Australia And The Islands Of The Sea
Author: Larkin, Dunton
It is now conceded by all educators that school instruction should be
supplemented by reading matter suitable for use by the pupil both in the
school and in the home. Whoever looks for such reading, however, must be
struck at first with the abundance of what is offered to schools and parents,
and then with its lack of systematic arrangement, and its consequent ill
adaptation to the needs of young people.
It is for the purpose of supplying this defect, that the publishers have
decided to issue a series of volumes, under the general title of the Young
Folks' Library For School and Home.
These books are intended to meet the needs of all children and youth of
school age; from those who have just mastered their first primer, to those who
are about to finish the high school course. Some of the volumes will
supplement the ordinary school readers, as a means of teaching reading; some
will reenforce the instruction in geography, history, biography, and natural
science; while others will be specially designed to cultivate a taste for good
literature. All will serve to develop power in the use of the mother tongue.
The matter for the various volumes will be so carefully selected and so
judiciously graded, that the various volumes will be adapted to the needs and
capacities of all for whom they are designed; while their literary merit, it
is hoped, will be sufficient to make them deserve a place upon the shelves of
any well selected collection of juvenile works.
Each volume of the Young Folks' Library will be prepared by some one of
our ablest writers for young people, and all will be carefully edited by
Larkin Dunton, LL. D., Head Master of the Boston Normal School.
The publishers intend to make this Library at once attractive and
instructive; they therefore commend these volumes, with confidence, to
teachers, parents, and all others who are charged with the duty of directing
the education of the young.
Silver, Burdett & Co.
Without a knowledge of Australia and the islands of the sea, our idea of
the world and its people would be very incomplete. The continent of
Australia, with only a century of growth, is one of the marvels of modern
times. Its peculiar physical features, its strange flora and stranger fauna,
give it a distinction not enjoyed by sister continents. Used at first only as
a penal station, it now ranks in civilization and modern improvements with the
most progressive countries of the world. Its resources are limitless, and its
possibilities boundless. Its people are enterprising and ambitious, but they
are sufficiently docile and open-minded to learn valuable lessons from the
experience of older civilizations.
All of the important islands and groups of islands have found a place in
this book, with the exception of the British Isles and Japan, which have been
ably treated in this series in connection with the continents of which they
form, politically, such important parts.
It is almost needless to say that the author has availed herself of the
records of the most reliable travelers and writers of recent years. Whatever
is interesting, instructive, and impressive, she has endeavored to incorporate
in this work. In order to prevent a dry detail of dates and figures, pen
pictures of the people as they are now, with their homes and their customs,
make up a large part of the book.
The subject treated is of rare and fascinating interest; and to those who
have always regarded the islands as small and unimportant places on the face
of the earth, this book will be a revelation. Even their location is
interesting. They are confined to no particular sea. They have the trackless
waste of waters for their own, and where they will they break its limitless
expanse. Their formation is often peculiar; while frozen river systems,
jokuls, hot springs, pitch lakes, luxuriant forests, or other equally
distinctive characteristics give to each its own individuality.
Notwithstanding their diversity, each one is, or has been, inhabited by
human beings peculiarly adapted to the clime in which they were found. They
dressed, and ate, and lived in accordance with their environment. They elicit
sympathy, if our own method of living is our only standard of happiness. But,
when seen in their native condition, their crude pastimes seem to afford them
genuine satisfaction. Attempts to elevate them in the scale of living have
been attended no doubt with excellent results; but in nearly all cases the
promotion of civilization, as we have it, means ultimately the extinction of
the native tribe.
The earnest desire of the author is that a careful perusal of this book
shall result in present pleasure and permanent profit to its readers, and in
questionings which shall lead some to a deeper investigation of the social,
industrial, and political needs of the people who inhabit Australia and the
Islands of the Sea.
Chapter II. Melbourne.
Gold made Victoria, and Melbourne owes its rapid growth to the same
precious metal. Melbourne stands on Port Philip Bay, near the mouth of the
Yarra River. It is the capital of Victoria, and the chief city of Australia,
with a population of 450,000.
Having rounded Cape Otway, the southern extremity of Victoria, we soon
reach the Heads at the entrance of Port Philip. These are low necks of sandy
hillocks guarding the entrance to the bay. On one side is Point Lonsdale, and
on the other Point Nepean, upon each of which strong fortifications have been
erected. Farther on is the village of Queenscliff, built on a bit of abrupt
headland. Cozy dwellings appear nestled down amid well-cultivated hills, and
the village church is a pleasing object in the more distant landscape.
But we are rapidly losing sight of land, for Port Philip is a spacious
inlet thirty-five miles long by twenty-five broad, and we are sailing straight
for its most northern shore. As we near it, the port of Williamstown comes in
sight. Its crowded masts indicate that it is full of shipping. On the right
is the village of St. Kilda, and farther round is Brighton. Sandridge, lying
straight ahead of us, is the landing place of Melbourne. Over the masts of
its shipping, our attention is called to a mass of houses in the distance, and
we are told that there is the city of Melbourne.
We are soon alongside the large wooden railway pier of Sandridge. We buy
our tickets for Melbourne two miles away, and in less than fifteen minutes are
safely landed in the largest city in the southern hemisphere.
The scenery around Melbourne is not remarkable, but the internal
appearance of the city is magnificent. It is built upon two hills and in the
broad valley which separates them, and is laid out on the rectangular plan.
The streets are all straight and of great width, and large spaces within the
city limits are devoted to public gardens.
Collins and Bourke streets are usually considered to rank first. As we
walk down Bourke Street, we pass an imposing structure which, though deserted
in the daytime, is crowded in the evening with a richly dressed throng. It is
the Royal Theater. Farther up the street we come to the market place, where
crowds of people are moving about. Trade seems to be brisk, judging by the
way the vegetables, fruit, and meat are changing hands. At the farther end of
the street everything is much more quiet. There, in a large open space, stand
the Parliament Houses, which were built at a cost of two million dollars.
Standing on the high ground at one end of Collins Street, and looking
down through the valley and up the hill on the other side, we obtain a
striking view. This street is not less than a mile long. Here and there on
each side of it are grand edifices used as bank buildings. On the farther
hill we note a white, palatial structure with a richly ornamented facade and
tower. This is the Town Hall. The Bourke and Wills monument, erected in
memory of two brave men who lost their lives when exploring the interior of
the country, stands in the center of the roadway; while, at the very end of
the perspective, rises the handsome gray front of the Treasury building.
We must remember, however, that Melbourne is a young city. Less than
sixty years ago the aborigines used to hold their savage meetings on the very
ground where the University now stands. And so it happens that, as yet, there
is no street which is magnificent throughout; for between large imposing
structures we sometimes see small, insignificant buildings, that remind us of
the earliest days of the city.
There is little that bespeaks extreme poverty, and beggars are unknown.
Work is plentiful, and no one can complain of being unable to find something
to do. The poorest part of the city is the Chinese quarter. Here the streets
are narrower and dirtier than anywhere else, and you may see the yellow-faced
Mongolians standing and jabbering at their doors, - a very novel sight.
Melbourne is justly proud of its public institutions. Among these, the
Library ranks first. It contains more than sixty thousand volumes, and is
free to all the people from ten in the forenoon until ten at night. Here, in
the evening, you may see the workingmen in their working dress. As many as
five hundred workingmen visit the Library daily. The only requirements are
that they shall sign their names on entering, and observe proper behavior
while they remain. The Victorian Collection of pictures is in the same
building, and the galleries are very attractive.
The Post Office is another splendid building, and one of the most
commodious institutions of its kind in the world. The University has hardly
attained the success that the Library has had. The building is a modest,
quadrangular one, three sides of which have been completed. These contain the
lecture rooms, a library, and the residences of the professors. Behind this
building stands the Museum, which is open to the public without charge.
But the most attractive part of Melbourne is its seashore, especially in
its pretty, rapidly growing suburbs along the shores of Port Philip. St. Kilda
is but three miles from the city, and is a favorite resort of the people.
Many of them reside here, and go back and forth to their business houses. A
fine promenade runs along the beach, and the bathing is unusually good. Large
inclosures surrounded by piles are built for the bathers, and above them,
raised high on platforms, are commodious dressing rooms. The beach has a
sandy bottom, and slopes gently from the shore to any depth of water,
affording a fine opportunity for swimmers. They must, however, be careful not
to encounter the "cobbler." This creature is like a small octopus. It has
legs, or arms, nearly equal in size and very long in proportion to its body.
They are used for creeping on the land, swimming in the water, and seizing its
prey. If it comes near any one, it will administer a sharp slap, at the same
time squirting out a horrid, acrid juice. A thick rash quickly follows this
infliction, accompanied by swelling and much pain, and for a while the
delights of bathing have to be foregone.
Chapter III. Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, And Adelaide.
Notwithstanding the fact that Melbourne is the phenomenal city of
Australia, there are others as worthy of description. These have had as
marvelous, if not as rapid, a growth, and have had much to do with the general
development of the continent.
One of these is Sydney. It is the capital of New South Wales, and is the
oldest city in Australia. It has a population, including its suburbs, of over
408,500. It is a well-built city, with fine, broad streets and imposing
public buildings, which, combined with its commanding situation on a splendid
harbor, has gained for it the title of "The Queen of the South."
Sydney is situated on Port Jackson, near the thirty-fourth degree of
south latitude. The choice of this precise spot for settlement was determined
by the circumstance of a stream of fresh water being found there, flowing into
a deep inlet, afterward known as Sydney Cove, one of the numerous bays into
which Port Jackson is divided.
This last-mentioned body of water forms a magnificent harbor, extending
some twenty miles inland. It is completely landlocked, and can be entered
only through a narrow passageway between the "Heads," as they are termed. It
accommodates vessels of the largest size. Its shores present a succession of
picturesque landscapes. The cliffs which form the general outline of the
harbor often rise to the height of two hundred and fifty feet. In the
intervening spaces the shore consists of terraces and smooth sandy beaches.
There are, perhaps, few places more suitable for the foundation of a
great metropolis. The city is situated at a distance of about eight miles
from the sea, and the whole circumference of the bay around which it is built
forms a series of natural wharfs, where ships of two thousand tons' burden may
be moored within a distance of twenty yards of the shore.
Sydney stands near the center, north and south, of the immense coal
region of Australia, which extends five hundred miles from north to south, and
has a breadth of from eighty to one hundred miles. Large quantities of coal,
for colonial use and for export, are mined within one hundred miles of the
city. The sandstone rock, upon which the city is built, affords much valuable
Sydney now consists of three distinct districts: First, the Old City, in
which are George Street and other streets named after early governors. Here we
find the Houses of Parliament, the Treasury buildings, and the Government
House with its park and botanic gardens. The Houses of Parliament are rather
disappointing in appearance. The Lower House is small, and in its arrangement
resembles a music hall. The Government House is situated on a promontory
commanding a view of the bay. On one side is Farm Cove, and on the other is
Sydney Cove, where the large liners debark their passengers. The Government
House is very different from that in Melbourne. It is like an ordinary
English country house, and, though comfortable enough, is rather inadequate to
meet the present requirements of this growing place. The other important
buildings in Sydney are the large and imposing Town Hall, the Museum, and the
railway station. There are several theaters, many handsome banks, the
Exchange, and a number of elegant private residences.
The second division of Sydney is called Wooloomooloo. This is the
fashionable quarter, and abounds in beautiful homes. Further away we come
across numerous small watering places dotted about the harbor, the Parramatta,
and Botany Bay.
The third division is called North Shore and is reached by steam ferry
from Sydney Cove in ten minutes. Beside the city proper, Sydney has extensive
suburbs, some of which are called by English names, such as Hyde Park,
Victoria Park, and Paddington, while others have been given native names
sometimes difficult of pronunciation.
The people of Sydney believe in their own city, and entertain their own
opinions about the "vaunted superiority" of Melbourne; and truly there is much
to justify their pride. Nature has done much for Sydney. From nearly every
point may be seen the blue waters of its winding harbor; and the sunshine, as
it lights up varied hues in sea and sky, seems as tender as that of Naples or
Athens. The neighborhood of the city is charming. Every nook in the adjacent
bay is studded with handsome villas or comfortable cottages. "The walks
immediately around the city are unsurpassed for picturesqueness, while the
public gardens probably excel any in the world, owing to their combination of
sea and land, hill and valley, rock and wood and grassy slopes, with a climate
that permits all the beautiful forms of vegetation both of tropical and
temperate zones to luxuriate side by side."
The parks are many in number. Among them the most important are the
Botanical Gardens, covering thirty-eight acres, exceedingly rich and
beautiful; Prince Alfred Park, Belmore Park, and Hyde Park, - the last named
an open, treeless plateau near the center of the city. The two largest parks
are the Domain, a fine expanse of one hundred and thirty-eight acres on the
northeast side of the city, and the Moor, a tract of twenty-five hundred acres
southeast of the city.
The educational system of New South Wales consists of primary schools,
the grammar school, and the University. By far the most important edifice
among public buildings, not only in Sydney, but in the whole of Australia, is
the University, which stands on a commanding height, and in the center of a
domain of one hundred and fifty acres. The principal facade is five hundred
feet long, and is flanked by a great hall at its western end. Lectures are
delivered daily during each term on classics, logic, history, chemistry,
natural and experimental philosophy, and jurisprudence. The University was
erected out of private funds, and has a permanent endowment of five thousand
pounds a year from the civil list. Instruction is limited to purely secular
Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, is situated on a river of the same
name, about twenty-five miles from its mouth in Moreton Bay. It is near the
twenty-seventh degree of south latitude, and more than five hundred miles
north of Sydney. Including its suburbs, the city covers a very large area.
Although the population of the city proper is small, being only
twenty-six thousand, yet, including South Brisbane, Rockhampton, and other
suburbs within a radius of ten miles, there is a population of over one
hundred thousand. The city is well supplied with public buildings. The
Houses of the Legislature, still incomplete, have already cost Pounds 100,000.
Beside these there are the Government House, the General Post Office, the
Museum, Town Hall, and Custom House, beside two theaters, an opera house,
several concert halls, and half a dozen fine bank edifices.
There is a noble iron bridge across the Brisbane River, more than one
thousand feet long, with two swing openings of sixty and one half feet each,
to allow the passage of ships. The actual city, surrounded on three sides by
this river, is a well-built town laid out in streets which cross at right
angles. Those which run north and south are called by men's names, as William
Street and George Street. Those running east and west assume the names of the
fairer sex, as Alice Street and Margaret Street, the center and principal one
being called Queen Street.
There are several clubs, that known as the Queensland Club being one of
the finest in Australia. In the suburbs many forms of sport are indulged in,
among which are pony races and dingo hunts.
The people of Brisbane delight in social gatherings and dances, both
public and private, and entertainments are in vogue throughout the season. The
Queen's birthday is always a great event in Australia, and its celebration in
Brisbane is thus described by Mr. Baden-Powell, an English scientific writer:
"It generally starts off with a great school feast. Some thousands of
school children assemble in the Domain, and have a great day of it. At a
given time the Governor arrives upon the scene to deliver an address, and on
mounting a platform is received with solemn cheers; but when on one occasion,
I humbly followed him, arrayed in regimental uniform and wearing a bear-skin,
roars of laughter from thousands of young throats rose to the skies, and 'the
man in the bit hat' was voted quite the most comical part of the show.
"A review of the troops is the next event of the programme, and a really
very fine display they make. Then follows a levee at the Government House,
all the gentlemen unable to raise uniforms having to appear in evening dress.
"After this the Governor has to attend in a sort of semi-state the great
race meeting of the year. Escorted by mounted orderlies, and a detachment of
mounted police, he drives up the center of the course a la Prince at Ascot,
and is received by the president and stewards of the Turf Club. But before
the racing is over a return has to be made to Government House, in order to
prepare for a big dinner given to all the principal Government officials. It
is a great relief to get this day over."
Perth is the capital of Western Australia, which, of all the Australian
colonies, has the most extensive area, being nearly one third of the entire
continent. At the same time, it has the smallest population. About forty per
cent of the entire population of Western Australia resides in Perth and in
villages within twenty miles of the capital city. Perth alone has about
20,000 inhabitants. Freemantle, the port of Perth, twelve miles distant at
the mouth of the Swan River, has a population of 9500, and is the second city
in size in the colony.
The city of Perth is picturesquely situated on the Swan River, about
twelve miles from the sea. It presents a striking appearance, being built on
sloping ground above a fine lake-like reach of the river. It is well laid out
and beautifully planted. There are a few imposing public buildings, including
two cathedrals. The City Hall, containing the Legislative Chambers, was
erected recently by convict labor. The principal street is nearly two miles
long, and is planted with Cape lilac, a beautiful flowering tree. An
excellent macadamized road connects the city with the port of Freemantle; and
it is united with all the settled districts of the colony by railway and
The country surrounding Perth is rocky and hilly, covered with heather
and rough grass, and it has, on the whole, quite a Scotch look. The chief
diversion of the ladies is gathering wild flowers, which grow in profusion
over the slopes.
Adelaide is the capital of South Australia, and has with its immediate
environs a population of 144,000. It was founded in 1837 by Colonel Light,
who named it after the wife of King William IV.
Adelaide is situated some seven miles inland on both sides of the Torrens
River, and is connected with Port Adelaide by railway. Much intelligent
foresight was manifested in laying out the original plan of the survey.
Adelaide is built in a regular pattern, the streets running at right angles
with one another. One half of the city is the business quarter, and the other
is covered by residences. A strip of park land, half a mile wide, separates
these two portions. Through the center of this the Torrens flows. Originally
this stream was looked upon as a nuisance, as, according to the season of the
year, it was either a muddy creek or a flooded flat. Much money and labor
were expended upon earthworks to bring it under control, and now a sheet of
water, spanned by several bridges, extends for two miles through the city.
The sanitary system of the city is of a superior order.
The Mount Lofty range lies a few miles eastward, and in these hills
reservoirs have been constructed, which are capable of storing more than a
billion gallons of water for the accommodation of the city. Beside being well
supplied with local railways, Adelaide is connected with the whole railway
system of Australia.
Exactly in the center of the city is Victoria Square. Beside this there
are four other squares similar to it, lying toward the four corners of the
town. The principal thoroughfare, King William Street, runs through the
center, passing through Victoria Square. The chief buildings of the city,
some of which are noted for fine architectural design, are situated on this
street. Adelaide is a busy place, and boasts an unusual number of churches, a
university, three colleges, and a botanical garden which covers one hundred
and twenty acres of land.
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