30th January 1836

Port Jackson
The Beagle made sail for Hobart Town: Capt. King & some other people accompanied us a little way out of Harbour. Philip King remains behind & leaves the Service.

29th January 1836

Sydney, New South Wales
With respect to the state of the convicts, I had still fewer opportunities of judging than on the other points. The first question is whether their state is at all one of punishment; no one will maintain that it is a very severe one. But this, I suppose, is of little consequence as long as it continues to be an object of dread to Criminals at home. The corporeal wants of the convicts are tolerably well supplied; their prospect of future liberty & comfort is not distant & on good conduct certain. A "ticket of leave", which makes a man, as long as he keeps clear of suspicion as well as crime, free within a certain district, is given upon good conduct after years proportional to the length of the sentence: for life, eight years is the time of probation; for seven years, four, &c. Yet, with all this, & overlooking the previous imprisonment & wretched passage out, I believe the years of assignment are passed with discontent & unhappiness: as an intelligent man remarked to me, they know no pleasure beyond sensuality, and in this they are not gratified. The enormous bribe which government possesses in offering free pardons, & the deep horror of the secluded penal settlements, destroy confidence between the convicts & so prevents crime. As to a sense of shame, such a feeling does not appear to be known; of this I witnessed some singular proofs. It is a curious fact, but I was universally told that the character of the convict population is that of arrant cowardice, although not unfrequently some become desperate & quite indifferent of their lives, yet that a plan requiring cool or continued courage was seldom put into execution. The worse feature in the whole case is, that although there exists what may be called a legal reform, or that very little which the law can touch is committed, yet that any moral reform should take place appears to be quite out of the question. I was assured by well informed people that a man who should try to improve could not, while living with the other assigned servants; his life would be one of intolerable misery & persecution. Nor must the contamination of the Convict ships & prisons both here & in England be forgotten. On the whole, as a place of punishment, its object is scarcely gained; as a real system of reform, it has failed as perhaps would every other plan.

Syms Covington Journal
Here the country is complete forest, with, as is well known, some of the most beautiful birds in the world; a the kangaroo, kangaroo rat, opossum, wolwar (great many), very large venomous snakes, and a most curious lizard: half snake, half lizard, about six inches long, and very easy to be caught on the mountains. I went into a museum while here.

There are but few natives in or about town; The chiefs wear a brass plate suspended to a chain round the neck to denote what tribe they belong to. Here a stranger must take care with whom he associates, as the place consists principally of convicts, or the most notorious characters of England; and a place I must say I was heartily happy to leave. Paramatta, the town or village where the female convicts are kept, about eighteen or nineteen miles from Sydney.

28th January 1836

Before we came to the Colony, the things about which I felt most interest were the state of Society amongst the higher & Convict classes, & the degree of attraction to emigrate. Of course after so very short a visit, one's opinion is worth little more than a conjecture; but it is as difficult not to form some opinion, as it is to form a correct judgment. On the whole, from what I heard more than from what I saw, I was disappointed in the state of Society. The whole community is rancorously divided into parties on almost every subject. Amongst those who from their station of life, ought to rank with the best, many live in such open profligacy, that respectable people cannot associate with them. There is much jealousy between the children of the rich emancipist & the free settlers; the former being pleased to consider honest men as interlopers. The whole population poor & rich are bent on acquiring wealth; the subject of wool & sheep grazing amongst the higher orders is of preponderant interest. The very low ebb of literature is strongly marked by the emptiness of the booksellers shops; these are inferior to the shops of the smaller country towns of England. There are some very serious drawbacks to the comforts of families, the chief of these is perhaps being surrounded by convict servants. How disgusting to be waited on by a man, who the day before was by your representation flogged for some trifling misdemeanour? The female servants are of course much worse; hence children acquire the use of the vilest expressions, & fortunately if not equally vile ideas. On the other hand, the capital of a person will without trouble produce him treble interest as compared to England: & with care he is sure to grow rich. The luxuries of life are in abundance, & very little dearer, as most articles of food are cheaper, than in England. The climate is splendid & most healthy, but to my mind its charms are lost by the uninviting aspect of the country. Settlers possess one great advantage in making use of their sons, when very young men from sixteen to twenty years of age, in taking charge of remote farming stations; this however must happen at the expence of their boys associating entirely with convict servants. I am not aware that the tone of Society has yet assumed any peculiar character; but with such habits & without intellectual pursuits, it can hardly fail to deteriorate. The balance of my opinion is such, that nothing but rather severe necessity should compel me to emigrate.

The rapid prosperity of this colony is to me, not understanding such subjects, very puzzling. The two main exports are Wool & Whale Oil, to both of which productions there is a limit. The country is totally unfit for Canals; therefore there is a not very distant line beyond which the land carriage of wool will not repay the expence of shearing & tending sheep: The pasture everywhere is so thin that already settlers have pushed far into the interior; moreover very far inland the country appears to become extremely poor. I have before said agriculture can never succeed on a very extended scale. So that, as far as I can see, Australia must ultimately depend upon being the centre of commerce for the Southern Hemisphere; & perhaps on her future Manufactories: from the habitable country extending along the coast, & from her English extraction she is sure to be a maritime nation: possessing coal, she always has the moving power at hand. I formerly imagined that Australia would rise into as grand & powerful a country as N. America, now it appears to me, as far as I can understand such subjects, that such future power & grandeur is very problematical.

27th January 1836

Accompanied by Capt. King rode to Paramatta. Close to the town, his brother in law Mr MacArthur lives & we went there to lunch. The house would be considered a very superior one, even in England. — There was a large party, I think about 18 in the Dining room. — It sounded strange in my ears to hear very nice looking young ladies exclaim, "Oh we are Australian, & know nothing about England". — In the afternoon I left this most English-like house & rode by myself into Sydney.

26th January 1836

[Emu Ferry 1835]
New South Wales
Escaped from my prison; Having crossed the wearisome Sandstone plain, descended to Emu ferry. A few miles further on I met Capt. King who took me to his house at Dunheved. I spent a very pleasant afternoon walking about the farm & talking over the Natural History of T. del Fuego.

24th January 1836

New South Wales
In the morning I did not feel well, & I thought it more prudent not to set out. — The ensuing day was one of steady drizzling rain; all was still, excepting the dropping from the eaves; the horizon of the undulating Woodland was lost in thin mist; the air was cold & comfortless — it was a day for tedious reflection.

23rd January 1836

New South Wales
The next day we passed through large tracts of country in flames; volumes of smoke sweeping across the road. — Before noon we joined our former track and ascended Mount Victoria: I slept at the Weather-board, & before dark took another walk to the grand Amphitheatre.

22nd January 1836

New South Wales
I commenced my return, taking a new road called Lockyer's line, in which the country is rather more hilly & picturesque. At noon we baited at a farm house; the owner had only come out two years before, but he appeared to be going on very well; he had two pretty daughters, who, I suspect, would not remain long on his hands. — This was a long day's ride & the house where I wished to sleep was some way off the road & not easy to find. — I met on this, & indeed on all other occasions, a very general & ready civility amongst the lower orders; when one considers what they are & what they have been, this is rather surprising. — The farm where I passed the night, was owned by two young Englishmen, who had only lately come out & were beginning a settlers life; the total want of almost every comfort was not very attractive; but future prosperity was certain & not far distant.

21st January 1836

New South Wales
Bathurst has a singular & not very inviting appearance; groups of small houses, & a few large ones, are scattered rather thickly over two or three miles of a bare country which is divided into numerous fields by lines of rails. A good many gentlemen live in the neighbourhood & some possess very comfortable houses. A hideous little red brick Church stands by itself on a hill & there are barracks & government buildings. — I was told not to form too bad an opinion of the country by judging of it on the road side, nor too good a one from Bathurst; in this latter respect I did not feel myself in the least danger of being prejudiced. It must be confessed that the season had been one of great drought, & that the country did not wear a favourable aspect; although I understand two or three months ago it was incomparably worse. The secret of the rapidly growing prosperity of Bathurst is that the pasture, which appears to the stranger's eye wretched, is for sheep grazing excellent. The town stands on the banks of the Macquarie: this is one of the rivers whose waters flow into the vast unknown interior. The North & South line of watershed which divides the inland streams from those of the coast has an elevation of about 3000 ft., (Bathurst is 2200) & runs at a distance of about eighty or a hundred miles from the seaside. — The Macquarie figures in the maps as a respectable river, & is the largest of those draining this part of the inland slope: — yet to my surprise I found it a mere chain of ponds, separated from each other by spaces almost dry; generally a little water does flow, & sometimes there are high & impetuous floods. Very scanty as the supply of water is in all this district, it becomes, further in the interior, still scarcer.

The Officers all seemed very weary of this place & I am not surprised at it: it must be to them a place of exile: Last year there had been plenty of Quail to shoot, but this year they have not appeared; this resource exhausted, the last tie which bound them to existence, seemed on the point of being dissolved. — Capt. Chetwode had attempted gardening; but to see the poor parched herbs was quite heart-breaking. Yesterday's hot wind had alone cut off many scores of young apples, peaches & grapes.

20th January 1836

A long days ride to Bathurst; before joining the high road we followed a mere path through the forest; the country with the exception of a few squatters huts was very solitary. A "squatter" is a freed or "ticket of leave" man, who builds a hut with bark in unoccupied ground, buys or steals a few animals, sells spirits without a license, receives stolen goods & so at last becomes rich & turns farmer: he is the horror of all his honest neighbours. — A "crawler" is an assigned convict, who runs away & lives how he can by labor or petty theft. — The "Bush Ranger" is an open villain, who subsists by highway robbery & plunder; generally he is desperate & will sooner he killed than taken alive. — In the country it is necessary to understand these three names, for they are in perpetual use.

This day we had an instance of the sirocco-like wind of Australia; which comes from the parched deserts of the interior. While riding, I was not fully aware, as always happens, how exceedingly high the temperature was. — Clouds of dust were travelling in every part, & the wind felt like that which has passed over a fire. — I afterwards heard the thermometer out of doors stood at 119° & in a room in a closed house 96°.— In the afternoon we came in view of the downs of Bathurst. These undulating but nearly Level plains are very remarkable in this country by being absolutely destitute of a single tree: they are only covered by a very thin, brown pasture. We rode some miles across this kind of country, & then reached the township of Bathurst, seated in [the] middle of what may be described as a very broad valley, or narrow plain. I had a letter of introduction to the commandant of the troops, & with him I staid the ensuing day.

19th January 1836

New South Wales
Early on the next morning Mr Archer, the joint superintendent, had the kindness to take me out Kangaroo hunting. We continued riding the greater part of the day; but had very bad sport, not seeing a Kangaroo or even a wild dog. — The Grey-hounds pursued a Kangaroo Rat into a hollow tree out of which we dragged it: it is an animal as big as a rabbit, but with the figure of a Kangaroo. A few years since this country abounded with wild animals; now the Emu is banished to a long distance & the Kangaroo is become scarce; to both the English Greyhound is utterly destructive; it may be long before these animals are altogether exterminated, but their doom is fixed. The Natives are always anxious to borrow the dogs from the farmhouses; their use, offal when an animal is killed, & milk from the cows, are the peace offerings of the Settlers, who push further & further inland. — The thoughtless Aboriginal, blinded by these trifling advantages, is delighted at the approach of the White Man, who seems predestined to inherit the country of his children.

Although having bad sport, we enjoyed a pleasant ride; The woodland is generally so open that a person on horseback can gallop through it; it is traversed by a few flat bottomed valleys, which are green & free from trees; in such spots the scenery was like that of a Park & pretty. — In the whole country I scarcely saw a place without the marks of fire; whether these had been more or less recent, whether the stumps were more or less black, was the greatest change which varied the monotony so wearisome to the traveller's eye. In these woods there are not many birds; I saw, however, some large flocks of the white Cockatoo feeding in a Corn field; & a few most beautiful parrots; crows, like our jackdaws, were not uncommon & another bird something like the magpie. The English have not been very particular in giving names to the productions of Australia; trees of one family (Casuarina) are called Oaks, for no one reason that I can discover without it is that there is no one point of resemblance; animals are called tigers & hyenas, simply because they are Carnivorous, & so on in many other cases. In the dusk of the evening I took a stroll along a chain of ponds, which in this dry country represent the course of a river, & had the good fortune to see several of the famous Platypus or Ornithorhyncus paradoxicus. They were diving & playing about the surface of the water; but showed very little of their bodies, so that they might easily have been mistaken for many water rats. Mr Browne shot one; certainly it is a most extraordinary animal; the stuffed specimens do not give at all a good idea of the recent appearance of the head & beak; the latter becoming hard & contracted.

A little time before this, I had been lying on a sunny bank & was reflecting on the strange character of the Animals of this country as compared to the rest of the World. An unbeliever in everything beyond his own reason, might exclaim "Surely two distinct Creators must have been [at] work; their object however has beer the same & certainly the end in each case is complete". — Whilst thus thinking, I observed the conical pitfall of a Lion-Ant: — A fly fell in & immediately disappeared; then came a large but unwary Ant; his struggles to escape being very violent, the little jets of sand were promptly directed against him. His fate however was better than that of the poor fly's: — Without a doubt this predacious Larva belongs to the same genus, but to a different species from the Europ├Žan one. — Now what would the Disbeliever say to this? Would any two workmen ever hit on so beautiful, so simple & yet so artificial a contrivance? It cannot be thought so. — The one hand has surely worked throughout the universe. A Geologist perhaps would suggest, that the periods of Creation have been distinct & remote the one from the other; that the Creator rested in his labor.

18th January 1836

New South Wales
Very early in the morning I walked about three miles to see Govett's Leap; a view of a similar, but even perhaps more stupendous character than that of the Weatherboard. So early in the day the gulf was filled with a thin blue haze, which, although destroying the general effect, added to the apparent depth of the forest below, from the country on which we stood. Mr Martens who was formerly in the Beagle & now resides in Sydney, has made striking & beautiful pictures from these two views.

A short time after leaving the Blackheath, we descended from the sandstone platform by the pass of Mount Victoria. To effect this pass, an enormous quantity of stone has been cut through; the design & its manner of execution would have been worthy of a line of road in England, even that of Holyhead. — We now entered upon a country less elevated by nearly a thousand feet & consisting of granite: with the change of rock the vegetation improved; the trees were both finer & stood further apart, & the pasture between them was a little greener & more plentiful.

At Hassan's walls I left the high road & made a short detour to a farm called Walerawang; to the superintendent of which I had a letter of introduction from the owner in Sydney. Mr Browne had the kindness to ask me to stay the ensuing day, which I had much pleasure in doing. This place offers an example of one of the large farming or rather sheep grazing establishments of the Colony; cattle & horses are however in this case rather more numerous than usual, owing to some of the valleys being swampy & producing a coarser pasture. The sheep were 15,000 in number, of which the greater part were feeding under the care of different shepherds on unoccupied ground, at the distance of more than a hundred miles beyond the limits of the Colony. Mr Browne had just finished this day the last of the shearing of seven thousand sheep; the rest being sheared in another place. — I believe the value of the average produce of wool from 15,000 sheep would be more than 5000£ sterling. Two or three flat pieces of ground near the house were cleared & cultivated with corn, which the harvest men were now reaping. No more wheat is sown than sufficient for the annual support of the labourers; the general number of assigned convict servants being here about forty; but at present there were rather more. Although the farm is well stocked with every requisite, there was an apparent absence of comfort; & not even one woman resided here. — The Sunset of a fine day will generally cast an air of happy contentment on any scene; but here at this retired farmhouse the brightest tints on the surrounding woods could not make me forget that forty hardened profligate men were ceasing from their daily labours, like the Slaves from Africa, yet without their just claim for compassion.

17th January 1836

Early in the morning we passed the Nepean in a ferry boat. The river, although at this spot both broad & deep, has a very small body of running water. Having crossed a low piece of land on the opposite side we reached the slope of the Blue Mountains. The ascent is not steep, the road having been cut with much care on the side of the Sandstone cliffs; at no great elevation we come to a tolerably level plain, which almost imperceptibly rises to the Westward, till at last its height exceeds three thousand feet. By the term Blue Mountains, & hearing of their absolute elevation, I had expected to see a bold chain crossing the country; instead of this a sloping plain presents merely an inconsiderable front to the low country. — From this first slope, the view of the extensive woodland towards the coast was interesting, & the trees grew bold & lofty; but when once on the sandstone platform, the scenery became exceedingly monotomous. On each side the road was bordered by a scrubby wood of small trees of the never-failing Eucalyptus family; with the exception of two or three small Inns there were no houses or cultivated land. The road was likewise solitary, the most frequent object being a bullock-waggon piled up with bales of Wool.

In the middle of the day we baited our horses at a little Inn, called the Weather-board. The country here is elevated 2800 feet above the sea. About a mile & a half from this place there is a view exceedingly well worth visiting; following down a little valley & its tiny rill of water, an immense gulf is suddenly & without any preparation seen through the trees which border the pathway at the depth of perhaps 1500 ft. Walking a few yards farther, one stands on the brink of a vast precipice, & below is the grand bay or gulf, for I know not what other name to give it, thickly covered with forest. The point of view is situated as it were at the head of the bay, for the line of cliff diverges away on each side, showing headland behind headland, as on a bold Sea coast. These cliffs are composed of horizontal strata of whitish Sandstone; & so absolutely vertical are they, that in many places a person standing on the edge & throwing a stone can see it strike the frees in the abyss below: so unbroken is the line, that it is said to be necessary to go round a distance of sixteen miles in order to reach the foot of the waterfall made by this little stream. — In front & about five miles distant another line of cliff extends, thus having the appearance of completely encircling the valley; hence the name of Bay is justified as applied to this grand amphitheatrical depression. — If we imagine that a winding harbor with its deep water surrounded by bold cliff shores was laid dry, & that a forest sprung up on the sandy bottom, we should then have the appearance & structure which is here exhibited. The class of view was to me quite novel & extremely magnificent. In the evening we reached the Blackheath; the Sandstone plateau has here attained the elevation of 3411 ft, & is covered as before, with one monotomous wood. — On the road, there were occasional glimpses of a profound valley, of the same character as the one described; but from the steepness & depth of its sides, the bottom was scarcely ever to be seen. — The Blackheath is a very comfortable inn, kept by an old Soldier; it reminded me of the small inns in North Wales. I was surprised to find that here, at the distance of more than seventy miles from Sydney, fifteen beds could be made up for travellers.

16th January 1836


New South Wales
In the morning of the 16th I set out on my excursion; the first stage took us through Paramatta, a small country town, but second to Sydney in importance. — The roads were excellent & made on the Macadam principle, whinstone being brought from the distance of several miles for this purpose; nor had turnpikes been forgotten. — The road appeared much frequented by all sorts of carriages. — I met two Stage Coaches. — In all these respects there was a most close resemblance to England; perhaps the number of Ale-houses was here in excess. The Iron gangs, or parties of convicts, who have committed some trifling offence in this country, appeared the least like England: they were dressed in yellow & grey clothes, & were working in irons under the charge of sentrys with loaded arms. — I believe one chief cause of the early prosperity in these Colonies is government thus being able by means of forced labour to open at once good roads throughout the country.

I slept at night at a very comfortable Inn at Emu ferry, which is thirty-five miles from Sydney & near the ascent of the Blue Mountains. — This line of road is the most frequented & has longest been inhabited of any in the Colony. — The whole land is enclosed with high railings, for the farmers have not been able to rear hedges. — There are many substantial houses & good cottages scattered about; but although considerable pieces of the land are under cultivation, the greater part yet remains as when first discovered. — Making allowances for the cleared parts, the country here resembles all that I saw during the ten succeeding days. — The extreme uniformity in the character of the Vegetation, is the most remarkable feature in the landscape of the greater part of New S. Wales. — Everywhere we have an open woodland, the ground being partially covered with a most thin pasture. The trees nearly all belong to one family; & have the surface of their leaves placed in a vertical instead of as in Europe a nearly horizontal position; This fact & their scantiness makes the woods light & shadowless; although under the scorching sun of the summer this is a loss of comfort, it is of importance to the farmer, as it allows grass to grow where it otherwise could not. — The greater number of the trees, with the exception of some of the Blue Gums, do not attain a large size; but they grow tall & tolerably straight & stand well apart. It is singular that the bark of some kinds annually falls, or hangs dead in long shreds, which swing about with the wind; & hence the woods appear desolate & untidy. — Nowhere is there an appearance of verdure or fertility, but rather that of arid sterility: — I cannot imagine a more complete contrast in every respect, than the forest of Valdivia or Chiloe, with the woods of Australia.

Although this country flourishes so remarkably, the appearance of infertility is to a certain degree real; the soil without doubt is good, but there is so great a deficiency in rain & running water, that it cannot produce much. — The Agricultural crops & indeed often those in gardens, are estimated to fail once in three years; & it has even thus happened on successive years: — hence the Colony cannot supply itself with the bread & vegetables which its inhabitants consume. — It is essentially pastoral, & chiefly so for sheep & not the larger quadrupeds: the alluvial land near Emu ferry is some of the best cultivated which I have seen; & certainly the scenery on the banks of the Nepean, bounded to the West by the Blue Mountains, was pleasing even to the eye of a person thinking of England.

At Sunset by good fortune a party of a score of the Aboriginal Blacks passed by, each carrying in their accustomed manner a bundle of spears & other weapons. — By giving a leading young man a shilling they were easily detained & they threw their spears for my amusement. — They were all partly clothed & several could speak a little English; their countenances were good-humoured & pleasant & they appeared far from such utterly degraded beings as usually represented. — In their own arts they are admirable; a cap being fixed at thirty yards distance, they transfixed it with the spear delivered by the throwing stick, with the rapidity of an arrow from the bow of a practised Archer; in tracking animals & men they show most wonderful sagacity & I heard many of their remarks, which manifested considerable acuteness. — They will not however cultivate the ground, or even take the trouble of keeping flocks of sheep which have been offered them; or build houses & remain stationary. — Never the less, they appear to me to stand some few degrees higher in civilization, or more correctly a few lower in barbarism, than the Fuegians.

It is very curious thus to see in the midst of a civilized people, a set of harmless savages wandering about without knowing where they will sleep, & gaining their livelihood by hunting in the woods. — Their numbers have rapidly decreased; during my whole ride with the exception of some boys brought up in the houses, I saw only one other party. — These were rather more numerous & not so well clothed. — I should have mentioned that in addition to their state of independence of the Whites, the different tribes go to war. In an engagement which took place lately the parties, very singularly chose the centre of the village of Bathurst as the place of engagement; the conquered party took refuge in the Barracks. — The decrease in numbers must be owing to the drinking of Spirits, the Europ├Žan diseases, even the milder ones of which such as the Measles are very destructive, & the gradual extinction of the wild animals. It is said that from the wandering life of these people, great numbers of their children die in very early infancy. When the difficulty in procuring food is increased, of course the population must be repressed in a manner almost instantaneous as compared to what takes place in civilized life, where the father may add to his labor without destroying his offspring.

12th January 1836

Sydney
Early in the morning, a light air carried us towards the entrance of Port Jackson: instead of beholding a verdant country scattered over with fine houses, a straight line of yellowish cliff brought to our mind the coast of Patagonia. A solitary lighthouse, built of white stone, alone told us we were near to a great & populous city. — Having entered the harbor, it appeared fine & spacious; but the level country, showing on the cliff-formed shores bare & horizontal strata of sandstone, was covered by woods of thin scrubby trees that bespoke useless sterility. — Proceeding further inland, parts of the country improved; beautiful Villas & nice Cottages were here & there scattered along the beach; and in the distance large stone houses, two or three stories high, & Windmills standing on the edge of a bank, pointed out to us the neighbourhead of the Capital of Australian civilization.

At last we anchored within Sydney Cove; we found the little basin, containing many large ships & surrounded by Warehouses. — In the evening I walked through the town & returned full of admiration at the whole scene. — It is a most magnificent testimony to the power of the British nation: here, in a less promising country, scores of years have effected many times more than centuries in South America. — My first feeling was to congratulate myself that I was born an Englishman: — Upon seeing more of the town on other days, perhaps it fell a little in my estimation; but yet it is a good town; the streets are regular, broad, clean & kept in excellent order; the houses are of a good size & the Shops well furnished. — It may be faithfully compared to the large suburbs which stretch out from London & a few other great towns:— but not even near London or Birmingham is there an aspect of such rapid growth; the number of large houses just finished & others building is truly surprising; nevertheless every one complains of the high rents & difficulty in procuring a house. — In the streets gigs, phaetons & carriages with livery servants are driving about; of the latter many are extremely well equipped. Coming from S. America, where in the towns every man of property is known, no one thing surprised me more, than not readily being able to ascertain to whom this or that carriage belonged. — Many of the older residents say that formerly they knew every face in the Colony, but now that in a morning's ride, it is a chance if they know one. — Sydney has a population of twenty-three thousand, & is as I have said rapidly increasing; it must contain much wealth; it appears a man of business can hardly fail to make a large fortune; I saw on all sides fine houses, one built by the profits from steam-vessels, another from building, & so on. An auctioneer who was a convict, it is said intends to return home & will take with him 100,000 pounds. — Another who is always driving about in his carriage, has an income so large that scarcely anybody ventures to guess at it, the least assigned being fifteen thousand a year. — But the two crowning facts are, first that the public revenue has increased 60,000 £ during this last year, & secondly that less than an acre of land within the town of Sydney sold for 8000 pounds sterling.

I hired a man & two horses to take me to Bathurst, a village about one hundred & twenty miles in the interior, & the centre of a great pastoral district; by this means I hoped to get a general idea of the appearance of the country.

Syms Covington Journal
After a long passage which was occasioned by headwinds and calms, we moored ship in Sydney Cove, New South Wales, January 12th 1836 (a passage very often made in five days by the traders).

Port Jackson (Sydney), where the first settlers landed IN 1788. THERE IS A lighthouse on left hand side going in. The harbour, I think, is one of the finest and most beautiful I have yet seen. About here the land is low, even lower than New Zealand, a fine harbour, two forts, town large and populous, situated rather on side of hill. Hot, or sirocco-like, winds are frequent here, AND THE weather very precarious. When sun's out, there appears TO BE a very strong glare, which I think injures the sight as I saw many Whites here with weak eyesight.

11th January 1836

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
Near midnight, on the 11th, we saw the red, revolving light of Sydney Light-house, and next day entered Port Jackson, and anchored in Sydney Cove. Much as I had heard of the progress and importance of this place, my astonishment was indeed great, when I saw a well-built city covering the country near the port. Not many days previously I had been reading the account of Governor Phillip's voyage to Botany Bay in 1787–8, and little did I think that, in forty-eight years from the first discovery of Port Jackson, a city, upon a large scale, could have arisen out of a wilderness so near our antipodes. In the account just mentioned it is stated that "from a piece of clay imported from Sydney Cove, Mr. Wedgwood caused a medallion to be modelled, representing Hope, encouraging Art and Labour, under the influence of Peace, to pursue the means of giving security and happiness to the infant settlement. The following lines, in allusion to this medallion, were written by Dr. Darwin."

"Where Sydney Cove her lucid bosom swells,
Courts her young navies and the storm repels,
High on a rock, amid the troubled air,
Hope stood sublime, and wav'd her golden hair;
Calm'd with her rosy smile the tossing deep,
And with sweet accents charm'd the winds to sleep;
To each wild plain, she stretch'd her snowy hand,
High-waving wood, and sea-encircled strand.
'Hear me,' she cried, 'ye rising realms! Record
Time's opening scenes, and Truth's unerring word.—
There shall broad streets their stately walls extend,
The circus widen, and the crescent bend;
There ray'd from cities o'er the cultur'd land,
Shall bright canals, and solid roads expand.—
There the proud arch, Colossus-like, bestride
Yon glittering streams, and bound the chasing tide;
Embellish'd villas crown the landscape scene,
Farms wave with gold, and orchards blush between.—
There shall tall spires, and dome-capt towers ascend,
And piers and quays their massy structures blend;
While with each breeze approaching vessels glide,
And northern treasures dance on every tide!'
Here ceased the nymph—tumultuous echoes roar,
And Joy's loud voice was heard from shore to shore—
Her graceful steps descending press'd the plain;
And Peace, and Art, and Labour, join'd her train."

In Sydney in 1836, all that was foretold in this allegory had come to pass, with one exception only, that of canals. It was always a country comparatively dry; and unfortunately the more wood is cleared away, the drier both climate and soil become, therefore it is unlikely that canals should ever be made there. This want of fresh water is the only drawback to the future prosperity of this mushroom city; which is now dependent upon a supply brought through iron pipes from a distance of several leagues. Mr. Busby, father of the resident at New Zealand, was the projector and executor of this aqueduct, but,—like many other really valuable things,—his useful work as ably planned as it was perseveringly carried on against uncommon difficulties, is but little appreciated, even by those who daily drink the pure water which it supplies.

It is difficult to believe that Sydney will continue to flourish in proportion to its rise. It has sprung into existence too suddenly. Convicts have forced its growth, even as a hotbed forces plants, and premature decay may be expected from such early maturity. Other rising colonies have advantages in point of situation and climate, which the country about Sydney does not possess; and if our government establishment should be withdrawn, from that day the decline of the city would commence, because its natural advantages are not sufficient to enable it to compete with other places in those regions, excepting while fostered by the presence of regularly paid government officers, troops, and a large convict establishment.

There must be great difficulty in bringing up a family well in that country, in consequence of the demoralizing influence of convict servants, to which almost all children must be more or less exposed. Besides, literature is at a low ebb: most people are anxious about active farming, or commercial pursuits, which leave little leisure for reflection, or for reading more than those fritterers of the mind—daily newspapers and ephemeral trash. It was quite remarkable to see how few booksellers' shops there were in Sydney, and what a low class of books — with some exceptions — was to be found in them. These few exceptions were the works usually called 'standard,' which some persons who buy books, for show as furniture, rather than for real use, think it necessary to purchase. Another evil in the social system of Sydney and its vicinity, is the rancorous feeling which exists between the descendants of free settlers and the children of convicts. Fatal, indeed, would it be to the former, if the arm of power were removed; for their high principles and good feelings would be no match for the wiles and atrocities of such abandoned outcasts as are there congregrated, and almost rejoice in their iniquity. Money is gained by such people by any and every means, save those of honest industry. By selling spirits, frequently drugged—by theft—by receiving and selling stolen goods—by the wages of iniquity—and by exorbitant usury—fortunes have been amassed there in a few years which would make an honest man's hair stand on end. But do such men enjoy their wealth? Does it benefit them or their children? No. Their life is a miserable scene of anxiety, care, fear, and generally penuriousness; they die without a friend and without hope.

7th January 1836

[The Boatswain Bird aka The Red-billed Tropicbird]

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
On the 7th of January, while more than two hundred miles from any known land, we saw a boatswain-bird and two white tern. To those who are interested about the distances to which birds fly from land, this remark may be worth notice: as some persons say that tern never fly far.

3rd January 1836

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
To the succeeding day at noon we were set only seven miles, by the water, and that due east. Afterwards, in our passage to Port Jackson, we had alternately northerly and south-easterly currents of about ten miles a day, and it was easy to tell which current we were in, by the temperature of the sea:—while the stream set from the north, the water thermometer showed about 72°; but when the current was running from the southward, the temperature of the ocean, a foot below, as well as at, the surface, was only 67°. I ought to have remarked elsewhere, if I have not already done so, that the thermometer may be used at sea to detect and trace currents; but little, if any, confidence can be placed in its indications as a guide to the approach of land. Icebergs may indeed affect it, but they will affect the temperature of the air probably sooner than that of the ocean.

2nd January 1836

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
Next day, at noon, we found that during the past twenty-four hours we had been set as many miles southward (S.S.E.), and hence I am inclined to infer that we were influenced by regular tide-streams, rather than by currents setting always in one direction.

1st January 1836

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
On New Year's day, while in sight of the islets called Three Kings, we passed through several tide 'races,' one of which was rather 'heavy,' and would have been impassable for a boat. These races moved towards the north while we could trace their progress. The temperature of the water fell six degrees after passing through the principal one.