LANDING THE ENGLISH MAILS AT PORT VICTOR.
Important Meeting at Port Victor.
A large and very influential meeting was held in the Institute Hall, Port Victor, on Thursday evening last, called by the Chair- man of the District Council of Encounter Bay, in response to a requisition to consider what steps should be taken to bring about the landing of the English mails at Encoun- ter Bay instead of at St. Vincent's Gulf, as at present.
Mr. L. T. Tite, J.P. (Chairman of the Council), presided, and having opened the meeting in formal way, alluded to the ex- treme desirability that existed for a change being made in the arrangements for land- ing mails, passengers, and cargo from the ocean steamers calling at our shores, and expressing the belief that strong efforts should be made to induce the Federal Government to secure an alteration of present plans, with the safe and readily accessible harbor of Port Victor substituted for the open roadstead of the Gulf as place of call for the mail boats, to the great bene- fit of the companies, the prevention of such fiascos as had occurred so many times at Largs Bay, and the ending of the discom- forts that had been so long put up with in the Gulf. There was some hope, now that Federation had been accomplished, that some attention might be paid to the claims of Port Victor, which offered an ample, safe, and comfortable provision for the boats, no matter how bad the weather, with an actual saving of time and money, in place
of the wretehed facilities of the Largs Bay landing. Something most be done, for the present system was breaking down of its own weight, and unless the State bestirred itself the steamers would go by altogether. He hoped the result of the present meeting would be that the project would be taken up in a determined and sensible manner, and that the time might thereby be hastened when Port Victor would be given its just and due rights. Apologies were announced for the absence of Messrs. Goode, Graham, Grundy, Abbott, Welch, and other gentlemen. Mr. G. H. Bundey, having expressed pleasure at the large and representative attendance, quoted Shakespeare's lines, telling of the tide in the affairs of man which, taken at the flood, leads to fortune, or, neglected drifts to failure, and added that as with the affairs of men so with national matters. It seemed to him that that tide was flowing to them just now, and he hoped that full advantage would be taken of it, and the meeting have some tangible results. He wished to thank Mr. Cudmore for the warm interest he was taking in the interests of the South, and also the Southern Argus for its earnest advocacy of all matters affecting its welfare, and he trusted that the committee would receive all the support that should be given to them in the district in their efforts to secure for Port Victor
its proper place in State and Federal im- portance. To obtain success it was neces- sary that fulcrum of agitation now put in place must be the set principle that patience and perseverance overcome all difficulties, and in this case rid the south of the un- reasoning advocacy of what was really an unworthy rival — Port Adelaide, where recent experiences with regard to the Ophir would not soon be forgotten. At some length Mr. Bundey set before his hearers the disadvantages of the present landing places for the English mails, giving illustra- tions strongly emphasising the need for change, the recent case of the Austral's long delay being one in point. At Largs Bay the liners had to lie out some three or three- and-a-half miles in an open roadstead ; at Port Victor they, could ride in deep water sheltered and safe, close to the jetty, and land their mails, passengers, and cargo with out the very least of discomfort, trouble or delay. Economy was the watchword of the day, and it seemed utterly indefensible to fly to expenditure of large sums at Port Adelaide, Largs Bay, Marino or Semaphore, for the construction of an outer harbor
or dock when they had, very much more conveniently situated, and of more easy access, a magnificent harbor which required the most trifling amount of expenditure to fit it for all the shipping of the continents a harbor, where the largest vessel afloat could lie safe and sure in the heaviest gale that blew. Then, too, the ultimate position Port Victor will occupy with relation to the great river trade, which most certainly will develop under Federation must be kept in view, the locking of the rivers being a matter of almost immediate consummation, which the Canal Scheme will as certainly follow, when Port Victor will become the depot for a large amount of merchandise. With the construction of the transcontinen- tal line, which was also a foregone conclusion, trunk lines to Western Australia and Queensland would follow, in which, case, there would be grave danger that unless very much better facilities ware offered to the steamship companies for landing goods and mails here they would discharge mails and light cargo at the western ports for rail forwarding, and pass us by altogether. Port Victor, however, could prove to be the rescue, and if only fair opposition were set against it could readily triumph over every rival. But even the unfair opposition she had had to contend with in the past, and suffered from at the present time, could be overcome by determined agitation, by determined energy which would not be discouraged, particularly if the efforts made were directed in proper direction. The facts of their case should be laid fully and freely before the great Steamship Com-
panies, the saving of distance, of time, of money, and of risk being plainly emphasised, and then the lever of agitation should be kept steadily at work in the Federal as well as in the State Parliament. Not only would the selection of Victor Harbor solve the problem of landing effectually, once and for all, but it would settle the local disputes for ever going on at St. Vincent's Gulf, putting an end to a lot of petty jealousy and strife. Did time permit he could adduce arguments almost without number in favor of Port Victor, of which Mr. H. C. Mais, the Government Engineer wrote in 1871, "Port Victor will become one of the most impor- tant ports in South Australia, having every natural facility for a snug harbor," and Mr. Hickson, C.E., in 1876 reported as being "a harbor where sea-going vessels of any size could load or discharge cargoes along side suitable jetties or wharfs at little expense." - He proposed "That in the opinion of this meeting the time is now opportune for moving that the English mails should be landed at Victor Harbor." Mr. A. Battye, J.P., seconded the motion, briefly supporting the case set out by the mover, and expressing the hope that strong, determined, and wisely-directed effort would be made to secure the realization of the scheme.
The motion was carried unanimously. Mr. D. H. Cudmo-re moved that, 'while fully recognising Port Adelaide as the chief commercial port of South Australia, we consider that, if the previous resolution is .carried into effect it will promote the best interests of this State.' As far back as 1856 or 1857 Captain Douglas, of the ship Yatala* reported Port Victor as a safe harbour, though breakwater and other facilities now possessed were then undreamed of, and ever since then the difficulties in separable from Port Adelaide and its neigh boring landing places had been made mani fest, for . while over a million had been expendedin improving the city port it had been quite unable to keep pace with require ments. It was not suited for dealing with large and fast ocean steamers, and never would be. The best that could be done for improving it would be to follow the proposal Mr. Lindon Bates had made, whose scheme was a good one, which would have the effect of creating a Williamstown. for' Port Adelaide; but it was vfery questionable indeed whether it would suit the great ocean steamers, the 3£ miles of dredged channel which they would have to steam
through: before reaching- the docks, being a very serious matter, either, involving delay should 'tliey arrive at nightfall or heavy increase of insurance, which the taxpayers would have to provide for in the shape of increased subsidies. How much more would the mailboats prefer to run round the corner of the Port Victor- breakwater, drop their mails and cargo, and be off again without any of the troubles or delays, a course that could be pursued to-day with the facilities Port Victor already possessed. It was,, under existing circumstances, the only port on the South Australian coast fit for the anchorage and shelter of the modem large vessels of the great steamship lines, while by the expenditure of a comparatively small sum — following Sir John Coode's pro posals for gradual extension of the break water — it eould be fitted as occasion arose for dealing with the very largest ships afloat, its natural situation and favorable condi tions conspiring peculiarly to render if one of the safest and most convenient harbors conceivable. Taken in conjunction with; the subject of landing the mails at Port Victor, the question of the Eiverina trade must also be considered, and it should not be forgotten that under Federation the development of that teidd be3OiH3S a part of the policy of the Commonwealth rather than a matter of mere State interest. Indeed^ already steps are; being taken towards bringing about the long-desired locking of the Darling and Murray, and the accomplishment of the project — whica is only a matter of time — will necessitate the improvement of the outlet of the river system ; and he need hardly say that the development of the vast resources of the
river trade, the encouragement of the utiliz ation of the vast tracts served by that river trade must benefit the districts concerned and therefore benefit the whole State. Mr. Bates' estimate for the Sobe breakwater (the bulk of the material for which was to come from Victor Harbor), ? set down ' at .£58 per foot, gave basis for calculation in estim ating the cost of adding LjOGO feet to the existing breokwater at Port Victor at under .£60,000, but the expenditure cf even that sum was not required at present* very trifling outlay being sufficient for present needs. It must not be forgotten that tbe landing of the mails at Port Victor would have the effect of hastening the proper development of the river trade, and - he would like to. point out in this connection that ware the Goolwa and Port Victor canal scheme brought to a successful issue, not only would the present factors be brought into operation more effectually but a large timber trade would spring up, the valley of the Murray, varying from one to seven miles in width, being liberally covered by red gum, which was more and more exten sively being called into use for various arts and industries, while at the same time extensive areas of land now lying idle would be opened up and put to profitable and trade-producing use. Mr. Cudmore briefly touched . on the South-eastern Harbor Schemes, the Kingston and Beach port oiies of which he put out of count on account of their enormous cost, and the Guichen Bay one on account of its indefens ibility in consideration of the comparativelv
small trade area served, Portland, already a good and well provided harbour was serving a bulk of the area concerned, the immediate dredging of 3,000,000 cubic yards, including 500,000 yards of rock required for fitting the harbor for use of big boats also being alluded to. Then too the south-eastern harbors were all unsuit- able for mailboats calling for the S.A. State, being too far from the capital, and the break of gauge of railway existing as a secondary, but important obstacle. The present south-eastern harbors were amply sufficient for all local requirements and money might far better be spent on com- pleting the breakwater at Port Victor, and constructing the canal from Goolwa to that harbor, than frittering it away on schemes which of necessity, be very costly and of nothing more than mere local value. A glance at the trade area to be served by the south-eastern scheme as defined on Mr. Bates' plans showed that the bulk of requirements was fulfilled by Portland, and it would not be in keeping with Federation to construct a competing port to that one which should only serve the same area. A good deal had been talked about the cargo trade of the great mailsteamers, and it had been said that the necessity for dealing with that at Port Adelaide would ever bar the way to change of landing for the reia^gj but in the first place the reasons against a change of landing for that cargo were not sound, since it could be proved that to land it more safely, more expediously, and more easily at Port Victor, would reduce cost of handling to such an extent that the extra carriage wouid be provided for and goods reach their destination earlier than at present, and in the second place the amount of cargo business was altogether too small to be seriously felt by the merchants of Port Adelaide. According to the Treas urer's statement in the House recently the English mail steamers discharged 7,890 tons and loaded 7,440 tons, and the German boats 9,592 and 16,845 tons, for the year ended June 30th hist, and working this out it showed that au average of 152 tons per week are discharged and 142 tons loaded, or
under 150 tons foi» each way, the figures for the export produce department totalling 679,896 lbs. butter, 7,933 cases of fruit, and 29,172 rabbits, the German boats taking 2,850 cases of fruit in addition. It should not be forgotten that on very many occasions it had been impossible to land cargo at Largs Bay, and it had been taken on to Melbourne to be returned by the coasting steamers, and it had more than once happened that rather than risk the discomforts of embarking here passengers for Europe had gone over to Melbourne to join the mail steamers there. The future restoration and development of the river trade would have an important influence on the matter generally, and from all points of view he (Mr. Cudmore), thought it would be a very good thing indeed for the State were Port Victor adopted for the landing of the mails, and at the same time the canal scheme carried into effect so as to develop the river trade. Victor Harbor was the only port in South Australia right upto date — the biggest vessel afloat might safely ' steam into her sheltered basin in the roughest of weather and. tranship her mails, passengers, and cargo without any of the ills or dangers that had to be put up with away up the gulf. (Cheers.) Me. E. Warj.and seconded the motion, and expressed the gratification that Mr. Cudmore had taken the matter up, as it was, to men of that gentleman's position - and stamp that they must look for the greatest help in bringing such a project to a successful issue, men of large practical experience, of unimpeachable authority,and of sound and wise judgment. For himself he took the stand of economy as the basis of any arguments he might use in favor of the scheme —the stand that the State cannot afford to waste a million of money for what it had already got in its possession — a safe and commodious port of call for the great ocean liners. When in years gone by efforts had, been made for the betterment of Port Victor, he had, as a member of the . old Vigilance Committee, been a strong fighter, and though he h*d grown older there was still plenty of the fighter left in him yet, and he was more ready than ever to work- for Port Victor's cause now, because he felt that it was for the State's cause tco. On the plea of ' distance ' their port could show a saving of a hundred to a hundred and ten miles steaming for the boats ; convenience of situation was another strong point ; ease and safety in effecting land ing with deep water right up to the shore ;.
and insurance another factor which would play a part in getting cheaper carriage, since the premiums for boats would be materially reduced. The present want cf -facilities for landing the mails was distinctly against State's interest, and there was always the danger of the boats going by and sending goods and mails back from Victoria. With Port Victor as the landing place there would be saving of time, expense, and: danger to ths companies,
and the 'change might be made to hjotovt with advantage to all concerned. Sir .Tchn Cootie had told him personally that ev-;a v.i:h the existing breakwater the harbor was w excellent one, and tnat while his sehcu.e pro vided for the gradual extension, of . the break water to 3,coq feet, with the present woik carric-d out to merely a,ooo' feet' the largest vessels afloat could He together safely with merely a lender, between them. fie quoted instances of quick dispatch' in dealing wUh the few wool boats' that called in the season, mentioning one particular case id whin, while the weather was very rougb outside, upwaids of 2,000 ha'es hticF been landed in a few fenitrs. Jnsi as it stood Vi- tor Harbor was a harbor fit for the reception of the great ocean liners, bnt were S:r John CboJe's scheme completed it would be one of the finest harbors in the world ; and that scheme could be fully com pleted and the canal cut from Goolwa for less than either of the olher schemes suggested by Mr. Lindon Bates cxild l«r carried in 'o- effecc. The whole matter was- of more than mere State imporanc;, and should be broughtprom inently before the notice of the Federal Par- liament. The motion was carried unanimously. Mr. P. Field asked whether the Chairman could inform the meeting as to what time Messrs. John Hill & Co. had once guaranteed to deliver the mails in Adelaide from Victor Harbor if they were landed there, and various speakers agreed that six hours had been the limit. Mr. A. H. DENNIS moved that the follow- ing be a €ommittee with power to add to their number and act in conjunction with the local corporate bodies: — Messrs. A. £atryer G. Bundev, O. A. Baaner. D.BL Cudigiore, A,
R. F. Lindsay, W. S. Reid, Geo B:tchte, E. , Warland, T. Goode, A, Grabamr W. Grundyr H. Welch, S. W. Padmao, J. Field. J Abbott, and Dr. M. P. O'Leary.' Mr. H. G-rosvenok seconded and ex pressed the hope that the efforts of the com mittee might be crowned with success in- the very near future. The motion was carried with tbe name of Mr. A. T. Grosvenor, J.P^ added to- the list. Mr. S. W. Padman moved ' That in the opinion of this meeting it is desirable that the District Council of Encounter Bay should without delay give effect to- the foregoing reso lutions.' He was in full sympathy with the movement and thought that with a bit of push they should succeed in. accomplishing the. purpose, particularly if the national importance of the matter were kept ever to the fore and mere lDcal reasons, however many good ones could fairly be advanced, given but secondary place or consideration. MR. E. R. Bolger seconded'. A good deal had been said, and for a good many years, about spending money at Largs or therabouts for providing a harbor for the big ocean liners, and a good deal more would have to be spent than was imagined before ever suitable provision could he made there. He had been a resident of Port Victor for some 36 years, and perhaps a few items of in formation he could give touching PortVictor's natural possession of what art would fail to give would be of interest. In 1873, he believed it was, a very great impetus was given to the river trade, Messrs McCnlloch & Co. of Melbourne sending boats regularly once or twice a week to Port Victor to load or discharge goods for or from the river districts. There was no breakwater then, no causeway* no screwpile jetty, but there was the natural harbor, and there was never a delay of 24. hours, such as other ports of call sometimes involved,1 there was never delay or difficulty at all whatever the weather might be. This was previous to any of the improvements they now possessed ; and this was practical proof of Port Victor's natural capabilities. Under present conditions as it was infinitely superier, he could not but ask, why throw away, a million or a million and a half pn the sandy becah of Largs Bay, on the construction of a harbor at a place naturally, unfitted for the purpose, a place which -would have to be ceii tiuually dredged, a source of , contiaued expense, and which sooner or liter would have to lie abandoned in favor of a more suitable anchorage-. For, the modern, big vessel?.;.. He joined in thanking-- Mr. Cudmore- for his action in bringing about the evening's meeting, and expressed the beief that the time was appreciably nearer when the consummation of their wishes would be accomplish id. The-motioo was ca ried. Mr. Bundey said that the foregoing reso lutions completed the programme the commit tee had arranged for the evening wi*h regard to the English mails, but they wished it to be known that they were also going to vigorously agitate for the. Canal Scheme being: carried into effect, and to advocate the early enact ment of the Interstate Commission Bill, so that the differential question could be dealt with. Every possible effort would be ^ade to work not only with the State Parliament but with tbe members of the Federal Parlia ment ; in the arranging of the plan; il would be their constant watch to keep public inter ests, not mere local ones, in view. Port Victor as a harbor could stand on its own merits, but the committee believed that those merits were not sufficiently known, and they would therefore see to it that its claims were more widely advertised.
Me. f . W. Elliott (Mayor of Strathalbyn-, said that he was present that evening as the representative of the Corporation of Strath albyn, who recognised that the subject of the meeting was one in which the whole of the south was deeply interested, and of which they desired to show their practical approval.. For his own part he had for very many years ardently advocated the cuttiag of the canal and the adoption of Port Victor as the mail port of call, and he would continue to do so with all tbe energy he could command, bis paper, . the ^Southern Argus,- being ever the ready means of making public any efforts made in the direction of giving to Encounter Bay and Goolwa the places their geographical position entitled them to. Mr. 3. WaELAND said that a very hearty vote of thanks was due to the Strathalbyn Corporation for their vote of support, and to their Mayor for his attendance, and a similar vote was due to the Southern Argus, which year in and year out had vigorously cham pioned the cause ol the south and done much to advance its interests. He thought it was only right that Mr. Elliott should be thus publicly thanked for his valuable aid. Messrs. Bundey, Cudmore, and others supported the votes, which were carried a similar compliment being passed to the Chair- man, who responded. It was mentioned that a monster meeting will shortly be held at Port Elliot as a more central situation, when the presence of State and Federal legislators will be secured, and arrangements made for having full reports published in the daily press of Adelaide and Melbourne.