NEWS LETTER OF AUSTRALASIA
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA, JUNE 1860.
JOURNAL OF POLITICS
While our agricultural friends, as amusingly depicted by our artist, have been anxiously waiting the fate of the Land Bill, the Legislature has not been idle. The Bill, as it passed the Assembly, declared all lands within twenty miles of Melbourne and Geelong, and within five and three miles of all other townships respectively, special lands, which were to be sold by auction, and all other lands not within such distance of any city, town or township, country lands, which were to be open for selection, at the uniform price of £1 per acre, if there were not more than one applicant. But if there were two or more applicants, the priority of claim is to be determined by "the drawing of lots". The fortunate selector was to pay cash for one-quarter of his block, and was to hold the remainder under lease from the Crown, purchasing it from time to time, as he desired, it is obvious that such a measure, while it would doubtless tend to the settlement of the unsold Crown lands, would be excessively unfair to the present race of land proprietors, who have paid on the average considerably more than £1 per acre for their properties. The Council
has already considerably modified the more objectionable clauses, and there is little doubt that before it leaves their hands the Land Bill will be so altered that its parents will have difficulty in recognising their bantling.
The Treasurer has carried the Appropriation Act for the present year through the Lower House. Whilst doing so, he gave a brief supplementary statement of, the present financial position of the country. He showed an aggregate expenditure for the year of £3,548,435, against which he sets a probable total revenue (including savings from last year) of £3,531,871, thus leaving a net surplus on the year of £16,564. But in his calculations the Treasurer takes credit for all £200.000 of an increase in the revenue beyond his original estimate, and he allows nothing at all for a probable falling off in the income from land sales, although it is certain that there would have been such a falling-off if the Land Bill had been passed. These are the main points in which we think his supplementary explanations defective. Nevertheless, these slight inaccuracies in the Treasurer's arithmetic do not in any way touch the actual financial state of the country.
The Committee appointed to investigate the manner in which our Government lines of railway were being carried on, brought up a report strongly condemning both contractors - Messrs. Cornish and Bruce - and the Railway Department. The result has been, that Mr. Darbyshire has resigned his post as Engineer-in-Chief, and has been succeeded by Mr. Higinbotham. We believe that the whole department will be reorganised. A long, correspondence has been published between Mr. Darbyshire and his Ministerial chief, Mr. Francis, in which the former gentleman had decidedly the best of it, more especially as regarded temper, the tone of the Minister being offensively arrogant. Another head of department, Captain Pasley, has resigned his post of Commissioner of Public Works.
On Wednesday morning, the 30th May, Mr.Nicholson tendered his resignation and that of his colleagues, in consequence of the Council having carried Mr. J. B. Bennett's amendment on clause 13 of the Land Bill. We hear that Mr. Fellows and Mr. Wood were opposed to the course of conduct determined upon by Mr. NIcholson. Mr. Bennett was sent for, but declined the responsibility. At present all sorts of rumours are current, but nothing definite has been settled at the time we go to press.
Represents the Bridge over the Yarra which connects the Botanical and Zoological Gardens, and our artist has, chosen the occasion of the Annual Regatta, which was held a few days ago. The banks of the Yarra are extremely picturesque, and, although only a few minutes walk from Melbourne, are as secluded as any portion of the colony. We need scarcely say, therefore, that they are a favourite resort of the youth of both sexes.
JOURNAL OF THE GOLD-FIELDS.
The quantity of gold brought by escort from the mines during May was 165,911 ounces, compared with 182,666 in the corresponding month of last year; thus showing a falling-off. Our shipments of gold-dust have slightly increased; May, 1860, showing a return of 181,205 ounces, compared with 169,971 during the corresponding period of last year. The escort last week brought 51,017 ounces to Melbourne, the largest quantity for many months. The miners are now well supplied with water, and the companies with the exception of some dozen which have been wound up, either from the poorness of the ground they proposed working or the bad faith of the projectors, are now commencing operations on a large scale. A reaction has already set in, and even the most desponding are beginning to take a more cheerful view of our prospects.
Amongst the splendid instances of individual success may be mentioned the recent discoveries of a nugget weighing 600 ounces near Castlemaine, and one of 220 ounces at Inglewood. The discoverers of the former have kept their locale a strict secret, but, although not willing to afford the slightest information as to the locale beyond the fact that it was in the Castlemaine district, and in the direction of Fryer's Creek, the discoverers were not at all unwilling to display their valuable prize. Both hailed from the Emerald Isle, one being a man of sandy complexion and hair, about 30 years of age, and the other much darker, and not exceeding 21 or 22. They gave as their reason for affording no information respecting their good fortune, that they wished to try again before they were rushed, as they expected to find one or two more of the same kind. From this statement it would appear that they are working by themselves, and hence their caution. They admitted that they had found the nugget at a depth of 50 feet. As a proof of their anxiety that the scene of their operations should not be discovered, either through their names being published and themselves thus recognised, they desired that the receipt should be written in cypher, their names only being entered on the butt of the book. As they had enjoined such strict secrecy, the sub-treasurer, of course, would not be justified in giving their names. The news of the discovery of this large nugget spread with great rapidity over the district of Fryer's Creek, and created considerable excitement among storekeepers as well as miners. Conjectures were rife as to the locality in which the prize had been found; but the secret had been so well kept by the owners of the treasure, that no one seemed to be able to identify the men or the spot at which they had been at work, Circumstances, however, induced a strong impression that the lucky discoverers of the nugget had obtained it from the neighbourhood of the road to Elphinstone, within a short distance of Fryer's Town. The whole of the country on both sides of the road, for distance of five or six miles, has never been half prospected, and there is a very general belief that a large area of auriferous ground will yet be opened in this direction. It will be remembered that the famous 84lb. nugget of 1854 was taken from Golden Gully, which is parallel with the Elphinstone road, and is separated from it by only the dividing range. Subsequent to that period, many nuggets have been extracted from Commissioner's Flat, between which and the elevation in question, the road runs for nearly a mile. The last nugget taken from this flat weighed sixty-six ounces, and was fallen in with by the Ballaarat (Ballarat) Mining Company, so recently as two or three months ago.
Prospecting parties paid out of the government funds, and under the control of a board appointed by the executive, have been already despatched (dispatched) to Gipps Land, and to the Snowy River. It is intended to aid private parties of diggers who may prospect for new gold-fields by subventions from the public funds.
The Snowy River fever, so far as this colony is concerned, has completely subsided during the past month, and those who have speculation in their souls are waiting until the advent of spring before they set our for this new El Dorado. There can be little doubt but that, if all that is said about the Snowy River Diggings be true, that there will be a large migration from this colony when the favourable season arrives. Although the Snowy River Diggings are within the New South Wales territory, they are so near the Victorian boundary, and therefore so accessible from this colony, that there can be little doubt but that much of the gold will find its way here. It may reasonably be expected, too, that the region within the Victorian boundary on this side of the Snowy River may prove auriferous, and in that case, the advantage of this colony will be paramount. A reward of £1000 has been offered by a gentleman, who has not disclosed his name, for such a discovery.