To the Editor of the Herald.
SIR,—I have just travelled through the Bargo Brush,
on the Great Southern Road, but such a road, I un- hesitatingly say, never existed in any other civilized
or uncivilized part of the world. Dr. Leichhardt met with nothing like it on his overland journey to Port Essington; nor did Bruce, in his travels in Abysinnia; nor did Mungo Park, or Dr. Livingstone, in their
travels in the interior of Africa.
To give any thing like a graphic description of the state of the road would be impossible. For about
twenty miles it is a succession of pits and bogs, and holes of every kind, and in order to prevent the escape of any of the unfortunate travellers into the bush, a
ditch has been cut on both sides of the road, so that they are as well secured (although not so safe) as they would be on a treadmill. Every thing that nature and art could do to render a road impassable and
dangerous, has been done on the Great Southern Road. Although I have had two days rest since returned nome, I still feel appalled at the dangers I have encountered, and most grateful to Providence
for my preservation of both life and limb. My friend and I, who travelled together in a gig, determined that we would spare no time or pains in exploring—so as to perform (what appeared to be a miracle)—the getting through this slough of pits and bogs, without breaking a bone of man or beast, or the shafts or springs of our gig. For this purpose one led the horse and the other walked before, to explore and take soundings of the pits,
At times we were fairly brought to a stand-still, on account of the almost unfathomable holes, and the great number of drays, &c., deeply embedded in the slough. The poor carriers appeared to be at their
wits' end. I have never seen such a fine set of strong, healthy fellows so dead beat as were the car- riers on this road. And I shall never forget their
kindness in assisting us in our difficulties. But for I them our horse and gig would have become a wreck on the Great Southern Road, and, probably, little
more than the whip would have been visible to act as a beacon to warn travellers not to approach it. On one occasion, when we had got deeply bogged, I
asked a man, who was at the time hard at work with a spade digging his dray out of a bog, to come and assist us. He immediately came, and also another man, with whose help we saved the life of our horse. Twice our horse got bogged up to the belly, notwith- standing the utmost precautions we could use, and on
one occasion broke a shaft, which we had to splice in the best way we could with the reins, some straps, and saplings. One of the mail-driven told us that one'of his wheelers had sunk to the hips, and was with difficulty drawn out by the remainder of the
team. He said he had been twenty-two hours in coming thirty-two miles, and that nothing should
induce him to continue driving by night on such a dangerous road.
Is not this a case for Government interference ? If any lives were lost on this road, would not Mr. Coroner Parker (if he were to hold the inquest) commit the Government to take their trial for manslaughter ? And after all the honorable members of the Execu- tive, and all the honorable members of the Legislative Assembly, and all the honorable members of the Legislative Council had been publicly warned of the extremely dangerous state of the road (which Mr. Elworthy was not), and death were to ensue, would not the Coroner be justified in sending the whole batch of them to Darlinghurst Gaol, and cautioning
the constables on no account to take bail? I believe we should hear no more of dangerous roads after Mr. Coroner Parker had once filled Woolloomooloo Gaol with our entire Executive and Legislative Government. But will not "free selection" be a mockery and a delusion without good roads ? Who would purchase land merely to grow wheat, barley, and oats; if he were shut out from a market by impassable roads, and thus unable either to dispose of his surplus produce, or purchase tea, sugar, and other necessaries? Nothing paralyzes industry more than bad roads. The rich lands to the southward, whose produce would so abundantly feed the citizens of Sydney with the finest of wheat and the choicest English fruits, are now as valueless to the metropolis as so much space on the ocean. Without good roads no country can become prosperous, neither can the population become permanently and fully employed. This is clear, for, if by means of impassable roads you pre- vent people exchanging the products ot their industry with each other, you soon bring the labour of many of them to a stand-still. Some articles of export, which the normal capabilities of a country produce in per- fection, may pay to be carried to port, over natural and artificial obstructions, but they are the exception, and commodities such as grain, which can be raised almost everywhere, must be brought to market by good roads, or it could only be sold as it was. It could not compete with that grown in other countries, under more favourable circumstances.
" Let the Government," said the great Dr. Smith, one hundred years ago, " direct all in attention to the en- largement of the market, by forming safe and conven- ient roads." Now, what sort of a road is suitable for New South Wales at the present time, is a most important question. Some are of opinion that too much money cannot be spent upon the roads, and therefore advo- cate the expensive railroads. Others think that tramroads are amply sufficient in this colony for many years' to come. I decidedly incline to the latter opinion, and think it little short of madness to con- tinue the construction of expensive railroads, with
our sparse population and limited means. Look at the waste of power on the railroads already formed. Every locomotive would, on the average, draw many times the number of passengers there are in each train, and the first-class carriages are seldom a quarter filled. On some parts of our roads there are many times too much accommodation for travellers and goods, which has been provided at enormous cost to the country; on other parts of our roads there are obstructions to transit of the most serious and formidable kind.
Tramroads are, unquestionably, the only kind of road adapted to this colony. We do not want high speed, but certainty, and the times of arrival and de- parture can be as well regulated by trams as rail- roads. The expensive railroads we cannot afford to pay for, and God forbid that any individual in this colony should entertain the idea of our borrowing enormous sums of English capitalists, and, afterwards repudiating, or suspending payment. We can afford to pay for tramroads. There is all the material on the ground. As we were stuck fast on the Bargo Brush, I could not help thinking, as I looked on the splendid ironbark trees, what an excellent tramroad they would make. And I also thought, what a pity it is, that the Government do not set to work, some of the many seeking employment in Sydney, in cutting down the timber and preparing it for sleepers and longitudinal rails.
With a little energy on the part of Government, and, of course, the assent of Parliament, how speedily a tramroad might be formed to Goulburn. How much temporary employment such work would give to the unemployed of Sydney, and how much permanent employment to the farmers in the country. If the Government determine to carry out their scheme of tramways, they must not expect that their chief engineer, Mr. Whitton, will ever sanction it. It would be as much as his professional reputation is worth to undertake any work of the kind. He would be twitted about his tramways as long as he lived. But there are plenty of men well qualified to construct tramways to be found. Mr. Hale had no difficulty in finding one, and the Government might easily get scores.
I consider the Government entitled to very great credit for the scheme of tramways they have sub- mitted to the Assembly. It is the wisest and best measure that ever was laid before Parliament, and I trust it will be carried. The only thing of which I complain is that it does not take precedence of the Land Bill and every other measure. A man must have a road to his land, or his land will be worthless. I will conclude this letter with a brief quotation from the greatest of all Political Economists, Dr. Adam Smith, who says,— ' It it evident, without any proof, that the erection and maintenance of the public works, which facilitate the commerce of a country, such as good roads, &c., must
require very different degrees of expense in the different periods of society." It is clear that we are in that "period of society," when we can afford to construct tramroads, and when we cannot afford to pay the
interest on expensive railroads.
Camden Villa, Newtown, 11th February.