Southern Districts Report.
30 January 1844 The Sydney Morning Herald
The following are a few scraps from the journal of a settler recently arrived from the Hume River:-
"The wheat crop is the finest that ever has been raised in the district; for the last twelve months the lowest price for wheat in the district has been 5s. per bushel, - some samples within fifteen months have been sold in the district at 20s. per bushel.
The grass is most luxuriant, and is fully adequate to the support of all the sheep and cattle there. The cattle in general appeared to be in capital order. The average of the fleeces was estimated at 2½ lbs. each, being at least ½ lb. over the general average.
Commissioner Bingham's district has now been limited by the Hume, its great extent heretofore being matter of complaint with the general body of the settlers.
Another Commissioner, Mr. Smythe, has been lately appointed to a newly formed district, extending from the Hume to the Goulburn River, which appointment appears to be highly satisfactory to the settlers.
The blacks have been of late very trouble- some, as they have, with the greatest impudence, slaughtered, speared, and driven away several very extensive herds of cattle with impunity.
Within the last few months four or five murders have been reported at the head quarters of the police in the district as having been committed; blacks as well as whites have been sacrificed in this way.
In order to prevent a recurrence of such inhuman atrocities, Commissioner Bingham has just made a tour down the Hume, and fully organised the establishment of the police stations, for the protection of the blacks as well as of the whites.
The following is an instance of the fearful depredations which the aborigines commit on the settlers, whom they select as their victims: Mr. Green, of Bogolong, about twelve months ago had a herd of upwards of six hundred head of cattle running in the district, all in fine condition; but now all that can be mustered is not more than fifty head, the remaining five hundred and fifty, with their increase, having been cither slaughtered, speared, or carried off far into the bush by these savages.
The town of Albury, which has lately sprung up in the Hume district, is probably one of the most promising settlements that has been made in any part of the colony for years past, and is rapidly rising into importance, chiefly through its being made a post town, where the settlers and squatters can obtain their letters and light parcels from Sydney.
A number of good substantial houses have been lately erected in this township, while among the residences of inhabitants are to be seen those of brickmakers, bricklayers, carpenters, joiners, wheelwrights, blacksmiths, shoemakers, storekeepers, carriers, publicans, &c, all at present well employed.
There are also two medical men settled in the district, one of them an M.D. of the R.N. Among the gentry in the district of Albury, there is a brother of Sir John Jamison, a son of Sir George Clarke, M.P., of Pennycuik, Count Lockart, with several junior members of other highly respectable British families.
Within the last two months, a splendid punt has been built in the vicinity of the crossing place on the Hume, at on outlay of between £300 and £400, by Mr. Robert Brown, the spirited proprietor of the "Hume River Inn," and launched by him for the purpose of plying across the River, which cannot fail to be a great accommodation to the settlers sending produce to Sydney, as well as to those forwarding stores beyond the Hume, as before this punt began to ply, scarcely a flock or a herd could cross, or a dray load of stores pass the river without some of the former being drowned, or a portion of the stores damaged, but now, a dray with a team of eight or ten bullocks can be taken across from either side without even the draught cattle being unyoked.
The charge for a loaded dray drawn by eight bullocks is about £1. Mr. Brown has also lately built one of the finest houses on the Sydney and Goulburn road, at a cost of upwards of £2000, independent of the labour of all the men in his employ, and furnishing nearly all the materials from his own property.
There is abundance of kangaroo running about in every part of the district. The settlers have also frequent wild-boar hunts, and the lagoons are generally covered with wild ducks, while black swans are almost invariably seen within gunshot of every part of the banks of the river, and wild turkeys are to be met with in almost every copse in the vicinity of the water.
The Sydney mail arrives at Albury from Sydney every Wednesday night, and leaves for it every Tuesday morning.
During the last twelve months the average price of beef and mutton has been at least 20s. per cwt., and horses are at least 50 per cent, higher than in Sydney.
There is no flour-mill nearer than Yass, at which the price for the last six months has never been under 12s. per 100 lbs.
The generality of the settlers are all complaining loudly of the absence of a public pound, as it not un frequently happens that on one run alone there are upwards of 200 head of stray cattle belonging to the adjoining settlers; at present the nearest pound is at the Tumut, a distance of upwards of 120 miles from Albury.
Since February last there has been but little bushranging going on along the banks of the Hume; but since then several horse-stealers have visited the settlements on both banks, one of these was the gang known as Macdonald's, which carried off about half-a-dozen of fine horses from a single station, and managed to sell them before leaving the district.
Among the gossip in the district is the case of a gentleman, late an officer belonging to the Commissariat, but who now occupies several stations on the Hume, whose sheep were sold off in October last, under an execution issued by Mr. Hardy, to satisfy a claim for wages, preferred, and proved before that Bench by a man, lately freed, while in his employ.
It is said that, after the sale had taken place, the defendant had not been served with even a summons, being absent from his residence on business, when it was left there for him. He also asserts that the complainant, instead of being free for upwards of twelve months,
for which time he claimed the wages sued for, is barely free yet, As may be expected, an action is about being commenced to recover compensation for the unshorn sheep, sold at 1s. 2d., to defray the charge of the complainant.
Numbers of the settlers have lately given up all hopes of driving their surplus flocks or herds to Sydney, and arrangements are rapidly progressing for the establishment of a sheep and cattle boiling place, which will probably prove highly advantageous to the district.