SATURDAY MARCH 31, 1827.
KING'S ISLAND.—This island, of which Mr Barnard
has completed a laborious and interesting survey, is about 30 miles long from north to south, and 12 to 15 from east to west, and with the exception of the hills near the shore, is low and flat. Mr. Barnard crossed it by six different routes, and found the soil and its products, generally speaking, inferior to those in this island. It is well watered near the coast, but except a rivulet to the north of Sea Elephant Bay on the east coast, possesses no stream of any magnitude. The tide was found to rise some feet higher on the east than on the west coast, a phenomenon which confirms the theory of the general progressive motion of the sea, influenced by the sun in that direction. It scarcely possesses one good harbour, the best being that at New Year's Island. Gum trees prevail, besides which, the black and light woods, the celery leafed pine, and the sassafras abound in perfection. There is a shrub which the sealers use in the place of tea, and which affords an acrid stimulating drink, and also a viscous strong smelling plant which they smoke as tobacco. Kangaroos are not very numerous, but the small species called wallaby, on the western coast, are almost like rabbits in a warren. Mr. Barnard makes no mention of the small while wombat which affords such delicate eating, and we fear the dogs left on the Island by the sealers have nearly destroyed the species. The sea elephant and seals, with the bones of which the beach is strewed, are, we regret to say, also become very scarce. Swans, ducks, teal, snipes, quail, pigeons, a peculiar species of cockatoo, and a sort of widgeon, also common at Macquarie Island, in size between the quail and partridge, a very pretty bird and very delicate eating, are all found in abundance.
From its situation this Island appeared to Mr. Barnard well calculated for a penal settlement. Although the underwood of the interior affords the means of concealment
no subsistence could be obtained by runaways, except round the coast on gull's eggs, and that at only one season. To attempt to cross the Island without a compass would be inevitable death. With every facility for travelling, it
occupied Mr. Barnard three days, and he rarely met with an animal of any kind, except a few birds; proceeding often not more than a quarter of a mile in an hour. None of the sealers could ever accomplish it though they often attempted to cross it, even aided by black women as guides. If the sun were clouded, a man without a compass would absolutely turn round in 30 or 40 yards, bewildered in his efforts to escape a labyrinth. Were Government to adopt this island as a penal settlement of temporary punishment, the procuring of timber appears to be the only eligible means of employing the prisoners ; but were it to be selected as a place of banishment for life, for the very worst characters, whose crimes might merit punishment only one degree less than death, the best employment would probably be some kind of manufactory for the use of the improved colony, the island itself affording little means of other profitable occupation. The situation of the island in the strait between Circular Head and Western Port will doubtless, at no distant period, render it a place of consequence for trade, but at present it presents few inducements to the free settler. During the months of December, January, and part of February, which Mr. Barnard was there, more rain prevailed than in Van Diemen's Land. The average height of the thermometer was about 62, and its greatest range from 42 to 82, easterly winds generally
bringing warm weather.
We consider these labours of exploration of the highest interest and importance to the community of these colonies and shall rejoice to learn that other equally useful and
instructive surveys are in progress.
The brig Dotterel and the ship, Marquis of Lansdown, have each, we learn, obtained a license to trade in tea for two years, with any port eastward of the Cape of Good Hope.
We believe the trade in opium is included in this license, other India goods being unrestricted.
The ship Tiger, T. Richards, maybe daily expected from London, and will be followed by a beautiful new brig called the Lion, A. Kenn, (formerly of the William Shand) both vessels belonging to Buckles and Co. The Denmark Hill, Foreman, has been due for some time.
The transport ship Albion may be daily expected from Sydney with numerous Government Stores, and D. Commissary General
We rejoice to observe that Captain Briggs has concluded the purchase of the Caledonia, and that many settlers have already contributed their quota of wheat to freight that vessel and to receive in return sugar and other foreign goods of necessary consumption in the colony.
We congratulate our readers on the establishment in Hobart-town, of the new and highly respectable mercantile house of Bell and Company, of which, Captain Bell and Captain Cooling, we learn, are partners.
Notwithstanding the apparent depression of the times several valuable farms, as well as premises and allotments in town, have lately been sold at very improving prices,
The average price of wheat continues at a dollar, barley is dearer. Wheat at Sydney 5s. 6d.
We are surprised to learn, that 3 per cent, is charged, exchange between Launceston and Hobart-town, exactly the same as treasury bills between this and London! One per cent, is surely more than abundant remuneration for so
small a transaction.
Our predictions regarding the fur seal fishery in the Straits have proved but too true. The number taken this season is not only much less, but the quality is so inferior as to fetch only from a dollar to 5s. a skin, which formerly averaged 10 or 12, and in London 25s. to 30s. each.
We regret to state, that on Friday last, while the brig Apollo was off Cape Pillar, on the voyage to Sydney, during a squall, the vessel shipped such a quantity of water, from some of the upper works not being sufficiently caulked, that
she became completely water logged, and has been obliged to put into Maria Island to repair. Major Lord, the Commandant, immediately afforded every assistance in his power, and Captain Laughton, it was expected, would be able to proceed on his voyage in three or four days, but many of the goods, it is much feared, have suffered from the effects of the sea water. Cap. Welsh met the vessel at sea, and surveyed the damage, which is exactly as we have stated.
Mr. Shewbridge has commenced picking hops in his new and improving grounds on the
New-Town road, and his harvest promises,
through his praiseworthy exertions, to be not only abundant; but of the finest quality. The hop harvest in England has been but indifferent,
the old duty being estimated at £250,000 and the price per cwt. varying from £3 to £8.