Slike strani
PDF
ePub

Captain Clunie, of the 17th Regiment, succeeded to the control of the settlement at Moreton Bay, as it continued to be called, and the history of his administration is little more than a record of offences. and offenders and the degrading details of prison management and mismanagement.

In 1831 the population had risen to 1,241, of whom 1,066 were prisoners, 40 being women. In 1833 there were 1,128 bond males and 38 free, 30 bond females and 13 free. Four years later the number of prisoners had been reduced to 300. Governor Sir Richard Bourke thought little of Brisbane, even as a place of penal settlement. He had adopted all Sir Ralph Darling's prejudices against the locality and supplemented them with some of his own, and he prepareci gradually for its abandonment.

In 1836 Moreton Bay was visited by Messrs. James Backhouse and George Washington Walker, two Quakers who had engaged in a severe years' examination of the penal settlements at the antipodes, seeking everywhere an opportunity, by the ministrations of religion, to alleviate the sufferings of the convicts undergoing sentence. After returning to England, Backhouse published an account of their experiences, in which, amongst other deplorable circumstances, he noted that on one occasion he saw forty women working in a field at Eagle Farm, some of whom were very young, while in several instances. the unfortunate creatures were compelled to work in irons. It must not be forgotten, however, that Backhouse wrote at a period when the penalty of death was attached in the statute-book to no fewer than 223 offences, and when men were hanged in batches even in so advanced a centre of civilisation as the city of London.

Governor Bourke had determined, in 1835, gradually to diminish the deportation of convicts to Moreton Bay, and to close the settlement. This was finally accomplished about five years later. Captain Fyans was commandant in succession to Captain Clunie, and ruled from 1835 to 1837; and Major Cotton succeeded to the control of the rapidly dwindling settlement. Then followed Lieutenant Gravatt, whose term of office extended from May, 1839, to July of the same year. Lieutenant Gorman was the next and last commandant at Moreton Bay. He arrived in 1839, and was entrusted with the duties of clearing away the last relics of the penal establishment. The convict settlement was broken up about the middle of the year, and the way was thus left clear for free settlers. The first of these arrived in Brisbane in 1840, although the enactment against free settlers was still nominally in force. In the meantime the country around Brisbane had been thoroughly examined, one of the most enterprising of the local explorers being Andrew Petrie, who had arrived in Sydney in the year 1835. His arrival in Brisbane is noteworthy on account of the circumstance that the vessel which conveyed him, the “ James. Watt,” was the first steamship to enter Moreton Bay. Soon after coming to the young settlement Petrie explored the coast as far as the

present northern boundary of the Moreton district, and made some important discoveries of indigenous fora. During one of his expeditions Petrie effected a landing about half-way between Moreton Bay and the entrance to Wide Bay, and there found a convict absconder named Bracefield (called by the natives “Wandi "), living in savagery with the blacks. With Bracefield's assistance Petrie found another young convict who had escaped from the settlement so long before that he had almost forgotten his own language. His name was James Davis, otherwise "Durranboi," and the story of his experiences among the aborigines is of the most interesting character. Andrew Petrie was for some time acting as foreman of works of the Royal Engineer's Department at Brisbane, and his knowledge of the country acquired in this service was of the greatest assistance to the first free settlers. During the year 1840 Surveyor Stapleton and his assistant were murdered by aborigines near the head waters of the Logan. The culprits were captured in the following year, and, after trial, were found guilty and executed. But this was only one of a series of similar outrages, the blacks in the earlier days of free settlement in Queensland being particularly troublesome. In 1840 Patrick Leslie crossed the Great Dividing Range through Cunningham's Gap, and formed a station on the Condamine River, and in the following two years a great deal of useful exploration was carried out by the brothers Stewart and Sydenham Russell in the Darling Downs, Wide Bay, and Moreton districts. New South Wales squatters followed in their wake, and much country was taken up and utilised for the depasturage of sheep and cattle. In 1841 the population of Moreton Bay numbered exactly 200, and of these only 67 were free. This enumeration probably ineluded a little colony established by grudging permission within 7 miles of the penal settlement as a Christian mission to the aborigines. The colony was exclusively German, and included two regular ministers and some peasants and tradesmen, with their families. The Colonial Office allowed them £1,298 in four years for the maintenance of 19 adults and 11 children. No good accrued to the aborigines from their ministrations, as the blacks fought them instead of listening to them, and on one occasion the missionaries were driven to defend themselves with their muskets against their assailants. Government aid being withdrawn, the mission collapsed as a religious agency, and became a purely secular settlement. The German station is now an outlying suburb of Brisbane, where some of the mission station buildings may still be seen, while the descendants of the original party are numerous among the citizens. A contemporaneous mission of similar character, established by the Rev. Mr. Handt, of the Church of England, was also fruitless in the prosecution of the work of Christianising the aboriginal natives. Indeed the blacks at this time were too warlike to tolerate white approach in any guise.

In 1812 Governor Gipps, visited Brisbane, and is said to have given directions to reduce the width of the streets in all subsequent

surveys—a very short-sighted policy. His Excellency subsequently reported to the Colonial Office the existence of forty-five squattages within 50 miles of Brisbane. In 1842 the export of wool was 1,800 bales. In the returns of 1844 the population is given as 471; and the stock consisted of 660 horses, 13,295 cattle, and 184,651 sheep. From the date of the Governor's visit a marked improvement in the progress of the settlement was apparent. Moreton Bay was opened to free settlement; and to provide the requisite holdings for expected immigrants, Brisbane was proclaimed a land district, the first sale of Crown Lands being held there on the 7th July, 1842. The first steamer of the Hunter River Steam Navigation Company which visited the harbour arrived the same year, and continued for a time to ply regularly between Sydney and Moreton Bay. The service was afterwards discontinued, one or two small sailing vessels being found sufficient for all purposes of trade. The prisoners had now been removed ; the old penal settlement being a thing of the past, a military commandant was no longer wanted, and the principal authority was vested in a civil officer—Captain Wickham, R.N., being appointed first police magistrate ;-and in 1843 Moreton Bay was granted representation in the New South Wales Legislative Council, as it existed under the old constitution.

In 1844 Leichhardt started out on his first expedition from Jimbour Station, on the Darling Downs, to Port Essington, by way of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Gilbert, the naturalist of the party, met his death at the hands of the aborigines during a night attack, and Leichhardt and his companions reached their destination after almost incredible sufferings. After an absence of nearly two years the explorers returned to Sydney by sea, and were received with the greatest enthusiasm. A public subscription was instituted, and a sum of nearly £200 was presented to Dr. Leichhardt. This was supplemented by a donation of £1,000 from the Government, and the thanks of the Legislative Council were voted to him and formally conveyed to the intrepid and successful explorer by the Speaker from the Chair. Port Essington was, however, subsequently abandoned as a port of settlement.

In the early days of free settlement a struggle, which continued for over twenty years, was begun between the squatters and the selectors for the possession of the public lands of the colony. This fight for the soil may be considered as having been definitely determined in favour of the selectors by the passing of the Crown Lands Alienation Acts of 1866 and 1868. Another question which gave rise to constant rancour was the employment of convict, as against free labour.

The aborigines continued to give the colonists trouble during the early years of the settlement. A new track had been formed to the Darling Downs, and along this route the blacks showed themselves especially bold and hostile. At a point on the road which led from Ipswich to the mountains they boldly attacked a caravan of bullock drays, and the drivers and attendants fled for their lives. The drays were looted by

the victorious aborigines, who burnt whatever they could not consume. Thereupon the squatters assembled in force to make reprisals, and organised a foray upon the plunderers. They found the tracks of the natives, and, following them up, forced the band to disperse and take refuge on Hay's Peak. Many of the natives were killed, but the survivors reinained untamed ; and it was found necessary to employ a detachment of soldiers as a permanent guard at the foot of the main range, in order to assure the safety of the travellers by this route. Elsewhere, however, the blacks could not be kept under control, and the early forties were marked by murders of settlers--men, women, and children-and wholesale outrage, incendiarism, and pillage.

Late in the year 1845 Major Sir Thomas Mitchell, Surveyor-General of New South Wales, started out on his famous exploration of tropical Australia, at the head of a little army. Edmund Kennedy was his second in command, and he took with him besides a surgeon, twentyeight men, eight bullock drays, three horse drays, and two boats. He was absent about a year, and discovered many splendid rivers and a great deal of fine country; and his expedition did much to enlarge the geographical knowledge of Central Queensland.

The first Queensland newspaper, the “Moreton Bay Courier," began publication in 1846, and still exists as the “ Brisbane Courier.” Communication by steamer between the capital and Ipswich was established about the same time ; and Moreton Bay was declared a port of entry, with resident Customs Officers.

At this time Mr. Gladstone essayed the formation of a colony at Port Curtis, to be called North Australia, to consist of “exiles," or criminals who had merited by good behaviour some alleviation of their lot, and Colonel Barney was sent out to establish this probationary penitentiary, However, the scheme fell through, and Barney was re-called.

Leichhardt again took the field, and left Jimbour Station, Darling Downs, in the month of December, 1846, just as Sir Thomas Mitche!) was returning from his expedition to Tropical Australia. Leichhardt's intention was to cross the Continent from east to west, making for the settlement at Swan River, in Western Australia.

The attempt, however, ended in failure ; dissensions broke out among the explorers, the party became fever-stricken, a flock of goats had to be abandoned, most of the bullocks and some of the horses and mules were lost, and a retreat had to be made to the confines of settlement. Another expedition, made by Leichhardt to the Fitzroy Downs, discovered by Mitchell, was also unsuccessful in its results. A Government Surveyor named Burnett made a useful journey of exploration in 1847, which anded greatly to the knowledge of the country forming the hinterland of Wide Bay. The Burnett River bears this explorer's name. In 1817, Edmund Kennedy was sent out to trace the course of the Barcoo of Mitchell, and to determine whether or not it was identical with the Cooper's Creek of Sturt. Kennedy soon set this question at rest, and discovered on his own account the Thompson, one of the principal affluents of the Barcoo, or Victoria.

The beginning of the year 1848 saw Leichhardt once more making a plunge into the unmapped wilderness, but this time he did not return. He set forth poorly provisioned, in all save live stock, and with an insufficient supply of ammunition, to realise his great transContinental project; and nothing more is known than that he reached the Cogoon River. The same year another ill-fated expedition set out; this time for the north. The leader was Edmund Kennedy, and his destination Cape York. He took with him eleven white men and a black boy. Of the whole party, only the black boy and two of the white men returned ; the rest of the party perished, the leader having been speared by the natives.

A number of Chinese were imported in 1848 to act as shepherds to the squatters, there being at that time a great dearth of this kind of labour. Emigration from Great Britain of free colonists of a superior class was also encouraged, with a view to the counteraction of the evils arising from the convict system. Among the foremost leaders of this movement was the Rev. Dr. J. D. Lang, who had visited Brisbane in the year 1846. He was the means of introducing to the young colony hundreds of artisans and their families; but the promoter of this type of immigration frequently came into collision with the authorities at the Colonial Office. One of the ships chartered under his auspices, the “ Fortitude,” gave its name to Fortitude Valley, now a well-known section of the City of Brisbane.

For the next few years the history of the settlement is chiefly a record of disputes between the squatters, who were desirous of a renewal of transportation in order to obtain cheap labour, and the great bulk of the free population, who were decidedly averse to any such proposal. The outcome of this warfare between the two parties, combined with the rapid progress of the young colony, was the gradual growth of a keen aspiration for independent Government. The first public meeting held in Brisbane to discuss this matter was convened in January, 1851 ; and the movement thus inaugurated was continued until brought to a successful issue in the granting of separation by the Imperial authorities in 1859. Moreton Bay was raised to the dignity of a Residency in 1853, and the Police Magistrate, Captain Wickham, was appointed first Government Resident.

With the outbreak of the gold fever in 1852, there was a heavy exodus of population from the northern districts to Victoria. As happened in all the other colonies, ordinary business of all kinds was paralysed, and those who could not go to the diggings themselves organised and supported expeditions for vigorously prospecting all parts of the occupied districts which were regarded as likely to be gold-bearing. However, nothing substantial came of the researches made at this time in the Moreton Bay District, and it was long believed that northern Australia was destitute of rich deposits of the precious metal, an

« PrejšnjaNaprej »