The Illustrated London News, May 29, 1886. Page 577.
The City Of Adelaide, The Capital Of South Australia.
The Illustrated London News, May 29, 1886. Page 579.
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Australia, the largest island on the globe, measuring 2500 miles from west to east and 2000 from north to south, has within a hundred years past become the habitation of a British people now exceeding in number, if we include the adjacent island of Tasmania, two and three quarters of a million. The Australian continent is at present divided into five provinces - namely, New South Wales, which has one million inhabitants; Victoria, with another million; South Australia, with 320,000; Queensland, with 310,000; and West Australia, with 32,000; while Tasmania has 115, 705. Its colonisation began in 1788 with a penal convict settlement established at Sydney, the eastern coast having been discovered by Captain Cook in 1770. Van Dieman's Land, now called Tasmania, was occupied in 1825; likewise as a penal settlement. The free colonists of New South Wales explored the inland regions, to the south and west, for pastures suitable to the growth of merino wool. In 1834, Port Phillip, in which lies the present great city of Melbourne, was visited by the first settlers, but the Province of Victoria was not officially constituted till 1850. That Province ought properly to be called South Australia, being situated in more southerly latititudes than the Colony which bears this name.
It was in 1829 that one of the explorers, Captain Sturt, travelled along the Murrumbidgee to the Murray river, and down the latter to Lake Alexandrina, near its outlet on the southern coast. Westward of this point, the seashores are those of St. Vincent Gulf, Spencer Gulf, and the Great Australian Bight, now forming the "South Australia" coast of the Southern Ocean. In 1834 a Company was formed in England to colonise this part of Australia on the system of Mr. Edward Gibbon Wakefield. The experiment of 1829 in West Australia, the "Swan River Settlement", conducted by Captain (Sir James) Stirling, had not been economically successful; vast tracts of land had been granted to persons who were unable to bring sufficient capital and labourers for their cultivation. Mr. Wakefield's plan was to sell the lands at a fixed price, and apply the funds so raised to the importation of labourers, and to the construction of roads, bridges, and works of public convenience. The Company was incorporated by Act of Parliament; Commissioners were appointed, and in 1836 the colony of South Australia was founded on the shore of St. Vincent Gulf. Its capital city was named after Queen Adelaide.
The Governors have been Captain Hindmarsh, R.N.: Captain Gawler, Captain (Sir George) Grey, Colonel Robe, Sir Henry Young, Sir Richard Graves Macdonnell, Sir Dominic Daly, Sir James Fergusson, Sir Antony Musgrave, Sir William Cairns, Sir William Jervois, and Sir W.F. Cleaver Robinson, the present Governor. South Australia, like New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, enjoys a Parliamentary Government, with a House of Assembly, which is here elected by manhood suffrage; a Legislative Council, the members of which sit for nine years, one third retiring every three years, and are chosen by electors of a higher class: and a Ministry responsible to Parliament. The present Ministers are - Chief Secretary, the Hon, J.C. Bray : Treasurer, the Hon. S. Newland : Attorney-General, the Hon. J.W. Downer; Crown Lands and Immigration, the Hon. J.H. Howe; Public Works, the Hon. J. Brodie Spence; Education, Sir J.A. Cockburn; Postmaster-General, the Hon. C. Todd; Chief Justice, the Hon. S.J. Way. The Agent-General in London is Sir Arthur Blyth, who last week, assisted by Sir S. Davenport, had the honour of showing the Queen the South Australian Court at the Exhibition.
The physical features of a new country, however, the statistics of its improvement in cultivation, and its economical, commercial, and social prospects, are more interesting than its official and political arrangements. It has been remarked that "South Australia" is a misnomer; this Province is really Central Australia; for it has stretched its dominion northward quite across the middle of the "Island-Continent," annexing "the Northern Territory" and the shore of the Indian Ocean, within twelve degrees of the equator. Extending thus 1850 miles from north to south, with an extreme breadth of 650 miles, it is fifteen times as large as England and Wales, having an area of 903,690 miles. But a great proportion of the interior region is hopelessly sterile, though patches of good pastoral land are to be found; while the southern part contains much fertile soil, where a careful agriculture produces the finest wheat grown in the world; and the extreme north, watered by several large rivers, is well adapted by soil and climate to the cultivation of tropical produce. This province is endowed also with mineral riches; it has not much gold, but copper, iron, and lead, which are profitably worked. The Kapunda, Burra Burra, Wallaroo, and Moonta mines have proved extremely rich. The climate of the southern districts is similar to that of Spain and other countries of the South of Europe; the vine, the olive, and many fruits requiring much sunshine, flourish exceedingly well. Merino sheep find here a congenial abode, and the South Australian breed of horses is highly esteemed. Camels were imported by Sir Thomas Elder from India in 1866, and have proved very useful in the hot and dry region, where they are much employed by the Government in surveying journeys, telegraph construction, police and other services. About fifteen hundred of these animals are maintained for such purposes in South Australia.
No colony has shown greater public spirit, or is more indebted to the liberality and the enterprise of individual citizens. Its northern territory was fairly won by the bold exploring journey of Mr. John McDonall Stuart, in 1868, and by the construction of the Overland Telegraph, in 1872, a line from Port Darwin to Adelaide, by which all the Australian colonies, and New Zealand, were soon enabled to be put into direct communication with England. Port Darwin is on the coast of the Indian Ocean, opposite to the Dutch Malay archipelago, where a submarine cable was laid from Java. The peninsula of Arnhem Land, west of the Gulf of Carpentaria, was visited by the Dutch navigators of the seventeenth century : but the Portuguese had been aware, a hundred years before, of the existence of the great southern land now called Australia, which the Dutchmen called New Holland. It was reserved for Englishmen to make their way to its eastern and southern shores, and to plant the only European colonies that have been formed in that part of the world. They will probably be combined, at no distant period, in a great Australian Confederation, resembling that of Canada : and no cause for jealousy is afforded by describing the advantages of any one Province. Indeed, we may consider their diversity of gifts and natural opportunities as of good promise for their future Federal Union.
The city of Adelaide, on the small river Torrens, eight miles from the sea, is one of the most agreeable towns in the southern hemisphere. It is near the beautiful scenery of the Mount Lofty hills. Its population, including suburbs, is 110,000; the streets are well planned and wide, the houses well built, the drainage, water supply, gas supply, markets, Botanic Gardens, and public buildings equal to those of any English provincial town of that size; the institutions - to which Sir Thomas Elder, Sir William Hughes, and other citizens have contributed munificently - the University, the Museum, Art Gallery, and Public Library, the hospitals, churches, schools, and theatres, are worthy of a capital city. Other important towns are Glenelg and Port Adelaide on the shore of St. Vincent's Gulf; Gawler, Kapunda, and several more in the interior, connected by railways, of which South Australia has a thousand miles working a profitable traffic. Social life and manners are said to be rather more sedate than at Melbourne or Sydney, in the absence of stimulating influences which may there have arisen from gold-field speculation, and from the rapid influx of strangers in money-making pursuits. The Germans are a valuable portion of the South Australian community, and have assisted to develop the agricultural resources of the country. Nearly two-thirds of the existing population were born in Australia. The aboriginal race numbers little over six thousand.
The pastoral wealth of South Australia, in 1881, amounted to six and a half millions of sheep, producing wool that year valued at £2,618,626; 389,726 horned cattle, and 164,000 horses, with pigs, goats, and poultry. There were fifty-three and a half million acres of land under cultivation, and the production of wheat that year was 14,621,755 bushels; the harvest of last year was bad. South Australia exports wheat to the other colonies, and its finest wheat bears the best price in the London market. The export of minerals is not so great as it was, but amounted in the same year to nearly £500,000; this colony produced also 473,535 gallons of wine, the quality of which may be tested by diners and lunchers at the Exhibition. The total value of exports in 1884 was £6,623,704. The imports were £5,749,353 of which £2,983,296 belonged to the trade from Great Britain. As there is no strong manufacturing interest in South Australia, the tariff is not, like that of Victoria, devised on protectionist principles. The Government revenue, from Customs, State railways, lands, rents, stamps, and licenses, amounted in 1881 to about £2,000,000. The public debt in this and the other Australian provinces, has been contracted almost entirely by expenditure for constructing railways, roads, and other useful public works. Happy countries, that never had any wars : and may they never have to pay for any! But South Australia is still happier in having always had wise and just land laws. We believe there is no country on earth better governed, more fairly and honestly, or with a more efficient local administration. Religion is cherished and supported, without any Established Church, by the voluntary efforts of different communions - Episcopalian, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Independent, Baptist, and other sects, living in apparent harmony : the Bishopric has an endowment from Lady Burdett-Coutts. There is an excellent system of State-aided secular education, with compulsory attendance at school, also many private and endowed schools of a higher class. Colonial patriotism maintains a small but efficient Volunteer force, coast batteries, and an ironclad for harbour defence. There will be gallant Colonial youths always ready upon occasion, to offer their personal services, as they have done, in the British wars in South Africa or the Soudan. But we must not expect that the Australians and New Zealanders, under an "Imperial Federation," will tax themselves, as we in England are taxed, for permanent contributions to British military establishments, and British foreign policy. None of the Queen's subjects are more loyal; but they will live their own life, and leave an unencumbered commonwealth to their Australian children.
A more detailed description of this Colony will be found in the new "Handbook to South Australia," compiled by Mr. John Fairfax Conigrave of Adelaide, and sold at the Colonial Exhibition; it is a well-arranged book, adorned with nearly forty good engravings. The handsome volume entitled "Her Majesty's Colonies," edited by Mr. A.J. Trendell, and published by the Commissioners of the Colonial Exhibition, as well as the "Official Catalogue," supplies much recent and accurate information.