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BY "THE VAGABOND."
THE CRADLE OF VICTORIA.
On Wednesday next, November 19, 1884, the "Jubilee" of this colony will bo cele- brated in a fitting manner in the town of Portland, the cradle of Victoria. Australia had no Columbus to claim the honour of first discovery. As it is unknown who first sighted and landed on the shores of Terra Australis, so it is unknown who was the first whlte man to plant his foot on Victorian soil. Was it Gil- laume le Testu of Provence? -or some long- forgotten Portuguese or Spanish nav- gator, one of whom claims to have discovered a great south land which he called Luca Antara, "containing many populous cities and towns, abounding in gold and with inhabitants addicted to cock- fighting "? But those, ancient mariners, good brave sailor men though they were, had lively imaginations. Quiros "the Portingall"
who discovered the New Hebrides, described those islands to be an earthy paradise, peopled by different coloured races, from white to black, and full of gold, silver, and pearls. His account of the Tierra Australis del Espiritu Santo, discovered in 1606, did not, however, make the rulers and people of Portugal or Spain anxious to annex or emigrate thither. Neither did the flowery reports of the unknown earlier Portuguese mariners, "who, on
or before the year 1531," appear to have first discovered Australia, have for a long time any effect. The Dutch named our continent
"New Holland." Flinders was the first to sail round it, and Captain Cook first sighted Victoria. But to the Portuguese or Spaniards, even before Guillaume le Testu, I give the honour of the first discovery of Australia and Victoria. Their names have passed into oblivion-they never returned to tell the tale. Lying buried in the sand hummocks between Belfast and Warrnambool, is the hull of a vessel of a long-forgotten Austra- lian expedition. It is built of Spanish mahogany. Greybeards have recently related to me how in their youth they played around this wreck, how they cut pieces of the rare hardwood out of it, and endea- voured to dig down into the keel for the coins which tradition states were always em- bedded in the timbers of Portugese and Spanish vessels. Now it is all buried in the sands, which at this part are slowly but surely changing the whole face ol the country. The Unknown Dead who manned this vessel
and who, like Balboa, might have claimed our waters "for Rome ! tor Leon ! for Castile !"
I believe, were the first navigators who saw our shores. After them, till the commence- ment of this century, "the long wash of Aus- tralasian seas" on our southern coast were never gazed upon by civilised man.
Lieutenant Commander James Grant, of H. M. S. Lady Nelson, was the first known white man who sighted Portland Harbour. In the year 1800 this gallant sailor navigated the southern shores of Australia in his little vessel of only 60 tons and emulated Captain Cook as a nomenclator. He named Capes Northumberland, Bridgewater, Nelson, Sir William Grant, and Otway; Mounts Schank and Gambier, Lawrence Rock, and Julia Percy Island. Portland was called after the Duke, then one of the Secretaries of State. Lieutenant Grant was the first European after Bass to sail through the Straits. The results of his voyage were duly marked on the Admiralty charts, but for a quarter of a century no white man's vessel ploughed the waters of its bay, no white man's foot pressed its shores. Then the sealers and whalers from Tasmania resorted to this coast, and on Julia Percy Island, many years back, two graves were found, one crowned with a cask, at the head of which was written, " W. Hardman, December 25, 1828." But although the whale ships frequented this coast, and although sailors may have landed to procure wood and water and make a tem- porary camp, none can dispute the claim of the late Mr. Edward Hentv to be the first white man to settle on these shores-the pioneer settler of Victoria. He built the first house, under the rooftree of which I write these lines ; he ploughed the first acre ; he planted the first vine ; he owned the first horse, the first head of cattle ;
he sheared the first sheep in this colony. The history of Edward Henty is the history of Portland, and as such is worth telling. Thomas Henty, gentleman, land- owner, banker, and amateur horse and sheep breeder, of West Tarring, Sussex, was early in this century blessed with many sons, the Victorian pioneer being born in March, 1810. Mr. Thomas Henty was attracted by the reports of the fine field open to immi-
grants at the newly-opened Swan River settlements, and in 1830 chartered the ship Caroline, and despatched her in charge of his eldest and two of his youngest sons (Edward being left in England) with a number of indentured servants, a quantity of live stock, and a cargo of provisions and supplies. The stock consisted of pure merino sheep from the flocks of George III., blood horses from the stud of the Earl of Egremont, and cattle, dogs, and poultry of the best breeds. The vessel arrived safely at Western Australia with only the loss of a few sheep and horses. Mr. James Henty, however, reported to his father in England that the Swan River was no place for them, and that he was going to Tas- mania, where he would meet the rest of the family. Thomas Henty followed his son's advice, chartered the ship Firth of Alloway, Captain Robertson, and in 1831 sailed for Launceston, with the rest of his stalwart sons, and with man-servants and maid-ser- vants, and sheep and cattle.
In Tasmania, Thomas Henty and his seven sons would have all settled down to be mer- chants, woolbrokers, whalers, lawyers, and bankers. Notables, without doubt, they would all have been, but the restless spirit of young Edward was the cause of the family name becoming much more notable in the history of Australia. Van Dieman's Land was too small for him. Three of his brothers had seen Australia, and reported it barren. He wished to see for himself. So l8 months after he landed from London, Edward Henty sailed in the barque Car- narvon, Captain Aldred, to Spencer's Gulf, and remained there two months, ex- amining the country. He secured a pas- sage back to Launceston in the schooner Thistle, Captain Liddle, from Port Lin-
coln. Bad weather drove the Thistle to take refuge in Portland Bay. But the old proverb was more than realised here. The winds which retarded the passage were the cause of the foundation of a city, and the settlement of the prosperous Western dis- trict. Edward Henty was struck with the natural capacities of the country. A good harbour, good fishing ground, good anchor- age and landing, the luxuriant vegetation on shore indicating a good climate and soil - what better place could there be for the site of a town? In Tasmania no good land could then be obtained ; here it was to be had for the taking. At this time, there was no settle- ment, no white man nearer than King George's Sound on the west, and Two- fold Bay on the east. Edward Henty again visited Portland Bay, the same year, l833 in the schooner Elizabeth, and prospected the country inland. He found good grass and soil around Darlot's Creek, Lake Condah, and Bridgewater, and then returned to Launceston and reported to his father his determination to settle at Portland. After some months Thomas Henty fitted out his young and plucky son with stock and farm implements, some young fruit trees being bought from John Pascoe Fawkner, who at that time kept the Cornwall Hotel and a nursery garden on the Windmill hill, at Launceston. The Thistle was chartered, and in October, 1834, the expedition sailed
"Note.-My authorities for the statements of facts regarding the foundation of this colony are Mr. F. P. Labilliere's "Early Hislory of Victoria," Major Mitchell's "Travels," Mr. James Bonwick's "Western Victoria," Mr. Marcus Clarke's "School History of Australia," Mr. Garnet Walch's "Victoria in 1880,"
an interesting record in pamphlet form of the "Anni-
versary" rejoicings in November 1872, printed at the "Portland Guardian" office, articles on "Old Port- land" in the "Portland Mirror," and private memoranda of the Henty family. I am also indebted to Mr. J.
J. Shillinglaw, Mr. W. Helpman, and the "very oldest resident" of Portland and district (discovered to be neary 20 in number), whom I have recently inter- viewed for much useful information . All these authorities, especially the latter, contradict each other in matters of dates and petty details. It is my lot to endeavour to reconcile these, and to give briefly, and as accurately as possible the history of the foundation of Portland, the "cradle of Vic-
from the Tamar. The voyage occupied 34 days, and many cattle were lost, but anchor was cast in Portland Bay early in the morning of the 19th November, and at 10 minutes to 8 a. m. Edward Henty placed his foot on shore, the first man who had landed in Victoria with the intention of stopping there. By 1 o'clock they landed 13 heifers, four working bullocks, five pigs, two turkeys, two guinea fowls, six dogs, four "inden-
tured servants, a plough, seeds, plants, vines, apple and fruit trees of different kinds, a fishing boat, and a net. Mr. Henry Cam- field, a friend of Edward Henty's, also landed and remained a short time.
The unknown Portugese or Spanish barque lies buried in the sands near Belfast, the re- mains of the Lady Augusta are sinking into the mud opposite Echuca, and the Thistle, which brought the pioneers of Victoria and the exploiters of the golden fleeces of Merino Downs to Portland, was in 1844 vvrecked in the bay. Thiis historic schooner, however, sailed the seas tor 94 years, having been built, according to the Belfast Gazette, in 1750, and used in the East India pilot service. Her teak timbers were sound to the last. The wreck was exposed for 40 years to the roll of the ocean, yet the durability of the teak is proved by the fact that several writing deks were manufactured out of some of the wood from her transoms, 130 years after the keel of the Thistle was laid. The wood is stated lo be '"as sound as the day it was put into the vessel, taking a beautiful polish." Brave old craft! She served the colonies well, but the pioneers who landed from her on that November morning 50 years ago, I dare say had little affection for the vessel in which they had been knocked about for five weeks. They jumped ashore with joy and gladness , little recking in their relief from the discomforts of shipboard, that they were the parents of
The tents were pitched on the green flat between the two present jetties. The young pioneer commenced work at once. A garden was laid out, vines and fruit trees planted, and vegetable seed sown. Some of the apple trees are still growing in Portland. On the 6th December, Edward Henty "put together the fist plough that ever broke Victorian soil,
and welded with his own hands the chains by which it was drawn, " and broke up the soil for potatoes on the present site of Rich- mond house, within a few yards of where I write. A day or two afterwards the first crop of oats was put in. The husbandman was Robert Cowley, ot Dunolly, now 80 years of age, the only survivor of Edvvard Henty's party. On the 19th of December, the Thistle again arrived from Launceston with more stock, bringing out Mr. Francis Henty, the youngest and the only one of the brothers now alive. Stephen George and John Henty followed about two years afterwards. The flocks and herds multiplied, the soil was fruitful, and although Mr. Edward Henty at first only intended follow- ing those pastoral pursuits with which he afterwards became identified, as Portland Bay was a favourite resort ft both sperm and black whales, he entered into a partnership with his brother, Stephen George, and in the first season their crews captured 61 whales,
yielding 300 tons of oil. Other whalers frequenting the port, a store was started and the vessels supplied with necessaries as well as with fresh beef and mutton. And so the colony of Victoria was cradled - founded not by Government settlement, nor subsidised by Government money, but by that private enterprise which in this country, as in the United States, has ever been pro- ductive of the greatest good. Looking back, the most exraordinary thing is that the pioneer was a young Englishman not 25 years of age, with only slight "colonial experience"
in Tasmania and yet that as a settler he made the most perfect success of any man who has attempted to develop fresh fields and pastures m Australia. He over- came all difficulties of nature. He avoided trouble with the blacks. Essentially a humane man-as was show by his treatment in after life of his old hands and old horses on his stations-Edward Henty never fired
on a blackfellow. The infant settlement flourished from the start. The earth yielded
its fruits, the wool grew, and the hides in- creased, whilst the whaling went on merrily ; and when in August, l836, Major Mitchell and his party appeared on the shores of Portland Bay civilisation may be said to have been already established in Victoria.
Major Mitchell named the fertile western country through winch he passed en route from the Murray to the sea "Aus- tralia Felix ." On the "Downs of Ira- moo," 'the " Garden of Eden" as Major Mitchell described it, no other white foot had yet trodden. He vas the first European to explore "this paradise for sheep and sheepowners." So when, the first week in August 1836, the renowned traveller heard the distant roar of the sea and followed the rough course of a stream to the shore, he was astonished at coming across bullock tracks. Then the settlement came in view. What could this mean - who could the inhabitants be? Escapees from Tasmania, who, seizing some vessel had turned pirates, and made this their land quarters ? "But pirates were not accustomed to have flocks of sheep, cultivated paddocks, and houses with gardens, as these Portland Bay folk had about them." Still the major approached cautiosly. In the settlement a terrible ex- citement prevailed at the sight of the approaching force. " Conjecture settled down into conviction that these could be nothing less than a band ot bush- rangers, escaped ruffians from the Sydney side, who had ventured across the unknown country to this out of the way place with the purpose of capturing one ol the whaleships and fleeing the country. Muskets, cutlasses, and harpoons were in every hand, and a small piece of ordnance-an old iron six-pounder- was dragged up to Richmond house, which was turned into a fortified camp. M.r Edward Henty, who had been to Bridgewater, where he was starting a station, thus amusingly de- scribed the meeting between himself and Major Mitchell: - "The first news I had was return- ing from Bridgewater, when one of the men in- formed me in great terror that a band of bush- rangers, prepared to attack us, was now at the Double Comer. On proceeding, I found that my house in Portland had been barri- caded by my brothers in expectation of the attack, and the old gun was loaded to the muzzle at the door, prepared to give the bush- rangers a warm reception. The appearance of the Major and his band of five, with emu feathers in their caps, as well as the red tail feathers of the black cockatoo, blue and red serge shirts, very much tattered, patched, and worn, and cer- tainly very fierce and formidable-looking customers, will go far to excuse the error made in confounding them with bush- rangers, and our desire to protect life and property. Seeing the hostile movement in the camp, the Major, like a skilful general, sent an envoy to parley, an explanation and reconciliation followed, and the party re- mained two days well provided, and on re- tiring had with them as much flour and pro- visions as they could conveniently carry, not forgetting two half-gallon bottles of crea- ture comfort in gin-and which, I may say, were not the least valued amongst the
The meeting of the renowned Australian explorer and the pioneer of Victoria was a subject worthy of a great artist. "The Major" was here at this Richmond-house where I am stopping. Perhaps he and the brothers Henty sat and talked together on this very verandah where I write, the latter keeping a good lookout over the bay for whales. Major Mitchell told them of the grand country he had passed through which resulted in the taking up of Wannon and other station property by the Hentys. The explorer was astonished at the progress of the unauthorised and officially unknown settlement. In the woik which he afterwards published in England he describes the harbour and eligible town site, and says :-
"Gardens stocked with abundance of vege- tables smile on Portland Bay. The soil is very rich on the o'erhanging cliffs, and the potatoes and turnips produced here surpass any I have seen elsewhere. I learnt that the bay was much resorted to by whalers, and that upwards ot 700 tuns of oil had been shipped that season. " If, but for Major Mitchell, the Hentys might have remained unaware of the valuable
Wannon land, but for Major Miltchell, the
New South Wales Government might have remained in ignorance of the existence of the settlement on the south-western seacoast which paid neither tithe nor toll to Cæsar. It was two years, however, after the first land sale in Melbourne that Mr. Surveyor Tyers was despatched to Portland to cut up a township there. Two sections, each of 20 half acres, were put up on October 15, 1840. "The upset price w as £100 an acre, yet the half-acre lots averaged nearly £300 each." A police magistrate, policeman, and other Go- vernment officials came down with the sur- veyor, and Portland emerged out of its cradle where its hardy infancy had been nurtured by private enterprise to be henceforth ruled officially. The Messrs. Henty were declared by Governor Sir George Gipps, in 1840, to have done positive harm "by opening a district of country which might otherwise hav e remained unoccupied for a number of years." After considerable delay, they were in 1846 com- pensatcd by being allowed to secure 10 acres of Portland town lots at £100 per acre, and 145 acres on the Wannon at £2 an acre. Port- land grew and multiplied. In 1841 the dis- trict had 1,261 inhabitants, whilst Geelong had only 450. In 1842 the barque Mona arrived lrom London, the pioneer vessel in the direct home trade. In l842, also, the Port- land Mercury was established, when there was no other journal between Melbourne and Adelaide. The clip of wool that year sent to England was 3,000 bales. Soon fat stock was exported to Tasmania. Hence- forth whilst some of the Henty Brothers fol-
owed the life led by all the early pioneer squatters of Victoria, of which Rolf Boldre- wood has told the tale in The Australasian, others were settled in Melbourne and Port-
land as merchants, shipowners, and whalers, until the steam traffic on the coast drove the huge cestaceans away from their old haunts in the bay, and the latter industry was de- stroyed.
So much for old Portland and the pioneer settlement of Victoria here cradled. Let us now look at the Portland of to-day. One approaches it either by land or sea. In the former case the metropolitan visitor has a 13 hours' journey via Geelong, Ballarat, Ararat, and Hamilton, the fare 45s. By water the passage money is ridiculously low, the cabin fares being only 12s. 6d. and 10s. , meals of
course extra, time of voyage about 24 hours.
Steamers leave the Queen's Wharf almost daily in the season. They are large
and comfortable boats, and the pas- sage in the summer is a pleasure trip. Calls are made at Warrnambool and Belfast, and the traveller can have a few hours ashore at the former place. The coast scenery is very wild and picturesque, and altogether, I advise visitors to the west to travel by sea, but then I never suffered from mal de mer in my life, and everyone might not find the trip by water so pleasant as I do.
The Nelson is the crack boat of the line, and this spring afternoon is perfect weather, scarcely a ripple is on the waters. After leaving Warrnambool we stop at Belfast, but merely to tranship i passenger into a waterman's boat for shore. As I shortly hope to spend a day or two in this spot I shall not attempt any description of it. All along the coast there are enor- mous sand dunes, which in some places are encroaching upon and swallowing up much of the land, but beyond these one sees glimpses of verdant crops and fertile country.
If in places there are swamps and barren scrub, you cannot see these from the steamer. Eighteen miles from Portland and six from the shore we pass Lady Julia Percy Island, so named by Lieutenant Grant in 1800 after a daughter of the Duke of Northumberland. But the prefix is now dropped, and few have any idea who "Julia Percy" was. I am told that she was a sailor's sweetheart, which might have been possible. Another account is that "Julia Percy" was the name of a vessel wrecked there! This is how the pass- ing stranger, unless he carefully reads up the history of the localities he visits, gets misled by the ancient inhabitants
Julia Percy is, I am told, inaccessible on all sides but one. Its cliffs saund out like huge walls 250ft above where the waves wash their base. This island is a mile and a half long, and three quarters wide. It is bare and bleak, but abounds with rabbits. For long years it was the resort of whalers who from its heights could see tho leviathans "spouting" as they entered Portland Bay to amuse themselves by scratching their huge bodies against its reefs. Then there would be a chase to capture the prze before the boats of the Hentys sighted it.
Half-a-dozen vessels would then be cruising about here, and sealing to a small extent was carried on ashore. Now whales and whalers have gone, but the seals remain. They rule the shores, and the rabbits the uplands. I am told that some times quail can also be met with here, so a few davs on Julia Percy Island offer great attractions to the sportsman. In fine weather it can be easily reached from Portland by sailing boats. Every summer, excursions are organised to this wild spot, and to the inland dweller a few days' shooting, fishing, and camping out here are productive of health and
pleasure. As we steam past we can see a few seals crawling over the rocks, but I am told that on the other side "the water is almost alive with them." The hunter can ascend or descend into immense caves, where hundreds of cubs are yearly reared. Then he can enter into single combat with the papas and mammas, shoot and bayonet,
and knock them over the head with clubs, and take home their skins for his wife's adornment, and specimens of the young phocœ for his children to play with and make pets of. It is no use shooting a seal in the water, as thev sink at once when hit, so in the caves is the only chance of getting a skin. There is a little exciting danger and risk attached to this mode of sealing. The usually meek and mild animals can be dangerous in defence of their young ; and one should have a good guide from Portland, of a companion who knows the island, before going sealing. Such a companion is by my side on deck in the person of Mr. Help- man, of Warrnambool, a relative of Mr. Stephen George Henty, who passed his boy-
hood in Portland, and is as much at home in a storm at sea as in the bank parlour refusing an overdraft. He wishes to organise a party to visit Julia Percy Island, but I do not care about it. The
exciting risk attending seal-hunting does not commend itself to me. Besides I am too soft-herated generally to care about killing anything except snakes and sharks.
Portland Bay is the only harbour of refuge for hundred of miles along the coast of Aus- tralia. As we steam in, Cape Grant shuts out the new lighthouse on Cape Nelson, the long swell is dashing with violence against the sides of Lawrence Rocks, whose peaks are the home of the gannet and other sea fowl. Tot the right at the extreme north is the flourishing rural township of Narra- wong. Above this the green slopes of Mount Clay merge into the thickly-timbered forest land not yet cleared . Ahead there is a ligh-t house, a signal post, a few houses embowered in trees, high cliffs of white limestone or dark basalt, and then as we round the promontory into the harbour, the quaint yet lovely town is all before us, extend- ing along the bluffs above the shore, the only natural depression being where a stream flows into the sea from a lagoon in a valley at the back of the town . The beauty of this crescent-shaped bay, with its outlines of bold headlands cannot be surpassed. The town itself is at the first view simply the most charming seaside place I know of in the colonies. The white cliffs, the stone-built churches and houses, give it above all an English look. It recalls to me many spots on the Sussex coast. It is not Australian in any of its outer characteristics. The spirit of the English pioneer, Edward Henty, seems stamped upon it. Prominent above all the buildings is the Catholic church, which would be a grand landmark if its tower were completed. Beyond this "Whalers Point" stands out prominently above the white sands. To the south where the stream flows into the harbour, a little promontory is formed on which are some of the oldest most dilapidated, and consequently picturesque buildings. The new breakwater is being built out from this point, the stream producing a scour inside. When this is completed the harbour will be perfect and the two long jetties will be protected from every point. As it is now, the water is quite smooth, and we tie up alongside the largest of the two long jetties, where the youth and beauty of Port- land in Hobart fashion meet the steamer. Met by an old Melbourne journalist with the query, "Where will you stop?'' my reply is, "At the Richmond-house, the first building erected in Victoria," It is a matter of sentiment; I wish to imbibe the spirit of the place. Perhaps on the spot it may come to me. And when I am shown to my clean, comfortable, and airy chamber, and am told "It was in this room that Mr. Richmond Henty, the first white child bom in Victoria, came into the world," I feel that visions of the past will visit me in my dreams to-night.