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the Australian forests have not that depth of shade which the same density of trees would give in other parts of the world.
4. Some of the species of gum-trees include the giant trees of the world. On the lower slopes of the Alps, in Victoria, these trees grow to the enormous height of between four and five hundred feet, and measure from fifty to seventy feet round the base. Other important trees of the Australian forest are the red cedar and the forest oak. The latter belongs to a remarkable group
of leafless trees. Its wood is of the colour of raw beef, whence its local name “ beef-wood.”
5. The locality of the big gum-trees is also the home of the gigantic ferns of the colony. 'Here, where mountain streams dash through deep ravines, and swampy banks and marshy bottoms have been formed, the giant fern attains its greatest size, and is seen in all the completeness of its graceful beauty, rising from forty to fifty feet in height, and throwing out from the top of its massive and upright stem a cluster of tapering fronds, forming a broad canopy of foliage from twelve to sixteen feet across.”
6. One of the most striking and peculiar features of Australia, within the coast mountain ranges, is its “ scrubs.” These scrubs are formed by bushes and shrubs of different kinds. One of the most common is a species of Eucalyptus called the "mallee" scrub.
7. The appearance of the “mallee” is something like a bushy willow, or osier, the stems growing close together like reeds, so that there are often ten or twelve in a square foot of ground. They grow fourteen feet high without a branch, and when a road is cut through a scrub of this kind it appears like a deep trench, or as if enclosed by high walls. The aspect of such a country is very gloomy. From an eminence nothing can be seen but a dark brown mass of bushes, which, when set in motion by the wind, seems like a heaving ocean of dark
In the south-east of South Australia there is a tract about 9,000 square miles in extent—an area larger than Wales—covered with an unbroken expanse of this scrub, and similar tracts of it occur over every part of the southern half of Australia.
8. Another “scrub” plant is the “mulga.” This is a bushy acacia armed with long spines, and where matted with other shrubs forms a mass of vegetation impossible to penetrate. The “mulga” is not so common as the "mallee.” The so-called “ tea-tree” of the colonists is another shrub which is very abundant. There are also many dwarf shrubs growing to a height of about two feet. These are known as “ heaths." In spring, the
country covered by the “heaths" is very beautiful, from the many varied and bright-coloured flowers which cover the bushes.
9. The most terrible production of the interior of Australia is the “spinifix," or porcupine grass, which extends for hundreds of miles over sandy plains, and probably covers a greater amount of surface than any other Australian plant. Fortunately it is confined to the interior, and the settled regions are quite free from it.
10. The grass-trees are another peculiar feature in the Australian landscape. “From a rugged stem, from two to ten feet high, springs a tuft of drooping, wiry foliage, and from the centre of this rises a spike, not unlike a huge bulrush. When it flowers in winter, this spike becomes covered with white stars, and a heath covered with grass-trees has then an appearance at once singular and beautiful.”
11. Australia is pre-eminently a land of flowers. Many of the tall forest-trees bear flowers of dazzling beauty, and flowering shrubs are innumerable. The giant rock-lily sends up a stalk thirty feet high, bearing at its summit a crown of lily-like flowers several feet in circumference. Strange flowered orchids and lovely bulbous plants also abound.
12. The animals of Australia are quite as peculiar as the plants. The large animals found in most other countries are all wanting in Australia, and most of the Australian native animals are not found elsewhere. The kangaroo, the dingo or native dog, the opossum, and the duck-billed platypus, are the most characteristic native animals.
13. The birds are numerous, and many of them have very beautiful plumage. Emus, parrots, the lyre-bird, the black swan, bower-birds, and the gigantic kingfisher are the most striking kinds. Reptiles are abundant, and some of the snakes are poisonous. The black snake, one of the commonest and most dangerous, is from five to eight feet long
1. New South Wales is the mother colony of Australia. Its history commences with a settlement of convicts at Botany Bay in 1788, afterwards transferred to Port Jackson. As might naturally be expected, with a constant influx of such undesirable neighbours as convicts, free settlers were not in a hurry to perceive the advantages offered by the colony, and progress was slow. part was erected into the separate colony of Victoria, and in 1859 the northern part—Queensland—was separated.
2. Transportation to New South Wales was abolished in 1840, and then rapid strides were made, the population* doubling itself in ten years. In 1850 the southern
* In 1840 the population was 129,463. In 1850 it was 265,503.
3. The area of the colony is now about 310,000 squaro miles, or more than five times as large as England and Wales ; and the population between six and seven hundred thousand.
4. The natural divisions of the colony are the eastern sea-board territory, the central range of mountains, and the western plains. The sea-board territory consists of undulating hill and valley, interspersed with fertile alluvial tracts, and underlain with great beds of coal. In the central region gold, copper, lead, tin, and other metals abound. The western plains, on the inland side of the mountains, constitute the pastoral region of the colony. Here are the great sheep walks, on which graze the millions of sheep and cattle which constitute the chief wealth of the country.
5. The great dividing range of mountains forms the “back-bone” of the colony. It runs from NNE. to SSW. in a direction parallel with the coast, and on an average about eighty or ninety miles from it. It is not one range of mountains, but many—a broad, mountainous region, with table-lands and deep valleys and minor ranges of hills running in different directions. The chief ranges commencing in the north-east are- -The New England range, the Liverpool Range, the Blue Mountain Range, and the Warragong Range. The latter forms the northern extension of the Australian Alps of Victoria, and includes Mont Kosciusko, the highest summit in Australia.
6. The great dividing range rests on a plateau, and the eastern ledge of this plateau forms the coast ranges of mountains. These coast ranges, like the great dividing range, run parallel with the coast, and at about thirty miles from it. Numerous rivers run east from the vast mountain territory, and periodically overflowing their banks, render the coast plains so exceedingly fertile that crops can be produced year after year without the application of manure. It is in these fertile plains that the