NEWS FROM THE INTERIOR.
O'CONNELL PLAINS AND FISH RIVER.
APRIL 19.-The farmers of O'Connell housed their grain this year well. The stacks put together with so much care, however, are now being pulled in pieces, and many have com- menced thrashing. It is truly astonishing what a difference has been produced in the business habits of some of the smaller settlers
in this district since the gold discovery. Know- ledge may be power in some respects, and to some extent ; but riches seem to give some men capabilities to which, while in poverty, they were strangers, and though a few, since improving in circumstances, have, if possible, increased their vices, yet, more are to be found who are evidently bent on real im- provement of condition.
The scarcity of labour so much felt in other parts of the colony has been felt here also, especially by a few. The case is, however, somewhat altering. To give an instance : the proprietors of a rather respectable-looking brick-built flour mill, which by the way looks very picturesque on the banks of the river at O'Connell, is at length able, after an eighteen months' business gap, to commence grinding again. The stirring news from the gold fields disturbed the equilibrium of the miller and his men, so that the completion of a few necessary repairs, and the excavation of a new race has been unavoidably deferred for that length of time. These matters, have now, however, been accomplished ; and as the machinery is pro- pelled by water power, whether or not the
Now the mill goes.
FISH RIVER CREEK.—This locality, better known on the government maps as the Bul- lock Flats, is assuming an importance rather considerable,—first, from its superior cultiva- tion character, and, secondly, from a growing expectation that it will yet prove a lucrative gold field.
With respect to its fitness for agricultural purposes, it will be sufficient to say that within a very short time upwards of forty country lots of land have been applied for,
surveyed, and purchased here within a circle of three miles' radius,–the lots varying from thirty to one hundred acres each ; and such has been the desire to obtain land in the neigh- bourhood that these small farms have fallen under the hammer at prices varying from the minimum upset to £3 10s. per acre, with one lot at £4 9s., and another at £5 an acre, I have made a rough calculation of this state of things, and find that by twenty-four persons upwards of sixteen hundred acres of land, in lots as above, have been purchased, and that the aggregate amount at which they were knocked down comes to within a trifle of three thousand pounds.
But the principal and most encouraging feature in all this is that, with two or three
exceptions, the whole of the purchasers were a short while ago poor persons, who have by their own industry and management, since the gold discovery chiefly, put themselves into the several positions which they now occupy. I
could wish this to come under the notice of newly arrived immigrants, especially such as have been accustomed to agricultural and pas- toral pursuits.
As I have resided for some years in this part of the district, I have more or less a know- ledge of every single purchaser of land for several miles round. I need not, however, be any more particular. The following general information I have no doubt will be acceptable to many of your readers, and may possibly
catch the attention of new arrivals.
The Bullock Flats are situated triangularly with Hartley and Bathurst, about equidistant from these towns, in a south-west direction from the former, say thirty miles from each, and twelve miles from Mutton's Fall, on the Fish River. The stream from which the locality around takes its name is described on Government maps as the Fish River Creek, which is one of the two main sources of the Fish River itself.
About fifteen years ago a Mr. Charles Whalan purchased from the Government some sixteen hundred acres of land. A little while after he made his purchase
Mr. Whalan succeeded in obtaining a rather respectable class of tenants, consisting of several North of Ireland families, all related to each other. The chief returns of their indus- try consisted of dairy produce, for which a ready market was found in Bathurst. They are all now settled on their own purchased farms, within three miles from their late land- lord. By the joint efforts of these persons a small school house was erected here about seven years ago, which was for three or four years used as a place of education for the chil- dren of Mr. Whalan and of his tenants. It is now occupied for the tuition of Mr. Whalan's own children, and those of two of his brothers residing in the immediate neighbourhood ; and it is also used as a Sunday-school, and a place
of worship under the Wesleyan form, and in which there is held a public service once every Sunday, conducted by Mr. Whalan him- self, and a monthly one by one of their or- dained ministers from Bathurst. There, is too, a flour-mill here, built by Mr. Whalan, and which is propelled by the water of this creek, a considerable stream, and abounding with fine fish (bream and cod)—quantities of which can be taken, by rod and line, any day from early in spring till late in autumn (for it must be understood that, on account of the elevation of this place, the seasons are here as distinct in character as in the midland counties of Eng-
The population of his part of the Fish River Creek numbers about one hundred and fifty souls. Seven families included in this account (fifty-five persons, counting children) are Wes- leyans. From these, and some other rather regular attendants on the service of the Sab- bath, a congregation to fill the little school- house has been obtained every Sunday for some
Some advances have been made by Mr.
Whalan and others towards a National school for the neighbourhood. Perhaps the time has not yet arrived for this important movement to be carried out ; but it is evident that the time is not far distant when either this or some other more suitable place of the kind will have to be brought into operation for the fur- ther improvement of this part of the Bathurst
The chief farm product of this locality are wheat and potatoes, which shows at once what its climate is. It is a home climate. For miles along the banks of the creek, and on the numerous hills which over- look the serpentine course of this valuable stream, there are resources of a mineral character, which though they may, perhaps, be made somewhat available by the present age, will yet take future centuries fully to de- velope. In these geologically anomalous days, I should think myself too venturesome to say much publicly about mere indications of gold.
I would rather wait until a duly qualified geo- logical practitioner, if you please, may pay us an official visit. If we should be so favoured we might be glad to accompany him for a short distance, and afford him any little local information in our power. Our indicative mineral character could then go forth with scientific sanction, and the authority of Ophir, Turon, Mount Alexander, and the Ovens ex- perience. From what we have already seen, however, we are not without hopes that some ???nce spot may yet bring us out with the best ?????m. Gold, to my own knowledge, there is here, but, like portions of even the most leucrative fields, the places tried have not given it to us in quantities likely to pay.
Mr. Whalan has had a shaft of some fathoms deep sunk on his land, where indications of copper had shown themselves. A valuable lode of that ore has in consequence been discovered. At present, from the scarcity of labour, and a desire on the part of Mr. Whalan to see what the Bathurst Copper Com- pany will effect, operations have been sus- pended, and the work left for a time in abeyance.
No doubt other parts of the colony are im-
proving, as well as the Fish River Creek ; much of that prejudice, in new comers, to a bush life ought, therefore now to subside. The numerous land sales throughout the agri- cultural portions of the country are, I think, making it fully evident, that the French-leave squatters on Government lands are rapidly losing their unjust occupation ; and the tenant settlers on the larger private estates retiring from their tenant-position, and becoming landowners themselves, are appronching to the respecta- bility of the yeomanry of England : for their farms (now rising to the character of home- steads) will be cheerfully improved ; many persons will become county electors, and as a result must, to some extent at least, turn their attention to the true interests of their own districts, if not to the colony at large. And so, whether Bathurst town will ever be preci- pitated (as prophesied) or not, I think strong expectations may be encouraged, that the fast extending primeval occupation of farming will surely precipitate the available agricul- tural lands of the colony into fertility and beauty.
There are some very interesting caves of limestone formation some fifteen to twenty miles from Mr. Charles Whalan's, which have been seen by very few persons as yet, which for magnitude and beauty may possibly vie with any such yet discovered in New South Wales. Having twice visited them myself, I may think it worth while to give some ac- count of them in a future communication.