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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 6

Australian Vegetation

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Australian Vegetation.

The great continent of Australia exhibits throughout its varied zones marked diversities in the physiognomy of its vegetation. These differences stand less in relation to geographical latitudes than to geological formations, and especially climatical conditions. Yet it is in few localities only where the peculiar features, impressed by nature as a whole on the Australian landscape, cannot at once be recognised. The occurrence of eucalypts and simple-leaved acacias in all regions, and the preponderance of these trees in most, suffice alone to demonstrate that in Australia we are surrounded largely by forms of the vegetable world which, as a complex, nowhere re-occur beyond its territory, unless in creations of ages passed by.

In a cursory glance at the vegetation, as intended on this occasion, it is not the object to analyse its details. In viewing vegetable life here, more particularly as the exponent of clime, or as the guide for settlement, or as the source of products for arts and manufactures, we may content ourselves by casting a view only on the leading features presented by the world of plants in this great country. While the absence of very high and wooded mountains imparts to the vegetation throughout a vast extent of Australia a degree of monotony, we perceive that the occurrence of lofty forest ranges along the whole eastern and south-eastern coast change largely there the aspect of the country, and in this alteration the mountainous island Tasmania greatly participates. Thus the extensive umbrageous forest regions of perpetual humidity commence in the vicinity of Cape Otway; extend, occasionally but not widely interrupted, through the southern and eastern part of Victoria, and thence, especially on the seaside slopes of the ranges, throughout the whole of extra-and intra-tropical East Australia in a band of more or less width, until the cessation of elevated mountains on the northern coast confines the regions of continued moisture to a narrow strip of jungle-land margining the coast. In this vast line of elevated coast-country, extending in length over nearly 3000 miles, and which fairly may pass as the "Australian jungle," the vegetation assimilates more than elsewhere to extra-Australian types, especially to the impressive floral features of continental and insular India. Progressing from the Victorian promontories easterly, and thence northerly, we find that the eucalypts, which still preponderate in the forest of the southern ranges, gradually forsake us, and thus in Eastern Gippsland commences the vast assemblage of varied trees, which so much charms by its variety of forms, and so keenly engages attention by the multiplicity of its interest. Bathed i n vapour from innumerable springs or torrents, and sheltered page 4 under the dark foliage of trees very varied in form, a magnificent display of the ferntrees commences, for which further westerly we would seek in vain the climatic conditions. Even isolated sentries, as it were, of the ferntree-masses are scattered not further west than to the craters of extinct volcanoes near Mount Gambier, and although colossal Todea-ferns, with stems six to ten feet high, and occasionally as thick, emerge from the streamlets which meander through the deep ravines near Mount Lofty, on St. Vincent's Gulf, we miss there the stately palm-like grace of the Cyatheœ, Dichsoniœ, and Alsophilœ, which leave on the lover of nature who ever beheld them the remembrance of their inexpressible beauty. These fern-trees, often 20 to 30, occasionally 50 to 70 feet high, and at least as many years old, if not older, admit readily of removal from their still mild and humid haunts to places where, for decorative vegetation, we are able to produce the moisture and the shade necessary for their existence. Of all ferntrees of the globe that species which predominates through the dark glens of Victoria, Tasmania, and parts of New South Wales, the Dicksonia Antarctica (although not occurring in Antarctic regions), is the most hardy and the least susceptible to dry heat. This species, therefore, should be chosen for garden ornaments, or for being plunged into any park glens; and if it is considered that trees half a century old may with impunity be deprived of their foliage and sent away to distant countries as ordinary merchandise, it is also surprising that a plant so abundant has not yet become an article of more extended commerce.

A multitude of smaller ferns, many of delicate forms, are harboured under the shade of the jungle-vegetation, amounting in their aggregate to about 160 species, to which number future researches in North-East Australia will undoubtedly add. The circular Asplenium nidus, or great nest-fern, with fronds often six feet long, extends to the eastern part of Gippsland, but the equally grand staghorn-ferns (Platycerium alcicorne and P.grande) seemingly cease to advance south of Illawarra, while in Northern Queensland Angiopteris evecta count amongst the most gorgeous, and two slender Alsophilœ amongst the most graceful forms. The transhipment of all these ferns offers lucrative inducements to traders with foreign countries. Epiphytal orchids, so much in horticultural request, are less numerous in these jungle tracts than might have been anticipated, those discovered not yet exceeding 30 in number. Their isolated outposts advance in one representative species—the Sarcochilus Gunnii—to Tasmania and the vicinity of Cape Otway, and in another—Cymbidium canalicidatum—towards Central Australia. The comparative scantiness of these epiphytes contrasts as strangely with the Indian orchid-vegetation, as with the exuberance of the lovely terrestrial co-ordinal plants throughout most parts of extra-tropical Australia, from whence 120 well-defined species are known. Still more remarkable is the almost total absence of orchids, both terrestrial and epiphytal, from North and North-West Australia, an absence for which in the central parts of the continent aridity sufficiently accounts, but for which we have no other explanation in the north than that the species have as yet there effected but a limited migration. To the jungles and cedar-brushes—the latter so named because they yield that furniture-wood so famed as the red cedar (Cedrela taona, a tree identical as a species with the Indian plant, though slightly different in its wood)—are absolutely confined the Anonaceœ, Laurineœ, Monimieœ, Meliacœ:, Rubiaceœ, Myrsineœ, Sapoteœ, Ebenaceœ, and Anacardieœ, together with page 5 the Baccate Myrtaceœ, and nearly all the trees of Euphorbiaceæ, Rutaceœ, Apocyneœ, Celastrineœ, Sapindaceœ, which, while often outnumbering the interspersed eucalypts, seem to transfer the observer to Indian regions. None in the multitude of trees of these orders, with exception of our tonic-aromatic sassafras-tree (Atherospermum moschatum) and Hedycarya Cunninghami, which supplies to the natives the friction-wood for igniting, transgress in the south the meridians of Gippsland. Palms cease also there to exist, but their number increases northward along the east-coast, while in Victoria these noble plants have their only representative in the tall cabbage or fan palm of the Snowy River—that palm which, with the equally hardy Areca sapida of New Zealand, ought to be established wherever the date is planted for embellishment. Rotang palms (Calami of several species) render some of the northern thickets almost inapproachable, while there also on a few spots of the coast the cocoanut-tree occurs spontaneously. A few peculiar palms occur in the Cassowary country, near Cape York, and others around the Gulf of Carpentaria as far west as Arnhems-land. The tallest of all, the lofty Alexandra-palm (Ptychosperma Alexdrœ), extends southwards to the tropic of Capricorn, and elevates its majestic crown widely beyond the ordinary trees of the jungle. The products of these entire forests is as varied as the vegetation which constitutes them. As yet, however, their treasures have been but scantily subjected to the test of the physician, the manufacturer, or the artisan. The bark of Alstonia constricta, like that of allied Indian species, is ascertained to be febrifugal, so that of Chionanthus axillaris and Brucea Sumatrana. Caoutchouc might be produced from various trees, especially the tall kinds of Ficus. The lustre and tint of the polished wood of others is unrivalled. Edible fruits are yielded by Achras Australia, Achras Pohlmaniana, Mimusops kauki, Zizyphus jujuba, Citrus Australis, Citrus Planchonii, Eugenia myrtifolia, Eugenia Tierneyana, Parinarium nonda, the candle-nut-tree (Aleurites triloba), and the cluster fig-tree (Ficus vesca, which produces its bunches from the stem); also by species of Owenia and Spondias, and by several brambles and vines. Starchy aliment or edible tubers are furnished by Tacca pinnatifida, by several Cissi (C. opaca, C. clematidea, acrid when unprepared), Marsdenia viridiflora, Colocasia antiquorum, Alocasia macrorrhiza, by a colossal Cycas, some Zaraiœ, and several kinds of yam (Dioscorea bulbifera, Dioscorea punctata, and other species). Back-housia citriodora and Myrtus fragrantissima yield a cosmetic oil; so also Eucalyptus citriodora, a tree not confined to the jungle, and two linds of Ocimum. Semecarpus anacardium, the marking nut-tree, is a nitive of the most northern brush-country. The medicinal Mallotus Philippinensis and the poisonous Excæcaria Agallocha are more frequent. Baloghia lucida furnishes a red dye never to be obliterated.

Many of the trees of the coast-forests of East-Australia range from the extreme north to the remotest south, among them the Palm-panax; others, like Arancaria Cunninghami, extend only to the northern part of New South Wales, while some, including Arancaria Bidwillii, or the Bunya-Bunya tree, so remarkable for its large edible nutlike seeds, and the Australian Kauri, Dammara robusta, are confined to very circumscribed or solitary areas. The absence of superior spice plants (as far as hitherto ascertained) amidst a vegetation of prevailing Indian type is not a little remarkable, for Cinnamomum Laubatii ranks only as a noble timber-tree, and the native nutmegs are inert. The scantiness of acanthaceous plants page 6 is also a noticeable fact. Podostemoneœ have not yet been found. Many plants of great interest to the phytographer are seemingly never quitting the north-eastern peninsula; among these the Banksian banana (Musa Banksii), the pitcher-plant (Nepenthes Kennedyana), the vermillion-flowered Eugenia Wilsonii, the curious Helmholtzia acorifolia, the marshal-tree, Archidmdron Vaillantii (the only plant of the vast order of Leguminosœ with numerous styles), the splendid Diplanthera quadrifolia, Ficus magni-folia, with leaves two feet long, the tall Cardwellia sublimis, and the splendid Cryptocarya Mackinnoniana, are especially remarkable. Rhaphidopliora, Pothos, Piper, together with a host of Lianes, especially gay through the prevalence of Ipomœas, tend with so many other plants to impart to the jungle part of Australia all the luxuriance of tropical vegetation. Of the two great nettle-trees, the Laportea gigas occurs in the more southern regions, while Laportea photinifolia is more widely diffused. Helicia is represented by a number of fine trees far south, some bearing edible nuts. Doryanthes excelsa, the tall especially, is confined to the forests of New South Wales. The flowers of Oberonia palmicola are more minute than those of any other orchideous plant, although more than 2000 species are known from various parts of the globe. The display of trees eligible for avenues from these jungles is large. The tall fern-palm (Zamia Denisonii), one of the most stately members of the varied Australian vegetation, is widely, but nowhere copiously, diffused along the east-coast; it yields a kind of sago, like allied plants. The beans of Castanospermum Australe, which are rich in starch, and those of Entada pursaitha, from a pod often four feet long, are with very many other vegetable substances, on which Mons. Thozet has shed much light, converted by the aborigines into food.

If plants representing the genera Berberis, Impatiens, Rosa, Begonia, Ilex, Rhododendron, Vaccinium, or, perhaps, even firs, cypresses, and oaks, do at all occur in Australia as in the middle regions of the mountains of India, it will be on the highest hills of North-East Australia—namely, on the Bellenden Ker Ranges, mountains still unapproachable through the hostility of the natives—where they will find the cooler and simultaneously moist tropical climate congenial to their existence. But whatever may be the variety and wealth of the primitive flora of East Australia, it is only by the active intelligence and exertions of man that the greatest riches can be wrought from the soil. Whatever plants he may choose to raise—whether costly spices, luscious fruits, expensive dyes; whether cacao, manihot, or other alimentary plants; whether sugar, coffee, or any others of more extensive tropical tillage—for all may be found wide tracts fitted for their new home.

The close access to harbours facilitates culture, while the expansive extent of geographical latitude on the east-coast admits of choosing such spots as in each instance present the most favourable climatic conditions for the success of each special plantation. Beyond the coast ranges the country westward changes with augmenting dryness generally at once into more open pastoral ground. Basaltic downs and gentle verdant rises of eminent richness of herbage may alternately give way to Brigalow scrubs, or sandstone plateaux, or porphyritic or granitic hills, and with the change of the geological formation a change, often very apparent, will take place also in the vegetation. Inland we will lose sight of the glossy, dense, umbrageous foliage, which now only borders a generally low coast in the page 7 north, terminating there frequently in mangroves. Strychnos nux vomica occurs among the coast bushes here, and also an Antiaris (A. macrophylla); but whether the latter shares the deadly poison of the Upas tree of Java and Sumatra requires to be ascertained. Tamarindus Indica is known from Arnhems-laud, and the French bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) in a spontaneous state from the north-west coast. Eucalypts, again, form away from the sea the prevailing timber, but with the exception of the red gum tree (Eucalyptus rostrata), which lines most of the rivers of the whole of the Australian interior, the southern species are replaced by others, never of gigantic growth, in some instances adorned with brilliant scarlet or crimson blossoms. But neither these nor many distinct kinds of northern Acacias and Melaleucas stamp on the country the expression of peculiarity. Familiar Australian forms usually surround us, though those of the cooler zone, and even the otherwise almost universal Senecios, are generally absent. Cyperus vaginatus, perhaps the best of all textile rushes, ranges from the remotest south to these northern regions. Hibiscus tiliaceus, with other malvaceous plants, is here chosen by the natives for the fibre of their fishing nets and cordage. An occasional interspersion of the dazzling Erythrina, vespertilio, of Bauhinia Leichhardti, Erythrophlceum Laboucheri, Livistonia palms, and many Terminaliœ, some with edible fruits, Cochlospermum, Gregorii, C. heteronemum, remind, however, of the flora of tropical latitudes, which, moreover, to the eye of an experienced observer is revealed also in a multitude of smaller plants, either identical with South Asiatic species or representing in peculiar forms tropical genera. The identity of about 600 Asiatic plants (some cosmopolitan) with native Australian species has been placed beyond doubt, and to this series of absolutely identical forms, as well derived from the jungle as from grounds free of forest, unquestionably several hundred will yet be added.

Melaleuca leucadendron, the Cajeput-tree of India, is among Indo-Australian trees one of the most universal; it extends as one of the largest timber-trees of North Australia along many of its rivers, and in diminutive size over the dry sandstone table-lands. The Asiatic and Pacific Casuarina equisetifolia accompanies it often in the vicinity of the coast. By far the most remarkable form in the vegetation of Nortk-West Australia is the Gouty-Stemtree (Adansonia Gregorii); but it is restricted to a limited tract of coast-country. It assumes precisely the bulky form of its only congener, the Monkey-Breadtree, or Baobab of tropical Africa (Adansonia digitata), dissimilar mainly in having its nuts not suspended on long fruit-stalks. Evidence, though not conclusive, gained in Australia, when applied to the African Baobab, renders it improbable that the age of any individual tree now in existence dates from remote antiquity. This view is also held by Dr. G. Bennett, of Sydney. The tree is of economic importance; its stem yields a mucilage indurating to a tragacanth-like gum. It is also one of the few trees which introduces the unwonted sight of deciduous foliage into the evergreen Australian vegetation. Numerous swamps and smaller lakes exist within moderate distance of the coast; as in many other parts of Australia, these waters are surrounded by the wiry Polygonum (Muehlen-beckia Cunninghami), and in Arnhems-land occasionally also by rice plants, not distinct from the ancient culture-plant. But here, in almost æquinoctial latitudes, the stagnant fresh waters are almost invariably nourishing two waterlilies of great beauty (Nympkcea stellata and page 8 Nymphoœa gigantea), which give, by the gay display of their blue, pink, or crimson shades of flowers, or by their pure white, a brilliant aspect to these lakes; and even the Pythagorean bean (Nelumbo nucifera) sends occasionally its fine shield-like leaves and large blossom and esculent fruits out of the still and sheltered waters. But how much could this splendour of lake-vegetation be augmented if the reginal Victoria, the prodigious waterlily of the Amazon River, was scattered and naturalised in these lakes, to expand over their surface its stupendous leaves, and to send forth its huge snowy and crimson fragrant flowers. It would add to the aliment which the natives now obtain from these lakes and swamps by diving for the roots and fruits of the Nymphœœ, or for the tubers of Heleocharis sphacelata, of species of Aponogeton, or by uprooting the starchy rhizomes of Typha augustifolia (the Bullrush), when eager of adding a vegetable component to their diet of Unio shells, or of water-fowls and fishes, all abounding on these favourite places of their resort. Trapa bispinosa, already living, like the Victoria, in the tanks of our conservatories, ought, with Trapa natans, for the sake of its nuts not only to be naturalised in the waters of the north, but also in the lagoons and swamps of the south. Around these lakes Screwpines (Pandanus spiralis and Pandanus aquaticus) may often be seen to emerge from the banks, the latter, as recorded already by Leichhardt, always indicative of permanent water. The young top-parts of the stems of these Pandans, when subjected to boiling, become free of acridity, and thus available in cases of emergency for food. Opilia amentacea and the weeping Eugenia eucalyptoides, together with a native cucumber (Cucumis jucunda), are here among the few plants yielding edible fruit. Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) abounds, and in sandy soil it is found pleasantly acidulous. It will always be acceptable, as a salad or spinage, especially in affections from scurvy, and its amylaceous seeds might in cases of distress be readily gathered for food. A delicious tall perennial spinage (Chenopodium auricomum) is not unfrequent. Beyond one kind of Sandarach Callitris no pines exist in the north, except the Araucaria Greyi, noticed on a circumscribed spot on the Glenelg River. The true bamboo (Bambusa arundinacea) lines, as far as yet observed, only the banks of a few of the rivers of Arnhems-land.

To the pastoral settler, for whom more particularly the generally open Eucalyptus country or the treeless or partly scrubby tracts are eligible, it must be of significance that the rainfall occurs with frequency during the hottest part of the year. Hence, during the summer, grass and herbage is pushing forth with extraordinary rapidity and exuberance, while a judicious burning at the cooler season, together with the effect of regular dews, is certain to produce fresh forage during the drier months. An almost endless variety of perennial nutritious grasses, allied to Indian species, or even identical with them, are known to exist. The basaltic downs of the north and north-west produce almost precisely that same vegetation which has rendered Darling and Peak Downs so famed in the east. This almost absolute identity of plants is a sufficient indication of great semblance of climate, for which the rise of the country, though one not very considerable, to some extent may account. On the ranges which divide the waters of the east-coast from those of Carpentaria, the vine luxuriates; its fruit indeed suffers occasionally from frost.

How far the tracts south of the more littoral northern country may page 9 continue to bear prevailingly the feature of fertility cannot be predicated. There can be no greater fallacy than to prejudge an untraversed country—a fallacy to which explorers are prone, and which, in some instances, has retarded advancement of geographical discoveries and of new locations of permanent abodes, while, in other instances, it has led to disastrous consequences. A country should be judged with caution. Even from elevations comparatively inconsiderable, as such nearly always proved away from the eastern coast, the orb of vision is limited. A traveller may, buoyant with hope, commence his new daily conquest on the delightful natural lawns or the verdant slopes of a trap formation; and before many hours' ride he may, to his dismay, be brought without water to a bivouac between the sand waves of decomposed barren rocks. But as suddenly a few hours' perseverance may bring him again into geological regions of fertility when he least expected it; smiling landscapes may again burst into his view, and he may establish his next camp on limpid water, sufficient for the requirements of a future city. The nature of a country is not ruled by climate and latitude alone, but quite as much, if not more, by its geological structure. Glancing on the map of an unexplored country, we are apt to take in our conjectures the former alone for a guide, until the latter by actual field-operations becomes our stronghold in topographical mapping. It would thus be unsafe to assume that the great western half of the interior consists mainly of desolate, uninhabitable desert-country, or even to contend that the reappearance on Termination Lake, or on the Murchison River, of so very many of the plants which give to the saltbush country, or the Mallee and Brigalow scrubs, on the extensive depression of the Darling-system, their physiognomy, necessitates their uninterrupted extension from the rear of Arnhems-land to the Murray Desert, or to Shark Bay. From demonstrating facts like these we dare no more infer but that likely many similar tracts of flat country are stretching over portions of the wide intervening spaces. But who will predict more? May not the large system of salt-lakes formed by the drainage of rain into cavities of saline flats be found limited to the less distant portions of the interior of Western Australia, and may it not thus, by a gradual rise of the ground (evidently manifest northerly), give place to a system of fresh-water lakes or lagoons, or even of such springs as rewarded the exertions of the keenly searching explorers west of Lake Eyre? And although it must be admitted that no ranges simultaneously lofty and wooded, and thus originating springs and rivulets for the formation of larger rivers, are likely to exist to any extent in the extra-tropical part of the western interior, because such rivers have not found their way to the coast; yet it is still possible, and rather probable, that mountains as high, and much less bare than Gawler Range, and even much more extensive, may give rise to interior watercourses, along which the dwellings of new colonists may be established, and to which our pasture-animals may flock, but which in their sluggish progress cannot force their way to the ocean, and are thus lost in numerous more or less ample inland basins. Years hence, on even less favoured spots, artesian borings may afford the means of stay for a dense population, should, as may be anticipated, mineral riches prove to be scattered not merely over the vicinity of the west-coast and Spencer's Gulf, but also over interjacent areas of geological similarity. York's Peninsula, close to settlements, page 10 was long left an uninhabited and desolate spot, until its richdom of copper-ore was disclosed. So other unmapped parts of Australia are also likely to prove rich; and, although equal facilities for the transit of the mineral treasures would not always exist, its discovery would be certain to lead to the occupation of the country and to the extension of pastoral colonisation, until an increasing population and augmented conveniences for traffic could turn mineral wealth, however distantly located, advantageously to account. But how vastly might not any barren tracts of the interior be improved, and how many a lordly possession be founded, by patient industry and intelligent judgment! Storage of water, raising of woods, dissemination of perennial fodder-plants, will create alone marvellous changes; and for these operations means are readily enough at command. Even the scattering of the grains of the common British orache (Atriplex patulum), an annual but autumnal plant, would, on the barest ground, realise fodder for sheep; and the number of plants which for such purpose could be chosen are legion. The storage of rainwater might in any rising valley be so effected as to render it, simply by gravitation, available for irrigating purposes.

As a curious fact, it may be instanced that in some of the waterless sandy regions of South Africa the copious naturalisation of melon-plants has afforded the means of establishing halting places in a desert country. On the sandy shores of the Great Bight, and also anywhere in the dry interior, such plants might be easily established. The avidity with which the natives at Escape Cliffs preserved the melon-seeds, after they once had recognised the value of their new treasure, holds out the prospect of the gradual diffusion of such vegetable boons over much unsettled country.

No part of Australia has the marked peculiarities of its vegetation so strongly expressed, and no part of this great country produces so rich an assemblage of species within a limited area, as the remotest southwestern portion of the continent. Indeed, the southern extremity of Africa is the only part of the globe in which an' equally varied display of vegetable forms is found within equally narrow precincts, and endowed also with an equal richness of endemic genera. It is beyond the scope of this brief treatise to enter fully into a detailed exposition of the constituents of the south-western flora. It may mainly suffice to view such of the vegetable products as are drawn already into industrial use, or are likely to be of avail for the purpose. Foremost in this respect stands perhaps the mahogany-eucalypt (Eucalyptus marginata). The timber of this tree exhibits the wonderful quality of being absolutely impervious to the inroads of the limnoria, the teredo, and chelura, those minute marine creatures so destructive to wharves, jetties, and any work of naval architecture exposed to the water of the sea; it equally resists the attacks of termites. In these properties the red gumtree of our own country largely shares. The mahogany-eucalypt has, in the Botanic Gardens of this city, been brought for the first time largely under cultivation, and as clearly the natural supply of this important timber will sooner or later prove inadequate to the demanded requirements, it must be regarded as a wise measure of the Governments of France and Italy now to establish this tree on the Mediterranean shores, a measure for which still greater facilities are here locally afforded.

The tuart (Eucalyptus gomphocephala) is another of the famed artisan's woods of south-western Australia. The karri eucalypt (Eucalyptus page 11 eolossea or diversicolor) attains in favourable spots a height of 400 feet. Eucalyptus megacarpa constitutes the blue gumtree, which rivals that of Tasmania and Victoria in size, but is otherwise very distinct. Its timber, as well as that of the tuart, on account of their hardness, are employed for tramways and other works of durability. The fragrant wood of several species of santalum forms an article of commercial export. Some kinds of Casuarina, quite peculiar to that part of Australia, furnish superior wood for shingles and for a variety of implements. Several species of Acacia, especially Acacia acuminata, the raspberry-scented Wattle, equally restricted to the south-west coast, yield fragrant and remarkably solid wood and a pure gum. To this part of Australia was naturally also restricted the Acacia lophantha, which has for the sake of its easy and rapid growth and its umbrageous foliage assumed such importance even beyond Australia for temporary shelter-plantations. Many other products, such as gum-resins, sandarach, tanner's bark, all of great excellence, are largely available; but these substances show considerable similarity to those obtained in other Australian colonies.

The extraordinary abundance, however, of the Xanthorrhœas through most parts of the south-west territory gives special interest to the fact (1845) promulgated by Stenhouse, that anthrazotic, or nitro-picric acid—a costly dye—may, with great ease and little cost, be prepared from the resin of these plants. Indeed, this is the richest source for this acid, the resin yielding half its weight in dye. Fibre of great excellence and strength is obtained from the bark of Pimelea clavata, a bush widely distributed there. It resembles that of bast from Pimelea axiflora in Gippsland, and that from Pimelea microcephala of the Murray and Darling desert. A fern-palm (Zamia Fraseri) attains in West Australia a height of fifteen feet. It is there, like some congeners of America and South-Africa, occasionally sacrificed for the manufacture of a peculiar starch, though the export of the steins (and perhaps of those of the xanthorrhœas also) would prove much more profitable, inasmuch as these, when deprived of their noble crown of leaves, though not of their roots, will endure a passage of many months, even should the plants be half a century old. Such any wool-vessel might commodiously take to Europe. This alimentary fern-palm, well appreciated by the aborigines for the sake of its nuts, together with a true kind of yam (Dioscorea hastifolia), the only plant on which the natives in their pristine state anywhere in Australia bestowed a crude cultivation, are, with species of Borya, Sowerbœa, Hcemodorum, Ricinocarpus, Macarthuria, Chloanthes, Aphano-petalum, Xylomelum, Caleana, Calectasia, Petrophila, Leschenaultia, Pseu-danthus, Nematolepis, Nuytsia (the terrestrial mistletoe), Leucokena, Com-mersonia, Rvlingia, Keraudrenia, Mirbelia, Gastrolobium, Labichea, Melickrus, Monotaxis, Actinotus, and Stypandra, remarkable for their geographical distribution; because as far as we are hitherto aware, these West Australian genera have no representatives in the wide interjacent space until we approach towards the eastern, or in a few instances to the northern regions of Australia, Zamia alone having been noticed in South Australia (Zamia Macdonnellii), but there as an exceedingly local plant. Neither climatic nor geologic considerations explain this curious fact of phytogeography. Over some of the heathy tracts of scrub-country towards the south-west coast, poisonous species of Gastrolobium (Gastrol. bilobum, G. oxylobioides, G. calycinum, G. page 12 callistachys) are dispersed. These plants have in some localities rendered the occupation of country for pastoral pursuits impossible, but these poison-plants are mostly confined to barren spots, and it is not unlikely that by repeated burnings, and by the raising of perennial fodder-plants, they could be suppressed and finally extirpated. Fortunately, in noother parts of Australia Gastrolobium occurs, except on the inland tract from Attack Creek to the Suttor River, where flocks must be guarded against access to the scrub-patches harbouring the only tropical species (Gastrolobium grandiflorum). The deadly effect occasionally produced by Lotus Australis, a herb with us of very wide distribution, and extending also to New Caledonia, and the cerebral derangements manifested by pasture animals which feed on the Darling River pea (Swainsona Greyana), need yet extensive investigation, but may find their explanation in the fact that the organic poisonous principle is only locally, under conditions yet obscure, developed; or in the probable circumstance that, like in a few other leguminous plants, the deleterious properties are strongly concentrated in the seed. The gorgeous desert-pea (Clianthus Dampierii), which in its capricious distribution has been traced sparingly from the Lachlan River to the north-west coast, offers still to seed-collectors a lucrative gain.

A prominent aspect, in the vegetation of south-west Australia emanates from the comparatively large number of singularly beautiful Banksia-trees, preponderant there as the arborous Grevilleœ in North Australia, The existence of but two of that genus, Banksia Australis and B. ornata, in the extensive tract of interior and coast land from the head of the Australian Bight to the vicinity of Port Phillip, renders the occurrence of an increased number of trees of this kind in East Australia again still more odd. Rutaceous and goodeniaceous plants, though in no part of the Australian continent rare, attain in the south-west their greatest numerical development, and should not be passed silently, or, like Epacrideœ, as merely ornamental plants, though still so rare in our gardens: but these elegant plants deserve also attention for their diaphoretic properties, or for the bitter tonic principle which pervades nearly all the species of the two orders. Stylideœ are here still more numerous than in our north, and comprise forms of great neatness; while sundews (Droserœ) are also found to be more frequent than in any other part of Australia, and indeed of the globe. When, glittering in their adamantine dew, they reappear as the harbingers of spring from year to year, they are greeted always anew with admiration. But the greatest charm of the vegetation consists in the hundreds of myrtaceous bushes peculiar to the west, all full of aromatic oil; among these again the feather-flowered numerous Verticordœ, the crimson Galotlmmni, and the heathy Calytlvrices, vie with each other as ornaments. Still also of this order many gorgeous plants exist in other parts of, especially extra-tropical, Australia, The numerous bushes of Leguminosœ and Proteaceœ in south-west Australia are .also charming. The introduction of all these into European conservatories might be made the object of profitable employment. Annual herbs of extreme minuteness, belonging chiefly to Compositœ, Umbelliferœ, Stylideœ, and Gentrolepideœ, are here, as in other parts of extra-tropical Australia, in their aggregate more numerous than minute phanerogamic plants in any other part of the globe. A line of demarcation for including the main mass of the south-west Australian vegetation may almost be drawn from the Murchison River or Shark Bay to the western extremity page 13 of the Great Bight; because to these points penetrates the usual interior-vegetation, which thence ranges to Sturt's Creek, to the Burdekin, Darling, and Murray River, while the special south-west Australian flora ceases to exist as a whole beyond the limits indicated.

The marine flora of south-west Australia is likewise eminently prolific in specific forms, perhaps more so than that of any other shore. Many of the algæ are endemic, others extend along the whole southern coast and Tasmania, where again a host of species proved peculiar; some are also extra-Australian. The whole eastern coast contrarily, and also the northern and the north-western, with the exception of a few isolated spots, such as Albany Island, contrast with the southern coast as singularly poor in algæ. In a work exclusively devoted to the elucidation of the marine plants of Australia—a work which as an ornament of phytographic literature stands unsurpassed, and which necessitated lengthened laborious researches of its illustrious author, the late Professor Harvey, here on the spot—the specific limits of not less than 800 algæ are fixed. Some of these are not without their particular uses. A few yield caragaheen, all bromine and iodine. Macrocystis pyrifera, the great kelp, which may be seen floating in large masses outside Port Phillip Heads, attains the almost incredible length of many hundred feet, while a single plant of the leathery broad Uruillea potatorum constitutes a heavy load for a pack-horse.

The wide depressed interior, once supposed to be an untraversable desert, consists, as far as hitherto ascertained, much less of sandy ridges than of sub-saline or grassy flats, largely interspersed with tracts of scrub, and occasionally broken by comparatively timberless ranges. The great genus Acacia, which gives to Australia alone about 300 species (and, therefore, specific forms twice as numerous as that of any other Australian generic type), sends its shrubs and trees also in masses over this part of the country, where with their harsh and hard foliage they are well capable to resist the effect of the high temperature during the season of aridity, while they are equally contented with the low degree of warmth to which, during nights of the cool season, the dry atmosphere becomes reduced. Handsome bushes of Eremophila, with blossoms of manifold hue, decorate the scrubs throughout the whole explored interior. Among the desert Cassiœ two simple-leaved kinds are remarkable. Of the Acaciœ none here, except. A. Farnesiana, have pinnated leaves, and even one is leafless; the pinnated Acacia being restricted to the more littoral tracts, and even there from the Great Bight to Guichen Bay entirely absent. If shelter plantations of the rapidly-growing eucalypts, acacias, and casuarinas were raised, a vast var ety of useful plants could be reared along the watercourses of the more central parts of Australia. Saltbushes in great variety stretch far inland, and his is the forage on which flocks so admirably thrive. Probably the extensive Asiatic steppes have to boast of no greater diversity of salsolaceous plants than our own. Nevertheless, even here much could be added to the productiveness of these pasturages by the introduction of other peremial fodder herbs. Grasses, wherever they occur, are varied, and a large slare is perennial, nutritious, and widely diffused. As corroborative, it may be instanced that Anthistiria ciliata, the common kangaroo-grass, alnost universally ranges over Australia, and thus also over the central steppe; the continent. It extends, indeed, to Asia and North Africa also. Besides, through the interior, grasses, especially of Panicum and Andropogon, are page 14 numerous, either on the oases or interspersed with the shrubs on barren spots. Festuca or Triodia irritans, the porcupine-grass of the settlers, is restricted to the sands of the extra-tropical latitudes; Festuca or Triodia viscida, chiefly to the sandstone table-lands of the tropics.

Only in the south-eastern parts of the continent and in Tasmania are the mountains rising to alpine elevations. Mount Hotham, in Victoria, and Mount Kosciusko, in New South Wales, form the culminating points, each slightly exceeding 7000 feet in height. In the ravines of these summits lodge perennial glaciers; at 6000 feet snow remains unmelted for nearly the whole of the year, and snowstorms may occur in these elevations during the midst of summer. At 5000 feet the vegetation of shrubs generally commences, and up to this height ascend two eucalypts, Eucalyptus coriacea and Gunnii, forming dense and extensive thickets; E. coriacea assuming, however, in lower valleys, huge dimensions. Both these, with most of our alpine plants, would deserve transplanting to middle Europe and to other countries of the temperate zone, where they would well cope with the vicissitudes of the climate. In Tasmania the winter snowline sinks considerably lower, and in its moister clime many alpine plants descend there along the torrents and rivulets to the base of the mountains which here are constantly clinging to cold elevations. Mount William is the only sub-alpine height isolated in Victoria from the great complex of snowy mountains, but it produces, beyond Eucalyptus alpina and Pultenœa rosea, which are confined to the crest of that royal mountain, only Celmisia longifolia and little else as the mark of an alpine or rather subalpine flora. Celmisia also is one of the few representatives of cold heights in the Blue Mountains; and from New England we know only `and Gual-theria hispida, as generally indicating spots on which snow lodges for some of the winter months. The mountains of Queensland would need in their tropical latitudes a greater height than they possess for nourishing analogous forms of life, but the truly alpine vegetation of the high mountains of Tasmania contrasts in some important respects with that of the Australian Alps—namely, therein, that under the prevalence of a much higher degree of humidity plants which delight to be bathed in clouds, or in the dense vapours of the surrounding fern-tree valleys, are much more universal; and that the number of peculiar alpine genera is much greater than here. Thus, while in Tasmania the magnificent evergreen beach (Fagus Cunuingliami) covers many of the ranges up to sub alpine rises, it predominates as a forest tree in Victoria only at the remotest sources of the Yarra, the Latrobe, and the Goulburn rivers, and on Mount Baw-Baw. To this outpost of the Australian Alps (now so accessible to metropolitan tourists) are restricted also several plants, such as Oxalis Magellanica and Libertia Lawrencii, which are almost universal on all the higher hills of Tasmania. Fagus Cunuingliami, though descending into our ferutree-ravines, transgresses nowhere the Victorian land-boundaries, but a noble fagus-forest, constituted by a distinct and equally evergreen species, Fagus Moorei, crowns the high ranges on which the Bellinger and M'Leay rivers rise. This, however, the snowy mountains of Tasmauia and of continental Australia have in common, that the majority of the alpine plants are not representing genera peculiar to colder countries, but exhibit hardy forms, referable to endemic Australian genera, or such as are allied to them. So, as already remarked, we possess alpine species, even of eucalyptus and of acacia, page 15 besides of hibbertia, oxylobium, bossiœa, pultenœa, eriostemon, boronia didiscus, epacris, leueopogon, prostanthera, grevillea, hakea, persoonia, pimelea, kunzea, baeckea, stackhousia, mitrasacme, xanthosia, coprosma, velleya, prasophyllum; yet anemone, ealtha, antennaria, gaultheria, alchemitta, seseli, oenothera, huanaca, abrotanella, ligusticum, astelia, gunnera, and other northern or western types, are not altogether missing, though nowhere else to be found in Australia but in glacier regions.

About half a hundred of the highland plants are strictly peculiar to Victoria, the rest prove mainly identical with Tasmanian species; but a few of ours, not growing in the smaller sister land, are, strange as it may appear, absolutely conspecific with European forms. Rather more than one hundred of the lowland-plants ascend, however, to the glacial regions; some of these are simultaneously desert-species.

The only genus of plants absolutely peculiar to the Victorian territory, Wittsteinia, occurs as a dwarf sub-alpine plant, of more herbaceous than woody growth, restricted to the summits of Mount Baw-Baw; this, moreover, remained hitherto the only representative of vaccinieœ in all Australia; it produces, like most of the order, edible berries.

The verdant summer herbage of valleys, which snow covers during the winter months, will render with increasing value of land-estates these free, airy, and still retreats in time fully occupied as pasturage during the warmer part of the year. Here, in sheltered glens, we have the means of raising all the plants delighting in the coolest clime. Rye-culture could probably be carried on at considerable elevation.

Of all the phanerogamic plants of Tasmania, about 130 are endemic; of those about 80 are limited to alpine elevations, or descend from thence only into cool umbrageous valleys. The generic types peculiar to the island are again almost all alpine (milligania, campynema, hewardia, pterygopap-pus, tetracarpœa, anodopetalum, cystanthe, prionotis, mieroeachrys, diselma, athrotaxis, pherosphœra, bellendena, cenarrhenes, archeria), only acradenia and agastachys belonging seemingly to the lowlands, but show at once a fondness for a wet, insular clime. The few Tasmanian genera, represented besides only in Victoria, are richea, diplarrhena, drymophila, juncella. In the Tasmanian highlands-Aura endemic shrubby asters and epacrideai, and the singular endemic pines of various genera, constitute a marked feature. A closer and more extended inquiry into the geological relation of great assemblages of vegetation will shed probably more light on the enigmatic laws by which the dispersion of plants is ruled. Australian forms predominate also in Tasmania at snowy heights, so Eucalyptus gunnii, E. coccifera, and E. umigera. The famous Huon-pine (Dacrydium Franklini), the Palmheath (Richea pandanifolia), the celery-topped pine (Phyllncladus rltomboidulis), and the deciduous beech (Fagus Gunnii), are among the most striking objects of its insular vegetation. Mosses, lichenastra, lichens, and conspicuous fungs abound both in alpine and low regions; indeed, cryptogamic plants, except Algs and microscopic fungs, are nowhere in Australia really frequent except in Tasmania, in the Australian Alps, and in the fern-tree glens of Victoria and part of New South Wales. The musktree (Aster argophyllus) of Tasmania and South-east Australia is the largest of the few trees produced by the vast order of Compositce in any part of the globe, while Prostanthera lasianthos, its companion, exhibits the only real tree known in the extensive family of Labiatœ. The almost exclusive page 16 occupation of vast littoral tracts of Gippsland, and some of the adjoining islands, by the dwarf Xanthorrhœa minor, is remarkable. Mistletoes do not extend to Tasmania, though over every other part of Australia; neither the Nardoo (Marsilea quadrifolia), of melancholic celebrity, though to be found in every part of the continent, and abounding in innumerable varieties throughout the depressed parts of the interior. Equisetaceæ occur nowhere. The total of the species to be admitted as well defined, and hitherto known, from all parts of Australia, approaches (with exclusion of microscopic fungi) to 10,000.

It has been deemed of sufficient importance to append to this brief memoir an index of all the trees hitherto discovered in any part of Australia. Such statistics lead to reflection and comparison. They also bring more prominently before the contemplative mind the real access which in any branch of special knowledge may have been obtained. In this instance it is the only table with which this document has been burdened, though kindred lists might have readily been elaborated. Nor would this imperfect sketch of Australian vegetation have been extended to any detailed enumerations whatever, did not the trees impress on the vegetation of each country its most distinctive feature, and had we not learned how great a treasure each land possesses in its timber—whether as raw product to artisans or as objects of therapeutic application, whether as material for the products of manifold factories or as the source of educts in the chemical laboratory, whether as the means of affording employment to the workman or even as the medium for regulating the climate. May we revert only to the circumstance as elucidating the great physiographic characters of countries and their mutual relation, that notwithstanding the close proximity of New Zealand, none of its trees (though very many of its herbs) are positively identical with any observed in Australia; and yet hundreds of ours can in no way be distinguished from Indian trees. Moreover, in a philosophical contemplation of the nature of any country and the history of its creation, our attention is likely to be in the first instance engaged in a survey of the constituents of its pristine forests, and greatly is to be feared that in ages hence, when much of the woods will have sunk under ruthless axes, the deductions of advanced knowledge thereon will have to be based solely on evidence early placed on record.

The marvellous height of some of the Australian, and especially Victorian trees, has become the subject of closer investigation, since of late, particularly through the miners' tracks, easier access has been afforded to the back-gullies of our mountain-system. Some astounding data, supported by actual measurements, are now on record. The highest tree previously known was a Karri-Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus colossea), measured by Mr. Pemberton Walcott, in one of the delightful glens of the Warren River of Western Australia, where it rises to approximately 400 feet high. Into the hollow trunk of this Karri three riders, with an additional packhorse, could enter and turn in it without dismounting. On the desire of the writer of these pages, Mr. D. Boyle measured a fallen tree of Eucalyptus amygdalina, in the deep recesses of Dandenong, and obtained for it the length of 420 feet, with proportions of width, indicated in a design of a monumental structure placed in the Exhibition; while Mr. G. Klein took the measurement of a eucalyptus on the Black Spur, ten miles distant from Healesville, 480 feet high! Mr. E. B. Ileyne obtained at Dandenong as measurements of height of a tree of Eucalyptus amygdalina: Length of stem from the page 17 base to the first branch, 295 feet; diameter of the stem at the first branch, 4 feet; length of stem from first branch to where its top portion was broken off, 70 feet; diameter of the stem where broken off, 3 feet; total length of stem up to place of fracture, 365 feet; girth of stem three feet from the surface, 41 feet. A still thicker tree measured, three feet from the base, 53 feet in circumference. Mr. George W. Robinson ascertained in the hack-ranges of Berwick the circumference of a tree of Eucdyptus amygdalina to be 81 feet at a distance of four feet from the ground, and supposes this eucalypt, towards the sources of the Yarra and Latrobe rivers, to attain a height of half a thousand feet. The same gentleman found Fagus Cunninghami to gain a height of 200 feet and a drcum-ference of 23 feet.

It is not at all likely that in these isolated inquiries chance has led to the really highest trees, which the most secluded and the least accessible spots may still conceal. It seems, however, almost beyond dispute that the trees of Australia rival in length, though evidently not in thickness, even the renowned forest-giants of California, Sequoia Wellingtonia, the lighest of which, as far as the writer is aware, rise in their favourite haunts at the Sierra Nevada to about 450 feet. Still, one of the mammoth-trees measured, it is said, at an estimated height of 300 feet, 18 feet in diameter! Thus to Victorian trees for elevation the palm must apparently be conceded. A standard of comparison we possess in the spire of the Münster of Strassburg, the highest of any cathedral of the globe, which sends its lofty pinnacle to the height of 466 feet, or in the great pyramid of Cheops, 480 feet high, which if raised in our ranges would be overshadowed probably by eucalyptus trees.

The enormous height attained by not isolated, but vast masses of our timber-trees in the rich diluvial deposits of sheltered depressions within Victorian ranges, finds its principal explanation, perhaps, in the circumstance that the richness of the soil is combined with a humid geniality of the climate, never sinking to the colder temperature of Tasmania, nor rising to a warmth less favourable to the strong development of these trees in New South Wales, nor ever reduced to that comparative dryness of air which even to some extent in the mountain-ravines of South Australia is experienced. The absence of living gigantic forms of animal life amidst these the hugest forms of the vegetable world is all the more striking.

Statistics of actual measurement of trees compiled in various parts of the globe would be replete with deep interest, not merely to science, but disclose also in copious instances magnitudes of resources but little understood up to the present day. Not merely, however, in their stupendous altitude, but also in their celerity of growth, we have in all probability to accede to Australian trees the prize. Extensive comparisons instituted in the Botanic Gardens of this metropolis prove several species of eucalyptus, more particularly Eucalyptus globulus and Eucalyptus obliqua, as well as certain acacias—for instance, Acacia decurrens, or Acacia mollissima—far excelling in their ratio of development any extra-Australian trees even on dry and exposed spots, such into which spontaneously our blue gumtrees would not penetrate. This marvellous quickness of growth, combined with a perfect fitness to resist drought, has rendered many of our trees famed abroad, especially so in countries where the supply of fuel or of hardwoods is not readily attainable, or where for raising shelter, like around the cinchona-plantations of India, the early and copious command of tall page 18 vegetation is of imperative importance. To us here this ought to be a subject of manifold significance. I scarcely need refer to the fact that for numerous unemployed the gathering of Eucalyptus seeds, of which a pound weight suffices to raise many thousand trees, might be a source of lucrative and extensive employment; but on this I wish to dwell, that in Australian vegetation we probably possess the means of obliterating the rainless zones of the globe, to spread at last woods over our deserts, and thereby to mitigate the distressing drought, and to annihilate perhaps even that occasionally excessive dry heat evolved by the sun's rays from the naked ground throughout extensive regions of the interior, and wafted with the current of air to the east and south, miseries from which the prevalence of sea-breezes renders the more littoral tracts of West and North Australia almost free. But in the economy of nature the trees, beyond affording shade and shelter, and retaining humidity to the soil, serve other great purposes. Trees, ever active in sending their roots to the depth, draw unceasingly from below the surface-strata those mineral elements of vegetable nutrition on which the life of plants absolutely depends, and which with every dropping leaf is left as a storage of aliment for the subsequent vegetation. How much lasting good could not be effected, then, by mere scattering of seeds of our drought-resisting acacias and eucalypts and casuarinas at the termination of the hot season along any watercourse, or even along the crevices of rocks, or over bare sandsor hard clays, after refreshing showers? Even the rugged escarpments of the desolate ranges of Tunis, Algiers, and Morocco, might become wooded: even the Sahara itself, if it could not be conquered and rendered habitable, might have the extent of its oases vastly augmented; fertility might be secured again to the Holy Land, and rain to the Asiatic plateau or the desert of Atacama, or timber and fuel be furnished to Natal and La Plata. An experiment instituted on a bare ridge near our metropolis demonstrates what may be done.

Not Australia alone, but some other countries, have judiciously taken advantage of the facilities afforded by Australian tree-vegetation for raising woods, an object which throughout the interior might be initiated by rendering this an additional purpose of the expeditions to be maintained in the field for territorial and physiographical exploration; and more, it might deserve the reflection of the Legislature, which allots to the pastoral tenants their expansive tracts of country, whether or not along with squatting pursuits—indeed, for the actual benefit of the pastoral occupant himself—the inexpensive first steps for general forest-culture in the woodless regions should be commenced.

Within the ranges which produce these colossal trees but few-habitations exist; indeed, we might traverse a line of a thousand miles as yet without a dwelling. The clime is salubrious; within the sheltered glens it cannot in excellence be surpassed. Hot winds, from which our exposed plains, as well as any rises of northern and western aspect, so much suffer, never reach the still and mild vales of the forests; frosts are only experienced in the higher regions. Speaking of Victoria especially, it is safe to assert that there alone many thousand square miles of mountainous country, timbered with stringybark-trees (Eucalyptus obliqua), are as yet lying dormant for any other but isolated mining operations. And yet, might not families which desire to strike out a path of independent prosperity, which seek a simple patriarchal life in a salubrious locality of seclusion, and which command the needful strength page 19 of labour within their own circle, choose these happy glens as their permanent abodes? Though the timbered rises of the ranges may be as yet unlucrative for cultivation, or even be sterile, the valleys are generally rich, irrigated by clear brooks, and spacious enough for isolated homes, and the limited number of pasture animals pertaining to them. The costlier products of culture might be realised, especially so in the fern-tree-glens; tea, and possibly cinchona, and coffee also; so lucrative fibres, dye plants of easy growth and simple preparation, as instanced by grass-cloth, or madder; or medicinal plants, such as senna, and various herbs, or, perhaps, even the Erythroxylon coca, a plant of almost fabulous properties. Or should the settler prefer, beyond raising the simple requirements for his rural life, to devote his attention solely to the gain which the surrounding timber treasures are certain to offer, he will find ample scope for his energy and industry. The Eucalypts, as now proved by extensive and accurate experiments, will yield him tar in abundance; they will furnish fibres, even those of stringybark, as one of the cheapest and most extensively available paper material. By a few simple appliances he may secure, simultaneously with the tar, also wood-vinegar and wood-spirit; and these again might locally be at once converted into dye materials and varnishes. He might obtain potash from woods, and volatile oils from the leaves of Eucalypts in almost any quantity, by artless processes, and with scarcely any cost. He might gather the gum-resins and barks for either medicinal or tanning purposes, or he might effect a trade in fern-trees; he might shake the Eucalyptus grains out of their capsules, and might secure locally other mercantile substances far too numerous to be enumerated here. Whoever may choose these ranges as a permanent home, and may direct thoughtfully his attention to the future, will recognise that the mere scattering of the acorns of the cork-tree or the seeds of the red cedar over cleared and yet sheltered ground, or the planting of the vine and olive, will yield to his descendants sources of great riches.

In closing these concise and somewhat chaotic suggestions, which scarcely admit of methodical arrangement, unless by expansion into the chapters of a volume, we may—indulging in a train of thoughts—pass from special to general considerations.

Belgium, one of the most densely populated of all countries, and yet one of the most prosperous, nourished within an area less than one-half that of Tasmania a population three times exceeding that of all the Australian colonies; yet one-fifth of the Belgian territory consists of forests. Not to any considerable extent smaller than Europe, our continent is likely to support in ages hence a greater population; because, while here no frigid zone excludes any portion of the territory from productiveness, or reduces it anywhere to very circumscribed limits, it embraces a wide tropical tract, destined to yield us products nowhere to be raised under the European sky. The comparatively unbroken uniformity of vast tracts of Australia certainly restricts us for the magnificent sceneries and the bracing air of the countries of our youth here to the hilly coast-tracts; but still we have not to endure the protracted colds of middle and north European winters, nor to contend with the climatic difficulties which beset tillage operations or pastoral pursuits, and which by patient perseverance could not be removed or be materially lessened.

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While we are deprived of advantages so pleasing and so important as those of large river communications, we enjoy great facilities for land traffic, facilities to which every new discovery of coal-layers will add.

Judicious forest culture, appropriate to each zone, will vastly ameliorate the clime, and provide for the dense location of our race; for transplanting of almost every commodity both of the vegetable and animal empire, we possess, from the alp to the steppes, from the cool mountain-forests to the tropic jungles, conditions and ample space.

River-waters, now flowing unutilised to the ocean, when cast over the back plains, and artesian borings also, will effect marvellous changes. Steam power and the increased ingenuity of machinery applied to cultivation, will render the virgin soil extensively productive with far less toil than in older countries, while the teachings of science will guard us against the rapacious systems of culture and the waste of fertilisers which well nigh involved ruin to many a land. Of ferocious land animals, Australia is free. We have neither to encounter extensive hordes of savages to dispute the possession of the soil, nor the still more dangerous opposition of half-civilised barbarians, such as for ages yet may obstruct the progress of civilisation in the great interior of Africa.

Our continent, it may be foretold prophetically, will ere long be regarded of so high a territorial value that no tract, however much disregarded now, will remain unoccupied. Our continent, surrounded moreover by the natural boundaries of three oceans, free and unconnected, must advance, by extraneous influences undisturbed, by ancient usages unretarded, to that greatness to which British sovereignty will for ever give a firm stability.