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pasture grass grew; and that the vegetable fibres or roots of grasses, left thus exposed and unprotected, are consumed along with the coarse growth which it is the object of burning to destroy.
Again, in the course of this section, it has been shown that the soils of the country are, from their position, and from the effects of the rain, subjected to denudations.
Now, from the small quantities of aluminous matter detected throughout the soils of New South Wales, it becomes obvious that the only effective check upon the influences of that denudation, is the preservation either of such scanty vegetation as does exist, or, at least, of the woody fibre, which more or less contributes to the fixing and consolidating of the soil.
THE AGRICULTURAL REGION, AND AGRICULTURE.
In passing from the pastoral to the agricultural districts, the traveller exchanges a wild solitude, a rude independence, a shifting and temporary in dustry—images quite of an Australian complexion — for the scenery of the Old World,—towns, villages, comfortable homesteads, tilled and enclosed fields, and gardens. Great as the contrast is, it is nevertheless the work of only twenty years!
On England's taking possession of New South Wales, the district suited to agriculture appeared, like the pastoral, just as the Creator had formed it; unknown in its extent, or its communications and outlets; and overgrown with trees, shrubs, rushes, and grasses, which rendered the penetrating into it, if not a question of life, at least one of most extraordinary exertion and privation.
At present, New South Wales possesses 120,000 acres, and Van Diemen's Land 160,000 acres, of tilled land. In some parts, the two colonies have roads which Avould not disgrace England herself, and tolerably safe communications and outlets throughout: and this conquest over a wild and primitive nature, achieved in less than half a century, is the best proof of the progress these colonies have made; speaking volumes in favour both of the ruled and the rulers.
Wheat, barley, oats, Indian corn, tobacco, potatoes, turnips, and English grasses have been objects of cultivation ever since the earliest settlement. The introduction of the vine followed; and, from the importance its culture now assumes, this introduction will no doubt be viewed at some future period as an era in the history of the colonies.
The English plough and harrow is employed in cultivation, and the mode of working the land is modelled upon that of England, and followed up to that model as far as local circumstances render it convenient or profitable. Manuring, rotation of crops, fallowing, thorough or superficial draining and irrigation, are as yet far from being common operations: they are confined to particular farms only; and although the experiments have been crowned with signal success, they have hitherto found few imitators.
The agricultural calendar which guides and regulates the fanner in the routine of annual labour and farm management, is just the reverse of that to which he was accustomed in Ins native land.
The month of January, in New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, corresponds, as regards season, with the month of July in European latitudes; but as regards agricultural occupations, it corresponds with August. Thus in that month the reaping and getting in of the wheat harvest is brought to an end in the two colonies; the wheat is thrashed, and the farmer gathers the stubble of the early maize, ploughs the land for the next wheat crop, and weeds the potato fields.
The February of Australia, which is the August of Europe, is the month in which the barley harvest and the sowing of the turnips begin; while the ploughing of the land for the next wheat crop, and the clearing of the potato fields, continues. In New South Wales, since the introduction of the tobacco plant, the month of February is also the proper time for cutting and drying the tobacco leaves.
Towards the end of March, which is the September of Europe, the farmers commonly secure all their maize crops, the stubble of which is, in the north of New South Wales, sometimes ploughed in for wheat. The sowing of turnips also continues.
In April, which is the same as our October, the gathering in of the maize still proceeds, and the sowing of the wheat begins. The second cutting of tobacco is likewise commenced; and the corn stacks in Van Diemen's Land, where the moist season advances, are thatched and put in order. In this month the potatoes are usually dug up and partly stored.
The month of May, corresponding to the November of Europe, allows the farmer of New South Wales to proceed with, and bring to a close, the sowing of his wheat, which in Van Diemen's Land commonly terminates the latter end of April. The cutting of tobacco and the gathering of maize is completed, as is also the storing of potatoes.
June, the mid-winter, or December of Europe, is employed in New South AVales in sowing the latest wheat, clearing the maize land of the stubble, and in both colonies in thrashing out the corn.
July, the January of Europe, is the month in which the farmer of New South Wales prepares the land for early maize, tobacco, and potatoes. In Van Diemen's Land, he breaks new lands, and commences grubbing out the stumps from the corn fields.
August, the February of Europe, is commonly devoted to preparing the land for spring crops, and, in the north of New South Wales, to planting potatoes.
September, the European March, is the time for sowing spring wheat and barley, and, in some parts of the two colonies, artificial grasses. In this month a general planting of maize and potatoes takes place, and turnips are removed.
In October, the April of Europe, the farmer completes the planting of maize and potatoes, and prepares the land for tobacco.
In November, the May of Europe, the wheat harvest in the northern parts of New South Wales begins.
The ploughing and preparing land for the early maize follows, as also the making of hay.
December, the June of Europe, is the month of general harvest. The clearing of the September maize and potato fields is attended to, as also the topping of the tobacco and the planting of new maize.
In New South Wales, the cultivation of the above articles extends throughout the colony. That portion of the country, however, which, from its system of working, and range of tillable land, deserves to be included within the agricultural district, is confined to the valley of the Karua, which is limited in the extent of its cultivated, but not of its cultivable land, and of which the best tracts are in the possession of the Australian Agricultural Company; to the valley of the Hunter, composed of the confluent valleys of the Goulbourn, Page's, Patterson, and Williams rivers; to the valley of the Paramatta; to the Hawkesbury, South Creek, Mulgoa Creek, the Nepean, and the Wollondilly. The district of Bathurst, along the rivers Macquarie and Campbell, down to Wei
lington Valley, deserves also to be included in the agricultural district, as likewise the heads of the Belubula river, not so much on account of the existing agricultural industry, as on account of the richness of the soil, and the capabilities offered for the introduction of agricultural improvement.
In these localities, a good many farms are in a very forward state, many exhibit remarkable improvements, and some display only partial attempts, all of which are, however, in the right direction.
The farms of the Australian Agricultural Company at Strout and Booral, the most northern farms of the colony, may be regarded as the first in the rank of improvement. The farm buildings are of the best construction; the tilled lands are almost entirely clear of timber and stumps, well fenced in, well ploughed and worked, and presenting, on the whole, gratifying proofs of well-bestowed capital and labour. The orchard and vineyards of the Company at Tahlee, (Port Stephen,) which produce the choicest grapes, oranges, and lemons, are not less worthy of notice. It is this orchard that shows most forciby the extensive range which the bountiful climate of New South Wales embraces in isothermal lines, as there, the English oak is seen flourishing by the side of the banana, which again is surrounded by vines, lemon, and orange trees of luxurious growth.
To the southward of Port Stephen are a series of thriving farms, spread along the Goulburn, Pages, Hunter, Patterson, and Williams rivers, and which comprise an agricultural district of 2000 square miles in extent. The excellent harbour Newcastle, good water and tolerable roads, a coal mine, a soil well adapted for wheat, barley, turnips, the vine, and European fruits, and a situation the most favourable to the application of irrigation, render this district one of the richest and most important in the colony.