Van Dieman’s Land

We have been favoured with the following extract of a letter from Captain Dixon, of the ship Skelton, dated Hobert Town, Van Dieman’s Land, 29th November 1820 :–

“We arrived here on the 27th inst. all in good health.– This colony surpasses my expectation–climate very similar to England, soil capable of any thing, where an industrious manhas every thing to hope and nothing to fear ; the assistance given to settlers liberal, and grants of land to the amount of from 400 to 2000 acres given them, generally of excellent quality. This colony in fact is the only country that an Englishman should come to, he neither changes climate not habits, for here every thing hat occurs to him is the same, except burning wood for coals. The country on the sea coast is very woody, but much easier cleared than America and about ten miles in the interior several miles of extent have no wood at all. The ships behaves beautifully, sails well, and is easy ; we have never close reefed and not above twice double reefed, and not strained a rope yarn nor split a sail.”

Extract of a letter received by My Leyden, R. N. Leith, from his Son, Mate of the ship Skelton, dated Sullivan’s Cove, off Hobart Town, 29th November 1820 :–

“I take this opportunity of sending you a few lines by the ship Guildford, which is to sail tomorrow for Baravia, and then homewards. We left the Table Bay on 18th October, and arrived here on 28th November, making a very good passage. Did not see any vessel on the passage–made the island of Amsterdam and St Paul’s on 28 November–went ashore on the island of Amsterdam for two or three hours, found it to be barren entirely–only inhabited by give or six people from the Isle of France, for the purpose of sealing. When we came near the land, fell in with various winds and calms–made the river on Sunday about twelve o’clock, and brought up off Hobart, at three P M on Monday. The country has a very fine prospect, a great deal of wood, but interspersed with fields all in green, for it is the spring here now–the pease are in full bloom. This town is very irregularly built, just like a Norwegian village–a deal of wooden houses–the appearance of the country pleases the eye greatly of the passengers, and the visit they had from the Deputy Governor was very favourable. Governor M’Quarrie is to be here from Sidney in the course of a fortnight or three weeks to survey the Government works. The passengers are in great suspense whether they will forward themselves to Sydney, or wait until he comes. Butter sells at 4s, a lb ; coarse ship biscuits 35s. a cwt ; a pair of ashets, middle size, 21s. and every thing in like proportion. Salted pork would have sold very well–could clear L130 a cwt. Beef is about 6d. a lb. If you buy any here, and pay in produce, you pay more than in hard cash. There are few bush rangers now, they were mostly all shot in the woods. No encouragement here for pickpockets. Some of the richest and most powerful men here have once been sent out as convicts, but, from their good behaviour, got their emancipation. The Midship Leith, upon the pier, is here ; he is master of a colonial brig trading between Sydney and here. Our passengers tell me they can chuse what land they like ; but not the quality ; they must apply the saw and the hatchet a great deal. A hatchet costs 7s. 6d. a lb. Very few people have female servants, as they can’t trust them ; as those who come out are convicts, and get soon married, so they have all men servants.”

Citation: Caledonian Mercury (Edinburgh, United Kingdom), 09 June 1821, available at the Scissors and Paste Database,