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BY "THE VAGABOND."
THE CRADLE OF VICTORIA.
An atmosphere of bygone days surrounds Portland. Not that it has an appearance of decay. For the bluestone buildings, of darker shade than those in Melbourne, give the town a solid aspect, wanting in many places which at the present are much more flourishing. The ivy which climbs around the Episcopal church endows it with an old English look. The church buildings here have all a venerable glamour over them, as if early in their age of bluestone they recognised the sacredness of their mission. The Church of England is full of mementoes of the Henty family.
There is a memorial window, an organ and organ-chamber, a magnificent brass tablet to the memory of "the pioneer,' a fine brass eagle lectern, and now a " baptistry " is being added, which rather interferes with the Gothic character of the building. The Hentys have always liberally supported this church, and the evidences of their generosity which perpetuate the family name are quite in English character. The building is in- tended to be much larger, and one end is boarded up waiting till the ideas of the archi- tect can be carried out. But this handsome place of worship seems quite large enough for all requirements for a great many years to come. The souvenir of the past which strikes me with the greatest astonishment is a beautiful painted glass wiindow represent- ing the story of the Good Samaritan. This was raised to the memory of the late Mr. Philip Scott, a man who the vicar tells me was possessed of the broadest charity and spirit of Christian humanity. Yet be was a lawyer! But he passed his whole life in per-
suading people not to go to law! This is a wonderful circumstance, which alone should make Portland celebrated. In the parsonage, a charming old fashioned residence, shielded by hedges of luxuriant roses, the worthy incumbent shows me some old records. I see the first register of cradle, altar, and tomb. Here are Hentys in number. With the past associations which they had with Portland, it seems a pity that at the present moment not one of the Henty family resides here, that the old historic homesteads have passed into the hands of, and are inhabited by strangers, and that the descendants of the pioneers have no interest in the place except in the possession of one or two town lots.
The Roman Catholic Church on the bluff
has the same outward beauty as the English, with the advantage of possessing a much better site. Its incompleteness as respects its tower is, however, very marked. The smallest and poorest congregation worship here, yet at the recent Hospital Sunday this church gave most in proportion to the attendance. The worthy priest has a pleasant residence, from the verandah of which he can look sea- ward and moralise on the vanity of all things. The Wesleyan Church is a very fine, square, Grecian building, the Presbyterian and Baptist are not so large. Portland is otherwise well supplied with public build- ings . The state school is a very handsome red brick building, of the style of architec- ture adopted for such throughout the colony.
There are two other state schools in the dis- trict, "the Portland College," a "Ladies' College" (where the very highest branches of education are taught by young ladies), and other private scholastic establishments. The four banks are mostly handsome structures, erected on a Collins street scale. There is a handsome Masonic-hall here. The other public institutions are the Custom-house, Hospital and Benevolent Asyum, a Me- chanics' Institute and reading room, a good club (which has attached to it a circulating library for the use of the families of mem-
bers), an old gaol and police barracks-quite a useless excrescence in this peaceful and orderly place, and the new post office, erected like the banks on a metropolitan scale. But Portland has had its fair share of the good things which fall from Government. It has had all it asked for-public buildings, break- waters, a railway. Having obtained this there is a perpetual grumble as to its present route to the pier. The station proper is at the back of
the town in a highly inconvenient
situation, but from thence the rails are car- ried by a level crossing over the main street and thence through a cutting along
the side of the cliff in front of the Catholic
Church and the Richmond-house to the ter- minus at the jetties. The complaint is the the beautiful frontage of the town is thus spoiled, but hidden from sight as it is by the cutting this does not seem to me to be very detrimental, although, certainly it would have been better if the line had been carried on in a circle at the rear of the town . Of course, there is a racecourse within easy dis- tance. More subdued kind of sport is pro- vided at the cricket-ground and the subscrip- tion bowling-green, but the pride of Port- land may he said to consist in the Botanic- gardens, although some people might award the palm of place to the English Church. But then Protestants do not go to church every day. Mostly they take religious offices, with heavy mid-day dinners, as Sabbath luxuries. The visitor, however, can find a daily joy in the Botanic-gardens.
The Gardens are 40 acres in extent, adjoin- ing on one side the lagoon, which the in- habitants of Portland foolishly call the swamp. For a swamp at the back of the town isn't a pleasant neighbour. But this is a fine sheet of water, into which flow many streams from the surrounding hills, the over flow being carried into the sea. There is a never-failing suppljyof water here. The wooded slopes around the swamp are dotted with pleasant residences, but there are no private grounds which possess such magni- ficent trees as those in the Botanic-gardens. This, I agree with Mr Ruskin, is quite ac- cording to the fitness of things. Here are the oldest pines in the colonies, spreading their boughs and making a cover and shield against the bleak winter winds. Close by is the most ancient olive tree I have seen in Victoria. I do not know if Mr Guilfoyle would consider this garden laid out according
to the correct principles of landscape art, but to me it is lovely. Winding walks, sheltered
arbours and seats, picturesque glimpses of golden-wattle-fringed waters, masses of rose bushes, beds of brilliant flowers, the lawns thick with lush grass, light and colour every-
where, the air perfumed with the scent of a thousand flowers, nature not too sturdily trimmed and combed, but luxuriating in the new leaf and new life of spring. For the spring, which weeks back fled from me on
the Riverina plains, I again find here. In these gardens there are a croquet-lawn and cemented tennis-court, where the youth and beauty of Portland disport. I like these gardens principally for their resemblance to nature and trust this effect will not be spoiled by any eager attempt at putting in order for the Governor's visit. From the
public Botanic gardens the visitor is sure to be taken to the private stravvberry gardens situated in the dip of the valley at the back of the town. These are considered by the residents to be a great source of joy, as no doubt they are, during the many summer months when the innocent joys of straw- berries and cream can be partaken of in the cool arbours. But a garden of neat beds, until the arrival of the fruit, ia a very mono- tonous thing. Only two things strike me- the ferocity of the numerous dogs, which are chained at every gate or possible scaling- place, and the beautiful water supply through pipes from artesian wells-some of those sunk at the instance of Mr. M'Coll. But if you do not admire this garden as an in- stance of the wonderful climate of Portland - "hotter in winter and cooler in summer than any other place in Victoria" -you will get yourself disliked by old residents.
I am quite prepared to believe that Port- land is one of the healthiest places in the world. I open my lungs and walk with a firmer step along the parade than I have done for a long time. The sea air is revivify-
ing, and to those who like salt water the baths on the beach within a few minutes' walk of the hotels will be an extra source of delight. But old sea-dogs like myself, who have had such an amount of salt in our lives, generally take our baths fresh. Irre- spectively of this effect upon my jaded and aged constitution, the salubrity of the climate of Portland is proved by the ages of
the inmates of the Benevolent Asylum. This institution has one of the very best sites at the end of the town, on the bluff towards Whalers' Point. It very sensibly is both hospital and asylum-an arrangement which affords economy of management. When I visit it 19 poor old fellows are sitting down to supper. Their ages are from 58 to 88. The doled-out allowances of tea and bread and butter, the silence which prevails, the forms and whitewashed walls of the refectory, re- mind one of early school days. The old boys talk but little. They are taciturn and re- served amongst themselves, like all old hands ; but when questioned by a stranger will be-
come garrulous as to their share in the early history of the colony. Nearly everyone has served the Hentys at some time or another, but there are none living who landed with Edward Henty except Robert Cowley, who ploughed the first field and sowed the first crop of grain at the back of the asylum, the furrows still being plainly visible. The only other living man who saw Edward Henty land is an old aboriginal chief now on the staion at Framlingham, who was given or took unto himself the surname of Cruick-
shank. I saw his children and grandchildren the other day, but the old man was sick in bed. But all these old hands magnify their office. One of them who, he says, landed here in 1836, is writing a book. I will not interfere with his chances of success by at- tempting to extract any yarns from him. But a few hours before I visit this institution a mau died whom I would much have liked to interview. Sydney Smith, 86 years of age was with Major Mitchell in that memorable march overland which terminated in Port- land Bay. He should have died hereafter. The information to be extracted from these old hands is not of much use to me. Poor old fellows, they are the remnants of a much-despised class, not by any any means all bad, good mates to each other,
who bore the heat and burden of the early days of colonial life. l am pleased to think I can add some little to their comforts. This institution is well kept and managed, the old men, infirm as they are, producing enough vegetables in the garden to supply the establishment. I am glad to see that there is but one woman here, although per- haps she would be more happy if she had a companion or two.
The first graveyard in Portland is now the site of a store. The present cemetery is far out of town southwards towards Cape Nel- son. There are some new and fine monu- ments here, but I prefer the old cemetery, which is on the cliff at the extreme north end of the bay, overlooking the ocean. You pass the Benevolent Asylum, and tarry at Whalers' Point and look down on the beach below, where some piles show the spot at which the carcases of the whales were landed, near an old boiling down place. All around Portland there are still jaw-bones and pieces of whales vertebræ to be seen. All along this green bluff from which such a charming view of land and sea is to be obtained, there are seats on which the tired stranger can sit and linger and muse. Past the new slaughter-house and the road from the cliffs down to the beach, on the track to Heywood, is the old God's Acre. Why the new one to the south has been started I cannot under-
st. This is simply, next to Waverly Cemetery, near Sydney, the most charming place to be buried in that I know of in Aus- tralla. The ocean murmurs beneath, a con- tinual lullaby to weary souls. After life's fitful fever, I feel that I could sleep well here. The graves here are from our Austra- lian standpoint, very old. Trailing roses and broken bushes cover them, the grass is tall and rank, the wooden palings are de-
cayed, the iron ones rusted ; yet this neglect seems in accordance with the mortality be- neath. I love the place ! Here lies Dutton, ancient mariner and whaler, who, as far back as 1829, landed in the bay, built a bark
humpy, and boiled down fish for oil. With him at that time was David Fermaner, also ancient marine,r who is still living a yacht leeper in Hobson's Bay. Mr. Fer- maner writes me that he is the very oldest living white man who set foot on the shores of Victoria, that he knew Portland Bay long before the Hentys thought of coming here, and that he steered the historic Thistle ashore when she was wrecked. These ancient mariners never tally in then dates. But still it Is evident that this bay was a popular resort and harbour for the Tasmanian whaleships, one schooner, the Henry, being lost a few weeks before the arrival of Edward Henty. Ancient Mariner Dutton, I am told, was a very in- telligent man, with a well-preserved memory ; I feel it as a personal loss that both he and bushman Sydney Smith have gone.
These memories of the past and the relics of the past in the ruined Immigration Bar- racks, the old tannery and houses on the point near the breakwater, and especially the hotel facing the harbour, situated on a corner lot opposite the post-office and
"Mac's," are of the greatest interest to me. In the latter old brokendown weatherboard structure thousands were spent in the early days and a large fortune made. The records of these buildings are so intensely interesting,
because, as a rule in Australia, houses are devoid of history. I visit every bit of historic Portland, having ever the influence of my peaceful night's rest at the Richmond- house to carry me through. I rest well, al-
though I dream of the pattering of little feet on the verandah, of childish laughter filling the air, and I can see, as it were in spirit land, infant forms rolling on the lawn in front, and pelting each other with rose leaves. Everything is so peaceful and quiet here that I cannot imagine myself in an hotel. But Portland people do not appre- ciate the visitor's love of the past, his in- terest in tumble down shanties, his desire to see the place where the "Stocks," judicial instruments of punishment long obsolete, were fixed. So when his worship the major M.r Shevill, takes me to his wool warehouses, he thinks doubtless that I am highly interested in the number of the bales stored and shipped, whereas I am speculating that here was the first custom-house and bonded store. His worship, however, shows me a real relic, in the shape ol Captain Cadell's chronometer. Thoroughly imbued with the spirit of the past is Ancient Citizen M'Mullen, one of the city fathers. He landed here in an immi-
grant vessel direct from England, and for 15 years was a servant of the Hentys. As sacred relics he shows you the remains of the first carriage used here, the tool chest of Edward Henty, the hooks with which the first bale of wool were slung, pieces of the first wood ever sawn in Victoria, the first bricks used in the colony, imported from Tasmania ; the rifle of Major Mitchell, given by the explorer to Stephen Henty, and other apparently worth- less rubbish, yet which Mr. M'Mullen prizes highly. He laments that he has lost posses- sion of the cradle in which Mr. Richmond Henty, the first white Victorian child, was rocked. M.r M'Mullen is very courteous in his offers of information and assistance. It is a labour of love to him.
Take away the churches and public build- ings and there would be little left of Port- land. There are a good many roads on the town plan, but there are cultivated paddocks in the centre of the city, and the grass grows and cattle graze in its streets. Although from a matter of sentiment I concluded to stop at the Richmond-house and I am very glad indeed that I did so, "Mac's" Hotel, a
glad indeed that l did so "Mac's" Hotel, a
fine bluestone building, is one of the very best out ot Melbourne. There are other good hostelries and stores, and shops, but the gaslit streets are at night generally empty, people preferring to walk on the bluff or the pier. Yet the inhabitants are happy and content, kind and hospitable to strangers. There is no poverty, if there is no great wealth. The only industries are fishing and boatbuilding. Many good yachts have been built here, notably the Ethel Mary, recently bought by Major Heath, of the V.Y.C. Portland Bay is as fine a place as one could wish for yachting, for summer cruising, and picnicing ashore. There are, of course, the usual mechanical tradesmen's establishments, but Portland subsists as a centre and port for the far Western district. The railways to Melbourne affected its in- terests in this respect, although the railways in the future will doubtless aid it. But everyone sadly laments the days when there was direct trade to England, when, in 1854, 19 vessels sailed to London with wool ; in 1855, 20 vessels ; in 1856, 13 vessels ; in 1857, 10 vessels. Some of these ships came from
home ports, bringing immigrants and general cargo, and loaded back with wool. Others carne "seeking," from Mauritius and Val-
paraiso. But some were owned here ; the Frances Henty made a round trip once and sometimes twice year, and brought a mag- nificent profit to her owmer. In this vessel Captain Thompson, of the W.S.N. Co., made four voyages. Now, the tonnage ot Port- land is represented by the Dawn, belonging to the Portland S.N. Company, and the ship- ping is represented by coasting steamers and perchance two ships to London a year. Last year two cargoes of wool and wheat to the value of £150,000 left Portland direct for London. This year the steamer Gulf of Mexico is shortly expected, and the wool is accumulating in the stores waiting for her. Last year there arrived by train at Portland 7, 555 bales of wool and 10, 478 bags of wheat ;
but then a large amount of wool is brought in by drays. Thus coastwise to Melbourne, over and above the two valuable cargoes to England, 12, 923 bales of wool and 7, 922 bags of wheat were shipped. Fish, tallow, hides, bark, and butter were also exported ; so it will be seen that there is money being made in this apparently sleepy township.
I wish all prosperity to Portland's trade ; but to my mind it will principally be endeared as a most healthy and charming seaside resort, not sufficiently knovvn or appreciated. But in a few years I believe that Portland will be the Scarborough of Victoria. The time is not far distant when all these cliffs will be studded with villas and the beach will be crowded with children and nursemaids. At present Portland is the summer resort for most of the extreme Western district, and yearly the number of visitors from the metropolis is increasing. The farther away one can get from business and business cares the better, and there is a relief in that Port- land at present has not put on "fashionable side." Ladies need not dress four times a day, they can wear their oldest gowns. Male creatures can go about in their shirt-sleeves and slippers, and enjoy themselves without dignity. Portland deserves to be visited, not only for its own sake, but for the magnificent scenery of the surrounding coast, perhaps the most picturesque in Victoria.