WITH regard to the means at our
disposal for the attaining anything like an accurate computation of our population at the time of the first migration hence to Mount Alexander, we are bound to admit, that none ex- isted; save those powers of guessing and comparing , numbers which all present possess; how vague soever their notions may be, or how limited soever their experience. This being the case, it is plain that our estimate of the population on the Point at the period referred to is purely hypotheti- cal, and must be, therefore, only ap- proximately correct. But the same may be remarked of the guesses made with respect to our present numbers. No perfectly organised census ma- chinery has yet determined for us with rigid truthfulness the number of our population ; but the task of com- putation was far easier in the early days of our history than now, and there is little reason to consider the generally received calculation of num- bers as being very far wide of the
We have said it was more easy to arrive at a true estimate of the popu- tion in the beginning of our history than now ; and this is too palpably plain, too clearly obvious to require illus- tration. It may not be amiss, how- ever, to take a glance at the diffe- rence in the scene, presented to the eye, when one looked out upon Golden Point, from amongst the feathery wat- tles that, in its first days, clustered upon the sides, and waved their yellow flowered foliage on the brow of the hill upon which the township now stands, and that, which now lies spread out in its ample length and breadth, before the wandering gaze of the spectator, standing in any part of the Lydiard street of to-day.
Had a Rip Van Winkle among the early prospectors stationed himself upon the top of the hill near where the Clarendon Hotel now stands, he would, before taking his nap, have looked indeed upon a busy scene ; but one widely different from the spectacle that would, meet his astonished vision upon waking from a slumber of some five years' duration. Leaving his gold hunting companions behind him, and following the wagon track that led from Geelong and Buninyong along the range down where pits, and heaps, and upturned boulders now render traffic impracticable; crossing the creek near the upper boundary of the present White Flat Company, and traversing the way as it wound up the hill among the wattles, and the gum, and the peppermint, he would arrest his footsteps and prepare himself for a leisurely survey of the panorama before him, around him, and behind. Behind him would lie a vast unmea- sured forest, where the axe had not yet been suffered to lay low the an- cient trees; around him; with here and there a track, waved still the pri- meval woods, where now the bustling multitude throngs the township streets, or the more crowded thoroughfares of the Main-road, and Bakery-hill, Specimen-hill, with the out-lying and more scattered dwellings of our numerous population that lie glittering in the sunlight like patches of snow in the far-off distance, relieved by the dark purple of the yet standing
forest that belts round the cleared and
peopled space. As the tall trees away
to the north waved to and fro in the breeze he would, ever and anon, catch a glimpse of the up-turned earth on the Black hill which marked the pre sence of the prospectors there. But all there was of life, activity, and earnest labour, lay immediately before him on the opposite Point, and along the side of the creek that ran down the valley below. The whole of the Point was pretty well cleared, and covered with, the vari-colored earths
thrown up by the digger in his opera- tions ; while a solitary tree here and there, and prostrate trunks lying about proclaimed the recent nature of the invasion of the old haunts of the wild man by the gold-seekers. The side of the creek was taken up for several hundred yards with cradlers and pud- dlers, all engaged most busily in wash ing the golden earth ; while those em- ployed in carrying down the stuff helped, with those who were working away at the claims, to make the whole a very hive of industry and ceaseless animation. On the upper portion of the Point, and around the green borders, rustling among thc trees and shrubs that stood around were the rude resting-places of thc population of the day, thus concentrated upon this small area so soon to be deserted for. a time, but only to be invested again with a more numerous and more permanent multitude. If the gazer remained till nightfall he beheld the whole space lighted up by the fires kindling in every direction for cooking the inevitable damper, or boiling the sober beverage still in vogue-for there were no chimneys in use in the days when Golden Point was first peopled. To the diggers of that day who, many of them, lived in rude mi-mis, or under a blanket thrown over a bough or two, with the wind of heaven blowing upon them and the rains flowing through their comfortless dwellings, the chimney of sods surrounded by a pile of flour barrels, or cases, or shingles, or it may be by the hollow trunk of a tree, was an affluence of convenience and com- fort totally unknown. Gathered, as were the early diggers, thus in one spot, whose circumference was small and easily travelled over by the eye, our gazing Rip would have com- paratively little difficulty in computing the probable number of his fellow diggers, as they plodded away at their exciting occupation, upon the field of
labor before them.
Gently and noiselessly comes the evening air among the scented blos-
soms of the wattle, mingling their fra- grance with .that from the odorous foliage of the peppermint and the gum, and combining all in one to waft to- wards the musing solitary. One after another, the diggers' fires die out as tte night comes on, and in their place the "eternal fires" of heaven are lighted up; the shout and the song have ceased upon the Point, and the lullaby of the increased gale, as it plays upon the myriad strings of the forest harp, compose our pensive prospector to his five years' slumber. Whilst he sleeps, our history must go on and forget him, until his awakening comes by and bye in the fullness of time- when we shall be ready, no doubt, to listen to his ex- clamations of astonishment at the sight of what will have been effected during his protracted somnolency.
A photograph of the Point before
and after the exodus to Mount Alex- ander, as also of the many camping places on the route, with the novel and occasional bizarre equipments of the cigar travellers on the road, would be in the highest degree interesting. This, however, is not available for our information and amusement; for in these days there were no photogra- phers to. give us daguerrean or collo- dion facsimiles of nature and art, as is the case in the more imposing and luxurious circumstances of the present time-when literature, and art and science have obtained a lodgment in our midst, and are diffusing their beauties and utilities on every hand.
As soon as the news of the discovery of rich ground at Mount Alexander had become confirmed, a general move was made by the Ballarat diggers to-
wards the new gold field. Those who
possessed drays and horses, or bullocks, had of course a great advantage over
those who had nothing but their legs and arms with which to transport themselves and the provisions which, in those days, it was necessary to take
in order to secure the migrator from absolute starvation on the way, and on arrival at the end of his journey. Drays and horses immediately became doubled in value, and as much as £25 per ton was charged for carriage to the Mount. This was a large sum in those days ; although to us, who have since
since then been intimate with far
higher rates, there is nothing specially
The absence of all facilities of travel and the want of stores, compelled every man to transport tools and pro- visions as best he might ; and the
consequence was that all sorts of con- trivances were resorted to in order to
lessen the labor and inconvenience of the transit. The track of the rush
thus became, a kind of hurried flight, wherein everybody seemed to have but one governing motive-to escape as quickly as possible from what lay behind, and to reach as rapidly the distant goal towards which their golden hopes directed them.
There were drays piled up with picks, shovels, cradles, boxes, bundles, and bags : followed, surrounded, pre- ceded by the diggers whose contri- butions had made up the load. There were wheelbarrows heavily burdened with the indispensable paraphernalia
of a digger's establishment, and trundelled along by each mate in
turn ; while the surplus articles that could not be, with all the ingenuity and power of packing employed by the rushers for the purpose, crammed
into the barrow, were distributed amongst the men who were, for the time, free from the trundling vehicle. There were others, innocent of drays and barrows, or other artificial appli- ances, who harnessed to their own broad backs the huge "swags" that cruel fate imposed upon the primitive gold hunter. These carried a veri- table coat of arms as it were upon their shoulders ; the shield a broad bundle gules, sable, azure, or non- descript as the case may be; and quartered saltierwise by a pick and shovel; the crest of a "billy" of most unquestionable sable, and the whole garnished with accessories equally novel in the school of heraldry ; while for motto we may presume the panting wayfarer would accept something like the following "all for gold, and the devil take the hindmost,"
John Chinaman had, even at this early day, visited our shores, and one or two had found their way to Balla- rat by the time the first rush took place to Mount Alexander, and the celestial diggers were not wanting in powers of adaptation to the circum- stances in which they found themselves, amongst the barbarians with whom they were herding for the time under the auspices of the universal passion. In the rush to the Mount, John patronised neither dray nor wheelbarrow,—but constructed a low truck which was
drawn by ropes in front, and propelled by a pole from behind. This contri-
vance was admirably suited to the many boggy places that had to be crcssed on the way, as the pole in the rear served, also, as a lever, by means of which, the truck, with its burden, was hoisted up, and the men in front enabled to drag the whole affair clear of the impediment.
The road taken by the diggers in their migration hence was, that which passes near Hepburn's Station ; and the journey was accomplished, in some cases, in two days ; while in others a week was spent in traversing the same distance. Drays, while they were a convenience, as far as the trans- port of implements, provisions, and so forth was concerned, were an incon- venience in the matter of time. The drays were obliged to keep to the beaten track, and in passing had pieces of road would often get bogged or otherwise hindered; while pedestrians,
and even the men of trucks and bar- rows, would push their way along with much less loss of time. We thus per- ceive that even in a gold field's rush in the first days of the gold discovery, the law of compensation, so universal in nature, was in force to equalize the circumstances of the variously appointed travellers on the first pilrimage to
As in the course of a few weeks nearly as many thousand diggers, with all their accompaniments, had taken
to the road lying between Ballarat and the Mount, it may readily be imagined that the line of march presented a somewhat lively appearance. This was particularly the case at the halting places on the way, and at the spots chosen for company at night. If a squatter's station lay conveniently near. the travellers naturally selected its vi-
cinity for their night's halt; and in every case each one sought to make his
resting place with the general company for the night, as well for company as for convenience and security.
Then the demesnes of the bucolic lords, yclept " pastoral tenants of the crown," were subjected to unprece- dented onslaught on the part of the hungry diggers by the way, whose sharpened appetites propelled them to eager quest of mutton, or, in obedience
to more refined or simple tastes, of the
lactic beverage so universally accept- able. Great was the contempt, and
unutterable the disgust of the proud man of oxen and sheep, when the rough looking and vulgar diggers first broke in upon the pastoral serenity of
his home in the boundless wastes he
had selected. The sudden irruption of the migratory vagabonds upset the customary otium cum dignitate of the proud and taciturn settler ; and, to the far-seeing among them was ominous of most unwelcome changes in the po- sition and prospects of the august fra- ternity to which they belonged.
Nor was the disagreeable augury a mere phantasy of a too excitable im- agination ; for while the squatter has seen his stock quadrupled in value by the results of the gold discovery, and
has found his bank accounts assume a far more satisfactory appearance than before, he has also seen a new power arise in the colony, and one which
has sounded the knell of his exclusive
powers and privileges. - The land which had been laid hold of in such wholesale fashion by these enterpris- ing woolgrowers and tallow-melters, has been demanded by the people.
The measureless tracts of forest and
prairie hitherto devoted exclusively to the flocks and herds of the would-be aristocrats of the soil, have been de- clared to be the property of the
people, who want to convert it into
homes of their own. Besides beef and mutton, and tallow, and hides, and wool, the people require corn and wine, and oil ; and fields, and or- chards, and vineyards, and cosy dwel- lings are to spring up where hitherto nought but the nomade flocks of the squatter roamed, and scared away
from their immemorial haunts rae - aboriginal beast, or the scarcely less degraded aboriginal proprietor of the vast and unexplored territory around.
The birth of a new nation had taken
place ; and the many limbs of the young Briareus must have room to grow in ; for it is destined to be a very giant, whose influence and power, for good or for evil, shall be felt in all time coming.
THE QUEEN'S ANSWER TO THE ADDRESS ON NATIONAL EDUCATION
IN IRELAND.-Viscount Drumlanrig, the comptroller of her Majesty's house- hold, appeared at the bar, and pre- sented her Majesty's answer to the
address recently agreed to by the
House of Commons on the subject of national education in Ireland. The
answer was in the following terms : I fully recognise the duty of extend- ing, as widely-as possible, the blessings of education in Ireland, and your wishes and recommendations will
always receive, the consideration justly
due to them, it affords me the
greatest satisfaction to know that ex- perience has proved that the extension of the system öf national education in
Ireland has greatly promoted this im- portant obbject. It is my earnest
desire to see that system upheld and strengthened by a strict adherence to those rules, which by excluding all compulsory religious teaching, have hitherto secured parental authority, the rights of conscience, and the re- ligious liberty of all denominations of
A TRUE AMERICAN.-Gov. Wise, in his speech at Richmond, in favor of
the election of Buchanan and Breck-
inridge, said-"Mr Buchanan is, I hope, utterly opposed to a war with England. Nothing could be more dis- astrous to our whole country, and espe- cially to our southern section of it, than a war with England at this crisis. He (Mr Wise) did not fear England. If we are to have a war, if war most come, it
was more honorable to have it with a power worthy of our steel. No foeman was as worthy of a war with America as Great Britain. Every laurel gained
in a war with her would be an honor
well won, if any were won. He wished to be distinctly understood. He was no war man in peace, and no peace man in war. He loved the English nation better than any other, except his own.. He loved the Anglo-Saxon race best because it was . his own race, and
he believed it was the best race of men on earth. He knew, after all that had passed between. John Bull and Brother Jonathan,, notwithstanding all the hard knocks given and received
between them, they at heart loved each other. He had felt this once abroad. When the Mexican war began he had opportunities in South America to see and to feel, and he would never forget that, whilst Spaniard and Portuguese, and Frenchman, were sympathising with and bantering for the Mexican, and hoping and prophesying his victory over us, John Bull rammed his fists in his breeches pockets, and gruffly stood up for Brother Jonathan. He swore, and he offered to bet, with so little bullying in his tone, that he could whip his kinsman, but nobody else could whip his brother Jonathan. If there is
bad blood between John Bull and Bro- ther Jonathan, it is all in the family: they will settle their quarrels in their own
way, and nobody else must interfere."
Printed and published by Richard Belford
at the "STAR" General Printing Office,
Main Road, Ballarat.