Southern District Report
11 December 1855 Empire
My last intelligence of the crops has already reached you, and it is again with considerable pleasure that I revert to the subject, for the purpose of reporting how universally fine are the crops of this district.
A much larger quantity of corn has been sown this year over any previous one, and so promising do the fields continue to look, that every settler is disposed to believe that no such season has ever been known in these parts, and, to crown all, the settlers were blessed on Saturday last with a beautiful rain, which continued for a long time, and from its steady fall must have soaked well into the ground, which was a benefit all were beginning to anxiously hope for.
It has been of considerable advantage to the potato crops, which look extremely fine, and it is anticipated that another fortnight will bring most of them into market.
Settlers are still crying out for labour, and it is fondly to be hoped that timely assistance will be rendered them in this respect; for labourers may rest assured that they will get remunerative wages, in order that the corn may be got in with as little delay as possible.
At the latter part of last week it was reported on these diggings that a man named Michael Hart, had terminated his existence by shooting himself while in a state of frenzy.
It appears, from what can be learnt, that at the early part of his life he was particularly temperate and sober in his habits, seldom drinking to any excess, and it may even be said that he was most abstemious in this respect.
He was respectably connected, and seemed of late to be in a rather dejected state of mind, though in no way to arrest the attention of his companions who were working with, him, and by whom he was universally respected for his peaceful and quiet habits.
He came to this country fifteen or seventeen years since, and was for some time in the employ of Mr. Niel O'Brien, of Yass, subsequently leaving for California at the outbreak of the gold mania.
There, it is said, he was most unfortunate, and he returned to this country, proceeding to the diggings, where it would seem ill luck still attended him, and he began to drink freely till he fell into a violent delirium, when he fancied the Russians were taking him as a prisoner, and before he would be taken (as he fancied) he put his revolver to the side of his head, and lodged the contents of it in his brain, which immediately put an end to the unfortunate man's life.
Regarding the harvest prospects in this quarter, I am sorry to inform you that they are very far from encouraging.
The wheat crop (which is the only article of any importance grown in this neighbour- hood) is almost entirely a failure.
The great scarcity of rain ever since the seed was put in has had the effect of restricting the growth, and the farmers seeing no prospects of a crop worth reaping, have already mowed the best of it for hay.
The breadth of land under agriculture in this district is certainly not great, but the land sales that are to come off shortly, and the erection of a flour mill now in contemplation by an enterprising young man, will give a great impetus to farming in this neighbourhood.
Shearing operations have now finished; for the season, and I believe all the wool on the road for, Sydney, chiefly brought down by carriers from the Goulburn and Yass districts. Considering the number of sheep destroyed under the Scab Act, I believe the crop of wool has been above an average of former years.
I am happy to inform you that the scab, in the opinion of good judges, has totally disappeared from this district, and that the settlers will soon begin to stock their runs afresh.
There can be no doubt but that in the event of the navigation of the Murrumbidgee being effected, as it is earnestly hoped it soon will be, the township of Wagga Wagga, being situate as it is on the banks of that river, will rise to considerable importance as an inland town.
Our enterprising neighbour Mr. William Brown is building a new punt, which will be launched in a few days, equal to that now in use at Gundagai.
This will be a great acquisition, not only to the town and district, but to the community at large, far it is a well known fact that by Wagga Wagga is not only the shortest but the best road between New South Wales and Victoria. Grazing prospects look very gloomy here at present.
Owing to the long drought, grass is getting very dry and scarce, and augurs unfavourably of what we may expect about the end of summer.