The Great Southern Road

18 August 1859 Empire (Sydney)

A correspondent who has recently travelled along this line of road, supplies the following information respecting its present condition, and the; stated of the crops on either side of it.          

The road between Braidwood and Goulburn is now in a very passable state, owing probably to the long continuance of dry weather.

This cause doubtless affects the condition of the roads all over the Southern districts.

There are a few sandy spots in the Braidwood and Goulburn line where the wheels of heavily-loaded vehicle sink deeply into the ground, but in general the road is in a fair condition throughout.

The old track ia quite cut up in some places, but as carriers are not obliged to travel over these spots, they consequently avail themselves of the licence of the bush, and go round them. 

Hence the road at present in use diverges in many places, more or less, from the track originally marked out.

Summer weather has not yet made its appearance, along this line of road.

The days are generally very fine, the sky being clear and the atmosphere pure and bracing, but the nights are intensely cold.

The cold of Braidwood, for example, may be readily imagined from the fact that the town is situated at an altitude of about 3500 feet above the sea level.

Goulburn being lower, would be warmer, were it not exposed to every rude blast that careers over the surrounding plains.

Even at Goulburn, however, the spring has not yet thoroughly set in.

The plains are not verdant - the flowers are not springing, and the bush wears that curious and dusty hue which is characteristic of the foliage of our eucalyptus during the prevalence of winter.

Nor do the cattle along this line of road rejoice much in the cold.

Everywhere they are characterised by the protruding rib, the anxious look, the sunken flank, and the quiet demeanour which betoken long exposure to cold and hunger.

They look at you imploringly as yon pass, and seemingly say, "a bit of hay, good sir, for charity's sake."

They now look altogether different from the frisky, rollicking, aldermanic-looking bullocks which are seen in the bush in the summer.

Agricultural operations have been rather backward on the farms situated on this line of road, owing to the want of rain.

A considerable breadth of oats has been sown, particularly on Mr. Ryrle's land at Arnprior.

The quantity of wheat sown this year in the Braidwood district is certainly below the usual average.

Costly articles are often the cheapest. This adage is strikingly illustrated by the condition of about three miles of road, situate in the neighbourhood of Wingellow, on the Sydney side of Marulan.

The piece of road alluded to was made about twenty-three or twenty-five, years ago, by gangs of convicts, and has scarcely received or needed any repairs since then.

 The gravel dug from a quarry on the side of this road was all screened, and the fine stones obtained by this process were laid down in a thick coating, nearly equal to one of Macadam's best. 

The result sufficiently shows that a well-made piece of road, although more costly than an inferior one in the beginning, is more beneficial in the end. T

he road in question is, even now, after the wear and tear of a quarter of a century, an smooth as a bowling-green, and needs only a few trifling repairs.

The teamster feels himself at ease the moment he sets his foot on this piece of road.

The adjoining sandy patch on the Goulburn side, furnishes a remarkable contrast; there the wheel sinks deeply into the earth, and the labouring team must feel the refreshment of the whip, as an inducement to drag the loaded dray out of the mire.

Several men are now employed in repairing this sandy patch; the repairs consisting in the addition of more sand to that which already exists in too great abundance. 

An immense amount of money is thus frittered away every year in trifling repairs.

The only thing that is thought of by our road authorities is to clear out water tables, and throw it in the middle of the road.

Ashes to ashes, mud to mud, dust to dust, is the matter which seemingly actuates the movements of all superintendents of road parties.

The New South Wales metallisation is apparently regarded as pertaining to the Baron Muchausen style of road making.

The loss to the public through this grievous practical error is immense.  

The seven miles of road intervening between Paddy's River and Harrison's Black Horse Inn, is in a very bad state, and when wet weather comes on, will be nearly, if not, quite, impassable.

The authorities of the road should look to this in time, ere mercantile communication between Sydney and the Southern districts be interrupted.

The trade of the Southern districts is becoming too large and too important to permit the growth of unnecessary obstructions in the channel through which it flows.

In road-making, as in old clothes, "a stitch in time saves nine."    

The Fitzroy iron mines on the Sydney of Berrima are not in a very flourishing condition.

A number of the hands that were employed there have left and bat few men are now engaged on the works.

A large pile of ore has been, thrown up on one side of the road awaiting the operation of smelting.

A mere novice could perceive that this ore is rich in what may be very aptly termed the "precious metal."

It is not at all unlikely but that   this colony will yet celebrated for its iron then for its gold.

Iron ore richer than that found at the Fitzroy mines exist on the Williams River, and in other places in the colony. Strangely and wisely enough has it been ordered by the Great Ruler of all worlds that where iron is found coal is not far off.

Thus coal beds of Newcastle furnish the means of smelting the ores found in the Hunter district, and the ore of the Fitzroy hills is not far from Black Bob's Creek, in the vicinity of which beds of coal of great magnitude are known to exist.  

The view from the top of Razorback is Magnificent. A wide extent of country is seen on every hand.

On one side mountains upon mountains appear stretching away until lost in the blue haze of distance, while on the other are seen the cultivated fields, white cottages, and ample orchards which distinguish the settled portions of Australia.

A more picturesque and beautiful scene it would be difficult to imagine.

It can be realised, only when viewed from the top of the road.

When we saw it, the cold air of the mountain was tempered by the warmth of glorious sun and this may have caused the prospect to   appear more magnificent than it would have done under other circumstances.

Perhaps too, a strong penchant for the picturesque may lie at the root of oar raptures. 

The crops on both sides of the road, from the foot of Razorback into Camden, and thence half way into Campbelltown, are in a most flourishing and forward condition.

The wheat crop on the Camden, estate looks extremely succulent and vigorous.

The greater part of the land under cultivation in that locality is covered with that living green which indicates an abundant harvest. It is to be hoped that neither lack of moisture, nor any untoward hailstorm will mar the prospects of the farmer.        

Before we conclude this brief sketch of the road, we may mention that gold has been re-discovered at a place called Swallowtail creek, about twenty miles from   Marulan.

The auriferous nature of the locality was determined some years ago, but the ground was not then properly worked.

We were informed that one or two parties are now at work there, but that their earnings are inconsiderable.