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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 41


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The Colony of Queensland contains an area of 609,520 square miles. Its territory is more than eleven times greater than that of England and Wales. It is larger than the German and Austrian empires, France, and Belgium combined. There are 100,000 square miles more in the one colony of Queensland than there would be in an empire comprising Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey in Europe, and the independent states of Servia, Roumania, and Bulgaria. Or, taking North America for a standard of comparison, it will be found that the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, together with three-fourths of Kentucky, contain, all together, no more territory than Queensland. And the colony equals in size the united areas of California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah.

Nearly the whole of Queensland is fit for human occupation, the only exceptions being a few sterile and desert tracts, of limited extent; and much of the land is exceptionally fertile. The colony has now been very thoroughly explored, and the greater part of it is actually held under pastoral lease, or in some way occupied; and yet even in the far north there are no known pestilential tracts, or localities unfit for the habitation of Europeans. There are neither wide, marshy, fever-smitten expanses, nor great sterile mountain ranges. The colony enjoys a climate which is never cold enough to interrupt the processes of nature—its fertility does not lie frost-bound for half the year. At the same time, Queensland has not to pay for those advantages by enduring the havoc wrought by volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, or hurricanes, such as desolate wide tracts of country in other parts of the tropical or sub-tropical zones.

It is often supposed that from its position the colony cannot be fitted for European settlement, and that its climate must be unhealthy. The fact is that Queensland is remarkably favoured by nature in these respects. Even in the purely tropical part of the colony no other diseases prevail than those common all over Australia and in almost all newly-occupied waste lands. There is no general tendency in such diseases as fever and ague to assume especially virulent types. There have been occasions when groups of pioneer settlers have brought on themselves fatal visitations of fever by a more than ordinarily reckless defiance of sanitary precautions. Such an outbreak of fever occurred many years' ago on the formation of a township known as Burketown on the Gulf of Carpentaria. The settlement was formed in a hurry. A number of men occupied a rich river-side bluff, clothed with thick, rank vegetation, just before the annual rainy season, and hastily erected a number of flimsy huts and houses. The rains set in, saturating the rotting mass of down-trodden vegetation on which the township had been built, and it was soon churned into a horrible, evil-smelling mud. The people living in the place—with the putrid mass steaming underfoot, the hot sun overhead alternating with pelting showers—were reckless pioneers, who, compelled to subsist mainly on bad flour and preserved provisions, washed down that food with enormous quantities of the most fiery spirit. The inevitable consequence was that outraged nature smote them with a fever of an unusually fatal type. But the fever vanished with the circumstances that produced it, leaving a tradition of unheal thin ess on the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria which has little foundation.

At times there has been much sickness and even death among miners; but that has generally been due to exceptional circumstances. On the occasion of the first rush to the Palmer hundreds of men attempted to push inland, through the bush, amidst the incessant downpour of a tropical wet season. Camped by swollen and impassable streams, living without proper food, some even on a miserable allowance of wet flour, exposed almost without shelter to the pitiless rain and fierce sun, they were scourged with dysentery and fever. But although many died, it may be questioned whether in any other tropical country Europeans could have exposed themselves in such a manner with so little loss. Over 12,000 white men must have been wandering, during the year 1875, over country within eighteen degrees of the equator, exposed to the vicissitudes of the weather, living on the roughest fare, undergoing incessant toil under the full blaze of the sun, sleeping anyhow and anywhere, in gullies, on river banks, near swamps, taking no precaution whatever, and often indulging in mad drinking bouts; and yet the deaths among them, and the 5000 Chinese who arrived in the district in the same year, amounted in the twelve months to a total of 378 only. But there, as elsewhere, the exceptional sickness diminished as the residents began to occupy better houses, lead more page 86 regular lives, and live on better food. How little the diseases that prevail in Northern Queensland resemble the virulent fevers which decimate Europeans in other tropical countries will be seen by the following table, compiled from the Registrar-General's report for 1878. It shows the number of patients treated for what are classed as miasmatic diseases, including all fevers, dysentery, scarlatina, measles, diphtheria, &c., in all the hospitals of tropical Queensland:—
No. Cases. No. Deaths.
Cairns 18
Charters Towers 24 2
Cooktown 186 18
Georgetown 4 2
Mackay 25 4
Port Douglas 40 4
Ravenswood 4
Thornborough 37 4
Townsville 68 1

It is noteworthy that in that part of the colony, although there are thousands of Chinese and Kanakas, white men toil constantly at the hardest open-air work. All the public works are constructed, roads made, and houses built by Europeans, who work in very much the same fashion as they do elsewhere, and generally cling with obstinacy to habits formed in cooler climates.

But tropical Queensland includes only the smaller portion of the colony. Concerning the perfect suitability of the rest of it for Europeans there can be no question. Winter frosts occur as far as the tropical line on the coast, and for a considerable distance inside of it further inland. In these, the southern and central districts, the summer heat is great, but varying in character according to the situation. Near the coast, and about the sea-level, it is sometimes oppressive, though the extreme heat is never continuous, being interrupted by days and even weeks of cooler weather. Inland, where the general level of the country is rather high, the heat of the sun, though absolutely greater, is seldom oppressive, because it hardly ever subdues the elasticity of the air, and the nights are invariably cool. There are no hot winds. The winter frosts, which are slight on the coast, are severe inland, the thermometer often falling to 27° and even 26° Fahrenheit. Speaking generally for this part of Queensland, it may be said that in April the extremely hot days are rare, in May the temperature is very moderate, and in June the hoar-frosts impart an invigorating sharpness to the air; in July the frosts are severe, particularly on the table-lands, and inland they continue into the middle of August; in September the midday sun becomes perceptibly warmer, and in October occasional hot days give warning of the coming summer.

The productiveness of the soil varies with the amount and distribution of the annual rainfall. Except in the northern part of the colony, where the well-marked tropical wet and dry seasons are experienced, the rainfall is less in quantity, and more unevenly distributed, throughout the year in proportion to the distance from the coast. This general rule is subject, however, to severe variations, due to the height and position of the mountain ranges and other local causes. In all the coast country the natural rainfall is sufficient for the growth of crops, and it is everywhere well, and in some parts abundantly, watered by running rivers and streams. The inland plateaux in some places approach the coast closely, in others are broad belts of comparatively low country. Portions of these plateaux are well adapted for agriculture. As an instance, the Darling Downs, in the southern part of the colony, although at a considerable elevation above the sea, has been called the "Garden of Queensland," from the fertility of the soil and the suitability of the climate for agriculture. But the pre-eminence attached to this district is chiefly due to the fact that it was first settled, and is yet the only inland district in which agriculture has been carried on. There are other districts, comprising many millions of acres, with equally good soil, and enjoying a similar climate, where agriculture has not yet been attempted, simply because the mere handful of people in the colony are not sufficiently numerous to attempt farming in more than a few isolated spots, amounting in the aggregate to a very insignificant area, compared with the extent of available land. There are as yet only about 130,000 acres under cultivation in all Queensland. But further to the westward the inland plateaux assume a different character. The soil is throughout of remarkably high average fertility, but the rainfall is less in quantity and the showers fall at longer intervals. There is little moisture in the air, night dews are rare, and in place of running streams and spring-fed brooks, the watercourses contain chains of ponds, only connected after heavy rain. This—the distinctly pastoral region of Queensland—consists for the most part of plains and rolling downs, either quite open or very lightly timbered. The scrubs or thick-growing forests differ widely from the coast jungles; the trees are generally small, there is little undergrowth, and there are no climbing vines or lianas. The open downs and plains, however, are covered with highly nutritious grasses and herbs; and even the scrubs abound in saline plants useful in maintaining the health of the stock. There is probably no better pastoral country in Australia. Even the dryness of the climate, except in so far as it limits the carrying capacity of the country, is no great disadvantage, as the native grasses are perfectly adapted to the conditions of growth imposed on them, and some of the most useful have the faculty of lying dormant during a drought, retaining sufficient vitality to spring into active growth page 87 when rain falls; even when dormant these grasses are nutritious, although apparently white and dead. The main defect of this country—scarcity of water—is one that can be easily remedied by the construction of dams and reservoirs, and the watercourses are generally of a formation suitable for the work. It often happens that the most thickly-grassed and fertile country is found in places where surface-water is unusually scarce.

In the coast country of Southern Queensland an immense variety of agricultural products can be and are grown. The winter frosts not being severe, sugar-cane can be profitably grown, although it flourishes better a few degrees further north. Arrowroot of excellent quality is produced, on a small scale at present, but its production is increasing. An idea of the agricultural capabilities of this part of the colony can best be conveyed by the following list of plants, grown in a nursery at Brisbane:—Asparagus, beans (two varieties), French beans (four), runners (two sorts), beet, Brussels sprouts, kale, brocoli (two sorts), cabbage (eight varieties), Savoy cabbage, capsicum, carrot (three), cauliflower (two sorts), Cape gooseberry, celery, Chinese cabbage, cress, cucumber, egg-plant, endive, granadilla, kohl rabi, leek, lettuces, melons (water and rock), mustard, okra, onion, parsley, parsnip, peas (eight varieties), pea-nut, pepper, pumpkin, passion-fruit, radish, rosella spinach, squash, tomato, turnip (seven kinds), vegetable-marrow, Jerusalem artichokes, horseradish, yams, sweet potatoes, cassava, liquorice, ginger, sorghum, sesame, tobacco, mangold-wurtzell, arrowroot, maize, English potatoes, sugar-cane, cotton, millet, lucerne, orange, grapes, vines, tea and coffee plants, bananas, pine-apples, apples (ten varieties), American apples (five varieties), apricot, alligator pea, Brazilian cherry, citron, custard-apple, date-palm, date-plum, figs, flacourtin, guavas, hovenia dulcis, jach-fruit, jube-jube, leeche, longan, lime, loquats, mango, mulberry, nectarine (one variety), Papau apple, peas (one variety), peaches (nineteen sorts), American plums, pomegranates, quince, rose-apple, strawberry, shaddock, and tamarind.

Further north, on the coast country, all the tropical plants and trees grow vigorously. The sugar district of Mackay, on the 21st parallel, now the principal one in the colony, enjoys a climate which combines to a marked degree all the requisites for successful cultivation of cane. Beyond it, and still proceeding northward, great tracts of remarkably fertile land occur. One of these on the Johnstone river, which is now being settled for the first time, was calculated by Mr. Dalrymple, who was sent up to examine it in 1874, to contain at least 800,000 acres of sugar land of a high and remarkably uniform degree of excellence. And the northern coast country is exceedingly well watered, rivers descending at short intervals from the inland plateau.

At some distance from the coast in Southern and Central Queensland the severe frosts forbid the cultivation of purely tropical plants. But if the agricultural capabilities of the country are limited in the one direction, they are extended in another, for nearly all the products of the temperate zone are at the command of the settlers. On the Darling Downs sugar gives place to wheat, barley, oats, potatoes, etc.; and the more tropical fruits are replaced by apples, pears, plums, &c. What little cultivation has been carried on in the inland districts lying to the north of the Darling Downs has been of the same nature. In the western interior, so far, cultivation has only been found possible in exceptionally wet seasons, or by the help of copious irrigation.

In order to encourage settlement land is sold at almost nominal rates. A homestead of any size up to 160 acres may be acquired by the residence of the selector for five years, and the payment of 6d. per acre annually, a grant in fee-simple being issued at the expiration of the term without further condition. For larger areas the terms are higher, varying from 10s. an acre upwards; but in all cases the purchase-money is divided into ten annual instalments. The selector is required to reside personally, or keep a servant on the land, until he has completed the term; and he must make certain improvements before he can obtain the grant in fee-simple. All through the agricultural districts of Southern and Central Queensland selectors can work hard in the open air. The climate, though warm enough to allow them to surround themselves with nearly all the products of the tropical as well as of the temperate zones, permits continued out-door labour; the winter rest being sufficient to enable Europeans to maintain their vigour unimpaired. In the neighbourhood of the older towns of the colony, where agricultural settlement has long been established, there are settlers who have passed twenty and thirty years on the land. The strong, sunburnt parents show no signs of enfeeblement, and the stalwart lads and healthy lasses growing up around them do not look like degenerate scions of the old stock.

To the capitalist agriculture has many special attractions in Queensland. The cultivation of sugar-cane is now an established industry, safely past all the preliminary difficulties which obstruct the progress of a new enterprise. The supply of coloured labour considered to be necessary for cultivation of this kind is obtained from the South Sea Islands, and can be relied upon. Besides this proved industry, the cultivation of other tropical products has been experimentally successful. The coffee-bush thrives so well along the whole coast of Queensland that the absence of regular coffee plantations can be accounted for only by the same explanation given for the long period that intervened between the experimental growth of sugar-cane and the establishment of regular plantations—viz., the numerous other openings for the employment of capital in a colony with such multifarious resources. The command of coloured labour opens page 88 the whole coast of Northern Queensland to the moneyed settler, and he can have the unusual advantage of living in an exceptionally healthy climate while growing rich by utilising the tropical fecundity of the soil. The following description of a tract of such country now being settled for the first time is from the official report of Mr. Dalrymple, sent by the Colonial Secretary to examine it in 1874. The explorer describes the view from the top of a low hill—"A round of compass bearings was at once secured, including the Barnard Islands, Double Point, Mourilgan Harbour, and the hills at the mouth of the Johnstone river. Bellender Kerr mountains were shrouded in dense clouds of smoke from blacks' fires, but the lofty peak of Mount Bartle Frere cut the clear blue sky to the north-west far above them. Thence, west and south, ranges beyond ranges bounded the great coast basin, the whole of the wide-spread floor of which presented one vast unbroken expanse of dense tropical jungles; no differing shades or outlines permitting of any other opinion than that the vegetation and soil over the whole of this magnificent area were of exactly the same character and quality as that immediately around us. At a rough computation, not less than half a million acres of a soil unsurpassed by any in the world all fitted for tropical agriculture, and fully 300,000 acres of which are suitable for sugar, with a fine harbour and river estuary on its seaboard. We had suddenly come face-to-face with a true tropical Australia—with a vast and hitherto hidden region, the qualifications of which, for every description of tropical cultivation, at one stroke place our noble colony far beyond all Australian competition as an agricultural country." In another part of the report he describes another spot thus:—" On the north beach the land was generally high, above all possibility of flooding. The steep banks of dark brown and reddish loam of 20 to 40 feet in height, clothed with dense masses of lofty forests, heavily festooned with flowering creepers of convolvuli, climbing bamboo, and lawyer palms, descend to the water's edge in steep slopes of luxuriant entanglement and variety of undergrowth; palms, bananas, ferns, lilies, arums, and large-leaved tara, struggling for prominence of position—a dazzling commingling of shades, colours, and intricate minutiæ of outline that would puzzle even a Millais to paint or a laureate to describe—the deliciousty-scented arums all in full-bloom, and hanging moon-flowers greeting us, as we passed, with whole greenhouses of rich perfume."

Agriculture in Queensland has not as yet made progress commensurate with the wide possibilities of soil and climate. In other new countries a large proportion of settlers have attached themselves to the soil because it offered the surest and most certain hope of a home and pecuniary independence. In Queensland, however, so many chances have been offered to the adventurous of reaching fortune by a shorter cut than the slow track opened by the plough, that the fertility of the soil has not received its due attention. Chief among these for men of means has been the pastoral industry. The whole colony is one great pasture-ground, its capabilities varying according to the climate. Cattle can be kept in every part of it. In the southern coast districts the grass is not so rich in nutritive properties as in the interior; but, on the other hand, the more frequent showers cause it to spring oftener, and grow more thickly. On some of the black-soil basaltic plateaux of tropical Queensland the cattle are almost hidden in the tall, thick-springing, sweet grasses. For sheep, however, only a portion of the colony is suitable, equal in area to about 300,000 square miles of good country. The sheep country is on the interior high lands; but it is impossible to define exactly the division between it and that which is only suitable for cattle. The true sheep districts include those that are known as the North and South Gregory, Mitchell, Warrego, Maranoa, Leichhardt, Darling Downs, South Kennedy, and part of the Burnett, besides portions of other districts. In the divisions named the amount of country held under pastoral lease at the close of 1878, according to the report of the Under-Secretary of Lands, was—available, 235,280 square miles; unavailable, 83,624 square miles. It should be explained that much country taken up as "unavailable"—i.e., unfitted for pasturage, and therefore subject to a reduction of rent-proves on official examination to be very good indeed. It is at least certain that the good sheep country of Queensland largely exceeds in extent the whole colony of New South Wales, and most of it is of a quality not to be surpassed in Australia. Nearly the whole of it is now occupied up to the border line of the South Australian territory. Except in tropical Queensland, and more especially in the huge Burke district, which includes the watershed of most of the rivers falling into the Gulf of Carpentaria, there is not very much good country not already included in the existing pastoral leases.

The cattle stock of the colony is, proportionately, very much larger than that of sheep, official reports giving the number of the former at 2,469,555 in 1878 (the figures of 1879 not yet being published), and of the latter 5,796,742 at the close of 1879. The disproportion is due to several causes. Of these the simplest is the fact that while the whole colony is suitable for cattle-breeding, only a portion is fitted for sheep. But a good deal of the sheep country has been occupied with cattle. Its occupation has been quite recent, and cattle are preferred by pioneers for many reasons? they are more easily managed, fewer hands are required—a great consideration when land-carriage is long and costly—and less expensive improvements are needed. Consequently, during the year that the great movement for the occupation of western country was in progress, there was a constant demand for store cattle. This constant demand increased prices, and stimulated production. Much of the capital and energy available for page 89 pastoral enterprise was therefore diverted from sheep to cattle during the last decade. This diversion was the more marked because during the preceding ten years a great many mistakes had been made in sheep-breeding. Unsuitable country had been stocked with sheep, and the proper attention to breeding and appliances for getting up wool in good marketable condition had been neglected. The financial difficulties of 1860, followed by some bad seasons, came with disastrous effect on an industry which had not been firmly established on a sound basis, and brought about something like a collapse, followed by a regular rush into cattle-breeding. But this branch of the pastoral industry has quite recovered itself, and sheep are increasing in numbers. The pitfalls into which the early breeders fell are well known and marked now, and capitalists, both in the colony and from other parts of Australia, are preparing to stock with sheep great tracts of suitable country, on which they are storing water, and making other provisions for their maintenance.

If squatting has monopolised too great a share of the capital that might otherwise have been devoted to agriculture and the formation of large plantations, mining has had as powerful an effect in diverting labour from farming, on a smaller scale. The colony abounds in minerals. It may almost be said that the ores of every known metal are to be found in Queensland, and some of them in great abundance, and distributed over a great many districts. Indeed, as an industry, mining has decidedly suffered from the great extent and wide distribution of the mineral fields, leading to much purposeless and desultory effort, and too great diffusion of the scanty capital available. This has been markedly the case in gold-mining. The alluvial ground in Queensland is now only being worked by Chinese, and hardly any "deep leads" or permanent workings of this sort have been found. But the quartz-reefing area is practically unlimited. How large it may be cannot yet be told, because there is what miners would call "likely country" by thousands of square miles not yet searched; there are fields that have been discovered and abandoned, generally because when found they were too remote from port or centres of settlement to allow of their being profitably worked; and even on the proclaimed goldfields (especially in the north) not more than a small percentage of the reefs have been properly tested. Still, in the last report of the Department of Mines it is stated that there are 1453 distinct lines of reefs "proved" on the various goldfields, and these include an area of auriferous ground amounting to 14,878 square miles. In the same report the returns given by the crushing mills amounted to a total for the year, of 110,032 tons stone, yielding 165,786 oz. gold, or an average all round of 1 oz. 10 dwt. 3 gr. The lowest average return for each miner working on any field was 29 oz. 8 dwt. 23 gr. of gold, worth £97 3s. 7d.; and the highest was 68 oz. 7 dwt. 8 gr., worth £239 5s. 9d. The appliances on some of the outside fields are very rough and wasteful, and in the particular year for which the figures are quoted—1878—the miners were hindered by a severe drought. In quartz-mining, carried on as it is in Queensland, the poorest working miner can ensure not only good wages—reaching, in the north, £3 10s. and £4 a-week—but can take a chance in the golden lottery, often drawing sudden wealth as a prize.

Besides gold, Queensland has a great quantity of other metals. Copper has been found in many places in the Burnett and Wide Bay districts, of which the ports are Maryborough and Bundaberg. It is also found near Gladstone and Rockhampton, and a splendid lode has been worked for many years at Peak Downs, some distance inland from the last-named port. Lodes have been worked near Mackay, and the ore has been noticed at many other places on the northern coast. On the water-shed of the Gulf of Carpentaria, at a distance of about 200 miles inland, a most remarkable deposit of copper was found nearly twelve years ago. The Cloncurry Mine, as it is called, besides containing large quanties of rich oxides and other ores, had huge blocks of virgin copper. A considerable quantity of ore and copper was raised at the time of its discovery, but the high price of carriage in that remote country prevented the enterprise from being a commercial success. This branch of mining is not in a satisfactory condition in the colony just now. About eight years ago there was a wild outburst of speculation in copper, stimulated by the high prices then ruling for the metal. Lodes previously neglected were eagerly taken up, and new companies to work them were floated almost weekly, both in Sydney and the principal Queensland towns. But this activity was mainly speculative. A number of mines were opened, and, in the majority of cases, were shown to contain payable lodes of ore, just when the insufficient capital of the companies became exhausted. Investors, who had lost heavily by stock-jobbing speculations in shares, became disgusted with the whole business, declined to furnish more capital, and the fall in the price of copper completed the collapse of the enterprise. Even the established mines were infected with the prevailing mania, and the managers exhausted almost all the ores "in sight" to produce big dividends. However, although as an industry copper-mining in Queensland is yet under a cloud, the ores remain, and if mined judiciously, and with sufficient capital, the profitable output of metal may become very great.

Tin has also produced a "mining mania." The ore was first discovered in a creek-bed near the southern border, and in the neighbourhood of what is now the town of Stanthorpe. It was stream tin, the deposits were thick and rich, and the metal at the time was high-priced. In 1872 there was a regular scramble for tin land, and mining companies sprang up like mushrooms. The excitement ran its course; but as the ore, unlike copper, could be prepared for page 90 market without costly appliances, its production was considerable. The maximum was reached in 1873, when the value of tin exported was £370,912. Since then the amount has decreased considerably, partly because the annual weight of tin ore raised diminished as the more accessible deposits were worked out, and partly because the price of the metal had fallen very largely. But there is every prospect that the diminution in the yield of Stan-thorpe will be more than counterbalanced by the output in the north; deposits of stream tin near the Palmer are being worked, and several important discoveries have quite recently been made in the coast country near the ports of Cairns and Port Douglas.

Coal has been worked since the separation of the colony from New South Wales in a basin intersected by the Bremer and Brisbane rivers. The total output for the colony in 1878 was 104,960 tons. Of this amount about 2000 tons came from the Burrum—a little river a few miles to the north of Maryborough, which also intersects a large and apparently valuable coal-basin—and the Government have before them offers from the coal-owners to construct a short railway connecting their pits with the port of Maryborough. Coal has also been found in several other places in the same district (Wide Bay) in which the Burrum is situated. Very excellent seams have been found near Bowen, further north, besides several other points on the coast and inland. But of these places the majority being neither on nor near navigable water, the coal cannot be got at without much expense.

Of other minerals the list is extensive and varied. Antimony is being mined at one place near Maryborough, and lodes of the same ore have been found in other localities in the country inland from the same port. Cinnabar abounds at Kilkivan, near Gympie, and small quantities are reduced for the supply of quicksilver to the crushing-machines at that great mining centre. Galena has been found in several places, and the silver ores at Bavenswood—a goldfield near Charters Towers—have recently attracted attention. Mineral selections have been at various times taken up in localities where lodes have been found of lead, zinc, bismuth, plumbago, kerosene shale, and iron; but the collapse of mining enterprise already alluded to led to their subsequent abandonment.

The colony is rich in timbers. Of these the cedar is most highly prized; but very large quantities of pine are cut, not merely for the construction of wooden houses, but for export. The value of timber exported in 1878 was estimated by the Customs Department at £56,233; but this is admittedly under the mark. Large quantities of cedar are cut on the banks of remote northern rivers, floated down in rafts, and shipped in the log at places distant from official centres. These cargoes are not all, or not accurately, reported, there being no export duty on the timber. There are large quantities of cedar yet uncut, and practically inexhaustible stores of pine and hardwood.

Another source of wealth possessed by the colony is its fisheries. In the tropical waters of the north a large number of ships and boats are engaged procuring pearl-shell and bêche-de-mer. The dugong, a marine animal found along the whole coast, is captured by parties of fishermen. The oil prepared from its fat is quite equal in medicinal value to cod-liver oil, and far less nauseous. Its flesh is palatable and nutritious, its bones are dense and well adapted for manufacturing purposes, its short tusks are of fine-grained ivory, and its hide when tanned makes exceedingly thick, tough leather. Well-flavoured oysters are found in Moreton Bay and Wide Bay, as well as at other points on the coast; and, besides supplying local requirements, the fishermen export small quantities by the coastal steamers going south. All the bays, inlets, and rivers swarm with numerous varieties of excellent fish.

The colony of Queensland contains an estimated population of about 220,000 souls, but of these it is probable that about 20,000 are Kanakas and Chinese. As these last are, with few exceptions, unmarried men, it follows that there is a marked disproportion between the sexes, the males numbering about 130,000. This disproportion affects the vital statistics of the colony, the Kanakas and Chinese living apart from the rest of the population, although swelling the totals on which both the birth and death rates are calculated. The South Sea Islanders are, vitally, a feeble people, the ordinary death-rate among them being largely in excess of that among Europeans in any part of the world. These facts must be remembered, as well as the exceptional mortality among the diggers who opened up the far-northern goldfields, in making deductions from the following table, compiled by the Registrar-General to show the birth, marriage, and death rates per 1000 of the mean population:—
Births. Marriages. Deaths.
1870 43.51 7.79 14.59
1871 43.25 8.06 14.83
1872 40.70 8.69 14.97
1873 40.82 9.66 16.06
1874 41.15 8.62 18.01
1875 38.89 8.62 23.80
1876 37.48 7.57 18.82
1877 36.74 7.57 17.29
1878 35.77 6.98 20.41 6
page 91

Queensland is a self-governed colony. The legislature consists of two Chambers—a Council and an Assembly; the first being composed of members nominated for life, the second of representatives elected by the general body of the people. The franchise is manhood suffrage, restricted only by conditions of residence in the electoral district for which the voter desires to be enrolled. The administration of justice is provided for by a Supreme Court, consisting of four judges, one having his head-quarters in the north, at Bowen; and the judges hold assizes half-yearly in the more important towns. District courts are held quarterly in every important centre in the form of judicial districts, into which the colony is divided. Finally, police courts are established in almost every township, presided over in most cases by paid magistrates, assisted by a number of unpaid justices.

Primary education is free by law; and no expense is spared in the establishment of schools wherever enough people have settled to furnish a reasonable contingent of children requiring instruction, and prepared to subscribe a small proportion of the cost of erecting wooden school buildings. Liberal grants from the revenue are also made in aid of the establishment of grammar schools, of which three—in Brisbane, Ipswich, and Toowoomba—have been opened for some time, and two—in Maryborough and Rockhampton—are about to be established. To stimulate further the education of the people, moneys are voted annually by Parliament for about fifty bursaries, open to pupils in the primary schools, to enable the winners to go to the grammar schools; and three scholarships of £100 a-year are annually open to competition, to enable the winners to obtain the higher educational advantages not yet obtainable elsewhere in the colony.

Schools of arts or public libraries are established in every town in the colony, and grants are made to them from the general revenue in the proportion of one pound for each pound of private income. Hospitals are supported by private subscriptions, supplemented by grants of two pounds for one. Grants are also made for the maintenance of public gardens in the most important towns, and to supplement the income of a very excellent and well-managed acclimatisation society in Brisbane.

There were 428 miles of railway open for traffic in the colony in 1878, and 5718 miles of telegraph line. In 1878 the total length of railway open was increased by 110 miles, and the lines are being rapidly pushed forward. The whole system of roads in the colony has been placed under the charge of local bodies, who have the power of rating property-owners, and receive grants from general revenue in the proportion of two pounds for one raised by assessment. The estimated value of rateable property in corporate towns is given in the official statistics for 1878 at £5,124,352.

In conclusion, tables compiled by the Customs Department for the year 1879 give the tonnage of shipping visiting Queensland ports at 637,695 tons inwards and 618,699 tons outwards, and the following lists of articles imported and exported during the year:—
Gold in dust and bars £1,024,337
Gold and silver in bullion and specie 25,635
Copper (ore, regulus, and smelted) 34,791
Tin (ore, slag, and smelted) 120,351
Drapery, apparel, silks, &c. 5,284
Shell-fish (oysters) and bêche-de-mer 16,935
Fruit (green) 3,736
Grain, pulse, &c. 17,995
Hides and skins 71,256
Live stock 4,517
Pearl-shell and tortoise-shell 32,049
Preserved meat (other than salt) 22,391
Rum 10,453
Sugar 275,769
Tallow 72,366
Timber 74,012
Wool (clean) 712,816
Wool (greasy) 525,702
All other 71,521
Total exports seaward £3,121,916
Cotton, woollen, silk, and linen piece goods £60,235
Manufactured articles of ditto, hats, haberdashery, &c. 451,202
Boots and shoes 111,683
Bass, sacks, woolpacks, cordage, twine 33,616
Metals (including wire) 35,586
Manufactures of metals (including machinery), hardware, &c.; ammunition, powder, &c. 265,559page 92
Sewing-machines £5,368
Glassware, earthenware, and porcelain 23,707
Acids, alkali, chemicals, drugs (including opium), gums, resin, &c. 60,288
Paints, window and plate glass, papcrhangings, &c. 17,700
Furniture, brushware, oilcloth, matting, woodenware, &c. 26,285
Paper, books, stationery, printing materials 72,836
Saddlery and harness, leatherware 25,098
Fancy goods, combs, perfumery, toys, &c. 40,805
Musical instruments 9,442
Jewellery, watches, clocks, plate, platedware, and instruments (scientific, &c.) 36,771
Coal, coke, shale 7,419
Timber, cement, slates, doors, &c. 19,988
Leather (patent, &c.), leather (cut into shapes) 11,902
Hemp, flax, jute, and other fibres 5,605
Hides, skins, tallow, horns, &c. 7,965
Guano, manures, bones 656
Gold and silver, coin and bullion 325,339
For Government account:—
Stores, railway materials, &c. 165,760
Spirits, wine, beer 233,400
Tobacco, cigars, snuff 40,592
Hops 4,764
Malt 13,118
Sugar 12,906
Tea 92,285
Coffee, cocoa, &c. 9,377
Candles 7,929
Oilmen's stores, groceries (including dried fruits, confectionery, preserved provisions, fish, salt, matches, corks, salad oil, &c.) 202,169
Oils in bulk (kerosene, linseed, castor, Chinese, &c. 31,181
Bice 48,691
Flour, grain, maize, oats, barley, wheat, &c. 285,063
Green fruits, seeds, plants, vegetables 59,340
Horned cattle, sheep, horses, pigs, &c. 36,802
All other, miscellaneous, personal effects, &c. 50,875
Total imports seaward £2,949,313