Report from Port Phillip

The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal

5 November 1836 

There are now about 200 Europeans and 30,000 sheep here, besides a considerable number of horses, draught bullocks, and cattle generally. More too are arriving every week, as will be seen, on reference to the annexed list of shipping now employed in the trade between this and George Town.

As it is uncertain how long we may be allowed to retain the land we now occupy as squatters, I believe that during the ensuing spring but little grain will be sown; and as none of the settlers here have yet brought across wethers from Van Diemen's Land, I suspect that for the next twelve months we shall be nearly entirely dependant on your colony and Van Diemen's Land for commestibles of every description.

Under these circumstances, it appears to me somewhat surprising that we have not heard of any effort having been yet made by the stock-holders in Yass and on the Murrumbidgee to supply us with draught bullocks, milch cows, and a mixed herd for all purposes. By the route Messrs. Hume and Hovell came to this place in 1825, the river Hume is the greatest obstacle in the way; but as it is not an insurmountable difficulty, and as you have among you so many good bush-men, with stock drivers and pack-bullocks at command, I did expect ere now we should have had visitors from the N.E.

A pair of good bullocks in Van Diemen's Land are now worth 36l. to 40l, and as they are better adapted than horses to the wants of a young colony, 20 to 40 pair would be sure to meet with a ready sale at remunerating prices, or should more, owing to competition, happen to be sent than are immediately required, they would find a ready sale at George Town, where they could be sent at little expense, as will be explained in the sequel.

Good milch cows are now worth 14l. to 40l. in Van Diemen's Land. Here, we have few, nor shall we get many from thence; expecting, as we do, a supply from your colony. The first two or three hundred that may arrive will, I doubt not, readily command 12l to 15l.

But what would pay best here is a herd of young and lean cattle generally. We are now paying at the rate of 7l. 10s. per barrel of 200lbs. for Irish pork, for the use of our establishments; and it would therefore well answer our purpose to purchase herds of the above description. The steers I would bye and bye be useful for breeding, and the less oxen would either be accustomed to the yoke, or fattened for the knife upon our excellent pasturage. In this way we would put a stop to our present enormous expense of pork.

Your stock keepers need not be afraid to send us a large supply of cattle of the latter description, as when fattened by us they would find a ready sale at George Town, at about 4d. per pound best meat. Such meat is now, in fact, both at Launceston and Hobart Town, worth 6d. to 8d. per lb; and the expense of sending it from this to Van Diemen's Land would not be great, as the vessels which will next spring continue to import sheep, will rather take back bullocks to George Town at a low freight, than return here in ballast.

Cart horses are still extremely dear in Van Diemen's Land. A good imported stallion of the true Clydesdale breed was sold in Hobart Town lately for 400l. cash.

If your farmers would send us down a few well bred mares (by the bye I saw a few such at Sydney), they would sell at 30l to 50l, as we would breed from them for the Van Diemen's Land market. A few lighter horses would also bring fair prices; but all that should be sent, should be accustomed to draught.