Australia And The Islands Of The Sea

Author: Larkin, Dunton

 

Link:  The Australian Confederation 

 

 

Introduction

 

Announcement.

 

     It is now conceded by all educators that school instruction should be

supplemented by reading matter suitable for use by the pupil both in the

school and in the home.  Whoever looks for such reading, however, must be

struck at first with the abundance of what is offered to schools and parents,

and then with its lack of systematic arrangement, and its consequent ill

adaptation to the needs of young people.

     It is for the purpose of supplying this defect, that the publishers have

decided to issue a series of volumes, under the general title of the Young

Folks' Library For School and Home.

 

     These books are intended to meet the needs of all children and youth of

school age; from those who have just mastered their first primer, to those who

are about to finish the high school course.  Some of the volumes will

supplement the ordinary school readers, as a means of teaching reading; some

will reenforce the instruction in geography, history, biography, and natural

science; while others will be specially designed to cultivate a taste for good

literature.  All will serve to develop power in the use of the mother tongue.

 

     The matter for the various volumes will be so carefully selected and so

judiciously graded, that the various volumes will be adapted to the needs and

capacities of all for whom they are designed; while their literary merit, it

is hoped, will be sufficient to make them deserve a place upon the shelves of

any well selected collection of juvenile works.

 

     Each volume of the Young Folks' Library will be prepared by some one of

our ablest writers for young people, and all will be carefully edited by

Larkin Dunton, LL. D., Head Master of the Boston Normal School.

 

     The publishers intend to make this Library at once attractive and

instructive; they therefore commend these volumes, with confidence, to

teachers, parents, and all others who are charged with the duty of directing

the education of the young.

 

Silver, Burdett & Co.

 

Preface.

 

     Without a knowledge of Australia and the islands of the sea, our idea of

the world and its people would be very incomplete.  The continent of

Australia, with only a century of growth, is one of the marvels of modern

times.  Its peculiar physical features, its strange flora and stranger fauna,

give it a distinction not enjoyed by sister continents.  Used at first only as

a penal station, it now ranks in civilization and modern improvements with the

most progressive countries of the world.  Its resources are limitless, and its

possibilities boundless.  Its people are enterprising and ambitious, but they

are sufficiently docile and open-minded to learn valuable lessons from the

experience of older civilizations.

 

     All of the important islands and groups of islands have found a place in

this book, with the exception of the British Isles and Japan, which have been

ably treated in this series in connection with the continents of which they

form, politically, such important parts.

 

     It is almost needless to say that the author has availed herself of the

records of the most reliable travelers and writers of recent years. Whatever

is interesting, instructive, and impressive, she has endeavored to incorporate

in this work.  In order to prevent a dry detail of dates and figures, pen

pictures of the people as they are now, with their homes and their customs,

make up a large part of the book.

 

     The subject treated is of rare and fascinating interest; and to those who

have always regarded the islands as small and unimportant places on the face

of the earth, this book will be a revelation.  Even their location is

interesting.  They are confined to no particular sea.  They have the trackless

waste of waters for their own, and where they will they break its limitless

expanse.  Their formation is often peculiar; while frozen river systems,

jokuls, hot springs, pitch lakes, luxuriant forests, or other equally

distinctive characteristics give to each its own individuality.

 

     Notwithstanding their diversity, each one is, or has been, inhabited by

human beings peculiarly adapted to the clime in which they were found. They

dressed, and ate, and lived in accordance with their environment. They elicit

sympathy, if our own method of living is our only standard of happiness.  But,

when seen in their native condition, their crude pastimes seem to afford them

genuine satisfaction.  Attempts to elevate them in the scale of living have

been attended no doubt with excellent results; but in nearly all cases the

promotion of civilization, as we have it, means ultimately the extinction of

the native tribe.

 

     The earnest desire of the author is that a careful perusal of this book

shall result in present pleasure and permanent profit to its readers, and in

questionings which shall lead some to a deeper investigation of the social,

industrial, and political needs of the people who inhabit Australia and the

Islands of the Sea.

 

Chapter II.  Melbourne.

 

     Gold made Victoria, and Melbourne owes its rapid growth to the same

precious metal.  Melbourne stands on Port Philip Bay, near the mouth of the

Yarra River.  It is the capital of Victoria, and the chief city of Australia,

with a population of 450,000.

 

     Having rounded Cape Otway, the southern extremity of Victoria, we soon

reach the Heads at the entrance of Port Philip.  These are low necks of sandy

hillocks guarding the entrance to the bay.  On one side is Point Lonsdale, and

on the other Point Nepean, upon each of which strong fortifications have been

erected.  Farther on is the village of Queenscliff, built on a bit of abrupt

headland.  Cozy dwellings appear nestled down amid well-cultivated hills, and

the village church is a pleasing object in the more distant landscape.

 

     But we are rapidly losing sight of land, for Port Philip is a spacious

inlet thirty-five miles long by twenty-five broad, and we are sailing straight

for its most northern shore.  As we near it, the port of Williamstown comes in

sight.  Its crowded masts indicate that it is full of shipping.  On the right

is the village of St. Kilda, and farther round is Brighton.  Sandridge, lying

straight ahead of us, is the landing place of Melbourne.  Over the masts of

its shipping, our attention is called to a mass of houses in the distance, and

we are told that there is the city of Melbourne.

 

     We are soon alongside the large wooden railway pier of Sandridge.  We buy

our tickets for Melbourne two miles away, and in less than fifteen minutes are

safely landed in the largest city in the southern hemisphere.

 

     The scenery around Melbourne is not remarkable, but the internal

appearance of the city is magnificent.  It is built upon two hills and in the

broad valley which separates them, and is laid out on the rectangular plan.

The streets are all straight and of great width, and large spaces within the

city limits are devoted to public gardens.

 

     Collins and Bourke streets are usually considered to rank first.  As we

walk down Bourke Street, we pass an imposing structure which, though deserted

in the daytime, is crowded in the evening with a richly dressed throng.  It is

the Royal Theater.  Farther up the street we come to the market place, where

crowds of people are moving about.  Trade seems to be brisk, judging by the

way the vegetables, fruit, and meat are changing hands.  At the farther end of

the street everything is much more quiet. There, in a large open space, stand

the Parliament Houses, which were built at a cost of two million dollars.

 

     Standing on the high ground at one end of Collins Street, and looking

down through the valley and up the hill on the other side, we obtain a

striking view.  This street is not less than a mile long.  Here and there on

each side of it are grand edifices used as bank buildings.  On the farther

hill we note a white, palatial structure with a richly ornamented facade and

tower.  This is the Town Hall.  The Bourke and Wills monument, erected in

memory of two brave men who lost their lives when exploring the interior of

the country, stands in the center of the roadway; while, at the very end of

the perspective, rises the handsome gray front of the Treasury building.

 

     We must remember, however, that Melbourne is a young city.  Less than

sixty years ago the aborigines used to hold their savage meetings on the very

ground where the University now stands.  And so it happens that, as yet, there

is no street which is magnificent throughout; for between large imposing

structures we sometimes see small, insignificant buildings, that remind us of

the earliest days of the city.

 

     There is little that bespeaks extreme poverty, and beggars are unknown.

Work is plentiful, and no one can complain of being unable to find something

to do.  The poorest part of the city is the Chinese quarter.  Here the streets

are narrower and dirtier than anywhere else, and you may see the yellow-faced

Mongolians standing and jabbering at their doors, - a very novel sight.

 

     Melbourne is justly proud of its public institutions.  Among these, the

Library ranks first.  It contains more than sixty thousand volumes, and is

free to all the people from ten in the forenoon until ten at night. Here, in

the evening, you may see the workingmen in their working dress. As many as

five hundred workingmen visit the Library daily.  The only requirements are

that they shall sign their names on entering, and observe proper behavior

while they remain.  The Victorian Collection of pictures is in the same

building, and the galleries are very attractive.

 

     The Post Office is another splendid building, and one of the most

commodious institutions of its kind in the world.  The University has hardly

attained the success that the Library has had.  The building is a modest,

quadrangular one, three sides of which have been completed.  These contain the

lecture rooms, a library, and the residences of the professors.  Behind this

building stands the Museum, which is open to the public without charge.

 

     But the most attractive part of Melbourne is its seashore, especially in

its pretty, rapidly growing suburbs along the shores of Port Philip. St. Kilda

is but three miles from the city, and is a favorite resort of the people.

Many of them reside here, and go back and forth to their business houses.  A

fine promenade runs along the beach, and the bathing is unusually good.  Large

inclosures surrounded by piles are built for the bathers, and above them,

raised high on platforms, are commodious dressing rooms.  The beach has a

sandy bottom, and slopes gently from the shore to any depth of water,

affording a fine opportunity for swimmers.  They must, however, be careful not

to encounter the "cobbler." This creature is like a small octopus.  It has

legs, or arms, nearly equal in size and very long in proportion to its body.

They are used for creeping on the land, swimming in the water, and seizing its

prey.  If it comes near any one, it will administer a sharp slap, at the same

time squirting out a horrid, acrid juice.  A thick rash quickly follows this

infliction, accompanied by swelling and much pain, and for a while the

delights of bathing have to be foregone.

 

Chapter III.  Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, And Adelaide.

 

     Notwithstanding the fact that Melbourne is the phenomenal city of

Australia, there are others as worthy of description.  These have had as

marvelous, if not as rapid, a growth, and have had much to do with the general

development of the continent.

 

     One of these is Sydney.  It is the capital of New South Wales, and is the

oldest city in Australia.  It has a population, including its suburbs, of over

408,500.  It is a well-built city, with fine, broad streets and imposing

public buildings, which, combined with its commanding situation on a splendid

harbor, has gained for it the title of "The Queen of the South."

 

     Sydney is situated on Port Jackson, near the thirty-fourth degree of

south latitude.  The choice of this precise spot for settlement was determined

by the circumstance of a stream of fresh water being found there, flowing into

a deep inlet, afterward known as Sydney Cove, one of the numerous bays into

which Port Jackson is divided.

 

     This last-mentioned body of water forms a magnificent harbor, extending

some twenty miles inland.  It is completely landlocked, and can be entered

only through a narrow passageway between the "Heads," as they are termed.  It

accommodates vessels of the largest size.  Its shores present a succession of

picturesque landscapes.  The cliffs which form the general outline of the

harbor often rise to the height of two hundred and fifty feet.  In the

intervening spaces the shore consists of terraces and smooth sandy beaches.

 

     There are, perhaps, few places more suitable for the foundation of a

great metropolis.  The city is situated at a distance of about eight miles

from the sea, and the whole circumference of the bay around which it is built

forms a series of natural wharfs, where ships of two thousand tons' burden may

be moored within a distance of twenty yards of the shore.

 

     Sydney stands near the center, north and south, of the immense coal

region of Australia, which extends five hundred miles from north to south, and

has a breadth of from eighty to one hundred miles.  Large quantities of coal,

for colonial use and for export, are mined within one hundred miles of the

city.  The sandstone rock, upon which the city is built, affords much valuable

building material.

 

     Sydney now consists of three distinct districts: First, the Old City, in

which are George Street and other streets named after early governors. Here we

find the Houses of Parliament, the Treasury buildings, and the Government

House with its park and botanic gardens.  The Houses of Parliament are rather

disappointing in appearance.  The Lower House is small, and in its arrangement

resembles a music hall.  The Government House is situated on a promontory

commanding a view of the bay.  On one side is Farm Cove, and on the other is

Sydney Cove, where the large liners debark their passengers.  The Government

House is very different from that in Melbourne.  It is like an ordinary

English country house, and, though comfortable enough, is rather inadequate to

meet the present requirements of this growing place.  The other important

buildings in Sydney are the large and imposing Town Hall, the Museum, and the

railway station.  There are several theaters, many handsome banks, the

Exchange, and a number of elegant private residences.

 

     The second division of Sydney is called Wooloomooloo.  This is the

fashionable quarter, and abounds in beautiful homes.  Further away we come

across numerous small watering places dotted about the harbor, the Parramatta,

and Botany Bay.

 

     The third division is called North Shore and is reached by steam ferry

from Sydney Cove in ten minutes.  Beside the city proper, Sydney has extensive

suburbs, some of which are called by English names, such as Hyde Park,

Victoria Park, and Paddington, while others have been given native names

sometimes difficult of pronunciation.

 

     The people of Sydney believe in their own city, and entertain their own

opinions about the "vaunted superiority" of Melbourne; and truly there is much

to justify their pride.  Nature has done much for Sydney.  From nearly every

point may be seen the blue waters of its winding harbor; and the sunshine, as

it lights up varied hues in sea and sky, seems as tender as that of Naples or

Athens.  The neighborhood of the city is charming. Every nook in the adjacent

bay is studded with handsome villas or comfortable cottages.  "The walks

immediately around the city are unsurpassed for picturesqueness, while the

public gardens probably excel any in the world, owing to their combination of

sea and land, hill and valley, rock and wood and grassy slopes, with a climate

that permits all the beautiful forms of vegetation both of tropical and

temperate zones to luxuriate side by side."

 

     The parks are many in number.  Among them the most important are the

Botanical Gardens, covering thirty-eight acres, exceedingly rich and

beautiful; Prince Alfred Park, Belmore Park, and Hyde Park, - the last named

an open, treeless plateau near the center of the city.  The two largest parks

are the Domain, a fine expanse of one hundred and thirty-eight acres on the

northeast side of the city, and the Moor, a tract of twenty-five hundred acres

southeast of the city.

 

     The educational system of New South Wales consists of primary schools,

the grammar school, and the University.  By far the most important edifice

among public buildings, not only in Sydney, but in the whole of Australia, is

the University, which stands on a commanding height, and in the center of a

domain of one hundred and fifty acres.  The principal facade is five hundred

feet long, and is flanked by a great hall at its western end.  Lectures are

delivered daily during each term on classics, logic, history, chemistry,

natural and experimental philosophy, and jurisprudence.  The University was

erected out of private funds, and has a permanent endowment of five thousand

pounds a year from the civil list.  Instruction is limited to purely secular

teaching.

 

     Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, is situated on a river of the same

name, about twenty-five miles from its mouth in Moreton Bay.  It is near the

twenty-seventh degree of south latitude, and more than five hundred miles

north of Sydney.  Including its suburbs, the city covers a very large area.

 

     Although the population of the city proper is small, being only

twenty-six thousand, yet, including South Brisbane, Rockhampton, and other

suburbs within a radius of ten miles, there is a population of over one

hundred thousand.  The city is well supplied with public buildings.  The

Houses of the Legislature, still incomplete, have already cost Pounds 100,000.

Beside these there are the Government House, the General Post Office, the

Museum, Town Hall, and Custom House, beside two theaters, an opera house,

several concert halls, and half a dozen fine bank edifices.

 

     There is a noble iron bridge across the Brisbane River, more than one

thousand feet long, with two swing openings of sixty and one half feet each,

to allow the passage of ships.  The actual city, surrounded on three sides by

this river, is a well-built town laid out in streets which cross at right

angles.  Those which run north and south are called by men's names, as William

Street and George Street.  Those running east and west assume the names of the

fairer sex, as Alice Street and Margaret Street, the center and principal one

being called Queen Street.

 

     There are several clubs, that known as the Queensland Club being one of

the finest in Australia.  In the suburbs many forms of sport are indulged in,

among which are pony races and dingo hunts.

 

     The people of Brisbane delight in social gatherings and dances, both

public and private, and entertainments are in vogue throughout the season. The

Queen's birthday is always a great event in Australia, and its celebration in

Brisbane is thus described by Mr. Baden-Powell, an English scientific writer:

 

     "It generally starts off with a great school feast.  Some thousands of

school children assemble in the Domain, and have a great day of it.  At a

given time the Governor arrives upon the scene to deliver an address, and on

mounting a platform is received with solemn cheers; but when on one occasion,

I humbly followed him, arrayed in regimental uniform and wearing a bear-skin,

roars of laughter from thousands of young throats rose to the skies, and 'the

man in the bit hat' was voted quite the most comical part of the show.

 

     "A review of the troops is the next event of the programme, and a really

very fine display they make.  Then follows a levee at the Government House,

all the gentlemen unable to raise uniforms having to appear in evening dress.

 

     "After this the Governor has to attend in a sort of semi-state the great

race meeting of the year.  Escorted by mounted orderlies, and a detachment of

mounted police, he drives up the center of the course a la Prince at Ascot,

and is received by the president and stewards of the Turf Club.  But before

the racing is over a return has to be made to Government House, in order to

prepare for a big dinner given to all the principal Government officials.  It

is a great relief to get this day over."

 

     Perth is the capital of Western Australia, which, of all the Australian

colonies, has the most extensive area, being nearly one third of the entire

continent.  At the same time, it has the smallest population.  About forty per

cent of the entire population of Western Australia resides in Perth and in

villages within twenty miles of the capital city.  Perth alone has about

20,000 inhabitants.  Freemantle, the port of Perth, twelve miles distant at

the mouth of the Swan River, has a population of 9500, and is the second city

in size in the colony.

 

     The city of Perth is picturesquely situated on the Swan River, about

twelve miles from the sea.  It presents a striking appearance, being built on

sloping ground above a fine lake-like reach of the river.  It is well laid out

and beautifully planted.  There are a few imposing public buildings, including

two cathedrals.  The City Hall, containing the Legislative Chambers, was

erected recently by convict labor.  The principal street is nearly two miles

long, and is planted with Cape lilac, a beautiful flowering tree.  An

excellent macadamized road connects the city with the port of Freemantle; and

it is united with all the settled districts of the colony by railway and

telegraph.

 

     The country surrounding Perth is rocky and hilly, covered with heather

and rough grass, and it has, on the whole, quite a Scotch look. The chief

diversion of the ladies is gathering wild flowers, which grow in profusion

over the slopes.

 

     Adelaide is the capital of South Australia, and has with its immediate

environs a population of 144,000.  It was founded in 1837 by Colonel Light,

who named it after the wife of King William IV.

 

     Adelaide is situated some seven miles inland on both sides of the Torrens

River, and is connected with Port Adelaide by railway.  Much intelligent

foresight was manifested in laying out the original plan of the survey.

Adelaide is built in a regular pattern, the streets running at right angles

with one another.  One half of the city is the business quarter, and the other

is covered by residences.  A strip of park land, half a mile wide, separates

these two portions.  Through the center of this the Torrens flows.  Originally

this stream was looked upon as a nuisance, as, according to the season of the

year, it was either a muddy creek or a flooded flat.  Much money and labor

were expended upon earthworks to bring it under control, and now a sheet of

water, spanned by several bridges, extends for two miles through the city.

The sanitary system of the city is of a superior order.

 

     The Mount Lofty range lies a few miles eastward, and in these hills

reservoirs have been constructed, which are capable of storing more than a

billion gallons of water for the accommodation of the city.  Beside being well

supplied with local railways, Adelaide is connected with the whole railway

system of Australia.

 

     Exactly in the center of the city is Victoria Square.  Beside this there

are four other squares similar to it, lying toward the four corners of the

town.  The principal thoroughfare, King William Street, runs through the

center, passing through Victoria Square.  The chief buildings of the city,

some of which are noted for fine architectural design, are situated on this

street.  Adelaide is a busy place, and boasts an unusual number of churches, a

university, three colleges, and a botanical garden which covers one hundred

and twenty acres of land.

 

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