THE Queensland Mercantile and Agency Company, Limited, in their monthly circular dated Brisbane, 1st September, 1883, states :
The long absence of rain is being severely felt, and the general state of the country is now assuming a serious aspect. Wc havo gone through the winter almost entirely with- out showers, and the spring brings no relief, I having set ia with every symptom of continued 1 drought. In a few districts the condition has
passed into tho acute stage, and stock arc dying of starvation. On many stations in the north-west the sheep are being travelled, the water having failed, and the pastures are universally in a wretched condition. As might be expected bush fires are prevalent, and in numerous instances, besides sweeping off the old grass, much damage has been dane to fencing. The month of September is almost invariably the driest in tho year, so that the immediate prospect is not cheering, and relief can scarcely be looked for till the season of thunderstorms, which seldom sets
in before November,
Business in stations has been very dull, our recoid of salea being almost lui. The tight- ness of money which continues, together with the drought, are mainly responsible for this disinclination on the part of investors to embark in station properties. The feeling of uneasiness which invariably accompanies a general election, as long as the issue is in doubt, has also probably contributed to this result. We see no immediate prospect of thc stringency in the money relaxing, and tho impression gains ground in financial circles that we have some tight times ahead of us, which will be intensified should thc colony suffer any extent from the wasting effects of drought.
One of the leading events of the mooth haB been the annual exhibition of our National Society, at which the display of high-class stock was quite equal to that of any preceding
Disappointment has been very generally felt at the Blow progress of the frozen meat trade. Wo have freezing works at three of our sea ports, and yet no cargo of meat bas been sent borne. Thc success of thc Fiado's shipment, however, has demoustratcd very clearly the profitable market that awaits this export in Batavia. Tin's steamer has now, we understand, been purchased by the Kastern Australian Company which previously chartered her, and a contract has been entered into with thc Lake's Creek works, on the Fitzroy river, to supply her with 2400
quarters of beef. lins is uiteudeil for iiatavia where it is tolerably certaiu of sale at lOd. per lb., and as Lake's Creek supply it frozen at 17s. Cd. per 100 lbs., it wili be seen how liberal a margin is left to the shipping company. The Kastern Australian Company soon expect to have other veBselB in the trade, nor ere they likely to have the field to them- selves, as the inducements to competition are great. Some port on the shores of our western Cook district is the natural entrepot for such a trade, and wc may safely predict that ere long a movement will be started for
the erection of works cither on thc Mitchell river or Archer. It does not appear an over sanguine auticipation that Batavia offers the first stepping stone to a prosperous meat trade with the East.
A novel scheme for escaping the carriage difficulty has been mooted in thc north-west. The ease with which the Fowler's cngineB dragged their twenty ton load of material in broad-wheeled waggons over tho Western Downs has suggested a system of traction engines for the conveyance of wool and station supplies. Station holders in the neighbour-
hood of Winton have discussed the formation
of a company with £40,000 capital to embark in this enterprise, and inquiries are now pro- ceeding as to thc details of cost and capability of the machinery. Wood and water stations at thc necessary intervals, about every seven miles, arc contemplated in thc scheme, and it is thought that each engine would bc able tn take a load of twenty tons a journey of thirty five miles a day. Io season? like the present, when teams can Scarcely travel, Ruch aByßtcm
would have much to recommend it.
The following ore thc principal station sales disclosed during thc paßt mouth :-Coongoola Station, situated in Ibu Warreen district, to- gether with CI.OIIO sheep, 21,700 lambs, !)000 rattle, and 300 horses -clip of wool, stores, plant, &c., given in-by Messrs. Tobin aud Co. to Messrs. Armstrong Brothers for a Jump sum of £133.000. Brunette Downs, situated in the Northern Territory, comprising 2000 square miles of country, by Walter Douglas, Esq., to Messrs. McDonald, Smith, and Macansh, at a satisfactory figure.
Sugar.-The past mooth has been one of eootinned dryness, nearly all of the sugar centres reporting dry winds and no rain. At some places a few drizzling showers have
(allen, tnt not summing np m totaLoj-mnia
activity and bustle of crushing. The density is now un to its normal strength of 10° B.; eve« scrub land plant-cane showing a good OJ" B. From north to south almost every
mill is in full work. All thc old establish- ments have been busy for weeks past, and tho new mills arc rapidly falling in to work. The quality of this season's sugar is admitted to be very good-decidedly above that of any previous year's production. The returns per
j acre, so far as eau be at present judged, aro I also most satisfactory. Main is very much
wanted to start into growth the young plant cane, and also to enable further planting to bo undertaken. The carly spring seaBou in Queensland is always dry ; it is not until the thunderstorms of October fall that any growth takes place in the cane field, and the real growing season is in thc autumn. Wo men- tion this fact for the information of tho
southern inquirers after sugar estates, for, coming from their OWL moist winter climate, they are apt upon arrival in this colony to form a fahe judg- ment when viewing all vegetation semi parched and apparently unthrifty. This unusual spell of drought is of great benefit to thc sugar planter in raising the density of the cane juice. A constant growing season is not good ; thc canes are then too watery ; some check ÍB beneficial to the production of saccharine matter in cane. Thus it is that the
Queensland grower can always reckon upon an average density of 10° B. At that density J 500 gallons of juice will give-in actual
practice (not in tucory), taning muís willi oin
fashioned rnaobiucry and those lately fitted up with modern inventions-one ton of sugar. Thc unsettled state of the labour question is fatal to any present extension of the industry. Until the elections are all over, and some reliable system of labour supply devised, it is usclesB to ask capitalists to even think of sugar land investments. We confess to having some anxiety as to the fate of this splendid natural productive resource of Queensland. It is at a critical point. Tho confidence of capitalists is, however, not yet shaken as to the desirability of the industry as an investment. Only let favourable legis- lation on thc labour question be adopted hy the incoming Governmental party, and hun- dreds of thousands of pounds would imme- diately be iuvested in the further development of our sugar lands. Adverse legislation will drive thia capital to thc islands of the Pacific and to the Northern Territory.