CORRESPONDENCE from a Glaswegian. to the Editor of the Southern Australian Gazette. 10.4.1839

RESPONSE from AN OLD SETTLER  to the Editor of the Southern Australian Gazette 20.4.1839

1. What is the general nature of the climate - the summer heat ? the winter cold ?

2. Have you storms frequently or occasionally, of wind, rain, thunder, and lightning ? or are these less frequent than in this country ? Is the climate variable, or steady and not subject to much fluctuation ?

The climate is as different from that of Glasgow as possible, although when the rains do come, in May, June, July, August, and September, there is no mistake about them.

In winter the thermometer is seldom or never below 55 (temperate). In summer it ranges from 60 to 94 in the shade. Its average for the last six months at 4 p.m. has been 71. There is frequently a variation of as much as from 15 to 20 degrees in the temperature of the day; but it does not appear to affect the health.

The climate on the whole may honestly be called a delightful one; and for all persons in any degree afflicted with asthma, or subject to pulmonary complaints, we should say it is much to be desired.

Take the church in its most crowded state, and you will never hear an asthmatic wheeze or a consumptive cough; and these facts ought to speak volumes to the inhabitants of a country where, in winter at least, "coughing drowns the Parson's saw."

Still, it must not be inferred that South Australia is exempt from the common lot of humanity, or that even Scotchmen, though they are likely to attain here as goodly an old age as in their native land, can live for ever. But there is nothing in the climate of the country to promote disease or to shorten life.

We have thunder storms occasionally in winter, and a pretty tolerable rumble they make. Gales of wind also occasionally; but not every other day as at Glasgow.

3. At what ratio is Adelaide increasing ? Is there any other township formed ?

4. Is the population widely scattered, or chiefly concentrated round the capital? Are the country settlers in solitudes far remote from each other, or is there easy and comfortable communication?

Adelaide is increasing at the rate of rather more than 200 per cent. Townships are forming at various points. The great settlement at Port Lincoln is first in importance, and from the circumstance of Adelaide not being a seaport, it is likely to become the commercial emporium of the province in a few years.

The oldest township called Kingscote, Kangaroo Island, formed by the South Australian Company, from the circumstance of its being injudiciously chosen, is falling into decadence, and will probably soon be abandoned; while the rising settlements at Glenelg and Milner, near Adelaide; and the fishing establishments at Encounter Bay, must speedily become important townships.

The villages of Marion, Hahndorf at Mount Barker, of Walkerville, and Hindmarsh Town, are increasing fast and will soon form considerable settlements.

It is not the place, nor is it worth while to explain to the Glasgow querist, the South Australian meaning of the term concentration, but it is necessary to say that easy and comfortable communication is maintained in all directions.

5. What are the disadvantages as to education, hearing the gospel, and religious privileges, as contrasted with rural or town situations in Britain? What places of worship are in Adelaide, and what are there in other parts of the colony?

Considering the extent of the population the means of education are numerous. At the Academy under the direction of the Rev. Mr. Stow, all branches of a classical education are taught; Mr. Shepherdson conducts a school at which the usual and a very respectable English education may be obtained; and there are numerous seminaries conducted in ladies wherein the ordinary varieties of female education are to be acquired. In addition to the Sunday Schools attached to the different places of worship, a day school for young persons has recently been established under the patronage of Mrs. Colonel Gawler, which thanks to the effective assistance it has received from that lady and several others, promises to be one of the best conducted and beneficial institutions in the colony.

The places of worship in Adelaide are the Established Church, Rev. C. B. Howard, Colonial Chaplain; the Congregational, Rev. T. Q. Stow; the Wesleyan, Rev. Mr. Longbottom; the Baptist, Rev. Mr. Peacock; the Roman Catholic; and the German Lutheran, Rev. Mr. Cavell. A Church is about to be endowed at Hahndorf by Mr. Dutton and the other proprietors of the Mount Barker district; at the village of Marion another is to be erected, the ground for the purpose having been presented by the adjoining proprietor Henry Watts, Esq., Postmaster-general; at Port Lincoln, Glenelg, Milner, and Port Adelaide places of worship will also speedily be established, and every means are thus taken to provide for the spiritual wants of the community.

6. What persons obtain employment in Adelaide, or in any other town (if such there be) ? Are there shopkeepers, or labourers, or servants, or mechanics, or clerks, &c. &c. required there? And what description of labourers, or servants, or mechanics find employment in the country? What remuneration is given to various classes?

What idea the Glasgow querist has formed of a colony it is hard to say. To be sure clerks, mechanics, servants, and labourers are required - nor is the demand likely to cease for the next century. The requirements of South Australia are those of a civilised community; and so the parties be sober and frugal there is no possible trade that could come amiss, and no industry that would go unrewarded.

The employment for dress-makers is abundant. Vanity Fair exists here as well as at Glasgow.

7.What capital is needed for small farms? What for sheep or cattle farms? What description of farms is most suitable to such as have had little experience of a farming life? What materials should such as enter on farming operations take with them' What description of dwellings wooden frames, tents, or otherwise ?

It is some what difficult to state the precise amount of the capital required for small farms, as the Glasgow queriest's term is somewhat indefinite. A single eighty-acre section could not be brought into cultivation at the rate only of twenty acres per annum, and at the present price of labour, under a yearly outlay of [?], exclusive of the farmer's own personal work. Six bullocks at £20 each and two strong ploughs would be required to commence with; and the capital upon the whole, ought not to be less than £[?]. The profitable return however, which must follow would be considerable - probably not under 40 per cent.

Pastoral farming is preferred at present, because

the greatest return can be secured with the least expenditure of capital and labour. With a moderate degree of care and skill the annual return ought never to be less than sixty per cent; and it may, by superior management, exceed eighty or ninety. Indeed to this extent it may be soon realised in the colony in numerous instances.

The capital required for sheep farming of course depends on the extent; but while the price of well bred ewes remains above thirty shillings, about £230 may be considered ample capital per hundred for all expenses, including those of the first year, till returns are made.

The materials to be brought on will necessarily depend on what farming operations are to be carried on. If agricultural, a few good Scotch ploughs and carts with harness are required. All other implements can be purchased on the spot. If pastoral, good shepherds' dogs and cash.

The only description of dwellings are tents and tarpaulins. Wooden houses of any kind are worthless. Materials for every variety of building are on the spot and in abundance.

8. What is the general character of the land or country - mountainous or level, wooded or bare; or is it very various? Is it in general well watered?

The general character of the country is mountainous and level; wooded and bare. It is very various, and is in general well watered. The soil is principally, so far as known, on a friable limestone bottom, and the worst of it is better than the best of Scotland, the Clyde orchards and the Corse of Gowrie excepted.

9. Is it the best way for intending settlers to purchase land here, or to wait till they arrive, and purchase it after inspection?

It is altogether unimportant where you purchase land, seeing that you do not select it before inspection. But to purchase land in England has this advantage - it takes away the risk of bringing money out with you to invest here, or it saves your being mulcted unnecessarily in two per cent. commission, besides four or five months' interest by any bank transaction.

Besides, the choice of land may sometimes depend on the date of your land order; as if a competition should arise between parties for a particular section or an equal number of sections, the preference would be given to the oldest dated land order.

10. Can working people always be had, or must they be taken out from this country ?

Working people can always be had; but if you purchase land in England, you can bring out or obtain a free passage for one able-bodied labourer for every £16 you have expended in making that purchase.

11. Are the hardships of first settlers, do you imagine, more or less than those experienced by settlers in our North American possessions?

The hardships of the first settlers were confined to living for a few months in tents, and warring against an insect of which we know not the Scotch name, but which exists in Ireland to such an extent that Curran used to relate that on one occasion, at a country inn, he was attacked by so numerous a host, that had they been unanimous they would have dragged him out of bed.

Food has always been in abundance, and since certain vile monopolies have been demolished, provisions of all sorts are to be had at a reasonable rate.

12. Where are cattle and sheep obtained, and other animals, such as poultry, &c? Are they to be taken out or obtained in the colony, or elsewhere?

Cattle, sheep, poultry, &c. are now to be obtained in abundance, and at fair rates, either on the spot, or by order from the neighbouring colonies. Any fine breed, however, would be well worth importing.

13. What clothing is customary ? Is it much as in this country, or lighter ? Should stock be taken cut, or is it obtainable at Adelaide, and at what cost ?

Bring out the kit that would do at Glasgow, adding a few additional unbleached linen or cotton jackets, vests, and trowsers for summer. Flannel is indispensible at all seasons. A good stock is necessary; although here is abundance of ready-made clothes, and from Glasgow too, to say nothing of shoes from the Minories, always on sale at moderate prices. Tailors charge high - Five pounds for a coat which would be dear at home at fifty shillings; and so on in proportion.

14. What is the nature and amount of labour required in farming and other country occupation? Is it so hard and laborious as to allow little or no time for moral and intellectual culture - for education - or religious improvement ? Is it in general "rising up early and sitting up late, and eating the bread of care," or is there sufficient leisure for the improvement of the head and the heart, as well as the welfare of the body ?

Labour - steady and patient industry - are as essential to success in South Australia as in any other part of the globe; but there is always time for intellectual culture and moral improvement. Persons of "little experience in farming" had better to "go to school" - serve some time under a practical farmer before they embark their means in a business in which they are but imperfectly skilled; no "description of farm" therefore is suitable for persons of "little experience" .

15. Are books to be had at Adelaide, and at what prices compared with here, - or must the settler take out all that they require? Is there any bookseller or stationer from whom such may be had?

A few school books and slate pencils are probably to be had in Adelaide, but there is as yet no bookseller in the Glasgow meaning of that trade.

16. Are domestic servants to be had, or are they to be taken out by the settlers, and are they required as in this country ? Is there employment tor females in any other department, at Adelaide as elsewhere, as dressmakers, sewers. &c?

Domestic servants are scarce in consequence of their generally getting married (well or ill) soon after their arrival.

17. Is there any field for mercantile transactions? Would goods of various kinds - muslins, linens, dresses, hardware, stoneware, oils and colours, brushes. &c. &c. find a market, and yield a profitable return ?

We should have thought that any man who was qualified to count two upon his fingers could have answered this question in the affirmative, without sending it sixteen thousand miles and waiting a twelvemonth for that response.

18. What openings of usefulness are there for persons so disposed - as Teachers, Sabbath School Teachers, Tract distributors, &c?

There is but little lack of Sabbath School teachers, although a few additional labourers in the vineyard would be always acceptable. There are no "tract distributors" that I know of yet in the colony, and from this questionable utility of that species of instruction, I hope there never will.

Trees alongside
Pekina Creek at Orroroo