[BY A CORRESPONDENT.]
THERE are few people down south who have heard anything definite of Burketown, except that it is proverbial for "yellow jack," "ma-
laria," "smallpox," and all the contagious and infectious diseases that a Gulf country set- tlement can contain. " Give a dog a bad name
and hang him for it," is a maxim that applies to countries as well as dogs. Burketown is not
half as bad as it is represented.
It is a curious fact that the natives of the Gulf are deeply marked with smallpox, show- ing that the disease must have been prevalent some years ago, probably caught from Malay traders. However, there is no smallpox here now; the place is just as healthy as Norman- ton, if a man take heed to his dietary scale, and to his general course of living. At the same time I am in a position to state that the
farther you go West during the months of July August, and September the more severly the malarial fever is felt, and that can't be attributed as a fault to Burketown. I
have seen, during the months of July and August in Port Darwin, in a population of 100 on the ,goldfields, not one man to help anothe—all were laid down ; but, at the same time, very few deaths occurred, and if any did occur, they were from other causes, not neces- sary here to describe.
I don't think the first glance at Burketown
is much in that town's favour. The landscape is a dreary blank. There is nothing to relieve the eye—not a tree on the plain, except the scrub in the far distance, which dis- tinguishes the course of the river. Why the people established a town here I can't well say, except that there happens to be a lagoon at the place of some extent which supplies fresh water—that is, fresh to a certain extent, but at
the same time I think it smells of malaria just at present, and I, as a resident on the Gulf for fourteen years, know what malaria smells are. The town is situated on the left bank of the Albert River, thirty miles from the mouth, following the course of its wind- ings, but only fourteen miles by land. The European population of the place is not more than fifty souls, and the Mongolians and Malays may be sixty. There are always a large number of natives at work at Burke- town. I am certain they seem so well trained that there is not much fear of any murder being committed within a radius of fifty miles of that town, and I speak from experience of niggers.
The town is widely laid off, and from the position of the houses there is not much cause for alarm in case of fire—they are about a quarter of a-mile apart. The three public-houses form a triangle at long distances from one another. There is also a cordial manufactory, and a chemist's and drug- gist's shop, under the management of Mr. Hubert J. Tracey, from Rockhampton. In the absence of any medical man he assumes the character of doctor as well. Beef and bread, as in Normanton, are supplied by a Chinaman, who sells beef at 4d. per lb., bread at 1s. per 3lb., and milk at 6d. per quart. Mr. M'Arthur is police-magistrate, and he has a clerk of petty sessions to assist him.
The next official is the senior-constable of police, who has control over, say, from time to time, four or five constables.
There is only one store in Burketown—a branch of Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Co.'s firm, Brisbane, but this branch is established on a very
extensive scale. There were two or three small stores at one time in Burketown, but these have been absorbed by Burns, Philp, and Co., and the consequence is that business with the
interior is carried on much more efficiently, and that there is now no scarcity of supplies. There is not much fear of any opposition to this firm, because if such should be attempted it would have to be organised on a gigantic scale, and
the divided profits would not be equal to the capital expended.
No bank has yet been established here, and this is a want severely felt by the inhabitants in the district. Perhaps the Q.N. Bank is afraid that under present auspices there would
be too many applications for overdrafts ; and undoubtedly if we have another dry season the Burke squatters will require extended accom- modation. It must be admitted that the pros- perity of Burketown depends almost entirely on the favourable character of the seasons, and settlers during the past two seasons have been pretty severely tried. It is to be hoped that an early fall of rain this year will give the prospects of the place a brighter colour.
The extension of the telegraph line from Normanton is a sine qua non to the prosperity
of the place.
There was a petition presented to the Car- pentaria Divisional Board the other day, when the squatter petitioners asked that all country west of the Leichhardt should be made a separate division. It enumerated a number of stations em- bracing an area of more than 25,000 square miles, on which the tax is something conside- rable, and as the board centres at Normanton, and the greater part of the taxes will be ex- pended at Normanton, the people at Burke-
town have a right to a separate division, and to separate allocation.
The inhabitants of Burketown conduct them- selves very well. As a matter of course horse- racing and gambling are about the only amuse- ments. It is a most singular thing that during the fortnight I have been here I have never seen a "set-to" fight in any case of gambling.
MR. S. POLLITZER, C.K., of Sydney, has pre- pared the plan of a suspension bridge to connect Sydney with the North Shore. The central span is 700ft., and each of the two side spans 350ft. The height is 100ft., to allow shipping to pass underneath.
AUNT TABITHA visited an up-town studio
the other day, and was admiring the portraits,
when the artist quietly inquired of her, "Wouldn't you like to be taken from life, madam?" "Laws-a-mercy," exclaimed she, starting for the door, " I hope I hain't fallen into the hands of a murderer !" And she retired in evident alarm before the artist could say a word in explanation.
A NEW mode of reforming drunkards has come to light through the report of a Berlin Evangelist, Herr Posselt, who is fighting the
drink fiend in Natal. This good man believes that his style of dealing with the matter is more efficacious than the blue ribbon method of the British and American reformers. He flogged lustily with a strap two women of his congregation, who had got drunk; and, although his British and American friends in South Africa were shocked by the proceed- ing, one Teutonic onlooker (Dr. Grundemann) unsentimentally suggests that it is "rather a blessing to find a brave man who can address the natives in holy earnestness and love, in a language they can understand."