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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 76

A Visit to Australia

A Visit to Australia,

and, although I never became free from attacks of nervous illness, I have had great cause for thankfulness that circumstances, under Providence, induced me to take the serious step of abandoning the position I had attained to in the Indian Archipelago for uncertain results in a new country where I would find myself quite unknown. But I was provided with most favourable letters of introduction from page 27 merchants who had correspondents in Sydney; and at Sourabaya, where I resigned my last command at sea, I met the captain of an English ship, who very kindly made arrangements for my passage in his vessel to Australia. My last days in Java were spent among dear friends, most of whom I never met again, but I have ever retained a sincere and deep sense of gratitude for their kindness and regard for their memory. Of course, during the years I spent in Indian seas I had my share of the usual anxieties and troubles of a responsible position in dangerous navigation, rendered all the more weighty by the precarious state of my health; but I like to speak and think chiefly of the many aids, friendships, and favouring circumstances which smoothed my path, and brought me through all the vicissitudes of a seaman's life. On board the ship in which I sailed for Sydney a gentleman of high position in the British East Indian Civil Service and his family were fellow-passengers. His friendship proved to be one more of the means given me for advancement in my career, especially advantageous to a beginning of life in a new sphere. In sailing southwards out of the tropical and into the temperate zone, the change of climate was invigorating and delightful. There were no lighthouses in Bass's Straits at that period, and we ran through them in a dark night before a gale with considerable anxiety; on the following day we were on the coast of Australia, arriving page 28 soon after at the fine harbour of Sydney, so much renowned for safety and for beauty. At that time the convict banishment system was still in force, but soon afterwards was terminated, leaving society very different from what it is now in New South Wales. Hard suspicious feelings seemed to pervade all classes, and although many of the convicts had attained positions of great wealth and independence, they were not received into the society of the free colonists. The colony of Victoria and the now great and prosperous city of Melbourne were then of small account, and Queensland almost unknown. It is most interesting to see these flourishing colonies now, and to notice the wonderful advances that wool and gold have enabled them to attain. My letters of introduction procured me some kind invitations and hospitality, but neither my fellow passengers nor myself were much inclined to make our abode there, and, as the formation of