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2 corrections, most recently by SheffieldPark - Show corrections

SMITHTON. BY G.R.B. The most notable work about Smith- ton is the lately-constructed tram line and the jetty, the longest in Tasmania, three-quarters-of a mile. The total dist- ance is about four miles. Starting from   the west side of the river at the town- ship it traverses the low-lying flat, taking a direct course to the north shore of the extensive bay formed by Perkin's Is- land and the mainland. The eastern ex- tremity of which island is, I take it, Pelican Point, between which and the sandspit on the opposite side of the passage, but well out to sea, is the bar. Bother these bars ! What a nuisance they are ! Were it not for this bar there would be nothing to prevent Sydney, potato boats lying alongside the end of the jetty and taking cargo direct to Sydney. As it is they could only enter at the top of high water, the depth then being 17ft., and at the end of the jetty, 30ft. A locomotive could then supply the cargo, as the line and jetty are well constructed, and laid with good railway iron, capable of carrying any heavy, loading. Lately the Orion loaded up there and went out with a full cargo, so that vessels of her tonnage can come and go is demonstrated. There are two well- erected beacons to guide vessels entering the passage from the seaward. Standing on the end of the jetty, where there is a small store, and looking south, one sees Smithton township very plainly, about three miles distant. To the   west is the rung timber of the Montagu settlers, and easterly that of the South- road district. It is said that 450,000 feet of sawn timber was used in the construc- tion of this tram and jetty. At the time of my visit there were a great many swans basking on the stunny water, but no representative of humanity. The water is sparkling, and the sand hills and bea- ches beautifully white. At present there seems but little use for this jetty, but that is partly owing to the steam com- panies demurring to come across the bar, preferring that the people should lighter their produce to Stanley. But this en- tails a heavy charge on the shipper. It also credits Stanley with an undue quan- tity of tonnage. The Smithton people will in future see that their produce is shipped from their own port direct, and not counted in with Stanley's export, as it is decidedly detrimental to their inte- rest to allow the Duck River returns to appear in the Stanley manifest. Across the water from the jetty, and on the east side of the bay, there is basaltic rock, containing native copper in small par- ticles, sparsely distributed through the stone. Here, on a part where a good deal of green rock, like serpentine (though much harder) traverses the   basalt, a shaft has been sunk, but with out any practical result. To the west of Duck River, and a mile or two from it, there is a very old, hard, fine conglomer- ate rock, and adjacent to it soft, grey, well-defined slate, and in many places quantities of iron gossan ; but whether it means anything more than iron pyrites has not been proved. Silver is said to be obtained from the gossan by assay. For some distance up the Duck River, along what is known as the 6ft. track, the land is all taken up for agriculture, and men are employed clearing a road. "Much of the soil is a yellow colour, de- rived from an argillaceous rock of an amorphous structure common to the dis- trict, and which may be only a thin co- vering to the limestone, which appears ill nearly all the creeks. Anyhow, this same yellow clay soil is as fertile if, the red soil, and is generally taken to be first- class land. Certainly the crops growing upon it bear out the assertion. Considering the quantity of land se- lected, and some of it scrubbed, burnt off, and sown with grass, the road, mak- ing is much behind the requirements of the place. It is asserted on good au- thority that money due for road-making not far from Smithton was diverted to other work 10 years ago, and the settlers left without a road to this day. East of Irish Town there is a road leading from Stanley known as the South-road. It as- cends a high table land, covered with basaltic soil, and then turns westward through magnificent land, beautifully grassed, and occupied by settlers, and is now being continued to connect with Irish Town-road at the cheese factory. The new road will traverse the top of what is know as John's Hill, and when completed will form a lovely drive, com- manding a line view of the coast line with its bays, and beaches, and islands The heavy timber hereabouts is all myrtle, which for purposes of clearing has a great advantage over gum forest, as it is not so large, decays much more quickly, and when dry burns away more thoroughly; so that it is quite possible to get the land entirely free of logs and stumps in five or six years' time from first starting on it. Coal is said to exist under John's Hill, but I did not see any indication of it. The denudation of timber, which is tak- ing place by fire and saw, will some day, not very far distont, be felt a very great inconvenience, and although it must go on for all time, as it is the only way to bring the land under cultivation, yet steps should be taken in well-cleared dis- tricts to reproduce a better class of tim- ber by planting sufficient for domestic use, shelter, etc.; also to replace fencing and do other necessary work. The climate of the district is decidedly milder than that of most of the agricul- tural areas in Tasmania, and on that ac-   count ought to be well suited for fruit growing. Frosts are very seldom experi- enced, and ice is unknown, except on rare occasions. Hops were, at one time grown by Mr. Hill, of Sodgy Creek, and also at Irish Town, but were abandoned on account of the difficulty in obtaining pickers. Sugar beet grows well in the district, and has been converted into sugar on a small scale. Population is what is wanted. Population with either money or muscle to clear the forest and replace it with grass, and ultimately with other crops. Much is being done in this direction. but much more would have been done if more attention had been paid to the advancement of the district by the governing authorities in Hobart.

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