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COASTAL FEATURES. The coast-line of New South Wales, while not deeply indented, is by no means monotonous in outline. Rugged and precipitous cliffs alternate with long stretches of silver or golden sands, varied by curving bays and wide river estuaries. In places the coast-range approaches so close to the shore that the mountains appear to rise sheer out of the ocean. In no instance do the capes project very far out from the mainland, and the coast is singularly free from dangerous reefs or shoals, while lighthouses have been erected at various prominent points. The general trend of the shore-line is from northeast to south-west through about four degrees of longitude, from Point Danger on the north in longitude 154 degrees E. (about) to Cape Howe on the south in longitude 150 degrees E.
Commencing on the north, the principal indentations are as follow :
Byron Bay, inside the cape of the same name offers shelter, in all but north-east weather, to vessels trading to Queensland. A large pier has been constructed, by means of which the produce of the neighbouring districts of the Brunswick and Tweed may be shipped when an entrance to these rivers is impracticable.
At Shoal Bay, the entrance to the Clarence, the anchorage is safe and commodious, and when the works designed for improving the river entrance are completed, it promises to be one of the best ports on the coast. · Trial Bay, at the mouth of the Macleay, Port Macquarie, at the mouth of the Hastings, and the harbour at Forster, near Cape Hawke, afford good anchorage. Port Stephens, a little farther south, is a safe and commodious port, and the scenery of its shores is remarkably beautiful. At present this harbour is little used, owing to its proximity to Newcastle and the sparseness of the population in its immediate neighbourhood.
Twenty miles farther south is Port Hunter, at the mouth of the river of that name. When first used, the harbour was inconvenient and dangerous; but this has been altered entirely by the breakwaters and training-walls which have been constructed. Newcastle harbour is now safe and roomy, with shipping facilities equal to those found in any other Australian port.
A few miles farther south is Lake Macquarie, in the centre of the coal-field of the Newcastle district, and covering an area of 44 square miles. The great drawback to the lake as a shipping port has been the shallowness of its entrance; but extensive dykes and training-walls have been commenced, which have already increased the draught of water in the channel.
Broken Bay, 15 miles north of Port Jackson, forms the mouth of the River Hawkesbury. It has a bold entrance, and on Barranjoey, the southern headland, a fine lighthouse has been erected. The bay has three branches, Brisbane Water being the northern, the Hawkesbury mouth the centre, and Pittwater the southern arm. The first-named opens out into a series of lakes, and the town of Gosford, standing at the head of one of them--the Broadwater-is the centre of an important district. The scenery at and around Broken Bay is characteristically Australian, and in natural beauty rivals even Sydney Harbour. South of Broken Bay the coast-line is a succession of high cliffs and sandy beaches.
The entrance to Port Jackson lies between perpendicular cliffs of sandstono several hundred feet high, and only 74 chains, or nearly one mile, apart. Sydney Harbour has been too often described to require a lengthy reference here. It holds the first place amongst the harbours of the world for convenience of entrance, depth of water, and natural shipping facilities. Its natural beauties charm all who visit its shores, and in the quiet waters of its numerous bays and coves the navies of the world might securely rest. The area of water surface of the harbour
proper is 15 square miles, and the shore-line is 165 miles in circuit. At the South Head is erected a splendid lighthouse, fitted with an electric arc light, visible at a distance of 25 miles. On the shores of Port Jackson stands Sydney, the capital of New South Wales and the mother city of the Australias.
Botany Bay, the first port entered by Captain Cook, lies a few miles south of Sydney. It covers an area of 24 square miles, and receives the waters of several small rivers. The bay has very little trade; but it is frequented by craft in search of shelter during stress of weather.
Wollongong, Kiama, and Ulladulla are small harbours which have been snatched, as it were, from the sea, and are important shipping places.
About 80 miles to the south of Sydney the coast is broken by an important inlet called Jervis Bay. Its entrance is 2 miles wide, and on its busom safe anchorage may be found in any part. It is surrounded by rich agricultural and mineral country.
Bateman's Bay, at the entrance to the Clyde, is an inlet of some importance, and coastal steamers also load produce at the mouths of the Moruya, Tuross, and Bega Rivers.
Twofold Bay is a magnificent sheet of water, near the southern limit of the state. Formerly it was the seat of a large whaling trade, which is now, however, all but extinct. It is well sheltered, and a fine jetty affords ample shipping facilities. Its trade is chiefly with the neighbouring states, in produce and live stock, the bay being the nearest outlet on the sea coast for the rich district of Monaro. A railway is planned to connect the port with the table-land and the metropolis, and Twofold Bay promises to become a considerable shipping place in the near future. On its shores is situated the town of Eden.
No islands of any note belong geographically to New South Wales. The Broughton Islands, lying a few miles northward of the Heads of Port Stephens, are the largest in extent. Solitary Island, situated near the northern part of the coast, between the Bellinger and Clarence Rivers, and Montagu Tsland, 18 miles south-east of the Moruya River estuary, have been selected as sites for lighthouses, but are not otherwise important. Norfolk Island, having an area of 8,607 acres, has recently been placed under the administration of the New South Wales Government, and Lord Howe Island, 3,220 acres in extent, and lying some 360 miles off the coast, in the latitude of Port Macquarie, belongs politically to the state.
GENERAL PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS.
The surface of New South Wales is divided naturally nto threo distinct zones, each widely differing in general character and physical aspect, and clearly defined by the Main Dividing Range, which traverses the country from north to south. The table-land, which forms the summit of this range, comprises one of these zones, and marks the division between the coastal region, forming the eastern watershed, and the great plain district of the interior.
The tableland district is divided into two sections, a northern and a southern, and these are traversed by the vast cordillera known as the Great Dividing Range. The width and altitude of the tableland are the greatest in the south-eastern portion of the State, which has the appearance of having been convulsed in past ages by some tremendous plutonic force. In the Muniong Range, the southernmost section of the cordillera, are found the loftiest peaks in Australia --- Mount Kosciusko and Mount Townsend rising to a height of 7,328 and 7,260 feet respectively. The former is interesting, from the fact that it is probably one of the oldest land surfaces in the world. It has now the appearance of being the denuded remnant of a much higher peakprobably of volcanic origin-and must have stood out as a prominent landmark at the time when the sea extended through Central Australia, and washed the foothills of the Eastern ranges, when Tasmania was but a peninsula of the mainland, and when the Alps and the Himalayas were lying fathoms deep beneath the waters of the ocean. For six months of the year snow may be seen on the high peaks of the Muniong Range, and although Kosciusko is 700 feet below the snow line, heavy snowfalls have been known to occur even in the middle of summer. The Monaro Range, as the next northern section of the Dividing Chain is called, averages about 2,000 feet in height, although the head of the Kybeyan River reaches an altitude of over 4,000 feet. This range encloses on the south the rich and beautiful pastoral and agricultural district known as the Monaro Plains. As the tableland runs northward, it decreases in height and width, until it narrows to a few miles only, with an elevation of scarcely 1,500 feet. Further north the plateau widens again, and also increases in altitude, although the average height of the Main Range is inconsiderable, compared with that of its principal lateral spurs. The Blue Mountains district is the best known portion of this division. It extends eastward from the Main Range, and is bounded on the north by the Colo River; on the south and south-west by Cox's River, and on the east by the NepeanHawkesbury Valley. Its chief peaks are Mount Clarence (4,000 feet); Mount Victoria (3,525 feet), and Mount Hay (3,270 feet). These ranges for long offered an inaccessible barrier to the first settlers in New South Wales, and it was not until 1813 that they were successfully crossed by Messrs. Wentworth, Lawson, and Blaxland, and the way opened to the rich plains of the west. The Blue Mountain scenery possesses a charm, which is peculiarly and distinctively Australian. Seen from the plains, the mountains appear tame and insignificant; but the first view from some point on the edge of the tableland into the depths below, leaves a never-to-be-forgotten impression on the memory of the beholder. The mind here recoils with awe at the sight of the majestically stupendous scale on which Nature has worked. In many places, cliffs of bare sandstone, stained with various shades of brown and grey, rise almost perpendicularly to a height of 2,000 feet from the valley below.
The hoary antiquity of these silent ranges appeals strongly to the mind of the scientific inquirer, for examination shows that these awe-inspiring prccipices and stupendous gorges have not been caused by violent volcanic upheaval, but have been carved out by the slow but irresistible erosive agency of running water.
On clear days the distances are softened by a curtain of delicate blue haze, a fact that has earned for the ranges their appellation of Blue Mountains. The prevailing Australian gum tree gives a somewhat monotonous aspect to the tableland, but in the valleys and on the mountain sides the wealth of beautiful ferns and characteristic Australian flowers lends a charming diversity to the scene.
The Dividing Range gradually decreases north of the Blue Mountains until as a narrow ridge it divides the waters of the Goulburn and Hunter on the east from those of the Namoi and Castlereagh on the west. The mass widens out once more in the Liverpool Ranges, where Mount Oxley rises to a height of 4,500 feet, and farther north in the New England Range, the highest peak of which, Ben Lomond, reaches an elevation of 5,000 feet. The average height of the northern tableland is between 2,500 and 3,000 feet. Mount Wingen, situated in a spur of the Liverpool Range, and close to the town of Scone, is one of the natural curiosities of Australia. It is a burning mountain. Its fires, however, are not volcanic, but result from the combustion of
ms of coal some distance underground, and geologists have estimated that the burning has been going on for at least 800 years.
The main range throws off many spurs towards the sea on the eastern slope. These divide the waters of the numerous rivers which flow into the Pacific Ocean, but the ranges in the coastal district, as a rule, run parallel with the tableland, of which in some places they form the eastern edge.
The North Coast Range runs from north to south from Mount Marsh in the Richmond Range to the Hastings River district, at an average cance of 35 miles from the coast. It is not of great altitude, the average elevation being about 2,000 feet. The Illawarra Range forms the western boundary of the Illawarra district. It commences at Clifton, on the sea coast, and gradually recedes inland, although its average distance from the ocean is only about five miles. As it approaches the north bank of the Shoalhaven it becomes locally known as the Cambewarra Range. Valuable coal seams occur on the seaward face of the Illawarra Range, and these are profitably worked at Clifton, Bulli, Corrimal, Mount Keira, and Mount Kembla. The Currockbilly Range commences near Marulan, on the south bank of the Shoalhaven, and terminates on the north bank of the Moruya, about eight miles from the ocean. Its chief elevations are Budawang (3,630 feet), Currockbilly (3,619 feet), and Pigeon House (2,398 feet). Throughout a large portion of its course, the range forms the eastern fringe of the southern tableland. The South Coast Range is a spur from the Monaro Range running in a southerly direction towards the Victorian border, on nearing which it deflects to the westward, and terminates on the left bank of the Snowy River. Its highest peak in New South Wales is Coolangubra (3,712 feet).
In addition to the above, there are various isolated peaks standing out as prominent landmarks in the coastal district. Mount Warning, so named by Captain Cook, is situated near the head of the Tweed River, and in clear weather is visible 60 miles away. Mount Wohiman, or Clarence Peak, lies to the south of Shoal Bay, and is about 1,200 feet in height. Mount Seaview, 3,100 feet in height, is about eight miles south of the Hastings Range and 40 miles from the coast. The Brothers are three conspicuous peaks, 1,700, 1,650, and 1,910 feet high respectively, situated near Camden Haven. They were so named by Captain Cook. Jellore, seven miles north-east of Mittagong, and 2,372 feet in height, may occasionally be seen from Sydney, 70 miles distant. Coolangatta, near the mouth of the Shoalhaven, is 1,000 feet in height. Dromedary, so named by Captain Cook, is a prominent landmark, south of the Tuross River, about 2,700 feet in height.
The western slope of the cordillera is entirely different from the eastern just described. Numerous ramifications of the general mountain system are thrown off, but all slope gently towards the great central plain of the interior. So gentle, indeed, is the declivity that the dividing lines of the various watersheds as they extend westward are scarcely visible, being only indicated by a succession of low ridges and isolated elevations.
In the extreme west of the state, verging on South Australia, another mountain system exists, forming the western edge of an immense depression, through which the largest rivers of the Australian Continent hold their devious course. The Barrier and the Grey Ranges are part of this system. They consist of low hills, hardly rising to the dignity of mountains, and culminating in a few solitary peaks, such as Mount Arrowsmith and Mount Lyell, which attain an elevation of only 2,000 feet above sea-level.