A MAN'S WORK.
AN INTERESTING PAGE OF QUEENSLAND HISTORY.
When the late Walter Hill, onetime director of the Brisbane Botanic Gar dens, passed away a man was lost to Queensland who bore an important
share in the laying of the foundation of this country. Believing that there are still many of our old readers who cherish kindly memories of Mr. Hill, we have secured from a near relative —one whose association with him was close and long—a brief account of his history and some of his achievements, which are none the less notable in that their fame has never been sounded from the hilltop. The late Walter Hill was born on the last day of the year 1820, at Scots dyke, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, and re ceived his early education at the Bushhead School, Cumberland, Eng land, under Mr. Robert Armstrong, and with Mr. D. Mitchell at Limey cleugh School, Dumfriesshire, Scot land. Before he was sixteen he was sent to Balloch Castle, Dumbarton shire, to serve his apprenticeship under his brother, Mr. David Hill, who was head gardener there. From there he went to Mr. P. Dickson's nursery, Inverleith Row, Edinburgh, and was 'placed under Mr. James Kelly, propagator in the houses, etc. He was afterwards sent as foreman of the extensive gardens and grounds at Minto ffouse, Roxburghshire, under Mr. Daniel Crichton, head gardener and forester. At the end of two years
he returned to Edinburgh, and was offered a position in the Royal Bo- tanic Garden under Mr. William; M'Nab, curator, where he remained for two years, during which period he attended the botanical lectures of Dr. Graham, Regius professor. By the re commendation of Mr. William M'Nab, Mr. Hill entered the service of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in 1843, where he became foreman of the Propagation and New Plant De- partments, and. the director (Sir W. J. Hooker) and the curator (Mr. John Smith) entertained such an opinion of his abilities that they certified to his fitness for the position of curator of the Cambridge Botanic Garden. That appointment had, however, been 'otherwise filled. Being ambitious of rising in his profession and increasing his botani-. cal knowledge, Mr. Hill determined to visit Australia, which then afforded a wide and only partially explored field for the research of the collector and the discovery of new plants, and in October, 1851, he left Kew. In February, 1852, he arrived at Sydney, by the ship Maitland. The people of New South Wales were then in a high state of excitement with the "gold fever, and he became infected with it; so after presenting his let ters of introduction to the Governor (Sir C. Fitzroy), the Colonial Secre tary, and others, he went to the Turon, where he worked for six months without success owing to floods. He then with three others bought a dray and horses, and with six months provisions went to Beech worth, in Victoria. The yield of gold from the first claim (7ft. deep) that they sank on Lambing Flat paid all expenses incurred, and their subse
- quent operations on the field were also successful. After further ex perience at Bendigo, in Golden Gully, with a puddling machine, Mr. Hill returned to Sydney about the middle of 1854, and there became acquainted with the late Mr. Strange, through the late Sir William Macleay. They determined to explore the coast between Keppel Bay and Cape York with the adjacent islands in the in terest of science, and together pur chased the ketch Vision with that object. They engaged Captain F. Walker with Lieutenant Maitland, R.N. as mate and five sailors, sailing for Brisbane on 1st September, where they discharged a cargo of flour con- signed to Messrs. George Harris and Co. Captain Walker then left the vessel, and Lieutenant Maitland took his place with Mr Spurling as mate.
On the 3rd October they sailed for the North after engaging an abori- ginal at Moreton Island. They landed on Curtis Island, but there were too many unfriendly natives about to make it safe to remain there for col lecting. The wind being unfavourable for keeping along the coast they struck off for Percy Island No. 2, which was reached on the 14th Octo ber. Next morning Mr. Strange, with his assistant (Mr. H. Spinks), Mr. Hill, Mr. Spurling, the cook and stew ard, and the aboriginal went on shore in a small boat. After landing the party separated, Mr. Hill going up the mountains to collect specimens, and the others going after shells, etc., leaving Spurling and the cook with the boat with orders to go round to a bay where they were to meet the party. When Mr. Hill was returning to the boat he came across the body of Mr. Spurling stripped naked and with his throat cut. He then went abreast of the vessel, where he found hid in the crevice of a rock, the abor iginal, who told him the natives had killed all the rest. The two managed to reach the boat without further mishap, and went off to the vessel. They sailed next day for Brisbane, encountering rough weather, which rendered necessary repairs to the vessel. Afterwards the ketch was taken to Sydney and there disposed of, Mr. Hill going to Bathurst on a visit to some relatives. About this time the Government of New South Wales determined to es tablish a botanic garden at Brisbane, and applications for the position of
superintendent were made by different candidates. The selection was left to the late Sir William S. Macleay. of Elizabeth Bay, who stated that Mr. Hill would accept the appointment, he was the most practical botanist and horticulturist that could be found, and the latter quite unexpectedly found, himself gazetted as Superin tendent of the Brisbane Botanic Gar den in February, 1855. On taking charge Mr. Hill found that the garden (in which little had been attempted in the way of cultivation) comprised merely the small area of six acres, a considerable proportion consisting of swampy ground. It did not reach to the river bank, being separated from it by a fence which had been erected by public subscription; the annual provision made by the Government for all expenses, and at a time when
THE LATE WALTER HILL.
THE .FIRST- IMPORTED .GREYHOUND. Belle of Queensland, Imported to Queensland by the late Walter Hill many years ago.
THE FIRST PLAN OF THE BRISBANE BOTANIC GARDENS, SKETCHED IN 1865.
EARLY PHOTOGRAPH OF THE BRISBANE BOTANIC GARDENS. The view taken in the seventies, shows the portion of the gardens adjoining the Domain
the cost of labour was very great, was only £500. Trustees were ap- pointed, and Mr. Hill prepared a plan of the available ground, and upon his recommendation the area was in- creased to 28 acres. Some years after the addition was made of the ten acres more, forming what is now the Queen's Park and Parliament House. The cost of fencing-in the increased area was a great strain upon the in- come available for the next two years, but a considerable amount of work was done with the assistance of only a couple of men in the way of laying out and planting the garden. Mr. Hill also took every opportunity of exploring the surrounding country in search of plants and seeds, not only for the adornment of the grounds, but also as affording a much appreciated medium of exchange with other coun tries and colonies for the seeds and plants which they produce. In one of his explorations in 1857 he as cended Mount Lindsay and found on the southern side a tree fern which he sent to Sir W. J. Hooker and named Cyathea Lindsayana. In this year also he was successful in flower ing the Royal water lily (Victoria Regia) in the Botanic Garden. In preparing his original plan Mr. Hill provided for a certain portion of the ground being used as a botanic garden for strictly scientific and edu- cational purposes, but he soon found that with the small means at his
command his exertions for a long time would have to be confined to objects of more pressing and of a more immediately useful nature. His warmest endeavours were devoted to promoting the introduction and dis tribution throughout the colony of plants best adapted for supplying food or the materials of commerce, and to bringing strikingly within the notice of the people of other countries the vast resources in connection with the vegetable kingdom which Queensland possesses. Soon after separation the trustees resigned their office, and Mr. Hill was appointed Colonial Botanist and Direc- tor of the Botanic Garden, the amount allowed for labour and incidental ex- penses being materially increased. But no ordinary grant of money could have gained the same results as were acquired by the system of exchange which he established. Communica- tions were opened with the heads of similar institutions throughout the world, and with some of the leading nurserymen of Europe and America, who were glad to send free of charge seeds and plants of their growth in return for those indigenous to or ac- climatised in Queensland. Many valu- able contributions in this respect were received from the Royal Gar- dens at Kew, where Mr. Hill was pre- vious to his coming to Australia, and the successive directors—Sir W. J. Hooker and his son Dr. Hooker—dis- played in their letters great interest in the success of his undertakings. Messrs. Bright Bros., the late A.S.N. Company, and others gave much as sistance in the free transmission of
consignments and the care taken of them. Through this means of in- terchange, Mr. Hill was enabled every year to distribute gratuitously pack- ages and boxes of plants by the thou- sand to the cultivators of this colony. So great was the demand for these on the part of the public that the garden was in time found not to af- ford sufficient room for the growth of the plants most required without in- terfering with other arrangements, and a nursery was established at Oxley Point, from which such things could be supplied as sugarcane, young plants of red cedar, etc. In 1862 Mr. Hill accompanied the Governor, Sir George Bowen, in the expedition to Cape York in H.M.S. Pioneer (Commodore Burnett) with the object of reporting to the Im- perial Government on the feasibility of a settlement there, which was afterwards established and called Somerset. There was a difficulty with regard to water supply, which Mr. Hill was instrumental in over- coming. On the return voyage visits were made to the following is- lands and parts of the coast, which were inspected and reported upon :— Booby Island, Damien Island, Evans Bay, Albury Island, Cairncross Island, Turtle Island, Lizard Island, Endea- vour River, Trinity Bay, Fitzroy Is- land, Frau Island, Dunk Island, Mac- kay River, Rockingham Bay, Cleve- land Bay, Port Denison, Flat-top Is- land, and Rockhampton. In 1862 Mr. Hill was appointed se- lector of agricultural reserves, but without any salary attached to the office. In that capacity he selected forty-four reserves containing an area of upwards of 500,000 acres, in vari- ous suitable and well-watered dis- tricts throughout the colony. In 1873 a Government North-east coast expedition, under the leader ship of Mr. G. E. Dalrymple, with Mr. Hill as botanist, explored the country on the Moresby (with Mourilyan Har- bour), Johnstone, Mulgrave, Russell, Mosman, Daintree, and Endeavour
Rlvers. The report of the latter formed portion of a pamphlet circu- lated at the Queensland Court of the International Exhibition at South Kensington. It was described in an official introduction as "containing information most interesting to in- tending settlers and also to science. While on this expedition he ascended Bellenden-Ker, and amongst other im- portant discoveries was a very hand- some tree fern which he named Dick- sonia Herberti after the first Colonial Secretary and Premier of Queens- land. When leaving Brisbane Mr. Hill took with him a large collection of seeds and plants, which were sown and planted in suitable localities on the mainland and islands. Pre- viously, in 1865, when he went to the North Kennedy District as Selector of Agricultural Reserves, he similarly planted on Whitsunday, Magnetic, Gould, and Dunk islands, as well as at Tam o' Shanter Point ; also in 1876 in the Cook District he distributed an- other valuable collection. In 1877, in answer to an associa- tion of gentlemen in Sydney, proposing to occupy one of the islands with the object of manufacturing the fibre and voil of the cocoanut, Mr. Hill obtained the consent of the Government to the undertaking, and furnished the appli- cants with a long and exhaustive re- port on the subject, recommending Dunk Island as most suitable for the purpose.
There can be little doubt that what contributed more than anything else to draw the attention of the people of the mother-country, as well as those of America, France, and Ger- many, to the vast extent of the re- sources of the newly-founded colony was the display of the products of Queensland shown at the different International Exhibitions of London, Paris, Vienna, aud Philadelphia. As regards the vegetable exhibits, the collection of valuable indigenous tim- bers received the highest praise from the best qualified authorities, and the great number of industrial products from plants the cultivation of which had only a few years before been commenced created surprise and ad- miration. Ocular demonstration was given of the great capabilities of the soil and climate in yielding to the cultivator the wealth of tropical as well as temperate regions. These international exhibitions gave a marked impulse to emigration to these shores, and created an evident influx of capital that would not other- wise have taken place. It was the same with the different intercolonial shows, in which Queensland was re- presented to the best advantage, and which were the means of inducing many to cast their lot with a colony whose resources gave such excellent promise for the future. The work of providing the vast number of ex- hibits shown by the Director of the Botanic Garden was no small task for industry and energy to encounter in addition to fulfilling the other duties of his office. The council of the Agricultural Society of New South Wales adopted a lengthy report on
the collection he sent to the Sydney Exhibition of 1871, which began by stating that they had found it " diffi- cult to describe with desirable minute- ness the whole of the valuable objects it comprised, or to give adequate ex- pression to the high opinion they had formed of its merits, simply as a gathering together of industrial ob- jects under the direction of a single individual and produced from the re- sources of one establishment. A subject to which Mr. Hill devoted much attention was the conservation and planting of forests. The de- crease and threatened extinction of the red cedar induced him to do his best to encourage the growth of the tree by land-owners, and with that object many thousands of plants were raised and distributed to all appli- cants. In addition to such repre- sentation as it came within his pro- vince to make to Government, he con- tributed a series of eleven articles on the subject to the " Queenslander" in 1879, in which the practice of forestry in other countries was described and suggestions made for the institution of a system adapted to the circum- stances of Queensland. In 1879 he visited Fraser Island to report on its timber-producing qualities, means to be taken for conservation, forma- tion of reserves, etc., and selected an area of 32,684 acres. After having held his position in the public service for the long term of twenty-six years, Mr. Hill retired on pension in March, 1881. From that time until his death he resided on his property, Canonbie Lea, Eight mile Plains, where for some years he interested himself in introducing and acclimatising fruit trees from India, America, Japan, etc., which he has freely distributed throughout the colonies.
THE FIRST SUGAR MANUFAC- TURED IN QUEENSLAND. The sugar-cane was taken from the Brisbane Botanic Garden on 27th De-
cember, 1859, and pressed between two steel rollers at the residence of Mr. Fowles, baker, near the Austra- lian Hotel, Queen-street (now a jewel- lers' shop), and the juice taken to the Director's residence in the Botanic Garden, placed in a copper vessel, and manufactured into sugar. About
6lb. weight was made, a sample of which was exhibited at the Brisbane Exhibition held in the Immigration Buildings (on the site of the present Treasury Buildings) in 1862, and this sample was forwarded along with other exhibits to the International Exhibition in London in 1862.