A TRIP TO THE WEST COAST.
[From a Special Correspondent.]
Leaving Liatukia, and continuing north amidst beautiful scenery, where the ubiqui tous bunny jauntily hops across the road, a few miles bring me to a wayside "water
hole" at North Shields. It is conducted by Mr. William Boswell, an identity of the district, 80 years of age, hale, hearty, and patriarchal, who, after battling with the trials and tribulations of life, has settled down in this rural spot, where he will en tertain the tourist by the hour with inte resting yarns of the locality in the early fifties. He tells how the pioneers struggled without roads, of bullock - teams bogged, dray wheels and axles smashed, teams now on the hilltops now on the seabeach, and how the evolution of roads and roadmaking was introduced under the old Central Road Board. He tells with a good deal of gusto his esperiences of Forest Creek and Ben digo Diggings, where he was stuck up by the notorious highwayman, Captain Mel ville, afterwards hanged for shooting a policeman. He relates also that on one occasion, at a place called Back Creek, where there were several teams with their drivers and accessories struggling with a bad road, he found himself confronted by a revolver, with Captain Melville behind it, demanding his gold. His first impulse was to show fight, but on glancing round he beheld his mates standing in line under the revolver of another scoundrel, known as 'Frank, the Native.' Considering discre tion the better part of valour, he submitted ungracefully to be 'interviewed.' At the moment a diversion was created by an un earthly squealing from beneath the tilt of one of the drays, caused by the wife of a bullpuncher who had just discovered the state of affairs, and to whom Melville im mediately turned his attention, by riding to the side of the dray and assuring her in the most suave manner that neither he nor his friends interfered with ladies. Bringing the men into line, he impressed on them his desire not to rob them of their watches or of the few coins they might have in their pockets, but he must have their gold. While one proceeded to ransack the belongings of the party stowed away in the drays, the other made them turn out their pockets. The search, however, proved unprofitable, and Captain Melville, whom he described as a gentleman, after giving the woman thirty sovereigns, called his mate, and dis appeared in the scrub. The joke, however, lies in the sequel. Under a false bottom of one of the drays there were secreted several hundred pounds worth of gold in dust and nuggets. After another taste of the waters from the "waterhole" I bade my old friend adieu, and proceeded a few miles still north to "CLIFTON," the home of Mr. George Dorward, first taken up from the Government about twenty-five years ago, when it was nothing but a sterile piece of country, overgrown with mallee, stunted stringybark, and bas tard whitegum. It has all been grubbed and cleared by hand, and now with con stant application of brains and muscles is perhaps the most fertile spot in the dis trict. He has a holding of about 560 acres, 140 of which he annually puts under crop with Purple Straw wheat as the best for yielding quality and quantity, Tuscan for hay, and Chevalier barley for malting. He expects to reap 15 bushels of wheat to the acre, and 30 of barley, though the greater part of his crop of about one ton to the acre is to be cut for hay, and in a few days the reaper and binder will be busy. The land has all been drilled and fertilized with guano from the caves of the adjacent islands, which he considers more suitable to his soil and climate than mineral fertilizers. By constant manuring and good farming he has brought his land from a barren waste to carrying a sheep to the acre. His lambs, of which there was a big percentage, are a source of income, being in request both by local and Adelaide butchers, and his wool forwarded to the city brings a satisfactory price. The homestead is a well-built and commodious stone house, and is surrounded by a fruit garden, containing apricots, peaches, and plums in full bearing, also vines, which, however, owing to a certain subsoil are not so thriving. There are also several healthy carob trees raised from seed, and their produce is utilized for assisting in the maintenance of the stock. Mr. Dor ward does not go in extensively for dairy ing or for rearing horses or cattle, but gives nearly the whole of his attention to wool and cultivation. It is marvellous to see the productive lands that once would have starved a wallaby, now, as the result of twenty years of manuring, fattening a sheep to the acre. At the outset of Mr. Dor ward's career be suffered one of the greatest and saddest lots that can befall a man. He had gone from home for a month or two on business, but before completing it he received a message that his wife and three children were seriously ill with diphtheria, and on returning as expeditiously as pos sible (travelling was slow in those days) he found them all dead and buried. Like a true-hearted Briton he plucked up again, and is now a prosperous and true type of a British yeoman. Long may he remain so. The Poonindie lands, about which there was so much discussion a few years ago, were finally annexed by the Government of the day from the Poonindie Mission Sta tion, and allotted by the Land Board. They were mostly given to local applicants, who do not seem, on an average, to be in a very flourishing condition. There are some hold ings with only a few acres under crop, and a hundred or two sheep fed on them. Amongst the landed proprietors are Manuel Solomon and his brother, and Walsh, all half-caste ex-students of the late Mission Station, who are making a creditable show, and are reasonably prosperous. There are two very good crops, belonging to different owners, that I have no hesitation in saying will return 15 bushels to the acre. Tak ing them all round a fair estimate of the returns for the Poonindie lands will be about 6 bushels, and 15 cwt. of hay. Mr. T. D. Bruce, who was Manager of the Mis sion Station, still retains the old homestead which belonged to the Church of England Mission, from whom he became the pur chaser in fee-simple, and whose waving fields of corn are good to the eyesight. On the day I called there the reaper and binder was sheaving a ton to the acre crop, and the haycocks looked thick and heavy. The buildings and yards are still standing in a good state of preservation. The rows of small houses that were oc cupied by the natives, stables, stockyards, and, towering above all, the Church, still remain. This building, surmounted by the bell, which rang out the curfew, command ing all to rise, prayers, work, or bed, is still used as a Church by the people of the neighbourhood. My impression of the Poonindie lands is that they might be much worse. The selectors of the Northern Areas went through many reverses before they built up prosperous homes, much as the inhabitants of the Poonindie lands are now experiencing. Continuing northward the road leads through Meadows Creek and Tod River, the banks of which are beautified by the scarlet 'bottle-brush' and other native shrubs, now in full bloom, and on past
wooded and scrubby grass land, and crops good, bad, and indifferent, until I pass through an inviting gate by the roadside that leads through uoine park-like, well grassed country to 'TALLALA.' This sheeprun and farm combined, situated on a charming rise, facing Louth Bay, consists of about 3,500 acres, and depasturing 1,700 sheep of the pure Merino type, is the property of Mr. Andrew Tennant. "Tallala," as its name implies, is an aboriginal term signifying a "camping ground." As such it is eminently suitable, for with permanent fresh water flowing down the gully on the one hand, and the precipitous ranges in the rear, noth ing could surpass it for the purpose. There are 105 acres under wheat, which looks on the whole very promising, 80 acres of which are reserved for stripping, and should re turn 9 bushels per acre. The balance is being saved for hay, and three-quarters of a ton should be obtained. There are be tween thirty arid forty well-bred cattle on the run, and nine or ten working horses, which look as though feed were plentiful and nourishing. Under the eaves of the house the swallows have built a mud village of nests, pear-shaped, the front door step at the stalk end, and so closely huddled together that it can only be for the pur pose of allowing the lady swallows to gossip during the weary days of incubation. The run is wartered by permanent natural waters, and is good fattening country, though the sheep are bred for wool only. Shearing is just over, and the number of bales of wool awaiting cartage are a good criterion of the producing qualities of the place. The wool is carted to Louth Bay jetty, a distance of two or three miles, where it is picked up by the coasting steamer, carried to Port Adelaide, and shipped to London. The estate is under the management of Mr. Joe Le Brun, to whom and his kind wife I am indebted for this information. Both were born in the Port Lincoln district. Wishing them long life and happiness, and committing myself to my faithful horse, and proceeding by another track through parklike country I reach once more the well made road. One obtains a grand view of Louth Bay, the jetty protected seawards by a reef of granite showing above the water, and Poonindie Point. After a few miles against a howling north wind I turn to the left and up a slight incline to the home station, belonging to Mr. James An derson, now a resident of Scotland. The place is colloquially known as 'WHITE'S RIVER.' The station should be called by its origi nal appellation of 'Wanatta', meaning 'springing water,' from the fact that this valuable property of 1,200 acres is well watered with many freshwater springs and running creeks, which in the rainy season are lashed into roaring torrents, but now peacefully meander through the rocky gullies and find their way down the gentle slopes to mingle with the salt waters of the gulf. It is a pretty piece of open sheoak country, with ranges at the back, and gently sloping lands in front. This year it is carrying only 3,800 sheep. Owing to the drought of last year the feed received such a shaking that the Manager, Mr. W. E. Goode, deems it advisable to remain lightly stocked for the present, and allow the grass to recover aud seed fully. The Merinos were originally bred from McArthur's pure strain, and the breed has been well kept up for forty years, the wool last year realizing 7 3/4 d. per lb. in London. The samples of wool shown me were very clean, of good staple, and strong in fibre. There are several blacks employed occa sionally about the station, who work well and willingly under the direction of the kind Manager or his wife. The natives are always anxious to get money when there's any fete impending, particularly the annual horse races, and one of their favourite sources of income is catching rab bits at 1/2 d. per head and their tucker. Mrs. Goode has a small and only daughter, whom she has christened by the native name of 'Katanya,' meaning firstborn, and the blacks are so proud of this that they made and presented Miss Katanya with a complete set of their weapons, presumably with which to keep her future husbaud in order. The lambing on the run totalled 60 per cent., which for this productive piece of country is considered rather poor — the weather during the lambing season was too severe. There are also a nice crop of 87 acres of wheat, and a few acrces of barley. The wheat is Steinwiedel and Early Para, has a satisfactory appearance, was tilled with the drill, and fertilized with guano from the adjacent caves, and has the appearance of about 11 bushels to the acre. The twine binder will be at work in a few days, and 1 ton to the acre is expected. While enjoy ing the hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Goode I was told a story about a black girl of the name of Topsy, who married a Chinaman— Ah Hang by name— and who incurred the displeasure of her tribe, because she had lost caste by marrying one of a race for whom her people had a thorough contempt, calling him Karkabury, meaning bald headed. However, 'all went merry as a marriage-bell' until 'after years of life to gether' and they'd reared a grown-up family, the ebony-faced wife and mother deserted her Karkabury and mated with one of her own tribe— Dutton Charlie by name— and they are as happy as the day is long. But how poor Ah Hung fares I haven't heard.