Page 3 - Immigration, Exhibition and Shipping

The settlement was early involved in great difficulties. Supplies were forwarded from Port Jackson in small quantities, but were soon altogether interrupted. In 1806 the elder colony was reduced to desperate straits by the overflow of the Hawkesbury. Unable to succour Tasmania, the Government left it to its own resources, and for many years the scarcity of food here continued. Kangaroo was the staple article of diet. A marine, a mighty hunter assisted by two convicts, delivered to the king's stores 1000 lb. of kangaroo meat per month, and continued to do so for several years. In 1810 the Venus with a cargo of wheat from Bengal anchored in the Derwent. The dread of famine was removed, and wheat was reduced to 12s. a bushel. The last importance occurrence in the life of Collins was his participation in the deposition of Governor Bligh. He died suddenly in 1810. Shortly before his death Governor Collins attempted to establish a newspaper, the Derwent Star and Van Diemen's Land Intelligencer.

Lady GormanstonPolitics were excluded in the settlement, there was no taste for general literature, there was nothing to sell, and a birth or marriage was published from month to mouth long ere it could be printed. Hence the paper, small as it was, was too large for the colony. The chief contents were odd exploits and droll anecdotes. It survived the Governor for some time. Colonel Collins is buried in the churchyard of St. David's, Hobart. Years later Sir John Franklin reared a monument to his memory bearing this inscription :

"Sacred to the memory, of David Collins, Esq„ Lieutenant-Governor of this colony, and Lieutenant-Colonel of the Royal Marine Forces. On the first establishment of the colony of New South Wales he was employed as Judge-Advocate, and in the year 1803 he was entrusted by his Majesty's Government with the command of an expedition destined to form a settlement at Port Phillip, on the south coast of Now Holland, but which was subsequently removed tu Van Diemen's Land. Under his direction as Lieutenant-Governor, the site of this town was chosen, and the foundation of its first building laid in 1804. He died here on the 28th of March, 1810, aged 66 years. And this monument, long projected, was erected to his memory in 1838, by direction of his Excellency Sir John Franklin, K.C.H., K.R."

Jenico Preston (1837-1907) - Viscount GormanstonUpon the death of Collins, the Government devolved on Lieutenant Edward Lord until the arrival of Captain Murray, of the 73rd regiment. During the administration, pro tem., of Captain Murray, the Governor-in-Chief, Macquarie, visited Tasmania it was received with great rejoicings . It was during this visit that Macquarie traced the future city of Hobart. The centre of the projected town he called St. George's Square ;in this he intended to build a church and town Hall and the quarters of the main guard. The open space he intended for a market. The streets, which intersect each other, he called by the name they still bear. Liverpool-street after the Minister of that name, Macquarie-street after himself, Elizabeth-street after his wife, Argyle-street after their native county, and Murray-street after after the officer in command. Colonel Davey, the second Governor of Tasmania arrived in February, 1813. During his regime the colony progressed rapidly. The ports were opened for general commersce in June 1813. The resources of the colony were developed, Mr. Birch, a merchant, fitted out a vessel to survey the western coasts, and Captain Kellv discovered Macquarie Harbor and Port Davey. Mr. Birch was rewarded with one year's monopoly of the trade he had opened. The first corn was exported to New South Wales, whales were caught in the Derwent, and a newspaper again started, this time under favorable auspices and able management. On the 1st of June, 1816, Mr. Andrew Bent bought out the first number of the Hobart Town Gazette and Southern Reporter. During the seven years of its existence this paper was a valuable record of the advancement of the community.

Government House


As the years rolled on free immigration to Tasmania increased. In one year (1822) 600 settlers entered the port of Hobart Town, and by the capital they brought and the exercise of superior habits and enterprise gave a new impetus to the colony. They found little to gratify them Ion their arrival. The only fenced and decent estates were those of Colonel Davey and Mr. Lord. The homesteads of the emancipist settlers were wretched as to cultivation and building, their owners idle and uncleanly. In spite of this, so prolific were the crops that £20, 000 had been obtained for wheat exported to Sydney in one year (1820).

In the Governorship of Colonel Sorell the commerce of the colony was greatly assisted by the enterprise of some home merchants. A company was formed at Leith with a capital of £100,000 to promote the welfare of the colonies by taking their produce in exchange for merchandise. A number of vessels were despatched, which brought many families from Scotland whose moral worth, it is said, "made them of inestimable value to the colony." Governor Sorell was strongly opposed to the erection of Tasmania into a separate colony. He considered the measure premature and tending to augment expense of government, as well as to deprive the people of the advantages of an appeal to the elder colony. The settlers were, however, determined in their desires on this point and a petition was addressed to the Home Government praying for independence. The petition was favorably received, and in December of 1825 Tasmania was declared a separate colony.

Colonel Arthur's personality as a ruler is the most strongly marked of the early Tasmania Governors. Under, his auspices the capital city progressed from a village to the promise of what it became — an important commercial city ; many who came out as prisoners were established in social happiness : and immigrants with small resources rose to opulence. The appointment of Sir John Franklin as Governor was effusively welcomed by the colony. The fame of his courage and great nautical renown were known in Tasmania. He had accompanied Flinders on his voyage of discovery, and was at Sydney when the first party left that port to colonise Tasmania. In his efforts to promote the welfare of the country Franklin was greatly assisted by his noble wife. She was the first Tasmanian Governor's wife who seems to have made her influence apparent in the society of the island. The extensive land sales of 1840 combined with the demand for labor induced the Governor to promote emigration. Under his scheme an exceedingly useful class of emigrants arrived. Sir John Franklin left the colony in 1843, and two years later went on the memorable expedition for the discovery of the north west passage from which he never returned.

I have pointed out in the above the large amount of free immigration. It has, with great injustice to Tasmania, become a popular belief that the colony was merely a convict settlement. We have heard much of this, and heard only of the abuses of the system. Yet one impartial writer says - " If a prisoner behaved himself he was better off than millions of his free country men in England. It is a lamentable fact that the convict here is much better off as to food, clothing and lodging than the soldier and police who guard him." Yet now we should not judge this fact to have been lamentable. Amongst these healthy surroundings the bond became a free man. The English farm laborer, convicted of poaching, who would otherwise have ended his days in the workhouse of the county town, was here settled on the soil, and brought up a strong, healthy and honest family in peace and competence. The lad sent from London streets for filching a handkerchief wherewith to buy food had here ample with which to satisfy his hunger. In Britain's capital he had known nothing but misery, hunger, dirt. In Tasmania the conditions were all changed. In London the lad would have grown up to ho hanged, according to the humane laws of the time. In Tasmania the London gamin, had a chance to become a free man, such a chance as he could never have had elsewhere.

Tasmania may have drunk the bitter wine of the bond, but the reign of the free came with the abolition of transportation from England, and the creation of the island into a self-governing colony in 1855. There are fine old crusted citizens who much lament, the old time when £1000 a day of imperial money was spent in Hobart. There are other and younger men who regret that Tasmania is a self-governing community, and that with a population of 150,000 they have an expensive paraphernalia of government adapted for a population of 1,000,000. I am not going to discuss either of these questions. Tasmania has certainly a small population, but so, relatively to size, has every colony in Australasia. In proportion to its size Tasmania has the largest floating population. More visitors from the other colonies come here than to any of the rest. Hobart is to the holiday makers of Australia what the best English watering places rolled together are to Great Britain. Tasmania is as much a land of the mountain and the flood as Scotland. It is as much a paradise for those in search of "travel and trout," as my friend, Mr. W. Senior puts it, as either Scotland or Wales. And now, as an added attraction to tourists, Hobart is this year indulging in the luxury of an International Exhibition. It is as an avant courier of Victorian visitors that I make my present trip to Tasmania in search of the practical and the picturesque.

A River Peep at the ExhibitionEn voyage to Hobart Exhibition one will naturally take the Union Company's boats, the finest and fastest in these waters. If ever the commercial history of Australia is written, one of the most interesting chapters will he that dealing with the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand. The Union line, as it is popularly called, has grown from a very humble beginning Into the largest shipping business south of the line, ranking indeed about eighth among the world's steamship companies, and with its fleet of 52 vessels, representing a tonnage of 67,196, might be termed the "P. and O. of the Pacific," if one were desirous, of bestowing a high minding, alliterative title on the familiar "red funnels." Away back in the "early days" — not so very long ago, measured by old world standards ; but we in the colonies live fast, and for us 30 years ago is ancient history — a small paddle boat, the Golden Age, ran from Dunedin, New Zealand, then almost a hamlet, to the ports lying within a short distance. With the opening up of the Otago gold fields came increased business, and one by one other small vessels were added to the fleet. The title adopted by the owners, however, the "Harbour Steam Company" sufficiently indicated the restricted nature of the enterprise. The principal shareholder was a Mr. Jones, and among his employees was Mr. Jas. Mills, the present managing director of the Union line, who doubtless little dreamt of the magnitude of the fleet he should one day control. On Mr. Jones's death in 1869, Mr. Mills became largely interested in the Harbor Company, and in 1875 he formed the present Union line for the purpose of taking over and extending the original business.

With characteristic energy two new steamers, much larger and finer vessels than those sailing under the Harbor Company's flag, were at once ordered, Mr. Mills proceeding to England for this purpose ; and with a fleet of five vessels the company commenced its career. For three years the boats were devoted strictly to the coastal traffic of New Zealand, but in 1878 the company felt strong enough to enter the inter-colonial trade, and after some negotiation the fleet of Messrs. McMeekan, Blackwood and Co., of Melbourne, was purchased, and the "red funnels" entered Australian waters. The following year the famous Rotomahana was added to the fleet, and in accordance with their usual policy she was far and away superior to any previous Australian owned vessel. She was the first sea going steamship built of mild steel, and before leaving home had the honor to be inspected by the Prince of Wales. Her great speed soon earned for her the sobriquet of the "Greyhound of the Pacific," and even now she can hold her own with anything she meets. After this the company's history is a record of constant additions to their fleet and steady extension of their operations. Each new steamer ordered embodied all the latest improvements in machinery and fitting. The Maranoa is certainly the finest passenger steamer south of the line, and, of her size, probably in the world. In 1886 the Black Diamond Line, a locally owned coasting fleet, was absorbed, and in 1891 an important and delicate piece of negotiation was concluded by the amalgamation of the Tasmanian Steam Navigation Company with the Union Company, whereby the splendid vessels Talune, Onnah, Pateena, Corinna, Mangana ad Moreton were added to the Union fleet. For many years Hobart had been a port of call for the Union boats, which were however ran so as not to interfere with the Tasmanian Steam Navigation Company's steamers, and the position of Tasmania, almost midway between New Zealand and Australia, rendered the arrangement a peculiarly advantageous one. The shareholders in the Tasmanian Steam Navigation Company received Union Company shares in exchange for those they held, but, apart from this, little change was made in the working of the business. A large portion of the capital is still locally owned, and the Tasmanian trade is worked apart from the other branches of the company, and has a local board to control its affairs.

In addition to their own large and ever increasing fleet, the Union line have generally one or two chartered boats under their flag. At present the Port Melbourne, a vessel of nearly 5000 tons, is lending her assistance in the Calcutta running. Among the various trades in which the fleet is employed, one of the most important is that to San Francisco. In conjunction with Messrs. J. D. Spreckels and Bros, of that port, the Union line hold the contract for the conveyance of mails from New South Wales and New Zealand to America, and the vessels of the associated companies leave Sydney monthly for San Francisco, landing mails and passengers in London in 31 days after leaving Australia. The company has lately made very complete arrangements for securing the convenience of those patronising the "A and A" (Australian and American) route home, and their relations with the great American railways companies and the Atlantic steamer lines enable them to offer special facilities to the globe trotting tourist who may wish to combine his visit to the colonies with the journey through the land of the Stars and Stripes, and a glimpse of the Sandwich Islands and Samoa ; while to those homeward bound, the short time spent on the ocean, the pleasant breaks on the journey, and the absence of the intense heat of the Red Sea and the equally uncomfortable weather met with "round the Horn," are great inducements.

Ian Byers
Ian Byers's picture
Viscount and Lady Gormanston

Jenico PRESTON, the 14th Viscount Gormanston, was the Governor of Tasmania from 8th August 1893 to 14 August 1900 1
Lady Gormanston was Georgina Jane CONNELLAN, his second wife. 2