Volume 65: Macarthur-Onslow correspondence, 1846-1929: No. 520
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Governor Phillip was already looking for more suitable land for growing wheat than that immediately around Sydney Cove. There can be no doubt, however, from a perusal of the extracts from despatches given above as to where the first wheat in Australia was planted.
IN a book entitled "The voyage of Governor Phillip to Botany Bay, with an Account of the Establishment of the Colonies of Port Jackson and Norfolk Island," compiled from authentic papers and published in 1789, there is a map of the settlement and the proposed allocation of land. A reduced copy of this very interesting map, drawn to scale for me by Mr. T. Kerr, is here reproduced. It will be noticed that there was a farm of nine acres set apart fro growing corn (i.e., wheat), and through the land flows a stream of fresh water. This farm, from which the name of Farm Cove is derived, now forms part of the Botanic Gardens, and the stream of fresh water still flows through the grounds. Visitors to the Botanic Gardens will easily identify the location.
The following extracts from despatches will indicate the nature of the endeavour the Governor Phillip made to establish wheat in the infant colony.
GOVERNOR PHILLIP TO LORD SYDNEY.
Sydney Cove, Port Jackson,
Despatch No. 11. 16th November, 1788.
I had the honour of informing your Lordship of my intention of fixing a settlement near the head of the harbour, and I have lately passed several days of examining the country. The land is good, and though there is none we can take possession of at present which can be cultivated without clearing the ground of the timber - for if the trees are at the distance of thirty or even fifty feet, the roots spread - the labour there, nevertheless, will not exceed the fourth part of what is required in our present situation, and then the land appears to be the best I have seen this country.
GOVERNOR PHILLIP TO LORD SYDNEY.
Government House, Sydney Cove,
12th February, 1790.
I had the honour of informing your Lordship that a settlement was intended to be made at a place I name Rose Hill. At the head of the harbour there is a creek which at half flood has water for large boats to go three miles up, and one mile higher the water is fresh and the soil is good. A very industrious man whom one hundred convicts, we are employed in clearing and cultivating the ground. A barn, granary, and other necessary buildings are erected, and twenty-seven acres in corn promise a good crop.
In december the corn at Rose Hill was got in; the corn was exceeding good. About two hundred bushels of wheat and sixty of barley, with a small quantity of flax, Indian corn (maize) and oats, all which is preserved for seed. Here I beg leave to observe to your Lordship that if settlers are sent out, and the convicts divided among them, this settlement will very shortly maintain itself, but without which the country cannot be cultivated to any advantage. At present, I have one person (who has about an hundred convicts under his direction) who is employed in cultivating the ground for the public benefit, and he has returned the quantity of corn abovementioned to the public store.
From these early beginnings we pass to the present position attained by courage, endurance and ingenuity. The output of wheat in the Commonwealth was in 1926-27, 160,852,369 bushels, and it is likely to go on increasing.