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Character of the Soil-Occupation of Land-Purchase
THE soil in New South Wales varies consi
derably: it is in general scanty, and best suited for pastoral purposes. Nevertheless, there is much good land well adapted to agriculture, to gardens, and to vineyards. The soil in the best agricultural localities is a loam, either of a bright red or of a slaty black colour, and consists of calcareous, argillaceous, and much decomposed vegetable matter, with but little silica. In the mountain districts there is a rich light argillaceous loam, of a nut-brown colour, where grain grows to perfection. For horticultural purposes there is a black alluvial soil, chiefly met with on the banks of rivers, or the bottoms of valleys, but it occasionally occurs on the tops of hills.
The production of the agricultural and hurticultural lands, except in seasons of drought, is great. Wheat grows to perfection, and maize, grown chiefly as food for horses, yields 60 bushels to the acre, and is sown in October or November, and reaped in May or June, after which the land is sometimes sown with wheat, so as to obtain two crops in the year. Barley thrives well, but the climate is too hot for oats. In the cooler districts potatoes thrive exceedingly. Culinary vegetables of all kinds are produced luxuriantly, both in the warm and cool localities; and if we except the apple, currant, and gooseberry, fruits of every kind, both tropical and European, are produced to perfection and in great abundance. The orangeries are extensive, and there are numerous vineyards
that produce excellent light wines, which will probably be largely exported to the Euro
Tobacco is largely grown in the neighbourhood of the Hunter river, to the northward of Sydney, and still further northward, in the Moreton Bay district; bananas, pine-apples, tamarinds, yams, arrow-root, cotton, the sugar-cane, and other tropical productions thrive well. Samples of the cotton sent to England have been pronounced by competent judges to far excel that from America, and all other places; and when social industry shall have recovered from the shock it has sustained by the gold discoveries, the growth of cotton for the European market will doubtless become a staple of north-eastern Australia. The management of the Australian agricultural farm, the dairy, the garden, and the vineyard, has been fully detailed in preceding chapters.
Land in the colony may be purchased either from the government, or from private individuals. In the present condition of the colony the latter would be far the best mode. Indeed,
so many persons are now abandoning their farms for the gold diggings, that farms in a state of comparatively high cultivation
may chased at prices very far below their real worth. The emigrant who intends purchasing land of the crown should first inspect the maps of the colony, at the Surveyor-General's office, where every facility will be afforded him, and all information respecting the surveyed and unsurveyed lands may be readily obtained from the clerk of the office. He should then personally visit and examine the various localities and make his selection. If the land selected has been put up to auction previously, and not sold, he can secure it by paying to the public treasury the upset price of £l per acre; if otherwise, he must apply at the Surveyor-General's office, when the land, if not less than 30 acres, will be exposed for sale by public auction in from one to three months afterwards. Sometimes, however, from various circumstances, the survey of the land is either not completed or not reported in time
for the ensuing auction, when the sale is further delayed some two or three months.
The young settler, in making his selection of land, should, if possible, take the advice of some old colonist who resides near the spot as to its eligibility, as some spots that appear beautiful at one season of the year become swamps or lagoons at another, and in some places an abundant supply of good water can be obtained by sinking wells to the depth of a few feet, while in others the reverse is the case. Then it is well not to select land that a rich old colonist has “had his eye on," or you may
be opposed at the sale, and be obliged either to buy a dear bargain,” or witness an unexpected rival become the purchaser of the wished-for section. It is advisable to select more than one spot, so that should one go at too high a price, you have another to fall back upon. When you have put up land for sale do not talk about it, for if it is a really valuable section, you by so doing raise up a host of competitors at the