NEWS LETTER OF AUSTRALASIA.
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA, APRIL 1860.
JOURNAL OF POLITICS.
THE Bill to abolish state- aid to religion in this colony has again been introduced into the Legislative Assembly, and passed by a large majority, and has again been rejected by the Upper House on its second reading. There were thirteen members for the second reading and nine against it, but as it requires a clear majority of the whole House, the second reading was lost. This has caused great disappointment to those classes of the community who consider that religion should be supported by voluntary and alone. It is proposed now to make an effort to secure the abolition of state-aid by having a bill introduced to repeal the restrictive clause which provides that state-aid can alone be done away with by the consent of a clear majority of the Whole House. This restrictive clause, it is said, can be repealed by a bare majority, so that two steps will have to be taken instead of one. There will be six vacancies in the Legislative Council shortly, and it is the intention of those who support the abolition of state-aid to bring such influence to bear upon the elections, as that only those candidates favourable to the abolition of state-aid will receive their suffrages. Whether either of these courses will result successfully or not remains to be seen. However, for the
present session, the question, in all probability, has been set at rest.
The South Australian Real Property Bill, which has been introduced into the Council and passed, and is now remitted to the consideration of the Assembly, is exciting some attention in the minds of the public. The necessity for some cheap system of conveyancing is admitted on all hands. On Saturday evening last Mr. Torrens, the framer of the South Australian Real Property Bill, who is now on a visit to this colony, delivered a lecture at the Olympic Theatre on the law of Real Property, instancing the success of the South Australian Real Property Bill as a reason for its introduction into this province. From the attention with with which Mr. Torrens was listened to, his lecture appeared to cause a very favourable impression on the minds of his audience. The subject will shortly come under the considerable number of the members favourable to the Bill.
The bill for vesting the Geelong and Melbourne Railway in the Government has passed the Lower House and has now been submitted to the Upper House. The transfer of this property to the Government has for a long time been under consideration, and, doubtless, when the measure is completed it will cause some satisfaction to the shareholders.
Mr. Travers Adamson has resigned office as Solicitor General, and Mr. James Frederick Martley has been appointed in his place. Mr. Martley has, since his appointment, obtained a seat in the Legislative Assembly as a representative for the district of Maldon, in which a vacancy occurred by the resignation of Mr. Harker, who took his departure for England a few weeks ago.
We have chosen for our illustration this month "Opossum Shooting" a favorite moonlight pursuit with "new chums" and youthful Australians. Provided with a dog properly trained to the sport, when the nights are clear, and the moon at or near her full, the "opossum" shooter sallies out, gun in hand, and, led by the barking of his dog, reaches the foot of some giant eucalypti, where "Joey" sits motionless on a lofty bough. Walking so as to bring each likely spot within the moon's disc, the whereabouts of the game is soon discovered, and its death rendered inevitable, by the light of that planet, which has tempted it from its leafy lair. Our artist has depicted with spirit and fidelity the moment "drawing a sight".
JOURNAL OF THE GOLD - FIELDS.
The quantity brought down by the escorts from the gold-fields during the first four weeks of March ws 138,293 ounces, compared with 165,825 ounces during the corresponding week of last year. During the past month
157,345 ounces have been shipped, while during the same period of 1859 our exports were 199,732 ounces. The long continued drought, the gradual absorption of the mining population in other pursuits, have had a most unfavourable effect upon the yield of gold.
Two important rushes have taken place. The first has been to the Snowy River, a few miles on the other side of the New South Wales boundary. To this locality a large number of persons have gone principally from Sydney, Tumut and the Beechworth district. The accounts are extremely contradictory, some reports being to the effect that the district is extremely rich, others that the auriferous ground is extremely limited. All accounts agree that it would be almost impos\ssible to winter there.
A very large rush has taken place to Inglewood, where some 30.000 persons are now congregated. The population is said to be largely on the increase: and the rapidity with which buildings are going up is described almost unprecedented. A great difference of opinion exists as to the proper value to be placed upon this gold-field. Some of the Inglewood correspondents of the provincial journals express themselves in high terms of the value and extent of the discovery, while others think that the rush had altogether been over done, and that there will shortly be a reaction. If this comes, it must come soon; for with 20,000 or 30,000 persons on the ground, delay will not be so easily brooked. Few, however, can deny that a gold-field of more than ordinary extent and richness has been opened, but whether it will find employment for this large number of persons now and the spot is a problem which remains to be solved. It is manifestly to the interest of those who have established business on the spot, to increase the consumption of their goods by increasing the population, and doubtless many false reports are circulated with this end in view. We see from a provincial journal that the question as to where the township shall be placed is now being agitated. One party is for having it at Old Inglewood, and another wants it in the vicinity of the New Rush. It is expected that a public meeting will shortly take place for the purpose of discussing the question. The want of water is a great drawback on these as well as on other diggings. At present it appears that the wash dirt has to be conveyed to the Loddon, a distance of four or five miles, and for want of a sufficient supply of water the auriferous earth is accumulating in large heaps. The only new discovery that has apparently been made since our last report is some auriferous ground in Thompson's Gully, about two miles east of Old Inglewood. The sinking is described as from two to six feet, and gold has been found from top to bottom. It is thought, however, that this discovery will not be available
until the rain sets in, as it will not pay to cart the stuff. A rush has taken place also to the deep sinkings, and the prospect as so good at a depth of 103 feet that the ground was marked out for a mile in length.
The following is by the Snowy River Correspondent of the Sydney Herald, writing under date 10th March.
"To come now to a description of the Snowy River diggings, as they are at present, I may state, in the first place, that they are situated in the bed of a small [?] stream, running between a succession of bold hills and thinly timbered ranges - the claims extending for about forty or fifty yards on either side of the river - the gold lying on a rich looking clay, on a granite and slaty bottom. The country is dissimilar in every respect from any other gold field that I have visited, there being no quartz ridges within a considerable distance of the workings. For about one mile these bed claims are highly profitable, yielding from ten to sixty ounces per day. Indeed, from what I have already seen, I am convinced that the accounts of this particular portion of the diggings have not been in the slightest degree exaggerated. Over an area of about half-a-mile square, the workings have proved as rich as any ever discovered in Victoria or California. But, singular to say, beyond this particular spot on the river, the precious metal is obtainable only in very small quantities indeed. The creek has been tried on both sides for upward of eight miles; holes have been sunk on the hills and on the banks of the river, but all as yet to no purpose, the gold appears to have lodged within the space above mentioned. Those persons who possess the bed claims are of course doing extremely well, and having been early on the ground, they have taken good care to make the best use of their time. Some of them have been rather greedy in occupying more than they can possibly work out ere the snow sets in: but having cut races to turn the river, and otherwise secured themselves in possession, new comers have no possible chance of getting a bit of ground, and consequently have no alternative but to go prospecting - on a vocation which few can continue to pursue very long, as it involves a great expenditure of labour, time, and money. This circumstance will account for the fact of so many persons having left here within the last week or so. In a fortnight hence the great bulk of the diggers will have shifted to other fields, unless in the mean time fresh discoveries shall have been made, to tempt them to the desperate resolve of braving the winter here. Fortunately the weather has up to the present time proved very mild, a little cold and foggy in the morning, but quite as warm during the day as in Sydney. This sort of weather is not to be reckoned upon, however, for very long, and, as the change takes place suddenly, the commis-