district in
1892 without success, but other prospectors who, encouraged by Lindsay's
opinion, followed upon Moir's heels met with better fortune. These
discoveries led to other parties setting out, and further indications
were obtained, but the value of the find was dwarfed by the extraordinary
announcements of a few weeks later, announcements which brought Western
Australia into prominence as one of the great gold-producing countries of
the world.

(*Footnote. Journal of Elder Exploring Expedition 1891 to 1892 Adelaide
1893 page 112.)

Experienced miners, after a close examination, were convinced that so far
from being the centre of a goldfield Yilgarn was only on the fringe, and
that greater discoveries would be found farther east, somewhere in that
arid, trackless desert that stretched across to the South Australian
border. Obsessed by the lust for gold, they went out into this region,
prepared to brave the dangers in the hope of finding that which would
make them rich beyond the dreams of avarice. Not all who went out
succeeded in winning through, as the memorial in Coolgardie Cemetery, "To
the men who blazed the track," bears eloquent and pathetic testimony.
Many who did reach the new El Dorado gained little benefit from their
exertions, but all have a right to share in the credit of Coolgardie and
Kalgoorlie--names that for years were words to conjure with on the stock
exchanges of Europe.

In 1891 and 1892 several parties left Southern Cross with the intention
of crossing the Hampton Plains (discovered by Hunt in 1864) in the hope
that gold might be found there. Most of them were not only unsuccessful
in their search, but were reduced to sore straits through want of water,
and compelled to turn back. Among those who set out in 1892 were Arthur
Bayley and John Ford, two miners who had become inured through experience
to the dangers of the Western Australian bush. Bayley, who was one of the
first diggers at Nannine, is said to have raised over 1000 ounces from
one claim. Tiring of the Murchison, he and Ford returned to Perth, where
they sold their gold and set out upon a prospecting expedition. They
proceeded first to Mount Kenneth, about 250 miles north-east of Perth;
here they lost their horses and had to walk back to Newcastle. Having
purchased a new outfit, they next set out for the locality of Speakman's
find, north-east of Yilgarn, but turned back on meeting other miners
returning from the place with discouraging reports. They then headed for
Southern Cross, and having purchased provisions for about two months
started out eastward on Hunt's old track. After a very tedious trip, when
they were nearing the now famous field, they were compelled to turn back
and rest for a couple of days at the Gnarlbine Soak. Starting out again
through boggy country they reached in July the place known to the natives
as Coolgardie. Finding it covered with good grass they let the horses out
to graze and proceeded to prospect the surrounding flats. Here Ford
picked up a 1/4 ounce nugget, and before dinner they had secured 20
ounces. They named the place Fly Flat, and decided to remain there till
the provisions ran short. In the course of three or four weeks they
secured about 200 ounces. Forced to go back to Southern Cross for
supplies, they said nothing about the find, but returned to Fly Flat as
quickly as possible, and on the first Sunday after they arrived
discovered the reef which soon became famous throughout the mining world.
That evening they broke off the cap of the reef with a tomahawk and
dollied over 500 ounces. The following morning they pegged out a claim,
reckoning that there were 2000 ounces in sight. Shortly afterwards
Messrs. Foster and Baker, who had tracked them from Southern Cross, put
in an appearance, and pegged out an adjoining area, from which in three
days they secured 200 ounces of gold. Leaving Ford to guard the claim,
Bayley made his way quickly to Southern Cross and applied to Warden
Finnerty, on 17 September 1892, for a lease of the area, showing at the
same time the 554 ounces of gold that he had brought back. The field was
then declared open, and the news of it telegraphed far and wide. The
Mining Registrar's offices, and even his quarters, were besieged by a
multitude of able-bodied men, all anxious to secure miners' rights. On 20
September Bayley started back for Coolgardie, but this turn not alone.
Warden Finnerty went with him, and practically the whole of Southern
Cross either accompanied them or followed shortly after, most of the
throng being better equipped with miners' rights than with provisions. To
enter a practically waterless territory at the beginning of summer, not
in ones or twos but in hundreds, was a course attended by no little
danger; but in their eagerness to obtain gold the necessity for eating
and drinking seemed trivial.

The excitement soon spread to Perth and other centres. In Perth and
Fremantle everyone seemed to be either carrying tents, picks, shovels,
and dishes, or otherwise preparing for the road.* From York over 200
eager gold-seekers went forth by whatever mode of conveyance they could
secure, and if none were available, on foot, for the land of gold. With
so ill-advised a rush it was not long before provisions and water were of
even more account than gold in Coolgardie. On 8 October Bayley returned
to Southern Cross in company with the Warden to deposit a further 500
ounces of gold. Mr. Finnerty reported to the Government that there was no
well-defined lode showing on the surface, but that a line of quartz, in
places nearly 20 feet wide, could be traced through Bayley's ground.
There were then, he said, 150 men at Coolgardie, and he met 170 going
out. By the end of October the number had increased to about 400, and
something like 3000 ounces of gold, principally alluvial, had been
secured. Alluvial seekers were permitted to work within 20 feet of a
reef. The water and food difficulty now became a serious one, and many of
the miners, particularly those who had not been successful, were
compelled to make their way back to Southern Cross, proclaiming to all
they met that the field was a failure. As the hot weather proceeded,
everyone was driven away through want of water, so that by the end of the
year Coolgardie, for the time being at all events, was almost deserted.

(*Footnote. West Australian 21 September 1892.)

Anticipating that the rush would set in again with even greater force as
soon as the summer was over, Warden Finnerty urged the Government to
excavate large tanks along the track and take measures to conserve the
rains that fell upon the large granite outcrops, so that the water
difficulty might be, at any rate, lessened during future dry seasons. His
prediction of an influx was more than realised. Showers of rain fell over
the eastern districts in March, and within a few days there were over 300
men at Coolgardie. From all parts of the colony, as well as from outside,
they hurried to try their luck, riding or driving if they could, walking
if funds were low. The camel became for the time the most useful beast of
burden in Western Australia. By the end of 1893 there were nearly 700 in
the colony, and up to the opening of the Coolgardie railway it was no
uncommon sight to see trains of eighty, ninety, or a hundred camels,
loaded with provisions and other requirements, wending their way slowly
through Perth on their weary tramp to the goldfield.

Coolgardie by this time began to assume the proportions of a little town.
Building timber being unprocurable on the spot, and very expensive to
bring from Perth, most of the structures were frames covered with hessian
or galvanised iron, and some no more than modest bush shelters. Stores of
all kinds were opened, and, needless to say, a sufficient number of
hotels. Although unimposing from an architectural standpoint, the little
township in those days provided more excitement than probably any spot in
Australia. Bayley's claim continued to give sensational returns, and from
time to time pockets of gold of extraordinary value were discovered by
lucky miners, some of whom in a single day would become the fortunate
possessors of hundreds of ounces. Messrs. Sylvester, Browne & Co
purchased for a fortune the claim of Bayley and Ford, and also secured
another rich find made by McFarlane and Robinson some two miles south of
Coolgardie. Leases were applied for and prospecting for alluvial carried
on over a rapidly extending area. By the end of June there were over 2000
men on the field, with hundreds more on the way. Food supplies failed,
and for days at a time men lived chiefly on preserved
meats--colloquially, "tinned dog." This dearth of fresh food, combined
with a poor water supply and an almost entire absence of sanitary
precautions, added typhoid fever to the other tribulations, and many of
the early pioneers went down before its virulence.

The presence of so large a body of men, all eager in the search for gold,
meant that prospecting was carried on over a wide and rapidly expanding
tract of country. In May a prospector named Frost discovered indications
at a place called, from its distance from Coolgardie, the Ninety-Mile,
but now known as Goongarrie. There was a small rush to the locality, but
the finds were not sufficient to keep the men there, and they returned to
Coolgardie. The next rush was to "Mount Youle," supposed to be the
present Mount Gledden, some fifty miles to the north-east. About a
hundred men hurried off to the site, but most of them returned without
reaching it, owing to a growing conviction that the rush had been
instigated by the storekeepers in the interests of business. No sooner
had they reached Coolgardie than they were off again to Lake Lefroy, some
forty miles to the south-east, where good discoveries were said to have
been made. In fact, so intense was the excitement that within a few hours
of a rumour that gold had been found somewhere, a party of diggers set
out to test it.

From the rush to Mount Youle, shrewdly suspected to be a hoax, arose the
second rush on the Yilgarn field, and the most important gold-bearing
area hitherto discovered in Western Australia--Hannans--later to be known
to all the world as Kalgoorlie. Its discovery, like that of most rich
goldfields, was in a measure accidental. Messrs. Hannan and Flannigan
were two members of a small party on the way to Mount Youle. Through want
of water the party camped at Mount Charlotte for a couple of days while
the teams returned to Coolgardie for a fresh supply. Rain falling in the
meantime the party pushed on, leaving Flannigan and Hannan behind.
Flannigan, it appears, while looking for the horses found a couple of
nuggets, and induced Hannan to remain with him. In a few days they had
over 100 ounces. Hannan then returned to Coolgardie, and on 17 June--a
Saturday--applied for a reward claim. According to usage the application
was posted up outside the Registrar's Office about nine o'clock that
evening, and of course was soon public property. As Coolgardie had drawn
practically all Southern Cross, so Hannans drew all Coolgardie, until the
place was almost deserted. Saturday night and Sunday they moved out, and
before the middle of the week over 750 men were busy fossicking round
Hannan's find. At first there were no sensational reefs discovered such
as Bayley's; all the gold was alluvial, and there was sufficient of it to
occupy attention. But while many of the miners were successful, there
were numbers who did not make a bare existence, and in a few weeks
returned to their former occupations at Coolgardie. Many were the
instances of distress on the goldfields in those early days. Hundreds of
men arrived with poor outfits, few provisions, and no money. Unless they
found gold--or charity, and charity was often the more easily
found--starvation stared them in the face. Disease was rampant, and
Hannans, like Coolgardie, took its toll in human life.

The neighbourhood of the present town of Bardoc, where two prospectors,
Cashman and lee, secured 1000 ounces in a few weeks, was the next scene
of excitement, and then followed the unfortunate Siberian rush. In
October Messrs. Frost and Bonner applied for a reward claim in a desolate
district named Siberia, supposed to be about seventy-five miles
north-west of Coolgardie. They showed about 40 ounces of gold they had
secured from there, and somehow a rumour gained ground both at Coolgardie
and Hannans that a fabulously rich find had been made. Quickly over a
thousand men were hastening through the waterless tract toward the place.
Only those who had been through to the Ninety-Mile had any idea of its
direction; the others trusted to chance. Few carried more than a
water-bag, and there was no water on the way. Disaster naturally
followed. A few got through only to be disappointed, many wisely turned
back; but some, attacked by thirst, and with no knowledge of the way,
wandered into the bush and were lost. Only the dispatch of relief parties
saved numbers of others.

News that all was not well with the parties on the way to Siberia reached
Coolgardie a few days after they had set out, and Mr. Renou, the engineer
in charge of the Government water supply, immediately sent teams loaded
with water along the road with instructions to deposit the tanks at known
stages, and then use every means not only to let the prospectors know
where water could be secured, but to induce them to return, as the
district they were making for was absolutely destitute of fresh water.
This prompt action saved many lives, but even as it was several deaths
occurred. At least ten were accounted for, and in all probability the
bones of others still lie bleaching on the plain.

This was the last sensation of 1893. By the end of the year work was
steadily progressing throughout the various districts, the total output
of gold being valued at 421,385 pounds,* of which Yilgarn and its
branches accounted for 287,829 pounds. Dundas was proclaimed a separate
goldfield in August, but its output for the year was only valued at 562
pounds. Had it not been for the scarcity of water, the results from the
Yilgarn area would probably have been larger, as many more men would have
been attracted to the field. The water difficulty undoubtedly retarded
the early development of the district, a fact which the Government was
not slow to recognise, as may be seen by the money spent in the erection
of dams and soaks to conserve whatever rain might happen to fall.

(*Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

To some extent the discovery of Coolgardie acted adversely upon the other
fields, as many of the miners left in the hope that on the Yilgarn field
they might be able to share in some of the sensational finds. The returns
from the Murchison, Pilbara, Kimberley, and Ashburton districts were all
smaller than in the previous year, but in some places, particularly on
the Murchison, reef-mining was being undertaken as a serious industry.
Machinery was imported and batteries were erected. Shafts were sunk and
reefs thoroughly tested, and at the end of the year the field showed much
more evidence of permanence than Coolgardie. To encourage sinking, and so
definitely gauge the possibilities, the Government at the beginning of
1893* offered a bonus to those who would sink shafts to a greater depth
than 100 feet--2 pounds 10 shillings per foot between 200 and 300 feet.
In all, eleven persons claimed the reward--six at Yilgarn, one at
Coolgardie, and four on the Murchison.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 1893 page 18.)

The developments during 1894 far exceeded those of 1893. The returns
mounted from 110,890 ounces to 207,131 ounces, nearly double; and where
the population increased by 6390 in the former year, the additions
numbered 17,008 in the latter.* Railways were opened to Southern Cross
from Northam and to Mullewa from Geraldton. Machinery was erected on many
of the mines, and not less than a hundred companies with a nominal
capital of nearly 9 million pounds registered in London to work them,
while in the colony itself something like seventy were formed. A separate
Mines Department was established at the end of the year, so that the
whole industry might be under proper supervision and control.

(*Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

As soon as the summer of 1893/4 was over, the stream of immigration to
the goldfields again started. Prospecting was actively carried on, and
all through the year there were constant reports of more or less
sensational finds throughout the whole Eastern district goldfields. Hall
and Speakman discovered Mount Jackson, to the north of Southern Cross;
rich alluvial was found at the Pinnacles, north-east of Coolgardie, in
February, and in a short time over 1000 ounces secured, while a similar
amount followed from another find at Billy Billy. Discoveries at Bardoc,
Kurnalpi, Bulong, White Feather (Kanowna) Broad Arrow, and other places
were reported in quick succession; in fact, finds innumerable over the
whole field were reported during the year.

The great sensations of 1894 were, however, the discovery of the
Londonderry and Wealth of Nations mines and the district of Menzies. The
Londonderry find was made in June by a prospecting party consisting of
Messrs. Carter, Dawson, Mills, Gardiner, Elliot and Huxley, who had been
out many months without finding a colour, and were on their way back to
Coolgardie. Quite by accident, rich quartz was picked up by two of the
party, and after a brief search the outcrop of a reef was exposed, from
which during the first three or four days they took between 4000 and 5000
ounces. One specimen, "Big Ben," was estimated to contain gold to the
value of 3500 pounds. After working in secret as long as was safe, some
of the party remained on guard while the others returned to Coolgardie,
and after lodging 4280 ounces at the Union Bank applied to the Registrar
for a lease of the Londonderry mine. There was tremendous excitement,
especially when further work on the mine seemed to prove its fabulous
wealth. In September the discoverers sold the mine to Lord Fingall for
180,000 pounds and a sixth interest. Unfortunately the subsequent
development of it did not realise the expectations formed. Having been
floated for 700,000 pounds, the company had difficulty at the start owing
to the mine being jumped through failing to comply with the regulations.
When this was overcome and work actually started, the rich stone cut out
very quickly and left ore of only very inferior grade.

The Londonderry sensation was eclipsed a couple of months later by the
discovery of what the newspapers described as a "mountain of gold." The
lucky finder was a prospector named J.G. Dunn, who had been on
prospecting tours throughout most of the goldfields since 1890. After
making several discoveries of more or less importance, some of which he
disposed of for a substantial figure, Dunn, who was acting on behalf of a
Western Australian syndicate, left Coolgardie with two Afghans on another
trip. After going about twenty-eight miles he came upon a large
outcropping reef, from which on breaking the cap he extracted a specimen
of quartz weighing 189 pounds and containing 800 ounces of gold. The
whole lode glistened with the precious metal, and to it he gave the name
"Wealth of Nations." In a very few days he secured over 20,000 pounds
worth, and leaving the Afghans in charge returned to Coolgardie, where he
lodged 11,200 pounds worth of gold in the bank and applied for a mining
lease. Though he tried to keep his discovery secret, in a few hours there
were over 500 men out on the track looking for the locality. After they
found it, the whole neighbourhood was quickly pegged out, and only police
protection saved Dunn's find from being raided. Within six months the
Wealth of Nations reef was sold for 147,000 pounds; but, as in the case
of so many apparently rich reefs, further development failed to bear out

The third remarkable discovery was made by Messrs. Menzies and McDonald,
experienced man who left Perth after the excitement raised by the Wealth
of Nations and pushed out northerly from Coolgardie through White
Feather, Black Flag, and the Ninety-Mile to a spot several miles farther
on. There they discovered a reef of considerable promise and pegged out
two claims--the Lady Shenton and the Florence. On applying for the leases
at Coolgardie the usual rush to the locality took place, and still
another mining camp, now known as the town of Menzies, sprang into

Apart from the mining discoveries, though certainly in consequence of
them, the development of the colony during 1894 was very pronounced. The
Northam to Southern Cross Railway, the construction of which was approved
in 1891, was opened to traffic in July 1894. The wisdom of building it
was doubted by many, and if it had had to depend on the Yilgarn field
alone for revenue their fears would probably have been justified; but
with that good fortune which often attends bold spirits, the Premier had
the satisfaction of knowing before it was opened that the discovery of
Coolgardie practically ensured its success. In fact, no sooner was the
line finished than approval was given for its construction to Coolgardie,
and a Loan Bill for 1.5 million pounds passed to provide the money for
that and other works.

By this time Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie had not only become the centres of
promising mining districts, but were fairly large and more or less
settled towns. The old Yilgarn field was split up into four mining
centres--Yilgarn, Dundas, Coolgardie, and East Coolgardie (with
headquarters at Kalgoorlie). Coolgardie was proclaimed a municipality in
July,* Mr. J. Shaw being the first Mayor; and Kalgoorlie followed suit in
May 1895** (Mr. John Wilson, Mayor). On the Murchison field the Geraldton
to Mullewa line was completed in November and an extension to Cue
approved and commenced in March 1895.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Government Gazette 1894 page 629.)

(**Footnote. Ibid 1895 page 259.)

From 1894 mining in Western Australia has been remarkable, not so much
for new discoveries of a sensational character as for steady development.
It has been removed from the speculative phase, and become an industry of
great proportions and permanent value to the State. Like all countries
where gold has been discovered, the colony had its period of "booming,"
which started in 1894 and continued with increasing force throughout 1895
and 1896. Almost anything Western Australian to which the name of gold
mine was applied, or which was situated in any of the mining areas, was
sure of easy flotation into a company either in London or in the eastern
colonies. The result was that during those years capital to the extent,
it is said, of nearly 50 million pounds was subscribed--and much of it
was lost. Mines of admittedly "wild-cat" species were easily floated as
genuine if they had the name of Western Australia attached to them and
were supported by the certificate of some self-styled expert. The money
subscribed rarely reached the colony; it usually drifted into the pockets
of the promoters. That good mines existed--and still exist--has since
been proved; that Western Australia is one of the richest gold-bearing
countries in the world may be seen from the returns; but the
possibilities of a mine often did not enter into a promoter's
calculations, except on the prospectus--he looked not to the mine, but to
the shareholders, for his gold. Such a state of things inevitably brought
reaction--reaction from which the colony has since suffered severely; but
in those "wild and woolly" days, when loan money could be had for the
asking and English capital was simply thrown into the colony, no one
stopped to think of the evil days that must surely come. One good result
the boom did have--it advertised the colony more widely and more
effectively than anything else could have done.

Many of the mines were not over-capitalised, and some of those that were
have risen above their difficulties. These have all become good
dividend-paying concerns and have proved to the world that
notwithstanding the machinations of unscrupulous promoters, the gold
existed in quantities more than sufficient to pay for reasonable and safe
expenditure in the way of capital.

How greatly the colony gained in population through the advertisement of
the boom may be seen from the fact that where the population in 1894 was
82,014, in 1897 it had reached 161,694.* These came from all parts of the
world, though naturally most of them were emigrants from the other
colonies of Australia. Their value could not be estimated by numbers
alone; the greater proportion was composed of men for the most part in
early manhood or the prime of life, and possessed either of capital or of
that ability and energy which every country desires to see within its
borders. Their advent gave Western Australia an asset greater even than

(*Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

Apart from the general development that was taking place and the wild
excitement to secure a piece of mining scrip, the principal event in the
mining world of 1895 was the passing of a new Goldfields Act.* The old
Act of 1886 had required constant amendment to keep the law abreast of
the industry, and many of its provisions, by change of circumstances, had
become inoperative. The new Act, which was based on the Mining Acts of
the other colonies so far as they could be made to apply, provided that
complete records of all dealings should be kept by each District
Registrar, and that all transfers, leases, and other dealings with mines
would be registered at the Mines Department in Perth. As this meant that
no transaction could be operative until it had been registered in Perth,
it created a good deal of dissatisfaction, and was the cause of
considerable agitation during 1895 and 1896, mainly, apparently, because
it meant that all transactions must leave the goldfields to be finally
dealt with. The provisions of the Act were those usual in large mining
communities, and showed that the Government, even though accused of
animosity toward the fields, was doing all that was possible to place the
mining industry on a satisfactory footing.

(*Footnote. 59 Victoria Number 40.)

The year 1896 opened with brilliant promise. The excitement of the boom
was practically at its height, and the effects were seen as the year
progressed by the enormous number of arrivals from other parts. Not alone
was State business congested; the same was true in large measure of
private affairs. Perth, Fremantle, Kalgoorlie, Coolgardie, and Menzies
were crowded with people, hundreds of whom were unable to find better
accommodation than the merest shakedown. Houses and business premises
sprang up almost like magic in and around Perth and Fremantle, and the
capital, which in 1891 appeared little better than a thriving village,
became a rapidly-growing city, alive with every description of business
interest and the focus of ventures of worldwide importance and magnitude.
Fremantle became the busiest of ports, and at Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie
were laid the foundations of modern towns on the most up-to-date lines.
As regards the mining developments, the year was eminently satisfactory.
New finds were continually coming to light, and closer attention to the
known mineral localities was increasing the amount of gold recovered by
leaps and bounds. Two new goldfields--West Pilbara and North-East
Coolgardie--were proclaimed, and machinery to the value of 364,706 pounds
was imported. Some excitement was caused by the discovery of a reef at
Dandalup, on the South-West railway line, in the Darling Ranges. As this
was within fifty miles of Perth everyone was anxious for its success, but
further testing proved it to be a failure.

By the close of the year it was evident that the boom had run its course,
and that outside capital had turned its attention elsewhere. From then
mining became in Western Australia a serious industry, destined to yield
great results, but probably never again to be the scene of such wildly
exciting times. The newness had worn off and the people had become
accustomed to its presence, so that from a historical point of view its
interest, except so far as it contributed to the general welfare of the
colony, had gone. Incidents more or less exciting occasionally arose, but
they were the exception. One such occurred in 1898 over differences that
arose under the Goldfields Act 1895 and its regulations. Early in January
a dispute occurred between the alluvial miners at Kalgoorlie and the
manager of the Ivanhoe Venture Gold Mine which led to a serious
disturbance, the unrest extending to other places on the goldfields. The
Goldfields Act of 1895, under Section 36, gave the alluvial miners the
right to search for alluvial gold on leases, with certain restrictions.
The principal question in dispute was whether or not there was a reef on
the lease of the Ivanhoe Venture Syndicate. The leaseholders considered
it a great hardship that the Act confirmed the existence of dual titles,
those of the leaseholders and those of the claim-holders. The alluvial
miners, on the other hand, held that they had a moral and legal right to
the alluvial gold, at whatever depth it was found. Before a decision on
the case was given in the Warden's Court, the Government passed a
regulation limiting the depth to which alluvial could be worked to ten
feet. The diggers were much incensed at this regulation, which they
called "the 10-foot drop," and they applied the sobriquet of "Ten-foot
Ned" to the Minister for Mines. As regards the question of the reef, the
Government geologist reported that there was as yet no proof of its
existence. The Warden's decision in the case went against the alluvial
miners. The latter, however, paid no heed to this decision and continued
to enter on the lease. Relations between the syndicate and the miners
then became so strained that several of the latter were eventually
imprisoned.* On 24 March Sir John Forrest visited Kalgoorlie to meet the
delegates of the alluvial miners and hear their grievances; but on his
declining to address the crowd which had gathered outside the hotel where
the conference took place, some of the more excitable spirits became
unruly, and on his way to the station the Premier was somewhat roughly
hustled.** After much further friction the Ivanhoe Venture Syndicate
agreed to take a test case into the Supreme Court. The trial took place
in August, and the decision of the court was in favour of the alluvial
miners. A petition was then forwarded to the Government by the various
mining companies asking for the abolition of the dual title.*** In
consequence of this a Select Committee was appointed, which came to the
conclusion that the dual title undoubtedly inflicted a great hardship on
the leaseholder.**** A Royal Commission on Mining, appointed in August
1897, which reported in May 1898, had already expressed a similar
view.***** A new Mining Act****** was consequently passed, Sections 10
and 11 of which defined the relations between leaseholders and
claim-holders in a manner calculated to avoid a conflict between their
respective interests.

(*Footnote. See files of West Australian and Kalgoorlie Miner January and
February 1898.)

(**Footnote. Ibid 25 and 26 March 1898.)

(***Footnote. Western Australian Votes and Proceedings 1898 volume 2
Paper A12.)

(****Footnote. Ibid Paper A13.)

(*****Footnote. Royal Commission on Mining Report pages 6 to 7 in Western
Australian Votes and Proceedings 1898 Paper Number 26.)

(******Footnote. 62 Victoria Number 16.)

This was the most serious case of resistance to constituted authority
witnessed on the goldfields. All the elements for a conflagration were
present, and only the exhibition of common sense and the attention to
wise counsels on both sides prevented the occurrence of a second Eureka.

Another sensation was provided toward the end of the same year by the
discovery on the part of Messrs. Bourke and Hunter of alluvial gold at
Donnybrook, about 143 miles south of Fremantle. Small returns, both of
alluvial and quartz gold, were secured, and some attention was attracted
to the place. Subsequent examination, however, proved that as a
gold-bearing district Donnybrook was scarcely worth consideration.

The outstanding feature of interest in local mining since 1895 has been,
and still is, the wonderful richness of that small belt of country lying
between Kalgoorlie and the Boulder, known as the Golden Mile, from which
gold has been taken in millions of ounces, and which still remains as the
principal gold-producing area in the State. In it are contained the
Associated, Brown Hill, Great Boulder, Golden Horseshoe, Perseverance,
Ivanhoe, and other mines, all of which, though some are now on the wane,
have contributed handsomely to the yearly gold returns of Western

The growth of the industry from its inception in 1886 to the close of
1900 may be seen from the following table, figures giving, perhaps, the
best indication of what the discovery of gold has meant to the colony:*


1886 : 270 : 1148 : -.
1887 : 4359 : 18,517 : -.
1888 : 3125 : 13,273 : -.
1889 : 13,860 : 58,874 : -.
1890 : 20,402 : 86,663 : 1250.
1891 : 27,116 : 115,182 : 5326.
1892 : 53,271 : 226,282 : 1875.
1893 : 99,203 : 421,386 : 34,350.
1894 : 185,298 : 787,098 : 110,642.
1895 : 207,111 : 879,749 : 82,183.
1896 : 251,618 : 1,068,807 : 168,216.
1897 : 603,847 : 2,564,977 : 507,732.
1898 : 939,490 : 3,990,699 : 605,949.
1899 : 1,470,605 : 6,246,733 : 2,066,015.
1900 : 1,414,311 : 6,007,610 : 1,396,089.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Year Book 1902 to 1904 pages 949 and 965.)

Two of the problems which faced the Government during these years were
the provision of proper transport facilities and the installation of an
adequate water supply. We have seen that no sooner was the railway
completed to Southern Cross than arrangements were made to continue it to
Coolgardie. The first section of this line--to Boorabbin--was opened on 1
July 1896, and before it reached Coolgardie its continuation to
Kalgoorlie was approved. By the beginning of 1897 it was possible to
reach the latter centre by rail. But the convenience did not stop there;
less than two years later the train steamed into Menzies, and by 1903 one
could get as far as Leonora. At the same time, extensions were being
pushed forward on the Murchison field, Cue was joined to the railway
system in 1898, and Nannine became a railway terminus in 1903. Since then
further extensions have been made, all with the one aim--to join the
Murchison and eastern goldfields systems together, and so provide a
complete loop serving all the principal mining centres.

Adequate water supply, even as it was more pressing, was also more
difficult of achievement than railway communication, and in the long run
involved even greater expense. The absence of water was the one great
drawback to development. The extreme heat of the summer and the want of
proper water supply to mitigate both its discomforts and its dangers made
it imperative that during the worst of the season exemption from working
conditions should be allowed to the mines in order to give the miners a
chance to recuperate. The Government was naturally blamed for not taking
sufficient steps to cope with the difficulty, and in some measure this
blame was, in the early days, rightly placed. In 1893 less than 15,000
pounds was spent on water supply, and this out of loan money. The amount
seemed to the miners far too small, but they ought to have remembered
that colonial funds were not inexhaustible, and considerable expenditure
was being incurred in the construction of railways to serve the
goldfields. As it was, two tanks capable of together holding a million
gallons, as well as smaller ones, were excavated at Coolgardie. Others
were built along the Ninety-Mile Road, and the soaks on Hunt's old track
were improved. Boring also was undertaken at Mount Burgess and Hannans in
the hope of striking artesian water. By the end of 1895 there were tanks
and dams scattered over the eastern goldfields with an aggregate capacity
of over 13.5 million gallons, upon the construction of which 37,769
pounds had been spent.* But the supply was very far short of the demand,
and the fear of a water famine was continually present. By this time the
fields had become more stable, and places like Coolgardie, Kalgoorlie,
and other centres had become towns with some degree of permanency, and
with organised bodies and institutions to express their needs. The
question of sufficient water was one of the most imperative of those
needs, and as time passed without any definite steps being taken by the
Government, their method of asking became a demand rather than a request.
When the Premier visited the fields in November 1895** the matter was
placed before him in the strongest terms. In his reply Sir John Forrest,
after admitting the disabilities under which the fields laboured, pointed
out the extreme difficulty of the situation. Before the idea of bringing
permanent water to the mines could be considered, the Government must be
satisfied that no artesian supply could be secured, and that it was not
possible to provide sufficient by the use of catchment dams. If, however,
both these means failed, then the Government would be prepared to bring
ample water from the coast.

(*Footnote. Report of the Public Works Department Votes and Proceedings
1896 volume 2 Paper 25.)

(**Footnote. Kalgoorlie Miner 23 November 1895.)

It quickly became apparent that the difficulty could not be solved either
by boring or by conservation. Early in 1896 a water famine took place at
Woolgangie, the camp of those engaged on the railway construction, and
water had to be conveyed by train from Northam, as in Coolgardie the
condensing plants were working at the highest pressure without being able
to meet the necessities of the town itself. The dams and tanks were dry,
and boring had been found to be without result. Convinced that something
of a comprehensive nature must be carried out, the Engineer-in-Chief, Mr.
C.Y. O'Connor, to whose genius, energy, and boldness the colony owes so
much, brought forward a scheme* for carrying water to the goldfields from
the coast. Shortly, his suggestion was to build a huge reservoir on the
Helena River near Mundaring, in the Darling Ranges, and to convey from
there to Coolgardie by means of 330 miles of cast-iron pipes something
like 5 million gallons of water daily. The estimated cost, including the
necessary pumping stations, pipe tracks, and receiving reservoir at Mount
Burgess, outside Coolgardie, was 2.5 million pounds. The magnitude of
this scheme, perhaps the largest and most daring of its kind hitherto
attempted in the world, created the greatest astonishment, particularly
throughout the goldfields. Doubts were expressed as to the feasibility of
the idea, but these were set at rest when it was found that other
authorities quite agreed with Mr. O'Connor that it was entirely
practicable and could be successfully carried out.** The only question
was whether the colony would be justified in incurring the enormous
expense involved--whether, in fact, the permanence of the goldfields was
certain. At this stage the advantage to Western Australia of having a
bold and optimistic Premier was seen. When Parliament met in July the
scheme was given a prominent place in the Government programme, and
before the session closed an Act*** was passed authorising a loan of 2.5
million pounds to meet the expense. The actual work of construction was
not, however, proceeded with until early in 1898, the intervening time
being spent in securing from English and other experts further
confirmation of the soundness of the scheme from an engineering point of
view, and of the practical results that would be ensured.**** Once
started, it was pushed on with expedition, and in January 1903 the first
water from Mundaring Weir reached Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie. The water
area within which the scheme operates is not wholly confined to the
eastern goldfields, but extends from Guildford to Kanowna, serving both
the goldfields and agricultural districts through which the pipes pass.
The Goldfields Water Supply, as it is now termed, has thus completely
surmounted the water difficulty over a very large portion of the dry area
of inland Western Australia. Unfortunately, the engineer whose brain
conceived the project did not live to see its fulfilment. The work,
however, stands, a monument to his genius, and also an evidence of the
wisdom and foresight of the Premier who for so many years was the
benevolent despot of Western Australia--Sir John Forrest.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Votes and Proceedings 1896 volume 1 Paper
Number 10.)

(**Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates new series volume 9
pages 225 to 226.)

(***Footnote. 60 Victoria Number 12.)

(****Footnote. Western Australian Votes and Proceedings 1898 volume 1
Paper Number 21.)

But notwithstanding the power and influence of Sir John Forrest, the
position of the Government during the years following 1894 was by no
means an enviable one. As a result of the discovery of the Coolgardie and
Kalgoorlie goldfields, an unparalleled wave of prosperity swept over the
colony, bringing with it greatly increased responsibilities and sometimes
very trying difficulties. The abnormal inrush of people into a country so
little prepared to receive them caused congestion in nearly every branch
of State work, and the fact that many of the newcomers were from more
progressive places, and easily irritated when matters were not entirely
to their liking, made the position of the Government even more irksome.
This spirit of irritation against and opposition to almost everything
proposed by the Government was particularly manifest on the new
goldfields, where the miners seem to have thought that they had lifted
the colony from the slough of despond and were therefore entitled to
dictate its policy. This opposition to the established order of things
grew into a goldfields versus coast agitation, which has prevailed with
varying intensity ever since, and on more than one occasion shown itself
inimical to the best interests of the State. It must be admitted that
this feeling was strengthened by the attitude of the Western Australians
themselves, a section of whom regarded "t'othersiders" as rank outsiders,
who ought to be sufficiently thankful for being allowed to remain within
the western paradise. While nothing but praise can be bestowed upon those
of the early days who strove to wrest Western Australia from wildness and
make it a place fair to look upon, the colony's real development started
only after the gold discoveries, and the settlers ought to have welcomed
with open arms the men possessing the brain and sinew necessary to turn
those discoveries to profitable account. A better commingling of the two
elements in those early goldfields days would have saved the colony from
many difficulties.

The Government met with its first check during the session of 1895, when
the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. George Leake, though with but a small
following behind him, moved a want of confidence vote in the Ministry
over the education question.* It was never put to the vote,** as Sir John
Forrest, after a somewhat warm debate, agreed to deal with the matter;
but it had more than a little effect, as before the end of the year an
Education Act*** on modern lines was passed and the old system of
ecclesiastical grants for educational purposes abolished.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates new series volume 8
page 395.)

(**Footnote. Ibid page 420.)

(***Footnote. 59 Victoria Number 27.)

The spirit of opposition on the part of the goldfields became
crystallised over the Budget proposals of 1895. The revenue for the year
ending 30 June had been 1,125,940 pounds or 252,290 pounds in excess of
the estimate,* a condition of things which the miners, perhaps rightly,
attributed to their presence in the country. They were consequently
dissatisfied when the proposals for 1895/6 were not so liberal toward the
goldfields as they expected. A Goldfields National League was formed with
the object of redressing their grievances, which went farther than the
question of expenditure, and embraced the administration of some of the
Government departments, as well as strong criticism of the mining laws.**

(*Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates new series volume 8
page 554.)

(**Footnote. Kalgoorlie Miner 4 November 1895.)

Criticism of departmental administration was not confined to the
goldfields. The whole community was suffering from the ineptitude
displayed, and dissatisfaction was widespread. There was not a Government
department which had to do with communication, transport, or mercantile
affairs generally that was not overwhelmed by the rush of business.

So great was the expansion, due to mining and other transactions, that
the Telegraph Department found itself faced with an accumulation of
messages far beyond its power to cope with. As delay oftentimes meant
serious loss in mining transactions, many of which depended for their
success on quick communication with London or the eastern capitals,
public and Press accusations of incompetency on the part of the
administrative officers were common on the goldfields, and not unknown in
Perth and Fremantle. To add to the disorder, the lines between Eucla and
Albany, and between Coolgardie and Perth, occasionally failed, and it
sometimes happened that telegrams had to be forwarded to the capital by
rail! To cope with the difficulty, Parliament approved the construction
of a new line from Coolgardie via Dundas to Eucla.* This was not
completed till late in 1896;** meanwhile the congestion in the telegraph
office became intensified, and the trouble spread to the post office,
delays in the delivery of correspondence becoming almost as irritating as
the department's inability to handle telegrams. The authorities did all
that was possible in the way of increasing the staffs in both
departments, but with little result, as the buildings became overcrowded
and confusion worse confounded.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates new series volume 8
page 356.)

(**Footnote. Ibid volume 9 page 860.)

To make matters worse, the Railway and Customs Departments reached the
same chaotic state, so that every department engaged in transmitting
communications or handling merchandise was involved. In the Railway
Department the shortage of rolling-stock was the principal reason; in the
Customs the absence of available space to facilitate the handling of
goods. The whole difficulty, from whatever point it is viewed, resolves
itself into the one fact--that the colony did not possess facilities for
dealing with a large and sudden inrush of population which was totally
unexpected. To reasonable people this would have been a good excuse,
especially as the Government was sparing neither energy nor money to meet
the requirements; but the newcomers to Western Australia in those days,
thirsting to secure the riches it had been proved to possess, were far
from reasonable, and looked upon the authorities not as the servants of
the people, but as the slaves of the goldfields. That it seemed
impossible to cope with the telegraphic, postal, railway, and customs
business in those days must be admitted, but it is only fair to add that
the want of consideration shown to the Government did not help to smooth
away the difficulties.*

(*Footnote. See speeches on Address in Reply 1896 Western Australian
Parliamentary Debates new series volume 9 pages 44 et seq.)

In answer to the protests the Minister of Mines (Mr. E.H. Wittenoom)
admitted* that the post and telegraph offices on the fields were far too
small for the work they had to do, but pointed out that the Public Works
Department was rapidly pushing on with the erection of new ones. In
regard to the other questions raised, it was deemed politic that
Ministers should visit the whole district, and in November, Sir John
Forrest travelled over the eastern and Mr. Wittenoom the Murchison
fields. With "the soft answer that turneth away wrath" both Ministers
succeeded for the time in considerably allaying the irritation, Sir John
going so far as to foreshadow the bringing of ample water from the coast
and an increase in the number of goldfields' representatives in
Parliament. The promise of water was, as we have seen, fully redeemed,
and in the session of 1896 the question of increasing the goldfields'
representation in Parliament was also discussed.

(*Footnote. Ibid 24 October 1895.)

But before that arrived, the congestion, particularly in the Railway
Department, had grown more acute, and loud murmurs of dissatisfaction
arose from the merchants of Perth and Fremantle, who complained that
traffic was utterly disorganised. The Morning Herald, a new metropolitan
daily, attacked the authorities strongly, and even the West Australian
made dignified though guarded complaints.* A public meeting held in Perth
in February 1896,** and addressed by influential men, severely criticised
the railway, telegraph, and postal administrations, and vaguely blamed
the Premier for the railway trouble on the ground that he had cut down
the departmental estimates for rolling-stock. Resenting the imputation,
Sir John Forrest forcibly replied to his detractors, and pointed out that
rolling-stock was then on order to the value of 300,000 pounds more than
had been authorised by Parliament.*** The Commissioner of Railways (Mr.
Venn) took exception to some of the Premier's statements, as he
considered they reflected upon his administration, and in a letter to Sir
John complained that the latter had not shown that esprit de corps usual
between members of a Government. He contended that when assailed in the
Press he (Mr. Venn) had defended the Government at the expense of himself
as Commissioner of Railways, when the real facts were that the whole
trouble could have been averted if the Premier had not refused to place
his request for 330,000 pounds worth of rolling-stock on the loan
estimates for 1894, even though urged to do so by the

(*Footnote. See files of West Australian and Morning Herald January and
February 1896.)

(**Footnote. West Australian 26 February and Morning Herald 26 February

(***Footnote. West Australian 28 February 1896.)

(****Footnote. West Australian and Morning Herald 29 February 1896.)

Unfortunately, Mr. Venn, in his haste to clear himself, handed a copy of
this letter to the Press for publication. This action reduced the whole
question to the level of a personal quarrel between Sir John Forrest and
Mr. Venn. The Premier thanked the Commissioner for his past services,
regretted that he should have to sever his connection with the
Government, and requested his resignation. This Mr. Venn declined to
give, as he wished to justify himself to the Cabinet from the
departmental files. Sir John then asked a second time, pointing out that
to refuse was unconstitutional; but Mr. Venn held to his first decision.
The Premier then telegraphed to the effect that the Cabinet was unanimous
in requiring the resignation, to which the Commissioner tersely replied,
"Death rather than dishonour." The next step was taken on 9 March, when
the Premier informed his colleague that unless he received a reply--in
other words, a resignation--by 9 o'clock that night he would feel at
liberty to take whatever steps he might deem necessary. Unfortunately,
Mr. Venn did not receive this note until after the time mentioned, but he
immediately informed Sir John that he would make a statement next
morning. Sir John, however, when no answer came by 9 o'clock, showed a
little of Mr. Venn's precipitation, and made certain statements to the
Press which rendered further negotiation impossible. The same night,
therefore, he transmitted a memo to Mr. Venn to the effect that the
Governor had dismissed him from office and from membership of the
Executive Council. His Excellency, said Sir John, regretted that such a
course was necessary, but considered that Mr. Venn had brought it about
by his refusal to resign.

Mr. Venn, though dismissed, as it was phrased, "in his nightshirt,"* had
no other course than to accept the inevitable. He stated that it had been
his intention to resign after making a statement to the Cabinet. The
point was raised and warmly debated as to whether the Premier had acted
constitutionally. Of this, however, there can be scarcely any doubt; but
his wisdom in taking such an extreme course may be questioned.**

(*Footnote. Phrase used by Coolgardie Pioneer; see Western Australian
Parliamentary Debates new series volume 9 page 49.)

(**Footnote. The whole correspondence was published in the West
Australian and Morning Herald under dates 10 and 11 March 1896.)

The vacant portfolio was by no means sought after, but eventually Mr.
F.H. Piesse was induced to accept it. For some time he was unable to
effect any improvement in the department, but matters improved as
additional rolling-stock came to hand, and by the end of the year the
trouble was fully overcome. The same result was achieved by the Post and
Telegraph Department through the erection of new lines, providing
additional accommodation, and a better organised staff.

The increased Parliamentary representation demanded by the goldfields
was, as mentioned above, granted in 1896.* A new province--the
North-East--was constituted, thus adding three additional members to the
Legislative Council. At the same time the number of the Assembly was
increased to forty-five by the establishment of new electorates, the
majority of which were on the goldfields. The number of Cabinet Ministers
was also increased to six.

(*Footnote. 60 Victoria Number 18.)

This amendment to the Constitution necessitated a general election, which
was held in May 1897, the results of which, contrary to expectations,
showed that not all the new mining constituencies were opposed to the
policy of the Government. The addition of a new member to the Cabinet
combined with the retirement of others brought about the reconstruction
of the Ministry, so that by the end of the year the Premier found himself
the sole survivor of the original Ministry appointed at the introduction
of responsible government.

The year 1897 was not a year of prolific legislation. Apart from the
break caused by the elections, there were two Federal Conventions
held--one in Adelaide and one in Sydney--at each of which the Premier and
nine other delegates were present; and Sir John was also absent from the
colony during the middle of the year, in order to represent Western
Australia at the diamond Jubilee Celebrations of Her Majesty Queen
Victoria in London. These interruptions made a long session impossible;
consequently two short sessions were held, the first of which did little
more than pass supplies, while the second occupied itself in passing
resolutions to indicate a future course of action. Payment of members was
approved as a principle,* and in face of a no-confidence motion proposed
by Mr. Leake,** the Premier promised to revise the duties so far as they
affected foodstuffs,*** though it must be admitted that in doing so he
had nothing to fear from a division on Mr. Leake's motion.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates new series volume 11
page 589.)

(**Footnote. Ibid page 49.)

(***Footnote. Ibid pages 75 and 127.)

Before the Government met Parliament in 1898 a further rearrangement of
Ministerial offices had taken place, owing to Mr. Wittenoom having
accepted the Agent-Generalship. Mr. H.B. Lefroy became Minister of Mines,
and Mr. George Randell Colonial Secretary. When Parliament opened,
averred and extensive programme was submitted in the Governor's speech,
but the session closed without much of it finding a place on the Statute
Book. In fact, an unkind critic might with justice assert that the
session lasted longer and produced less result than any held since
Parliament had been constituted. The Norseman and Leonora Railway Bill
and the Perth Deep Drainage Bill were both shelved till a more convenient
season; the Education and Mining Bills were withdrawn; the Railway,
Patents, Public Works, Trade Unions, and Electoral Bills were never even
heard of. The principal measures that were passed were the Tariff
Amendment (promised the previous session) Early Closing, Health, and
Lands Acts, this last designed to promote agricultural settlement along
those lines which had always been advocated by Sir John Forrest.
Politically, the most important Act was the amendment of the very
ill-advised mining regulation (Number 103) which had been the cause of
the Kalgoorlie riot of 1898, already referred to. As usual in such cases,
a compromise was effected. The alluvial miner was allowed in the first
place to make his search, and then had to give way to the reef miner.*

(*Footnote. See ante.)

Up to this time the introduction of foreign mining capital, the ease with
which loan money could be secured, and an overflowing Treasury chest had
lulled the Government into a sense of financial security, and there was
scarcely that control over expenditure that was needed. With the reaction
that followed the boom period, however, it became evident that closer
supervision was necessary. The first note of this was sounded when the
accounts of the colony for the year ending 30 June 1898 were published.
The revenue, though large (2,754,747 pounds) was 253,253 pounds below the
estimate, while the expenditure reached 3,256,912 pounds--an amount so
far in excess of the receipts that it not only absorbed the accrued
surplus of 315,362 pounds but left a debit of 186,803 pounds.* This
called for rigorous retrenchment and the closest scrutiny of public
expenditure, unpleasant at any time, but particularly so to a people
accustomed to huge surpluses. The drift, however, continued throughout
the following year, the transactions of which showed a loss of over
60,000 pounds,** and was not stayed until 1900, when there was again a
credit on the year's operations of 260,000 pounds. Matters arising out of
administration and the prominence given to the question of federation
absorbed the greater part of the Parliamentary session of 1899 and filled
the pages of Hansard rather than the Statute Book, the list of measures
being small in comparison with the length of the session. The most
important was a further amendment of the Constitution*** increasing the
number of the Legislative Council to thirty by the creation of two new
provinces--the Metropolitan-Suburban and the South-East--and raising the
membership of the Assembly to fifty by a redistribution of seats and a
rearrangement of boundaries. At the same time the franchise was granted
to women.

(*Footnote. Western Australian Votes and Proceedings 1898 Paper Number 22
page 8.)

(**Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

(***Footnote. 63 Victoria Number 19.)

In fact, the activities of Parliament during these years were largely
devoted to three matters--the authorisation of loan expenditure to
provide increased facilities and better conditions, the extension of the
Constitution to give representation to new communities, and, towards the
end of the period, discussion as to the advisability or otherwise of
Western Australia entering the proposed Australian federation. Apart from
these, the most important questions dealt with were those concerning
industrial disputes and a broader land policy. With regard to the former,
an Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act* on the lines of the New
Zealand measure was passed, which provided for the settlement of disputes
first by a Conciliation Board and, if that failed, by an Arbitration
Court consisting of a representative of each side presided over by a
Supreme Court Judge. This Act was superseded by a more comprehensive
measure passed in 1902. As generally happens with experimental
legislation, the Act has not altogether fulfilled expectations, but, on
the whole, has proved a successful innovation. In the matter of land
legislation the Premier took advantage of the power which he had under
responsible government to bring into practice many of the ideas which he
had advocated during Crown colony days. Through all the period of
feverish mining activity he never lost sight of the advantages that would
accrue to the colony through a wise and progressive policy of land
settlement. Gold he looked upon as an uncertain factor at any time, but
agriculture was a permanent asset, and if undertaken with vigour a
never-failing source of prosperity. The land regulations of 1887 offered
certain inducements, but Sir John Forrest in 1893, with the Homesteads
Act,** went far beyond anything even suggested in the regulations. Under
that Act any person being the head of a family or a male over eighteen
years of age who did not own more than 100 acres of land might select
within certain boundaries a free homestead farm of 160 acres, of which,
provided he observed certain conditions as to improvements, he received
the fee simple at the end of seven years. In order to assist those who
settled on the land, an Agricultural Bank Act*** was passed in the
following year. Under this Act persons improving their holdings may
borrow on the value of the improvements, so as to extend the sphere of
their operations. Convinced that even these concessions were not
sufficient to ensure agricultural development on a large scale, the
Parliament in 1898 passed a comprehensive Land Act**** consolidating and
amending previous measures. By this Act land might be acquired under a
conditional purchase system, upon terms that were so easy as to be within
the reach of anyone prepared to take up selections and develop them. The
advantages of the system had not had time to give any appreciable result
before the end of 1900, but subsequent results have more than justified
the policy of the then Premier, and have proved that on the land
question, as on so many others, he showed a statesman's wisdom.

(*Footnote. 64 Victoria Number 20.)

(**Footnote. 57 Victoria Number 18.)

(**Footnote. 58 Victoria Number 21.)

(***Footnote. 62 Victoria Number 37.)

Economically, the ten years under review were those of the colony's
greatest expansion, an expansion due almost entirely to the gold
discoveries. Not alone did they prove that great wealth lay in the
country, but they brought to it an enormous amount of foreign capital,
and what was of infinitely greater value--the bone and sinew of other
lands. Population grew apace, trade expanded, old industries opened out
and new ones arose--in fact, from being a slow, backward, and practically
unknown community in 1891, Western Australia in 1900 was known the world
over as a country of immense wealth, of progressive ideas, and of almost
boundless possibilities. The population had risen from 53,279 to 179,708;
the revenue of the colony from 497,670 to 2,875,396 pounds and the
expenditure from 435,623 to 2,615,675 pounds; the imports from 1,280,093
to 5,962,178 pounds and the exports from 799,466 to 6,852,054 pounds; and
the area under crop from 64,210 to 201,338 acres. The principal item of
export was of course gold, followed by timber, the value of which during
the ten years rose from 89,176 to 458,641 pounds.*

(*Footnote. Statistical Summary Appendix 4.)

In the general development that was taking place through the altered
conditions, attention was drawn to minerals other than gold which the
colony was known to possess. Copper mining, which had languished owing to
the cost of transport and the expense of producing the ore, was revived
for a time until it was found that the same conditions as before
continued to operate against its success. The tin fields at Greenbushes
were also opened up, and at the end of 1900 had produced nearly 14,000
pounds worth of that metal.* Coal measures which were known to exist in
various parts of the colony were tested, more particularly at Collie, and
as a result mines were established which up to the end of 1900 had
produced 176,000** tons of coal and are now producing at the rate of
320,000 tons a year.

(*Footnote. Ibid.)

(**Footnote. Western Australian Year Book 1902 to 1904 page 929.)

Further, the gold discoveries drew attention to the fact that there were
still large stretches of country in Western Australia of which nothing
whatever was known, and revived that spirit of exploration which had been
so prominent a feature of the colony's early history. In 1891 at the
expense of Sir Thomas Elder, a scientific expedition, under the
leadership of Mr. David Lindsay, was sent out from Adelaide for the
purpose of examining those portions of the interior lying between the
tracks of Forrest, Gosse, Giles, and Warburton, while at the same time
keeping a sharp lookout for traces of Leichhardt's party. Owing to
prolonged drought it was impossible to carry out the original idea, and
the course of the expedition was diverted to Fraser Range and thence
through Southern Cross up to the Murchison. Being well equipped for
scientific purposes, much was expected from the expedition, but owing to
dissensions among the party the results were practically of no value.*

(*Footnote. Journal of Elder Exploring Expedition 1891 to 1892 Adelaide
1893 page 13.)

In 1896, L.A. Wells, who had been second in command of the Elder
expedition, left Lake Way as the leader of the Calvert expedition to
examine the country between the East Murchison and Fitzroy rivers.* The
object of the expedition was achieved, but during the course of their
travels two members of it, sent out to examine new country, were lost in
the bush and were afterwards found to have perished from thirst. The news
that two of the party were missing led to a further expedition being sent
out by the Government under W.F. Rudall, which, though unsuccessful in
finding traces of the missing men, secured a great deal of additional
information concerning the northern part of the colony.**

(*Footnote. Calvert, A.F. Exploration of Australia 1844 to 1896 London
1896 page 321; Western Australian Year Book 1902 to 1904 page 86.)

(**Footnote. Western Australian Year Book 1902 to 1904 pages 86 to 87.)

A third party left Lake Darlot in 1896, under the leadership of the
Honourable David Carnegie,* and travelled in a north-eastern direction
towards the South Australian border in the hope of discovering either
gold-bearing areas or good pastoral country. Except several very isolated
patches, no auriferous country was found, and Carnegie reported that the
country could not be used for pastoral pursuits owing to the want of

(*Footnote. Carnegie, D.W. Spinifex and Sand London 1896.)

The outbreak of the South African War in 1899 brought into existence a
new phase of colonial development, and affected practically all the
dependencies of the British Empire. The reverses suffered by the British
arms in the earliest stages of that war, and the offensive attitude
adopted by some continental nations, roused in the colonies a spirit of
intense loyalty and patriotism, combined with a desire to be recognised
as component factors of the Empire in the wider sphere of world politics.
Offers of trained men were made to and accepted by the British
Government, and Western Australia readily took up her share of the
burden. Contingent after contingent of troops were sent out, and rendered
conspicuous service throughout the campaign. Although compared with later
events the assistance rendered was comparatively trifling, its importance
cannot be over-estimated, for while the offer to send help to Britain was
a new expression of colonial patriotism, its acceptance was a fresh
development in Imperial politics, proving as it did that the colonies
were becoming fitted to undertake some of the duties of nationhood. This
fact has been further emphasised during the recent world war, from which
foreign nations have learned the lesson that in the face of danger the
Imperial unity of Britain is a reality to be always taken into account.



For very many years prior to the actual inauguration of the Commonwealth,
the people of the various Australian colonies had been viewing with
increasing favour the conception of a federated or united Australia,
although the earliest proposal to bring about this result, put forward by
Earl Grey in 1847, had met with strenuous opposition.* It was felt at the
time that the conflict of interests was too great to make the
amalgamation of the various colonial governments either possible or wise.
It must be remembered that the main population of the various colonies
was centred round the capital cities, which were separated by long
stretches of almost uninhabited country, with no communication between
them except by sea or by road. This made it extremely difficult to put
forward any concrete suggestion that would act with justice and fairness
in questions relating to legislative facilities and equal rights.
Differences in what may be termed economic legislation further
accentuated this feature. For example, New South Wales and Victoria were
as wide apart as the poles in matters relating to customs duties, in
fact, the "war of the customs" appeared to be an almost impassable
barrier to the hopes of those to whom the idea of federation appealed as
a factor towards the creation of a great Imperial union. However, the
British Government, recognising that the future must bring with it wider
views, incorporated the principle of federation in the Australian
Government Bill of 1850. The wisdom of including such provision was
warmly debated in both Houses,* and only succeeded in passing through the
House of Lords by one vote. The arguments used led Earl Grey to
reconsider the question, and he finally decided to omit the clause***
(Clause 30 of the original Bill). In June 1851 Sir Charles Fitzroy, the
Governor of New South Wales, received a further commission as
Governor-General of Australia, the official rank of all other Australian
Governors being that of Lieutenant-Governor. This further commission,
granted to the holder of the Governorship of New South Wales, was
certainly not meant to be barren of power and privileges, for the
Governors of other colonies were to be superseded in their duties by the
temporary residence of the Governor-General in their territory.****

(*Footnote. Rusden, G.W. History of Australia London 1883 volume 2 pages
464 et seq.)

(**Footnote. Hansard third series volume 110 pages 800 to 806; volume 111
pages 1216 to 1227.)

(***Footnote. Ibid volume 113 page 806.)

(****Footnote. Epitome of the Official History of New South Wales Sydney
1883 pages 179 and 181; Earl Grey to Sir C. Fitzroy 13 January 1851; Sir
C. Fitzroy to Earl Grey 23 June 1851.)

Sydney was the federal capital, and it was only the strong
representations of the residents of Melbourne and Adelaide in regard to
the inconvenience this would cause which lead to these powers and
privileges falling into disuse. At this stage it is idle to speculate,
but we may wonder what might have been the result if the five capitals
had been connected by rail as they now are. The distinctive title of
Governor-General in regard to the Governor of New South Wales was
retained until 1855.* It was not at any time more than an empty honour
which carried no real power. The incident is mainly instructive as
showing how strongly the Colonial Office held to the federal sentiment
and how clearly the future was outlined.

(*Footnote. Ibid page 257.)

Although Earl Grey, probably convinced that federation was premature at
that stage of Australian development, agreed to the deletion of the
federal clauses from the Act of 1850, the idea of a future federal bond
was not wholly abandoned. For many years it seemed to be only the vague
dream of a few visionaries, and quite outside the realm of practical
politics. The keen competition between the eastern colonies, which
followed upon responsible government, only served to accentuate their
differences--on tariff questions especially--and to erect barriers of
self-interest. But even during that period thinking men clearly
recognised the wisdom of ultimate federation, and foresaw the time when
the vague dream would become the "question of the hour." Wentworth, Deas
Thomson, and Dr. Lang in New South Wales, and Gavan Duffy in Victoria,
kept the federal idea alive, and a series of intercolonial conferences
held at irregular intervals between 1863 and 1883 served, by discussion
of matters of mutual concern, to remove some of the difficulties from the

(*Footnote. Barton, G.B. Historical Sketch of Australian Federation in
Year Book of Australia 1891 pages 6 to 14.)

Being a Crown colony, Western Australia was debarred from full membership
of these conferences, but was represented at the conferences of 1881 and
1883, though the delegate was instructed to refrain from voting. At the
conference of 1881 a Bill to establish a Federal Council of Australasia
was brought forward by Sir Henry Parkes, but as a motion for its
submission to the various legislatures concerned failed to secure a
majority, the Bill was dropped.* A second Bill, prepared by the
Honourable (afterwards Sir) Samuel Griffiths was presented to the
conference of 1883, and after discussion adopted.** The necessary
legislative consents--Imperial and Colonial (New South Wales
excepted)--having been secured, the Federal Council Act came into
operation in 1885. This was really the first definite step towards the
federation of the Australian colonies.

(*Footnote. Minutes of Proceedings of Conference in New South Wales Votes
and Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly 1880 to 1881 volume 1.)

(**Footnote. Minutes of Convention ibid 1883 to 1884 volume 9.)

The members of the Council met in Hobart in 1886 for the first time, the
appointment of the delegates to the Council having been sanctioned by an
Imperial Act. The plan of federation did not satisfy the wishes of Sir
Henry Parkes,* who maintained that unification in the best sense would
not be the outcome of the deliberations of this body, and he therefore
promulgated a rival scheme of a comprehensive nature. With his usual
determination, Sir Henry, who was now definitely committed to the policy
of federation, threw all his personal influence into the scheme, and
secured for it that popular favour which alone could command success,
thereby dooming the other movement to failure. The previous attitude of
Sir Henry Parkes toward the Federal Council of Australasia had been one
that was not calculated to inspire confidence in the minds of the
statesmen of the other colonies, and his efforts at this period were
viewed with some suspicion in Victoria. Only a short time previously he
had attempted to appropriate the national title of Australia for New
South Wales, and perhaps the report of General Edwards** on the need of
federal action in national defence had a good deal to do with the
alteration of Sir Henry's views on the subject of federation. Ultimately,
however, all jealousies and difficulties were overcome, and an
Australasian Federation Conference was held in Melbourne during February
1890. To what extent the success of the movement was due to the splendid
patriotism of Sir Edmund Barton, afterwards the first Prime Minister of
the Commonwealth, and subsequently senior Puisne Judge of the High Court,
it would be hard to say. Sinking all political differences of a local
nature, Barton threw himself heart and soul into the federal agitation in
New South Wales, proving that he possessed the large-heartedness of the
statesman and the unselfishness of the true patriot.

(*Footnote. Lynne, C.E. Life of Sir Henry Parkes Sydney 1896 page 492.)

(**Footnote. Memorandum containing proposals for the organisation of the
military forces of the Australian Colonies by General Sir J.B. Edwards in
Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council 1889 session 3 Paper

At the conference of 1890 the far-reaching proposals of Sir Henry Parkes
triumphed over the more timid suggestions of the Federal Council, and the
ideal of a federated Australia assumed a more concrete and tangible form.
A resolution was carried to the effect that, in the opinion of the
conference, the best interests and the present and future prosperity of
the Australian colonies would be promoted by an early union under the
Crown, and that the members of the conference should take steps to induce
their respective Legislatures to appoint, during the year, delegates, not
exceeding seven in number from each colony, empowered to consider and
report on an adequate scheme for a Federal Constitution.* The legislative
authority of the previous Federal Council had no doubt paved the way for
this larger measure of progress, and though the invitation to the
conference of 1890 must be credited to the efforts of Sir Henry Parkes,
the earliest promulgation of the broad principles of federation was due
mainly to the actions of the Federal Council.

(*Footnote. Official record of Proceedings of the Australasian Federation
Conference 1890 pages 19 to 20 in Victoria, Votes and Proceedings of the
Legislative Assembly 1890 volume 2.)

The legislatures of the different colonies approved of the proposal of
the conference, and appointed the necessary delegates. These met in March
1891 under the title of the National Australasian Convention. The
principal result of the deliberations of this Convention was an agreement
upon a draft Bill for the constitution of the Commonwealth. However, the
time was not yet sufficiently ripe for the Federation of Australasia, and
especially in New Zealand and Fiji was this feeling pronounced. Neither
of these colonies accepted the Constitution as drafted, and the attitude
they then adopted has been preserved by them ever since. It would also
appear as if the labours of the Convention of 1891 had been abortive, for
in none of the colonies was the draft then drawn up accepted. Yet the
Bill formed to some extent the basis of the Constitution which became law
nine years later--evidence that the work of the Convention had not been
altogether in vain.

The position of Western Australia, as the least populous colony, was
realised by all its politicians, and it was recognised that any scheme of
amalgamation would need very careful consideration before the opinion of
the electors could be sought finally on this most important movement. The
great expansion due to the finding of gold in payable quantities helped
to strengthen this view, and the expression of Sir James Lee Steere at
the Convention of 1890, that the colony could not afford to sacrifice her
existing tariff,* was becoming more strongly justified. Thus at the
outset the differing fiscal policies of the various colonies, together
with the fact that the two most populous--New South Wales and
Victoria--were diametrically opposed, only made the position more
difficult and embarrassing. During the four years following the National
Australasian Convention no active steps were taken in regard to union,
though the question of a Federated Australia occupied a more or less
prominent position in the minds of the people, who were gradually
becoming educated in this most important matter.

(*Footnote. Official record of Proceedings of the Australasian Federation
Conference 1890 page 40 in Victoria Votes and Proceedings of the
Legislative Assembly 1890 volume 2.)

In 1895, however, the question, which had been brought forward at a
session of the Federal Council in Hobart two years earlier,* was again
keenly scrutinised, and a meeting of Premiers, called by the Premier of
New South Wales, Mr. G. Reid, was held in the same city in January to
discuss the question. After careful consideration of the whole subject,
this conference decided upon a further Convention, which should be a
purely elective one, chosen by the electors in each colony, for the
purpose of framing a Constitution under which it would be possible for
the various Australian colonies to federate.** The then Western
Australian Premier, Sir John Forrest, objected to the proposal of an
elective Convention to frame another Bill for the purpose of union,
holding that the draft Commonwealth Bill of 1891 should be first
submitted to the Parliaments of the various colonies interested, and any
amendments made by them referred to a second Convention, to be appointed
after a general election.***

(*Footnote. Federal Council Votes and Proceedings 1893 pages 16 to 17 and
23 to 24.)

(**Footnote. West Australian 2 February 1895.)

(***Footnote. Ibid.)

Eventually, however, Western Australia met the wishes of the other
colonies, and in 1896 accepted the draft of the Enabling Bill prepared at
the Premiers' Conference by the Premiers of Victoria and South
Australia.* This Bill provided for a Convention of ten representatives
from each of the conferring colonies, and these were charged with the
duty of framing a Federal Constitution. New Zealand took no active part
in the formation of these measures, though if that colony desired it was
to be included in the Convention.**

(*Footnote. Australian Federation Enabling Act West Australian 1896 60
Victoria Number 32.)

(**Footnote. Western Australian Parliamentary Debates new series volume 9
page 845.)

The provisions of the Enabling Bill were accepted by New South Wales,
Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania, each of whom sent ten
representatives, to whom was given the onerous responsibility of framing
a Constitution to meet the varying needs of the Australian nation. To
this convention Western Australia also sent ten representatives, but they
were selected by the two Houses of Parliament sitting together, and
therefore were only to a certain extent the chosen of the people.*

(*Footnote. Ibid page 848.)

The Convention, consisting of delegates from all the Australian colonies
except Queensland,* met in Adelaide in March 1897** and proceeded with
the task of preparing a Constitution Bill which it was hoped would be
acceptable to all the colonies, and would reconcile the many conflicting
interests that had hitherto prevented the ideal of federation from
reaching fruition. In the first session a series of resolutions,*** based
mainly on those of the Convention of 1891, was moved by Mr. Barton, and
after a debate, which lasted for several days, was agreed to in the
following form:****

That in order to enlarge the powers of self-government of the people of
Australasia it is desirable to create a Federal Government which will
exercise authority throughout the federated colonies, subject to the
following conditions:

1. That the powers, privileges, and territory of the several existing
colonies shall remain intact, except in respect to such voluntary
surrenders as may be agreed upon to secure uniformity of law and
administration in matters of common concern.

2. That after the establishment of the Federal Government there shall be
no alteration of the territorial possessions or boundaries without the
consent of the colony or colonies concerned.

3. That the exclusive power to impose and collect duties of Customs and
Excise and to give bounties shall be vested in the Federal Parliament.

4. That the exclusive control of the military and naval defences of the
federated colonies shall be vested in the Federal Parliament.

5. That trade and intercourse between the federated colonies, whether by
land or sea, shall become and remain absolutely free.

Subject to the carrying out of these and such other conditions as may
hereafter be deemed necessary, this Convention approves of the framing of
a Federal Constitution which shall establish:

(a) A Parliament to consist of two Houses, namely, a States Assembly or
Senate, and a National Assembly or House of Representatives; the States
Assembly to consist of representatives of each colony, to hold office for
such periods and to be chosen in such manner as will best secure to that
Chamber a perpetual existence, combined with definite responsibility to
the people of the State which shall have chosen them; the National
Assembly to be elected by districts formed on a population basis; and to
possess the sole power of originating all Bills appropriating revenue or
imposing taxation.

(b) An Executive, consisting of a Governor-General, appointed by the
Queen, and of such persons as from time to time may be appointed as his

(c) A Supreme Federal Court, which shall also be the High Court Of Appeal
for each colony in the federation.

(*Footnote. Queensland was not represented at any of the Conventions.)

(**Footnote. Proceedings of the Australasian Federal Convention Adelaide

(***Footnote. Proceedings of the Australasian Federal Convention Adelaide
1897 pages 9 to 10.)

(****Footnote. Ibid page 36.)

As one of the principal clauses in the above resolutions vested exclusive
power for the imposition and collection of customs and excise duties in
the Federal Parliament, it became necessary to formulate a scheme under