PROPOSED STEAMER BETWEEN VAN DIEMEN'S
LAND AND PORT PHILLIP
TO THE EDITOR OF THE COURIER.
Sir , - It is the duty of all of us to promote the prosperity of these colonies by every means in our power, and if you think the following proprsal will tend to that end, I hope you will give it circulation in your valuable paper.
Those of your readers who have been long in England, and have lately returned from thence, must have observed the wonderful improve- ments that have been produced in the parts of that country into which steamers of a large class have been introduced. Those, too, who have lately been on the Hunter river, in New South Wales, must have observed the vast encrense of wealth that has been created there, in the last few years, by the introduction of
How then do we happen to have been so backward in getting steamers here ? The
reason is - we have till now had no coal fit for
It is probably known to most of your readers, that the coal, which is now being worked at Port Arihur, is surface coal - i. e. coal obtained from a seam near the surface of the earth ; and this description of coal is generally, as in the present case, deficient in petrol, or bitumenous matter, the chief vegetable ingredient in coal, and that which produces both its flame and heat. On the other hand, coal that is deeply embedded in the earth, is almost always of good quality for steam and all other purposes.
This government some months ago, having no doubt ascertained these facts in view, bored for a new seam at Port Arthur, and found one 150 feet under the surface. A shaft, I hear, is now being sunk to this seam, and the pit will pro- bably be in operation six or night months hence. I have spoken to two persons, perhaps better
able to give an opinion respecting it than any one else in the Colony, one of them having been formerly an engineer at home, and often engaged in dicovering mines of coal; and the other having been all his life working coal, both here and in England. Their reply to my en- quiry was - " they had almost no doubt that the coal in the seam 150 feet under ground, will be found to be good for steam and all other purposes."
When, too, the Sydney government took pos- session of Western-port in 1826, Capt. Wright wrote to the Sew South Wales government to say that coal had been found near Cape Wollomai, in Phillip island, and at Cape Patterson ; and that pieces of this coal had been burned and found to be of excellent quality. Coal has also been seen at Western port by several of the Phillippians, who have been there in search of sheep.
I may mention, too, that a party is now digging for coal, which he has discovered to be on his farm on the Tamar, about 8 miles below
To show that the scheme I am about to pro- pose should not be delayed, I mention, that parties at Sydney ave already meditating a steamer to ply between that place, Launceston, and Port Phillip; and if she once be set a going, and the Sydney merchants form estab- lishments at Port Phillip, that place will soon get all the supplies from Sydney, which it now
receives from this island.
That a steamer be run between this island and Port Phillip would be of incalculable advantage to all who have flocks there, I think the following facts, which must be known to most of your readers, will clearly show. There are about 150,000 sheep now at Port Phillip, and there are, so far as I can learn, upwards of 50,000 more, on their way there from New South Wales. In a letter
I have from a respectable gentlemen at Sydney,
he mentions that Messrs. Macfarlan alone are sending 10,000, a friend of my own has just started with 5,000, and with reference to one of your late numbers, you will find it is stated very many large flocks were on the road as the post-man came through it. Under these circumstances, I do not think I over estimate, when I say there will be at least 60,000 fat wethers at Port Phillip this time next year, beyond what there can be any market for there.
You will perhaps remark - I am going with my steamer to ruin the farmers of this island, by inundating Hobart town with Port Phillip sheep. "Bisogna aspettar un poco, Signor," you now pay £80,000 per annum chiefly in Treasury Bills, I suspect, for sheep and cattle from Twofold bay. If a steamer be set a going between this island and Port Phillip, these importations will be put a stop to. Thus your imports will continue much as at present ; but in placeof paying for them in Treasury Bills, your exports will consist of flour, &c. ; and from which the Colony generally, and the Hobartonians in particular, will derive no small benefit. I might enlarge on this subject, but am afraid to trespass too much on your paper.
The next and most important question is, will the vessel pay the proprietors? I have taken a good deal of trouble to ascertain this, and the following are the results of my in-
The hull of a steam-boat of 300 tons, would cost, I believe, £4000 0 0
I must remark, on this head, I have not yet got my esti- mates ; but they are in a state of forwardness, and I believe the sum I have stated is over
The sails, masts, chain cables,
&c. may amount to 1000 0 0
Two 50 horse power engines, with boilers, &c, complete, will cost, per estimates received from
England, about 4250 0 0
Freight, insurance of the en- gines from England, passage of
the engineer, &c., say 450 0 0
£9700 0 0
Or say, £ 10,000
The annual expense I reckon
as follows :
Wages-master, £150; en- gineer, £200; four firemen,
Mate, £100, 8 sailors, £200, 2 shepherds,£70 £370
For tear and wear, say £1000, interest on outlay, say £1000, £2000
Insurance on block, say £1000
Coals, 3000 tons, say at 10s
per ton, £1500
Provisions for crew, hay for sheep, &c, £500
£5920 0 0
The annual revenue I esti- mate as follows:-I reckon the
ship will carry, after allowing the usual space for the engines, coals, &c, ascertained from a practical engineer, 1500 sheep each voyage, and that she will make 30 voyages in the year
45000 sheep, at a fieight of 5s. £11250 0 0
And that she would have, on an average, 10 cabin passen- gers, each trip-20 x 30 voyages =600, and that the profit by
each of these would be £5, 8000 0 0
Also, that she would carry in the course of the year, from this and Launceston, to Port Phillip, 3000 tons of goods, at
40s . per ton, 6000 0 0
And that the profit by the
steerage passengers &c. would be 1000 0 0
£21,250 0 0 You may say this looks all very well on paper ; but will you always get sheep, will you always get freight, and will you always get passengers ? My reply is, the Phillippians must he able to bring their sheep to Van Diemen's Land, or they will be ruined. The present rate of freight fiom this to Port Phillip is 50s., and I do not therefore see why tho steamer should not get the whole of it at 40s. What I have said as regards the profit by passengers, I ad- mit is more problematical. I speak within bounds, however, when I nay, that when steam communication is opened between any two ports in England, the number of passengers is increased tenfold, and I do not see why this should not be the case in the present instance.
The only difficulty, it appears to me, is as regards coal, and that difficulty, I am confident, will begot over. In conclusion, I have only to say, that during the last twenty years I have had a good deal of connection with steam ope- rations, and that I have never seen one that promised so well as that I now propose. I am,
Sir, your obedient servant.