REPORT on the Country adjoining Port Lincoln.
Adelaide, June 19, 1839.
By THOMAS ALLEN, F.L.S. late Chief Gardener to His Majesty William the Fourth at Kew.
Sir— Agreeably to your request before I left Adelaide, I take leave to communicate on the subject of Port Lincoln harbour and its vicinities, and more especially Boston Bay, which has come
under my observation on board the brig Dorset, which sailed from Holdfast Bay on the 23d May, at 7 p.m., with a fine breeze, and land in view all the way to Port Lincoln. We arrived at Boston Bay at 3 p.m. on the 25th, cast anchor in three fathoms water a quarter of a mile from the shore opposite Happy Valley, passing within twenty yards of Curtain Point in seven fathoms water. The access to the harbour is very easy and safe for ships to enter at all times, from all entrances situated at the South and North sides of Boston Island, the latter about five miles extent, which protects the bay from Spencer's Gulf and the easterly winds. The south, west and north sides of the harbour are completely sheltered from all winds by the ridges of hills, varying in distance from the beach about one to two miles, forming fine sloping lawns, richly wooded with the Casua- rina or she-oak. The panoramic landscape view from the brig was delightful, and recalls to my mind Richmond in Surrey on a large scale. The form of the harbour is an oval, about eight miles long and five broad from east to west, possessing a frontage of eight miles square, running from north to south, forming the west side, available to boats landing at all times—no suit or swell, with- out any indication of there having been high tides at any previous time. Ships of any burden can lay at anchor within half a mile of shore at all parts of the harbour, and at Curtain Point within a few yards for one mile, quite secure. The intter- phere is judiciously selected for a wharfage, on ac- count of the facility it affords to land the cargo. Nature has been most bountiful in forming a fa- bric imperishable, and requiring of little but hu- man art to convert the material to its proper uses, and making a noble wharf that may vie with any in the world. The whole of Curtain Point may be said to consist of stone of various sorts, from the Granite to the Sandstone, the former in large blocks of some hundred tons weight. There is a most useful white stone equal in quality to the bath stone in England, which could be easily worked with the saw and chisel, and is most pro- per for building houses as it becomes much hard- ened by being exposed to the atmosphere. Here is also a black sort of stone, in appearance like coal, which will split into thin plates, and would answer the purpose of covering to houses as slates. There is also abundance of stone for lime, which seems of very good quality, and likely to be very durable. The inhabitants of Curtain Point will not have occasion to lay down floors, as it has in many parts got them ready made without joints, in one stone twenty yards superfi- cial flat, and smooth surface. The settlers at Kirton Point are —Messrs. Mitchell, Hawson, Dutton, and White, mostly engaged in forming their habi- tations and gardens. The ground is is not very favourable on the Point for horticultural purposes. As before stated it is chiefly stone. About one mile from the Point Mr. Porter is forming his establishement, and for the short period, he has under great progress in building, gardening, cattle, stock, digging wells, &c. In his garden he has potatoes as large as walnuts, the haulm looking very healthy. The soil is of a dark color mixed with sand, very friable and fitted for vegetation. He has an orange tree which looks very healthy, and is growing very vigorous and luxuriantly; also some parsley and a variety of vegetable seeds sown that are now just making their appearance after the rain. The soil is excellent, and suitable to all the purposes of horticulture and agriculture for seven miles with water frontage, viz., from Curtain Point northwards to the end of the Bay, protected by three ranges of hills about three miles across, so easy of access that a house and cart might be driven over them at a trot. Mr. Porter has sunk a well, and, at nineteen feet, came to excellent water, having an abundant sup- ply for all purposes. His sheep are thriving very fast, as well as the cows and horses. He likewise has a remarkably fine breed of Chinese and Neo- politan pigs which are thriving, and get their own living on the different roots they meet with, te- turning at night. About a mile and a half from Mr. Porter's is Happy Valley, the location of Messrs. C. Smith and Shean, who have built an hotel, a smithy, store-house, &c. They have en- closed one acre and upwards for a garden. In the first garden they have growing freely tomatoes, tobacco, radishes, capsicums, cauliflowers, cabbage, turnips, &c., which are growing remarkably wekk, and some fine showers having fallen here, there is
no doubt of success. The soil is this valley is of the best quality, consisting of deposit washed by heavy rains from the hills. Opposite the valley on the beach, from a strata of peebles, springs some fine fresh water, pure as crystal, and is the same that Capt. Mitchell mentioned in his account of Boston Bay. There is no lack of fresh water all over the country. There are fourteen vallies within the Bay or water frontage leading from the hills into the harbour, up which ravines there are springs of fresh water, and beautiful green grass two feet high, growing most luxuriantly, which has escaped the fires during the dry season, that has been very general and destructive to the grass and trees. The three ridges of hills present a variety of soil that is highly available for cultivation and the growth of corn and vegetables; the vine, peach, olive, tobacco, and many tropical fruits would thrive here from the location of situation, and being so well pro- tected from the prevailing cold arid wind that has so much been experienced in the vicinity of St. Vincent's Gulf, and which is not congenial to health in the human being or the vegetable; the climate is more uniform and tropical, the atmos- phere much more humid, from the heavy dews that fall in the night, undisturbed by any wind, which is most congenial to vegetation. The ridges are about three miles across from east to west—the latter ridge the most elevated; the summit of which commands a prospect to the east extending across Spencer's Gulf to ridges of land, and S. E., Thistle and Gambier's Islands to the north to Mount Gawler, which is a prominent mountain, as Mount Lofty is to St. Vincent's Gulf, appears distant between twenty or thirty miles; on the west presents a beautiful undu- lating country, surrounded with a high ridge of hills rising from the south and continuing to the north east to the head of Spencer's Gulf. The area of the country appears of an oblong oval form, about twenty miles from east to west, and from thirty to forty from south to north. There is abundance of green grass and fresh water in many places, but is not very thickly wooded with the cassurina. The south view displays Seaford's Bay and Port Lincoln harbour, which is a magni- ficient harbour, about six miles from Curtain Point, surrounded similar to Boston Bay, with higher ridges of land, are more abrupt on the west side; also on the south side the ridges continue with a peninsula of land on the east which [?] north to Spalding Cove to mouth of the channel at Curtain Point, which is the only entrance to Port Lincoln. The soil between Curtain Point and Port Lincoln is very inferior, consisting principally of stone, and not at all fit for cultiva- tion; but there are some excellent blocks of good ground about three miels from Mr. Porter's, which will be a great acquisition to the fortunate [?] [?] for his country land, as it is some of the very best that I have seen for a country [?] it being well-wooded with the cassurina, [?] the barrels of trees being eighteen inches diameter and between fifteen and twenty feet in the [?]. This wood is as fit for shingles and rafters, for fencing and [?]. The cassurina is the prin- cipal as the gum-tree is in the vicinity of St. Vincent's; there is some low scrubby red gum that grows on the stony ground. The botanical productions I can give but little account of [?] season is not at all propitious at the present [?] from the ground being so dry and burnt up from native fires. of the harbour the [?] tribe, which [?] in great plenty, from the whale to the shrimps several of the former have been seen in Boston Bay. The wild animals here are the kangaroo, the wombat, a large animal that lives in holes amongst the stones, and as large as a small bear, a great many kangaroo rats, which are very good food, similar to rabbits, and much in [?]. There are emus, and large green parrots, quail and pigeons, and a great variety of small beautiful birds. The natives are very few in number that have made their appearance at present; only two or three have come to the bay, but they were quite friendly, taking some biscuit in exchange for a penknife which one of them possessed. The natives had a wur-lie some little distance in the hills, and invited my sons to go with them; but they not being prepared, did not think proper to accept the invitation, and natives departed. I have walked out on four different routes, from 10 a.m. to 4 P.M. quite alone, and without fire- arms, and have not seen any natives, or any marks of their having been in the same direction that I took. Relying on your indulgence for the great pro- lixity of this statement, and, with much respect, I am, Sir, Your very obedient humble servant. Thomas Allen. To Osmond Gilles, Esq. PS. I beg leave to add to your notice the sub- ject that has come under my observation relative to the native fires that so destructively take place on the best land of the greatest vegetative qualities, and which forms the truest and most certain criterion of the goodness of the soil; as when land is seen quite bare, from burning, is positive proof to a practical observer that the soil is of first-rate quality, but which to a superficial observer, ignorant of the circumstance and cause, would absolutely consider the best land to be a comparative desert, and unfit for cultivation. T. A.