Category: Edward John Eyre - Vol 1 - Ch 8
Written by Edward John Eyre
October 2.—Before leaving the station I purchased from Mr. Dutton a little Timor pony for 25 pounds for one of the native boys to ride, to replace in some measure the services of the animal I had been obliged to have shot up to the north. The only objection to my new purchase was that it was a little mare and already forward in foal. At Port Lincoln, however, I was not likely to meet with any horses for sale, and did not therefore deem it prudent to lose the only opportunity that might occur of getting an animal of some kind. After quitting Mr. Dutton’s, I followed a dray road leading towards Port Lincoln. For the most part we passed through green valleys with rich soil and luxuriant pasturage, but occasionally intersected by poor sandy or gravelly soil of a saline nature; the water was abundant from recent heavy rains, and some of the pools fresh; others, however, were very brackish. The hills adjoining the valley were grassy, and lightly wooded on their slopes facing the valley; towards the summits they became scrubby, and beyond, the scrub almost invariably made its appearance. Altogether we passed this day through a considerable tract of country, containing much land that is well adapted for sheep or cattle, and with a fair proportion suitable for agriculture. It is by far the best portion of the available country in the Port Lincoln peninsula, and I could not help regretting it should be so limited in extent. I had now travelled all the three sides of the triangle, and had obtained extensive views from various heights along each of these lines of route; I had crossed from Port Lincoln to Streaky Bay, from Streaky Bay to the head of Spencer’s Gulf, and from the head of Spencer’s Gulf down to Port Lincoln again. In the course of these journeys, I had spared no toil nor exertion, to make my examination as complete and as useful as possible, though my labours were not rewarded by commensurate success. The great mass of the peninsula is barren, arid, and worthless; and although Port Lincoln possesses a beautiful, secure, and capacious harbour, with a convenient and pretty site for a town, and immediately contiguous to which there exists some extent of fine and fertile soil, with several good grassy patches of country beyond; yet it can never become a large or important place, in consequence of its complete isolation, except by water, from every other, and the limited nature of its own resources.
For one or two large stock–holders, who wish to secure good grazing ground, and be apart from others, it might answer well, but even they would ordinarily labour under difficulties and disadvantages which would make their situation not at all desirable. The uncertainty and expense of procuring their supplies—of obtaining labour, and of finding a market for their surplus stock [Note 12 at end of para.], and the almost total impossibility of their being able to effect sales in the event of their wishing to leave, would perhaps more than counterbalance the advantages of having the country to themselves. Purchased in the days of wild and foolish speculation, and when a rage existed for buying land and laying out townships, no place has been more misrepresented or misunderstood than Port Lincoln. Many gross and glaring misstatements have been put forth of its character and capabilities, by those who were actuated by interested motives, and many unintentional misrepresentations have been made and perpetuated by others, whose judgment or information has led them into error, so that the public generally, and especially the English public, have had no means of discriminating between the widely conflicting accounts that have been given. Amongst the persons from whom this small settlement has suffered disparagement there are none, perhaps, more blameable than those who have put forth statements which ascribe to it advantages and qualities that it does not possess; for just in proportion as the expectation of intending settlers have been raised by exaggeration or untruths has been their disappointment and disgust, when the facts themselves have stared them in the face.
[Note 12: Pastoral settlers have left Port Lincoln in consequence of these disadvantages—but it is possible that a comparatively large population may locate there, hereafter, should mineral resources be found out. Such discoveries are said to have been made, but Iam not aware upon whose authority the report has become current.]
The day of hallucination has now passed away, but out of the reaction which has succeeded it, has arisen a disposition to deprive Port Lincoln of even the merits to which it really has a legitimate claim, and which would have been far more highly appreciated, if the previous misstatements and consequent disappointments had not induced a feeling of suspicion and distrust not easily effaced.
Our stage to–day was twenty–five miles, over a pretty good road, which brought us towards evening under the range contiguous to the township. In one of the valleys leading from these hills on their west side we found a small spring of good water, and as the grass around us was very abundant and of the most luxuriant growth, I at once decided upon making this our resting place, until I had completed my arrangements for procuring supplies, and was again ready to move onwards.