17 March 1857
Slowly, but surely, is the population moving in the direction of the Ovens and Murray districts.
The Victorian diggers are getting tired of the incessant rushes from place to place, which have somehow become incorporated with the system of mining on the Bendigo, Avoca, Maryborough, and Dunolly gold fields.
Thanks to the reports published in the various Guide Books to Australia, respecting the manner in which lucky diggers boarded vessels from England in search of marriageable females, thanks to Mrs. Chisholm's inestimable importations of "soft goads " - we beg pardon, the soft sex; and thanks to the efforts made both at home and in the colonies to promote family immigration - the Australian digger is beginning to cast off the restlessness and love of excitement which formerly characterised his habits.
He looks around him for a permanent occupation, he rears up a domestic hearthstone, and he purchases or contemplates the acquisition of a "bit of land."
In all auriferous localities claiming any pretensions to permanent occupation, the calico tent has given place to the substantial cottage or hut; and the miners, disappointed in obtaining cheap land in the vicinity of the scene of their labours, have cultivated small patches of the crown domains enclosed within rude and irregular fences.
The Stoney Creek rush, the Mount Hope hoax, and the numerous fruitless attempts to discover now diggings, have told their tale upon the inclinations of the minors, and this important class of colonists are learning to appreciate a steady average yield when contrasted with a fluctuating and occasionally large return.
The quantity of gold sent down by the Ovens escort has been more remarkable for regularity than the produce of any other gold field, and in spite of all complaints, the yield is found to increase with the population.
From the immense extent of auriferous ground in the district a brilliant future is predicted for the Ovens in all quarters, and the time must certainly arrive when no inconsiderable portion of the mining population will be settled there.
Already John Chinaman has discovered the superiority of the Ovens, and the five thousand turkey-fed Celestials located in that neighbourhood are sanding favourable accounts to their follow countrymen in distant parts. The rate of increase in the population of the Ovens has averaged 1000 per month during the last half year.
On this side of the Murray increased attention is being devoted to agricultural improvement, and the unparalleled circumstances which favour the farmer in Albury are beginning to attract the notice even of metropolitans.
Our soil is so fertile that although wheat from Goulburn is delivered in Albury at eight shillings and nine pence per bushel, the Albury millers profer paying ten and eleven shillings for the Albury wheat.
Albury flour has acquired a distinctive celebrity in Beechworth, and the "Fanny Ceres" brand commands a better price than the Adelaide flour.
When an acre of vineyard produces a yearly income of £500, or when fifty acres sown with oaten hay yield £1500, it is not surprising that the Albury district should be looked upon as a land of promise by the distant cultivator who only clears £125 and £400, respectively, by tilling the same quantity of land in the same manner.
The advantage derived by the Albury folks from their proximity to the Ovens gold field is a fourfold enhancement of the value of their produce; and the only wonder, in our opinion, lies in the fact that the superior attractions of this locality have not before been observed by the colonial public. But as we have already hinted, the district is now beginning to excite considerable attention, and we may prepare ourselves for an agricultural "rush."
What is our paternal Government doing to prepare for this anticipated increase in our population? Absolutely nothing. The land is placed in the market in such small driblets that parties preferring to settle here have actually been known to buy inferior land on the Victorian side of the river to avoid the delays and difficulties incidental to the purchase of land in New South Wales.
It is only by the tedious course of petitioning that we are able to secure oven the small parcels of land which are auctioned from time to time, and the same complaint is made at Gundagai, Tumut, and in fact in all parts of the Murrumbidgee district.
The Government apear bent on extracting the uttermost farthing from the people in payment for land, instead of offering inducements for cultivation and settlement. This is a most shortsighted policy, for cheap land would have the effect of increasing our exports and population, it would materially add to our national prosperity, and the impetus given to trade, commerce, and industry would exert an influence on the revenue which would far more than compensate for the loss sustained by lowering the price of land.
At length we have succeeded in extorting a promise that the land surveyed at Eight and Twelve Mile Greeks shall be put up for sale; but this will only supply the demand for a very limited period.
The land should be surveyed considerably in advance of the present requirements, and the supply should be always large enough to keep the price within a reasonable limit. There is plenty of splendid land in this neighbourhood, and a hundred thousand acres might soon be rendered avail- able for immediate offer.
The chief situations are at Dight's station, two miles from Albury; at Table-top and Mullengandra, twenty miles distant; at Piney Ranges, and Gerogery, thirty miles from Albury; and at Brocklesby and Quart Quarta, opposite Ford's station on the Murray, thirty-five miles from this town.
There is also some good land near the Black Range. These localities are mostly well watered by creeks, and are capable of being turned to immense advantage.
The only way to assimilate the supply of land to the demand would be to appoint a resident district surveyor, with a proper staff, for each populous district. This arrangement works well in Victoria, and we should like to see it introduced here.
From the Border Post, March 7.