Report from Yass
The Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser
14 January 1839
Yass. January 1st, 1839.
The country around has again resumed its dreary appearance; rain of any consequence has not fallen for the last six weeks, and the grass which was produced by the rains which fell in the latter part of October and the beginning of November, has been burnt up by the hot winds which have prevailed on and off for the last three weeks.
The harvest is now nearly over; it is supposed the average of this quarter will be about eight bushels per acre; barley from 5 to 10 bushels; hay, about two tons; maize, millet, potatoes, &c., of the two former, nil, of the latter, about half a crop.
The late heavy showers yielded a good supply of water to wash the sheep, and the sheep-shearing is carrying on with activity; the generality of the fleeces are heavy, with long staple.
The Christmas holidays passed off very quietly; the roads are free from bushrangers. With the exception of one instance of a carrier shooting a man that attempted to rob him, and apprehending his comrade, I have not heard of any acts of aggression by footpads.
The respectable Squatters betwixt the Murrumbidgee and Port Phillip, feel grateful to the Local Government for stationing mounted police at the Hume and Goulburn Rivers, as a protection to travellers and goods passing along that lonely line of road.
The Blacks have again been killing cattle; the following extract of a letter, dated 20th December last, will explain more fully, viz:-
Some short time ago Mr Faithful's stockmen happened to fall in with a party of the Aborigines who were busily engaged in slaughtering one of Mr. F's fat bullocks; the stockmen remonstrated in the best manner they could with the Blacks, and endeavoured to make them understand they (the blacks) were doing wrong; whether the natives were really sensible that they had been acting improperly, or otherwise, I cannot say; at all events, they left the beast and proceeded towards their spears and other warlike implements which were in a heap on the ground, and the stockmen naturally thought they were for quitting the ground bag and baggage, until their attention was quickly called into action by a shower of spears being thrown at them, but happily without taking effect.
A second volley of spears urged the stockmen to think about looking out for themselves, and accordingly they fired off their pieces in the hope of intimidating the enemy, but without effect.
In the meantime, the Blacks kept throwing spears as quickly as they could flip boomerangs, nulla-nullas, waddies &c., and made a grand charge upon the stockmen (who had no more ammunition).
They succeeded in taking one man named William Thomas.
Thomas made every effort to cause the black that held his horse's head by the bridle to let go, but could not.
He therefore exasperated his horse with the spur, until he leaped over the Black, and so he got away; but not without getting a beating.
He was so severely beaten by waddies that his life was considered to be in danger, but he is now pretty well recovered.
"I have to inform you, that the Sydney butchers may not anticipate a supply of fat cattle from this quarter, the trade in cattle is now being carried on to a great extent with the southern provinces. I give you a few instances, and could inform you more fully, but I dare say the following will suffice:- "Messrs. Charles Huon, and Watson, have started from the Hume, for Adelaide, will 800 head of Cattle for sale."
Messrs Macfarlane and Snodgrass have also sent 1000 head of Fat Cattle, for disposal at Adelaide.
The former gentleman has proceeded by sea, in the hope that he may arrive in time to arrange matters, so as to expedite the sale of them as soon as Mr. Snodgrass arrives, who proceeds by land in charge of the stock.
Mr. Joseph Hawdon has started for South Australia, to effect the sale of 1100 head of fine Cattle, which are now depasturing at the Hume.
His return is daily expected, and if the "spec" answers, he will drive more stock over forthwith.
Mr. Eyre was to have left the Murrumbidgee on or about the 18th or 20th (this day), with from 400 to 500 head of fat Cattle, and 1000 fat wethers for the same province.
On his route, he intends to follow the windings of the Murrumbidgee until he reaches the junction with the Murray; by so doing, he will be enabled to procure a sufficient quantity of good pasture, and a plentiful supply of water.
Intoxicating liquors find a ready market up here, - to wit - a dray laden with tea, sugar, tobacco, rum, brandy, and wine, the property of Messrs. G and S, reached here a few weeks ago; they sat down at a place named Tarracah Creek.
In a short period they disposed of the whole of their merchandise, including the "strong waters" - and mischief enough ensued from the sale of the latter.
A house for the sale of spirits has been opened about 17 miles from the Hume; whether the proprietor of the house is licensed to retail, or otherwise, I cannot state.
A new township has been laid out by Mr. Surveyor Townshend, on the north side of the present crossing-place on the Hume River.
The crops here, generally speaking, will not exceed one half; the pasturage is for the present pretty good; sheep are healthy, and cattle in prime condition, &c. Few, if any bushrangers now roam about these remote parts.
Our principal drawback is from the aggression of the Aborigines: it were to he wished the "Black Protectors" would commence their part of the agreement made with the public, and try what they can do to prevent such outrages which they (the Blacks) are at present suffered to commit with impunity.
January 3.- The heat has been so oppressive for the last two days, that it was impossible for reapers to keep the field from about 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Dairy produce is scarce about these parts.
Rain is very much required.
The proprietors of Mail or State Coaches ought to publish in the Sydney Journals a scale of fares, to be demanded at each township along the road - supposing a person wished to journey from one Township to another or perhaps it would answer the purpose better were the proprietors to change so much per mile - distances estimated as marked out in the table published in the Post Office directory.
(A Supplement is published with this day's number. We call the attention of our readers to a review by the Spectator, in our Supplement, of Major Mitchell's account of his last exploring journey, in which is a description of Australia Felix, with other interesting topics. Editor.)