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6 corrections, most recently by waynemcdon - Show corrections

NOTES OP A JOURNEY IN THE

LEICHHARDT DISTRICT.

ROCKHAMPTON ? YAAMBA? CANOONA?TUE

l'KAK DOWNS GOLD-FIELDS?MURDER | AND SUICIDE ON THE ISAACS, &C, &C.

(i'BOJI A COBitESPOKDEXT.)

Rockhampton, December 20.

Rockhampton, tho future great metropolis of tho North, as many of its inhabitants fondly term this growing town, reminds one at first sight of one of those mining town- ships, the rapid rise and progress of which have bceu without parallel in the,history of the world, Everything about tho town boars evidence of its mushroom growth.; Newly formed streets, buildings public and private just erected, others going up io all direc- tions; hammer, adze, and saw, pick and Bhovel, and other tools incessantly going from morning till evening, all testify to tho growing Importance of thia infant city. Public-bouses abound; but churches and schools aro few in number. There is an ex- cellent American bowling saloon nnd rifle gallery, where such of the inhabitants as are of a sporting disposition can enjoy them- selves ; but places for mental or moral ro ciJK there are none. True, there is a Sonffi'bf Arts, but the mode in which it is, conducted is such thai, for all practical pur- poses it is useless. Owing to tho great influx of working people into tho northern districts lntely, the demand for labor in the town has been pretty well supplied, and the corpora- tion have had to employ several of the married immigrants, per Utopia, at stone brenking at 3s. per yard?rather a low price ?till they are ablo to do something better for themselves. For station work there is still a vory great demand; shep- herds, bullock-drivers, etotikmen, and other station hands readily finding employ- ment whenever employment can be obtained. Wages aro vpry good?higher, in fact, than in any other part of tho colonies. Men who aro not afraid to throw their swags on their shoulders, and take a two or three 'lays' tramp into the Interior, cnn easily find plenty of work, nnd good pay for it, fer on i he Dawson and the Comet, on tho Pi'nk Downs, nnd, in short, throughout the whole of the Leichhardt and Kennedy districts, men ¦ire everywhere scarce. Willi the exception of labourers on the roads who work nine boura, the eight hour system appeara to be generally adopted about Rockhampton. A considerable population has settled down on the north side of tho river, where several privato townships have been laid out by speculative landowners. In addition to houses, stores, and other buildings, not for- getting a calico church capablo of holding a dozen people, there are already two public bouses, and another in tho course of erection

- the latter a very large building, one of the..?

thc appearance of a Noah's Ark turned upside down. There are some patches of excellent scrub land on tho north side of the river, which, when cleared, will bo found ad- mirably adapted for horttcultnral purposes, both from the richness of the soil and its advantageous position. Tho sale of thc pro- posed Government township at Broad Mount will greatly increase tho importance

of tho north aide. A road has been formed up tho north sido of the river to Yaamba, a distance of 22 miles, for I8 miles of which there is not a drop of water. The road runs through a low rangy and open forest country, with a few black soil flats and occasional patches Of scrub land.

Towards Yaamba the soil improves in quality, there being some very good land between Yaamba and Alligator Creek- lately re-christened the Fitzroy, and on which a township has been marked out. Yaamba is situated nt the bead of fo,e navigation of the Fitzroy, 22 milos from Rockhampton by land, and 40 by water. It contains only two publi houses, two stores, and about a dozeu other houses. It does not appear to be a very thriving place at present, but it must ultimately become a place of great Importance. The greater part of the traffic between Yaamba and Rockhampton passes up and down the south side of the river. The distance is about 27 or 28 miles, and the road passes through a level open forest and well watered country. Thc agricultural reserve is on thc south of the river, near Lyon's Creek. It consists partly of poor, worthless soil, and partly of rich, black foil, thinly timbered, and which could be brought under cultivation with very little expense. The good soil throughout the district ap pears to be in limited patches, and as land in small blocks cannot be had, except on the reserve, the progress of agricultural settlement must bc extremely slow. To layout a large block of land of 20,000 or 25,000 acres, and say to the intending settler "Here may you take up land, and in no other place," is virtually to prohibit cul- tivation, especially when the greater part of the land so laid out, as in the case of the Fitzroy reserves, is altogether worthless. To facilitate the settlement of the people on the land the agriculturist, who is a much bettor judge than the Government, of the land best suited for his purpose, ought to be permitted to select the land wherever he thinks it would be most to his advantage to do so, instead of being restricted as at pre sent to one particular locality, whish, besides being unfit for cultivation, may perhaps be inaccessible to any market.

The far-famed Canoona, the scene of the great rush of I858, is only seven miles from Yaamba. Till lately a few miners remaimed about the locality, but now it is altogether deserted. Cartloads of tho mining imple- ments, brought up to supply the diggers at Canoona, are now beiug sent up to the Peak

Downs gold fields.

Tho Peak Downs are about 240 miles from Yaamba. There are about 40 miners on the diggings at present, and the population is steadily increasing. As the shearing is finished the surplus hands will make their way to tho diggings, and in tho course of a few months there will probably be several

hundred miners at work. I have heard a great many people say that they intend to try the diggings as soon as the wet weather acts in, so that the place is likely to receivne a fair trial in tho course of the winter. There is a store and public house on the dig gings. The store contains an abundant supply of provisions, and everything required for milling purposes, and, considering the distance inland, the prices are very reason

able. The miners are unable to wash till the rain sets in, and are piling up their wash dirt. The ground is shallow, being only three feet deep, and the gold is found all throngh from top to bottom. The present workings are about four miles from where the gold was first discovered, but good pro- spects have been obtained in many other localities, and it is the opinion of those who have worked on the Peak Bowns that the present little diggings will prove the nucleus of one of the most extensive gold field

yet discovered. The want.of water will , preclude tho settlement of a large popu- lation. The ground is gravelly and sandy, and not fitted fur the construction of dams, except in the creeks and their anabranches, in some parts of which deposits of stiff clay are met with. The country about the dig- gings consists chiefly of quartz and slate, the surface of the ranges being strewed over with quartz detritus. The gold found In the ground first worked was rugged, and con- tained particles of quartz; but that found at the new workings appears to be waterworn, and is freo from extraneous matter. The largest piece yot found weighed about three ounces. Copper, as well as gold, is found in' great abundance on the Peak Downs. Be- sides the copper discovered by Mr. Manton, extensive deposits of copper and silver ore have just been made by a party of working men, who have come down the country, bringing with tbem specimens of the ore. There is an abundance of excellent timber near the mines for economical purposes, As soon as rain falls I intend visiting the Peak Downs, and then I will be able to give you a thorough and correct account of the appear- ance and prospect of the diggings from per- sonal observation.

At Gracemere, Archer's Station, there are some deserted gold workings. The diggers appear to have traced the gold from a narrow dry gully into an extensive flat, the sinking   varying from about two feet at the head   of the gully to ten or twelve feet in the flat.. Whether the run of gold was lost in the flat, or whether it was too poor to pay for the in. increased depth of sinking, I am unable to say. Judging from the appearance of the tailings, the gold appears to have been found in a slaty gravel, containing little or no quartz. There are, no doubt, in other parts of the district rich auriferous tracts, the discovery and profitable working of which is only a

matter of time.

A leading topic of conversation at Yaamba is the circumstances connected with the

atrocious murder and suicide which occurred  

about eight or nine weeks ago on the Isaacs.

The details of this double crime--no notice

of which has appeared in the local paper-- I have carefully gathered from individuals who were on the Isaacs at the time the crime was committed, and who were per- sonally acquainted with the murderer and his victim. The following statement is the result of my various enquiries, and its cor- rectness may, I think, be entirely relied on. About ten weeks ago a man named Finn left Meiklejohn's Cardroona station, for the purpose of seeking shearing or other work, and proceeded as far as Munroe's station, 70 or 80 miles from Cardroona. He returned by way of Stewart's, where he met with a German named Peter--his surname I have

been unable to ascertain--in whose company he started down country, Finn on foot, Peter on horseback. The two were met between Funnel Creek and Kennedy Creek, by Lieutenant Richardson and some native troopers. This was the last time Peter was seen alive. About three weeks after the native troopers were travelling the same road, and chanced to camp at Kennedy Creek. There were traces of some other party having camped there recently, and on looking about they found the remains of a human head, a German Roman Catholic prayer book, a rosary, and in some ashes of a recent fire a number of buttons, as if some

fleshy portion of the head was so much? destroyed for the features to be recognis- able, but the hair was of the same color as that of Peter the German. The black police at once suspected that Finn had made away with his companion, one of them muttering "mine think it that old fellow kill other one white fellow." Lieu-

tenant Richardson and the troopers promptly proceeded in search of the supposed mur- derer whom they found at Sheridan and Fitzsimmons' station on Lotus Creek. Finn was working at the wash pool when Mr. Richardson arrested him. On hearing the charge against him, he fell down in a fit, real or pretended. He was taken to the men's hut, but does not appear to have been very strictly watched. In the course of the evening he was heard to say that he would not be alive in the morning. Towards mid- night one of the black troopers found him quite dead, or, as he expressed it, " gone bong." Mr. Richardson was of opinion that Finn had died of fright; but the general opinion among the men was that he had poisoned himself. I am told that he was always in the habit of carrying poison with

him. That Finn was the murderer of Peter   can hardly be doubted. After committing the deed he appears to have gone towards Waverly, riding on Peter's horse, which he exchanged at a station near Waverly for   two others. He then went up country again, by the same road as he had just come down, camping at Kennedy Creek with some other travellers, whom he persuaded to camp on that side of the creek opposite to where the crime was committed. On the following morning he told them not to mind looking for their horses, as he would find them, which he did, as though he was afraid they would stumble on the evidence of his guilt. A letter was found in his swag addressed to his wife, in which he said that she might expect him home shortly, as he had done very well in the bush. Finn was an old hand, and is said to have had a ???? vil- lainous countenance. It is supposed that the unfortunate man Peter had a large sum

of money, and that his object in going down country was to place his money in the bank. He had been in the colony about four years, bore an excellent character, and had been

for some time in the employ of the Messrs. .

Archer, of Gracemere.

There are rumours of he discovery of a rock in mid-channel off Queenscliff. The Geelong Advertiser says:?" When the flhip Lightning waa leaving the Heads a shoes was felt on board as if she had touched the ground. Some thought that the ship might have como in contaot with somo of tho wreck of tho Lilies, which was seen and re- ported by one of tho steamboat masters some months since about tho same place; but other information points to the probability of a rock or bank being there, Several years since Mr. Pilot Draper, while in charge of a ship entering the Heads, almost in mid elmond, felt a shock as' if she had touched tho bottom, aud this impressed his mind so much that he desired the pumps to be sounded several times while gofng np the bay. After the ship had been at nnchor, tho captain, boforo discharging him, stated that ho thought the ship had touched while en taring tlio Heads. These coincidences bnre, no doubt, induced Captnin Ferguson, Ibo {Tarbor Muster, to take action in having the entrance of tho Heads properly Marched, for which purposo tho steamer Black Eagle, with Captain Ferguson on board, has beon engaged govern! days, and yestorday it was reported that they had found a table rock with only eighteen feet upon it, almost in mit1 ;hnunel."

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