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Our Australian Cousins
Chapter XXIII


Climate of Australia—Sites for a sanatorium—Start for Mount Wilson—My host—The road-side publican—Types of colonial character—The parvenu—Vulgarity and boorishness—"Young Australia " in the bush—Domestic servants—Argument on the subject—The beauty of Mount Wilson—General description— Luxuriance of the vegetation—The tree-ferns and scrub— Sassafras and messmate—Wild fruits, mosses, and plants— Clearing—A Bush store—Cascade—Opinion on the climate by one of the leading Sydney physicians—Prospecting for a section —Forest scenery and denizens—Wild indigo —Plants that might be introduced—Casting about for water—Lunch in the bush— The awful silence—Forest leeches—Wynn's Bocks—Grandeur and sublimity of the desolation—A magnificent panorama—What a country for game !—The mountain land—Timber clearing— A Field for labour—False ideas of speedily acquiring riches—A bush interior—Prodigality—The kind of labour we want—How men can rise—Advice to the new-comer.

The climate of Australia, it need hardly be said, is exceedingly varied. At Orange, for instance, or on the Blue Mountains, one may sit cowering over a fire, with snow mantling the ground outside, while down in Sydney the city lies sweltering under almost a torrid heat. The variations in the weather are exceedingly sudden, and consequently very trying to weakly invalids. Sydney, with its quick changes in temperature, is a bad place for consumptive or rheumatic patients. Toothaches and neuralgic affections are very common, and dentistry, judging by the numbers of practitioners, seems to be a lucrative profession.

Away up on the table-lands of the interior, however, where there is an equable bracing atmosphere, the consumptive patient rallies rapidly, appetite and strength are restored and renewed, the hectic flush disappears, the hacking cough ceases, and the racking pain is quickly alleviated by the fine temperate bracing mountain air of Australia. It is a mistake for the consumptive patient to remain in Sydney. "Away, away, to the mountain's brow!" should be their cry.

The mountain air in'Australia is a real miracle-worker; and when the apathy and sloth of Sydney capitalists shall awake to the fact that we have here one of the finest opportunities ever given to a country for attracting wealthy sufferers, perhaps in some sheltered snug retreat, amid the heathy dells and lovely gorges of Rydal or Wallerawang, or amid the tropical magnificence and surpassing beauty of Mount Wilson, we shall found a sanatorium that will attract visitors from all countries, and in time every hill and valley shall be studded with villas; while our hydropathic establishments and sanatoria shall equal, if they do not excel, the vaunted virtues of Malvern, Ben Rhydding, or any other of the famous summer resorts of tourists and patients in England, or even in Switzerland, Algeria, or Southern Italy.

One other great advantage we have over other resorts, is the marvellous cures said to be effected by the exhalations from our boundless eucalyptus forests. This is really, in the opinion of some of our best physicians, one of the chief causes of many of the wonderful curative effects of our air which have been chronicled. To Bournemouth, in England, for instance, patients are often sent as the scent emitted from the fir-trees there have a salutary effect in some disorders.

I shall never forget my first trip to Mount Wilson. I shared the hospitality of one of our oldest and most respected colonists'; one who had sprung from an English family of ancient lineage, whose name is honourably associated with the history of our settlement and administration of the great province of Scinde and our frontier policy in India, one of his brothers- having been Commissioner of Scinde for many years. My host had himself been associated with many of the successive Governors of New South Wales, in high and confidential capacities, and his mind was a very treasure-house of racy recollections and rich memories of men, manners, and measures, reaching back even to the times when responsible government by Parliaments was unknown in the colony. He had erected a magnificent mansion, of solid freestone, on one of the loveliest sites on the mountain, and delighted to get away from the oppressive atmosphere and coaly surroundings of the grimy black country about Newcastle, to revel in the cool pure air and gorgeous scenery of Mount Wilson. On the mountain, a slight tendency to asthma which troubled him in the plains completely leaves him. This result is by no means singular.

The first part of the journey is by rail, which I have described in the account of my visit to Govett's Leap. Nowhere on any line of railway have I seen such magnificent wildness as is presented to the view of the traveller over the Blue Mountains line, except perhaps the Western Ghauts on the route from Jubbulpore to Bombay. Far away to the distant horizon on every side, spreads the still ocean of dull dead greenery.

There are no abrupt peaks or bold, rugged outlines, it is true; but deep gorges filled with an intense blue like the smoke of wood fires, and tumbled ridges, piled and jumbled together, all clothed with gnarled vegetation and studded with mighty boulders, recal to the imagination the descriptions of primeval chaos, ere yet the creative hand had brought order out of the pristine medley of piled material, from which the world was built. The country looks like a giant's workshop, like the playground of Titans and Genii. What a wilderness of desolation ! Yet every gorge is rich in mineral treasures, and it wants but capital and man's intelligence to unlock the treasury, and transform the solitary barren wastes into busy haunts of active industry and teeming wealth.

At one station we are accosted by a burly, thick-set, coatless, unshaven old roadside publican, who has grown rich by the sale of liquors and successful land-jobbing; but who, with an affectation which is not exclusively colonial, professes to despise the conventionalities, and shows his independence by a profusion of strange oaths and a studied bluntness, which only provokes an amused smile from those who are in the secret. He excited my secret hilarity by a long disquisition on his own wealth and importance, his political influence in high quarters, and his ability to be or do anything if he had a mind to.

This is a very common type of the successful colonist. Such men are proud of their success, but they feel their own want of refinement. They are anxious to see their children provided with the refinements of life, and fitted to take a place in society, to which they themselves feel they can never attain; but they vent their dissatisfaction with themselves, by sneering at everything polite, and affect to despise what they would give a good part of their wealth to possess themselves. Wealth has been acquired by ways and means that are better left uninvestigated. Grog and land-jobbing, successful mining speculations, cattle-dealing, money-lending, often no doubt downright hard plodding industry and honest thrift, but the "trail of the serpent" is still over all, and the speech of the shebeen, the stock-yard, and the bush-shanty, will often be ostentatiously obtruded, when, if the luckless tongue would but preserve a discreet silence, the possessor of the massive watch-chain and bejewelled fingers might pass muster, if not for a Chesterfield, at least for a respectable wealthy citizen. They cannot eschew the old domineering bounce, however; and, judging all men by their former experiences, and present comfortable balance at the bank, they are apt to apply merely a metallic test to all accomplishments. Many of these men, itching for notoriety, push their way into parliament, into municipal councils, sit at the board tables of public institutions, and one is puzzled whether to condemn most their offensive dogmatic purse-pride, their vulgar affectation of independence, or be amused at their egregious self-conceit. If they would only use their wealth more to forward schemes of public good, and exert what talents and influence they possess in helping forward projects that would tend to develope their country, and advance her national progress and prosperity, their blunt speech and manner might be forgiven. But most of them show no conception whatever of patriotism, and their public spirit is concentred in narrow cupidity and selfishness almost superhuman. They are very fond of getting their names paraded in print on every conceivable occasion, yet they would feel contaminated by the presence of a newspaper reporter at the same tables. As a Yankee friend remarked to me on seeing a few specimens of the reigning tribe in Newcastle, "This town 'll never go ahead, I guess, till you have a few dozen respectable funerals."

They are continually "blowing" about their wealth, but if you want a subscription for an hospital, a church, a school of arts, or any similar institution, or if you want to get up a fresh food company, a water-supply, an experimental farm, a town clock, or village drinking-fountain, their pockets are hermetically sealed, and they will expend a great deal of vigorous profanity in the attempt to show that all these and similar public movements should be got up, paid for, and maintained by government.

In sober truth, the honest critic must perforce be chary in pronouncing a favourable verdict on colonial manners. This assumption of bluff independence borders closely on the offensive. You rarely hear any one addressed as Mr., by the common run of colonial cousins. Even their public men are dubbed "Bob this," or "Charley that," and the late Premier is always very irreverently addressed as "Old Jack." Respect for age or parental authority is not so deep or so general as at home. On a country road, if you pass the compliments of the day to any young bush hand you meet, ten to one but you are answered with some offensive impertinence, or at best a loutish stare of uncourteous surprise. Boys and lads in the country are slouching in dress and gait, awkward and clumsy in a room, uncouth in conversation, and where at all at their ease, they are rude and boisterous in their mirth.

The best place to see a young colonial bumpkin is in the saddle. He sits like a centaur and is in every respect an accomplished horseman. He is suspicious of new acquaintances. Yet withal he is good grit at bottom, and only wants education, travel, and more frequent contact with outside influences and intelligent minds to make a fine man. At present the average colonial country youth, although he fancies himself a very smart fellow indeed, is cramped and rustic, both in thought, speech, and behaviour. In the bush, where he is undisputed " cock of the walk," he is apt to look with undisguised contempt on everything cultured and refined as womanish and feeble. Let us hope he will improve as time rolls on.

Parents in many respects are much to blame. They hear their hopeful young progeny speak disrespectfully of their superiors in station, forwardly criticize and impertinently contradict their elders, and pass malicious, unkind and sneering comments on their neighbours and their neighbours' doings, and never deem it their duty to correct such precocious insolence and forwardness. Nay, in nine cases out of ten, young-Hopeful is considered a prodigy of smartness, and is encouraged by the cynical encouragement of his democratic sire and sun-hardened money-saving mother.

Domestic servants are a terrible trouble to the young housewife. Indeed the lamentations over this affliction are universal. I could fill volumes with instances of insolence, insubordination, malicious carelessness, and stupidity; all of course from the mistress's point of view.

Yet I should like to put in a word on the other side for the universally execrated maid-servants. In all my observations of Australian home-life I am irresistibly forced to this conclusion, that the belief in money being omnipotent is all prevalent. In the relations between master and servant there seems to be incessantly put forward the idea, that everything is to be reduced to a money test. The hire, wage, or pay is brought into undue prominence. The servant thinks, if she earns her pay, that is all she has to study. The employer fancies that if he or she pays the servant the stipulated wage, then she or he has only to see that the worth of the money is rendered in return. Need I say that this is a totally false view to take of all service, and especially of domestic service. I firmly believe this lies at the root of the whole difficulty, this habit of regarding the relationship between mistress and maid as a mere mercenary compact. The importation of a living, mutual kindliness and sympathy, into the connexion, is deprecated on both sides; the servant is looked on merely as a hired assistant, or worker, the master or mistress as a convenient milch cow, and the element of mutual interdependence is scouted by both parties. The servant in my estimation should be made to feel that she is one of the family; that the service is not alone .mercenary, but is domestic in character as well as in name. So far then I believe nearly as much blame lies at the door of the mistress as of the servant.

Mistresses come less into contact with their servants than formerly; are less in the kitchen; give less actual manual aid with their own hands than the housewives of old. This is, again, perhaps, a direct result of democratic institutions. Absolute equality of political rights infallibly produces a feeling of social equality, and in cases, too, where many wealthy mistresses do not belong to old, wealthy, or aristocratic families, servants are apt to reflect that not very long ago the mistress rose, perhaps, from a lower social stratum than she now occupies, and respect and deference are on that account somewhat weakened. On the other hand, the reports of immigration agents disclose the fact that, out of the hundreds of domestic servants imported into this colony, but very few represent the best of their class. The difficulty of getting good servants in England is now one of the most serious drawbacks to life there. It is, therefore, highly improbable that we get the best material here. The percentage of what are called " objectionable characters" is frequently very high, and it is to be feared the experiences of the emigrant ship are not of an elevating character. With increased education and increased intelligence, too, on the part of servants, their sensitiveness has not unnaturally kept pace in a corresponding degree. They are better fed, clothed, housed, and paid than of yore, for the general increase of luxury in living has affected even the kitchen and servants' hall. In many cases, like Jeshurun, they have waxed fat and kicked, and a corresponding degree of resentment is generated in the minds of the mistresses.

The fact of the demand being greater than the supply naturally makes the girls feel independent, as they know they need never want a situation.

The good old-fashioned plan of having servants in at least once a day to unite with the family in worship and prayer is sneered at as vulgar, behind the times, ridiculous, subversive of discipline, and goodness knows what else. In many cases it is doubtless due to the preponderance of Roman Catholic domestics in Protestant households. Yet, where both are of the same faith, surely a common creed should be an additional argument in favour of this good old family custom. What was implied in the fine old custom was this:— it was an acknowledgment that mistress and maid, master and man, were of one blood and of equal value before tlie Almighty Maker; that their interests were in common; and as they mingled their prayers together, it begat a feeling of mutual sympathy. There was a feeling of community, and though some may scout the idea as sentimental, it will be found that after all sentiment is a much more important factor in the affairs of daily household life than most people imagine.

Meantime, during this long digression, we have lost sight of our fern-clad retreat, the peerless Mount Wilson.

The beauty of the mountain bursts upon one with all the suddenness of a change of theatrical scene. We have to drive nearly nine miles from the solitary road-side station where the train drops us, and the road, the whole distance, runs through an intensely arid, barren, uninteresting country. The soil seems barely sufficient to support the hardy, heathy-looking plants, all of whom in the season bear beautiful but scentless flowers. The formation here is all of the prevailing sandstone, but nearing the mountain we dash through a tiny rivulet, and lo ! we are at once in fairyland. The mountain is an outcrop of volcanic trap formation. It bursts clear through the sandstone, and must have been an overflow in some far back geologic age, of the fiery pent-up mass of molten fluid surging deep in the bowels of the earth. It reminded me, for all the world, of a gigantic conical wedding-cake. Corresponding to the sugar and almond paste is a rich, loamy, chocolate-coloured soil, which encrusts the mountain over all its extent to a depth varying from eighty inches to eighty feet.

In this rich soil vegetation on the most varied and luxuriant scale finds a congenial nursery. It is but a step from the arid, heath-covered, rocky slopes, on which gnarled and stunted white gums struggle for existence, into a very wilderness of luxuriant, tropical vegetation. I have never in all my wanderings seen such a sudden change in natural scenery. It is as if one stepped from a bare, bleak, gravelly yard into the most magnificently-furnished fernery or greenhouse. The air is loaded with the dank, humid odour of a forcing-house, and on every side the beauties of the vegetable world are scattered with a lavish profusion that the finest artificial herbarium could never equal. The tree-ferns at once arrest the eye. What words can picture their matchless grace and beauty! What countless multitudes raise their feathery fronds and display their loveliness on every side ! Tall sassafras and messmate-trees tower straight up like a forest of masts, and their glossy green curling leaves are inexpressibly grateful to the eye, wearied and sated with the eternal dull dead drapery of the rugged mountain gums.

The sassafras is a noble-looking tree. It bears a white blossom in the spring, and the wood, when cut, emits an agreeable scent. The messmate seems to be a kind of stringy bark. The wood is hard and durable, and yields a valuable timber. Never, even in the Indian jungles, have I seen more luxuriant vegetation. From every chink in the soil spring forth ferns and trailing mosses. Many of the tree-ferns are ten, fifteen, twenty feet high. How beautifully their delicate green Mild feathery tracery contrast with the glossy dark green mass of foliage that drapes the sassafras scrub. The lawyer vine festoons every tree, and I can at once detect various plants that bear undoubted testimony to the wonderful richness and fecundity of the soil. I noted several varieties of the Solanacea, wild blackberries, raspberries, wild tobacco—a tall broad-leafed shrub with a leaf not unlike the oleander, but the branches crowded with berries of all tints, from shining green, olive, yellow, crimson, scarlet, down to cherry black. Mosses carpet the jutting rocks, and silvery tufts drape the trunks of the trees. The Blue Mountain parrots dart in and out, and round about among the trees, flashing past like animated fireworks. Indeed, the scene as it bursts upon the gaze is very lovely, and the most eloquent tongue would be beggared to fluid words adequately to .describe the exuberant wealth of beauty which is here spread before us.

On the brow of the hill we come on to a clearing of some ten acres belonging to my friend, on which has been erected a neat weatherboard cottage. All the tall timber has been cut down, but the tree-ferns have been left. Can you imagine ten acres of magnificent tree-ferns ? Nothing else to be seen!—they are as plentiful as cabbages in a garden bed. The sight was to me as rare as it was surpassingly beautiful. On the opposite side of the road, beside a rudely-fenced paddock, and overlooking the bleak tumbled wilderness of distant arid hills, stands a rough log cabin of a primitive bush style. This is inhabited by a decent old Irishwoman, who keeps a store for the accommodation of the parties of bushmen, sawyers, rail-splitters, and road-makers that are at work on the various properties on the mountain.

Several large clearings have been already made. My friend has a magnificent mansion of hewn stone, with every convenience of a first-class modern gentleman's seat, erected on one of the most lovely sites in the place. The cost of the house was over 5000Z. Other nice houses, though chiefly of wood, are being put up on various parts of the mountain. An accurate survey has been made, roads mapped out, and this beauteous retreat promises by-and-by to become a favourite summer resort for the elite of Sydney. In the most centrally situated part of the surveyed land there is a beautifully clear running stream of water, as cold as ice. It rises in an outcrop of the original sandstone, which seems somehow to have been embraced in the invading overflow of trapstone, and after a merry, bubbling, purling journey of some few furlongs through the ferns and mosses, it suddenly plunges sheer down a giddy leap of some eighty or one hundred feet. With a larger volume of water, this would form a magnificent cascade. As it is, once one has forced his way through the almost impenetrable undergrowth, the scene amply repays him for his trouble. The brawling little brooklet tumbles headlong down, scattering its showers of broken spray from shelf to shelf of the mossy, water-worn rocks, until it is dissipated in mist far below. Dewy globules glisten on every leaf. The foliage is exquisite in its freshness and vivid greenness. A monster tree-fern stands still and motionless, like a sentinel, in the hazy gloom beneath; and the rugged, precipitous sides of the cleft abyss are literally loaded with all the rarest forms of fern-life, and the most beautiful mosses, orchids, heaths, and living greenery of all kinds.

What a site for a sanatorium, for a hydropathic establishment, or for a Trossach's Hotel! In the freo, fresh air here the lungs expand, the relaxed frame acquires fresh vigour, and the breath of the asthmatic patient comes freely and easily, after the heavy, moist atmosphere of the plains.

Writing to me on this subject, one of the leading physicians of Sydney says: "The atmosphere of Sydney and the eastern seaboard generally, for the greater part of the year, is warm and moist; but as you travel westward, and pass the coast-range, the air becomes dry and rarefied on the table-land, which lies between two and three thousand feet above the sea-level. Prolonged residence on the coast-line has a relaxing and enervating effect upon the system. The blood becomes thin, and hence the inhabitants are predisposed to the varied forms of neuralgic and nervous dyspepsia. Patients troubled in this way derive immense benefit by removal to the dry, light, and pure air of the mountains or table-land.
" New South Wales has long been known as a health-resort for consumptive invalids; but it is not on the seaboard that they derive benefit, but on the elevated plateaus to the west and south-west, in and near the Bathurst, Orange, and Goulburn districts. It is a matter of constant observation, that those coming here with consumptive disease, or in whom the disease has here originated, only get worse until their removal to the inland air. In the first stage of the disease, if the patient seek such change, adopt a country outdoor life on a c station,' or such-like restoration to perfect health often ensues. Many hundreds of lives have been saved in this way. Indeed, it is quite a common thing to meet with people who tell you, ' I came out here on account of weakness of the lungs; I spat blood at homo. 1 went up into the bush, and have now been in perfect health for years.'

"On the other hand, I have seen scores of patients who, having arrived in Sydney well advanced in the second stage of the disease, have become rapidly worse in the moist and warm atmosphere which prevails near the coast. The practical deduction from these facts is, that physicians in Europe should advise their patients to come here in the first stage of the disease, and not wait until the second, or softening, stage has commenced; and, further, that the towns on the coast of New South Wales should be avoided, and the sufferers should pass at any rate nine months of the year on the elevated table-land, and, if possible, adopt a bush life.

"There is another class of patients whose sufferings are remarkably alleviated, and often entirely removed, by residence in an inland district. I refer to asthma-tical patients. It is well known to all physicians in Sydney that this affection is frequently entirely absent, as long as the individual remains at an elevation of two or three thousand feet, and at a distance of 100 or 150 miles from the coast-line. Many a time has a patient left Sydney terminus suffering acutely from the dreadful cough and oppression of breathing which characterizes this disease, and on reaching the summits of the Blue Mountain range the trouble has vanished.

"Children, too, suffering from mesenteric disease have often been restored to health, mainly by removal to the mountain air, or that of the elevated plains."

The above opinion is amply endorsed by most of the Sydney medical men of my acquaintance. A convalescent home, say at Mount Wilson or Wallerawang, would doubtless attract crowds of inmates. There is a fortune in the idea, if capital and enterprise would but embark in the work.

My friend having purchased several sections on a spur running from the other side of the mountain, we set off early one day to try and discover the locality. We soon left the clearings, and plunged into the tangled bush. The only guide we had was the infrequent blazings on the trees, made by the surveyor's party who had mapped out the ground. The woodland scenery was magnificent. On every hand rose the primeval giants of the forest, and the varieties of ferns were legion. Huge prostrate trunks of trees lay rotting in. the hollows, and mixed inextricably in a bewildering maze. We toiled and clambered and ploughed our way among bushes and creepers and ferns reaching waist-high. Occasionally we disturbed a snake, or flushed a flock of parrots or beach cockatoos. Once we witnessed the antics of a male lyre-bird, ruffling his plumes and strutting proudly round, drum-major fashion, to the delectation of two hens, who watched him from the altitude of a creeper-festooned eucalyptus. Thorny pliant vines and thick undergrowth started up at every step to impede our path, and over all the bush thick serried rows of withered stocks of indigo made our progress laborious in the extreme. The indigo here grows in most marvellous profusion. I firmly believe an indigo factory might be here profitably started. I fancy coffee might be grown, and vanilla, cardamoms, and other valuable plants might be introduced. After three hours' incessant labour and severe exertion, we found by our plot-map and compass that we had advanced barely over a mile. As the point of our quest was yet two miles distant, we owned ourselves beaten, and, as the copious perspiration had made us thirsty, we cast about for signs of water.

My comrade was an experienced old bushman, and, guided by indications which smacked somewhat of mystery to me, he led straight down a precipitous gully, bordered by beetling crags on either hand, and densely shaded by the most tangle-matted undergrowth I have ever seen, and we soon came to a mossy wall of rock, from every crevice of which tiny pearl-drops of icy cold water trickled incessantly. Selecting the rib of a tree-fern, he trimmed it, sharpened one end, and inserted it into a crack in the rock. It acted as a funnel, and from its outer projecting end we soon had a tiny trickling rill of clear, deliciously cool water. Here we sat and munched our mid-day meal. An awful stillness reigned around. Far down the ravine seemed to lose itself in utter gloom and blackness. There was no twitter of bird nor hum of insect. Even the mosquitoes were silent. The advent of man was too unwonted an event and luxury for them to lose time over a musical prelude, and they attacked us with silent but indomitable ardour. The soothing smoke of tobacco failed to put them to flight, and we were fairly forced to beat a retreat. It was evening ere we got home. The forest-leech is here met with. They reminded me of their Nepaul congeners. From every leaf in some of the moist hollows they stretched their long, slender, swaying, thread-like bodies. If there was ever a chink in all your habiliments, they were sure to find it, and the traveller has often to pick their bloated unsightly carcases from legs and neck, and even from his armpits, when he reaches home.

If any one doubts the fertility of the Australian soil, and the luxuriance of bush vegetation, let him visit Mount Wilson. If he be a drawing-room knight, and not accustomed to plunge through thorny brakes and tangled wildernesses, let him accept my description and rest satisfied. Tearing and plunging through such bush as that on Mount Wilson is a very muscular exercise.

Another day we went to a bald, rocky promontory, overlooking one of the most majestic scenes of wild desolate grandeur I have ever looked upon in all my wanderings. The locality is known as Wynn's rocks. A good road has been cut through the forest, and ladies can be driven to within a short distance of the jutting cliffs. As we paced along the sylvan track, numerous lyre-birds and the gorgeous Blue Mountain parrots flitted noiselessly or ran rapidly across the path. The mountain is the seat of surprises. Through a dense belt of tangled forest-scrub we emerge on to a huge tabular rock, and the full awfulness of the scene bursts at once on the view. It realizes to the life the very ideal of savage and chaotic desolation. Sheer down from your feet, you look into a yawning valley hundreds of feet below you. The trees look like tiny shrubs. The sun sends back no cheerful rays from the piled-up rocky cairns, but the rugged walls impress one with the feeling of profound loneliness and inaccessibility. Immense yawning chasms gape up at you, their every cranny clad thickly with dwarfed gnarled trees, fit only for firewood. On all hands you see the traces of the devastating bush-fires. No hoof or horn is to be seen. Deep down in the bottoms, where concealed waters noiselessly steal along, and whose rugged barrenness is softened by the intense blue haze of the wonderfully-coloured atmosphere, there are occasional patches of greener verdure, where the succulent valley-grass and the lovely tree-ferns feel the influence of the trickling mountain spring. Great buttresses of seamed, scarred, rugged rock frown above the valleys. Their outlines assume fantastic shapes, and seem like a phalanx of Gorgons.

Casting our eyes across the intervening, chasmlike valley, we see in the far distance, like a spider's thread, the track leading from the railway station, and for the moment we experience a sense of relief to see the white shining hotel and buildings of Mount Victoria, speaking of life and settled habitation. To the left we see Bell's line of road, winding like a serpent's track along the face of the crags, and in and out among the hills. This line was shown to Bell, an exploring surveyor, by a black gin, and it forms a droving road through the mountains, debouching somewhere near Lake Macquarie.

On the flanks of the hills, which are inexpressibly barren-looking and desolate, occasional green patches show out at intervals, agreeably relieving the dull dead monotone of colour. The air is surpassingly clear, and so exhilarating and pure that the lungs expand, and the spirits become buoyant, as if under the influence of nitrous oxide.

On the left, a little farther round, a hill called from its form the Haystack, proudly rears its head. Beyond it Mount Thamar rises, surmounted by a fringe of dreamy-looking withered trees, done to death by the murderous custom of ring barking. These withered sentinels give to the bold summit of the mountain a still deeper aspect of desolate wildness. The mountain country lies spread out before us like a panorama. There stands Mount St. George in front—an isolated rounded mass, the sandstone strata ringing it round "with circling belts of inaccessible precipices. Far beyond, where earth and sky melt into a blue, blurred, wavy outline, the eternal ocean spreads out towards the verge of infinity. In the deep valley below, straight as a plummet down, the moaning wind sways the gum-tree tops, and a sighing, wailing sound seems to rise from the desolate valley, as if the genius of solitude were crooning the death keene over the grave of buried joys and stifled hopes. I held my breath and felt inclined to greet.

In one deep, gloomy defile to the right, where the soil was volcanic, the contrast in the foliage from that of the sandstone foundation was most marked. The trees were clad in a deep, vivid, intense green, showing the difference between the neutral-tinted sombre gums and the dark glossy verdure of the mimosas, wattles, messmates, and other similar trees that delight in shade and moisture. But now the lengthening shadows come creeping slowly down the valleys. We aroused from our contemplative mood and retraced our steps.

There are numerous clearing parties ou the hill. The clearing is let out by contract. Twenty-seven pounds an acre is about the average cost. Sometimes it goes as high as thirty-seven, and even forty pounds. The contractor gets what he can make out of the timber. We have sawyers, rail-splitters, draymen, quarrymen, and various artisans, all at work here on plentiful wages. There is ample room here for steady, willing men, and this locality is but the counterpart of countless others in the colony.

Yet something is wrong, or we should not hear so much of men being deluded out under false promises and fraudulent representations. The fact is, that young fellows form too exalted an estimate of what lies before them. They think wealth is to be acquired swiftly and without effort. Here as elsewhere they need to practise persistent effort. Frugality and thrift allied to industry will infallibly produce money here. Let us look into this timber-cutter's hut. It is rude and dirty, and discomfort is on every side suggested. But this is not all. Everywhere are the evidences of lavish prodigality. Flour sacks lumber the shelves. Sardine boxes, jam tins by the score, pickles, butter, ay, even candied fruits and fig boxes, are in the shanty-man's stores. Chunks of tobacco are here, of course, and an assortment of pipes. Gaudy Crimean shirts, bacon, cheese, and, most mournfully suggestive of all, rum and gin bottles, show that work is plentiful and wages high. I maintain without fear of contradiction, that, compared with the average style of life of an English peasant or Scotch labourer, the bushman in Australia fares like Dives, "sumptuously every day." He has always a cheque to cash when he reaches the towns. Does the publican or the savings' bank see most of the colour of his money ? This is the question to which the answer reveals much that is ominous, when we begin' to speculate on the future of our race here.

Apart from want of frugality and thrift, we get out scores of the wrong class of emigrants. "We do hot want men who will loaf about the towns. We want unskilled labour; men to hew wood and draw water, who will be content to wait a little and accumulate their savings. After five years of contract work in the bush or in the interior—and, mark this, such work is always procurable at highly remunerative prices—if men will exercise self-denial, the labourer may become master of his own holding, and found a home such as the labour of a lifetime would never acquire in England. If all the money goes in periodical sprees and in lavish expenditure on luxuries, of course the man will never rise; but it is not the government or the colony that he need rail against.

Many of our best and most successful bushmen, who gradually win their way to comfortable home life and independent settlement, are thrifty, prudent, plodding Germans. Scotchmen, too, stand out very favourably. But any man, if he be industrious, plodding, frugal, after some years—not by bounds, not all at once, but by honest, painstaking diligence—may "see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied." It is only "the hand of the diligent that maketh rich" in New South AVales as elsewhere.

To the new comer who is willing to work I would say, shun the towns. Take the first billet that offers. Put what little money you may have into the savings' bank. By the first year you will have acquired enough of what is called colonial experience to be able to find the best market for your labour. You can save half your wages every year if you are careful, and by the end of five years you may be in a position to clear for yourself on your own selection, and found a homestead of your own. You won't do it by having an annual "flare-up" at the nearest bush public, or by running into debt to solace yourself with jams, preserved fruits, and pickles.

Had we, too, a better land system, the task of settlement might be even much easier than it is, and the right stamp of men would be attracted to our shores. Corrupt government and a vile land system are the rot of Australia; and ere I close my book I must devote a chapter or two to a consideration of the quality of our legislators, and the results of their wisdom.


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