[By our Special Correspondent.]
One of the results of the opening up of the Northern agricultural areas and the cul- tivation of a large extent of country with wheat has been the rapid development of at
least two ports, which have assumed an im- portant position and are likely to prove centres of commerce in a very large degree. The principal of these is Port Pirie, a place which has risen with mushroom-like rapidity, but which bids fair to be like the oak as regards its stability. It is lesa than eighteen months since the first sale of township allotments was made by the Go vernment, and the place that then was almost a howling wilderness, now, if it does not actually blossom as the rose, contains a large number of substantial buildings, and is the scene of bustling activity, such as is only to be seen in a prosperous seaport town. All the land is in private hands, and eligible building and wharf sites are exceedingly valuable, some fetching almost fabulous prices. One cause which has contributed to the immense success of Port Pirie this season is the scarcity of water on the road to Port Broughton, which would otherwise no doubt have drained the wheat from several areas. The traffic which has gone to Port Pirie, how ever, from these districts, forms a compara tively moderate portion of the whole, and even without the grain which should pro perly be shipped at Port Broughton, the business done at the larger and more impor tant port would be astonishingly large. There were at the time of my visit to Port Pirie, on February 4, two comparatively large ships and one small vessel lying in the Golf outside, and eight lighters and other small craft in the stream. There were close upon 200,000 bushels of wheat stacked in the town, and already it was estimated 40,000 bushels had been shipped. The two larger vessels to which I have alluded, and which are, loading for England, are the Charmion (500 tons) and the Albert William (700 tons). The Charmion was being loaded by the Capilla, Napperby, Normanville, and Prima Donna; and the Broughton steamer, which had left for Port Broughton to supply the Robert Henderson with cargo, had also been engaged in the work. The Albert William was obtaining her lading by means of the Prima Donna, and had also received some assistance from the Broughton. Besides these lighters there were in the stream the Strathmore, ketch, 100 tons; the Elsie, ketch, 60 tons; the Spindrift, ketch, 70 tons; the Amelia, schooner, 40 tons; and the Adelaide, schooner, 70 tons; all of which were receiv ing wheat for transference to Port Adelaide. The wheat stacks are certainly the most prominent object of the township, and they are calculated more than anything else to impress a stranger with the importance of the place and the extent of its trade. The 200,000 bushels which I have given as approaching the amount stored in the township is made up as follows : — Mr. Galloway has a stack of 00,000 bushels ; Captain Desman, a second of 40,000 bushels; Messrs. Ferguson & Beeves, a] third of 40,000 bushels; Mr. Homer, a fourth of :10,000 bushels ; Messrs. Warren & Co., a fifth of 20,000 bushels ; ami Mr. Stock, a sixth of 8,000 bushels. The store and jetty accommodation is surprisingly extensive, considering that Port Pirie is but in its extreme infancy, and it is worthy of very special mention that all the shipping accommodation which exists has been provided as the result of private enter prise, altogether unaided by a paternal Government. This is indeed a unique fea ture of the Port, and is one that reflects immense tredit upon the business men of the place, besides proving to demonstration that they are possessed of unlimited faith in its permanent importance. Confidence like this ought certainly to be rewarded, and it is to ]-e hoped that it may be sustained by the Government undertaking some pnblic works which are highly necessary to improve the facilities for both sea and hud carriage. There are six jetties in the township, from which the lighters and small vessels arc loaded. The largest and one of the most recently constructed is that of Messrs. Warren &. Co. It is 250 feet long, ami runs out from a substantial store, 100 feet long by. 50 feet in width. One line of rails for trucks already exists, and the proprietors are only awaiting the metal in order to lay down another. The piles of the pier were ob tained from Baroota, on the other side --f the stream, and the timbers were imported. The store is sheet-piled and filled iu solid. Mr. Stock's jetty is about ISO feet long and 10 feet wide. It is made of sawn gim piles obtained from Adelaide, and there id a commodious store in connection with it. Captain Denman has also constructed a jetty of aV.out the same size as the last -mentioned, and it bears a single Hue of rails. Mr. Galloway has a single railway jetty of about similar dimensions, made of guia and mallee. Messrs. Ferguson & Reeves have a pier whose piles are constructed of American sawn timber. In the rear is a store 100 x 50 feet, built upon piles. Mr. Homer has the use of a jetty and large store, now belonging to the Government, 'which were built by Messrs. Bowman Brothers, the lessees of the Crystal Brook Kun. The jetty is about ISO feet long, and sis feet wide. Many of the buildings in Port Pirie are of a substantial character, while others are yet of a primitive kind. There is an hotel of considerable proportions, which seems to receive a large amount of patronage. The business of the Bank of South Australia has hitherto been conducted in a small wooden building, but a handsome stone edifice is now in course of erection, and, judging from present appearances, it will be one of the most prominent objects in the township. Messrs. .Warren & Co. are showing their enterprise by erecting a large mill of four floors. It is 40 feet high from ground to roof, and 50 i 25 feet inside. The building will be principally of galvanized iron; the southern wall only, near which the furnaces will be placed, being of stone. It will be fitted with two sets of boilers and a low-pressure engine of 45 horse-power. Seawater will be conveyed to the mill by pipes, and a condenser capable of distilling rive gallons a minute will be used. The proprietors have with great con sideration decided to furnish the teams en tering the Port — which sometimes number from 100 to 150 a day — with water, and they will thus supply a want that has been most severely felt. Besides the six buildings used for the storage of wheat there are two general stores. A Wesleyan Chapel, con structed principally of galvanized iron, is .situated at the back of the township, and an Institute is in course of erection. There ha? been a great scarcity of water this §uinmel, find the residents have had to cart the prcciO6» fl^ b°m a distance of several miles. McS* of the people, however, are now supplied \*i& tanks. *»d next season no doubt plenty tf rain and condensed water will be available. By the ensuing wheat seai'VW it is hoped that .at least a portion of ther railway to Gladstone will be finished, and of tfjursethat will add materially to the trade now' done. It is intended, I believe, that the teroihrn tf the- railway, which, of course, will eater iUenrfiteeeJ from the eufc will be jut
beyond that thoroughfare on the west. Deep water will thus be reached, and if a wharf or jetty is erected goods can be con veyed to the vessel's side without tran shipment. One of the most urgent needs of the place is the deepening of the stream in places, for there are two bars, which present great diffi culties to any vessel wishing to get into the harbour. One of these obstructions is close to the township. It is half a mile in length, and at neap tide there are only three or four feet of water upon it. At the entrance of the creek there is another bar, on which there are at low tide about four or five feet of water. The natural channel at low tide is on the average about 10 feet deep, and the rise and fall a about eight feet. Large and important as the trade of Port Pirie now is, yet greater things may be expected in the future; and if the residents show the same enterprise and go-ahead spirit that they have displayed, the even now important place may be expected to become a veritable power in the land.