The Emu Plains Agricultural Farm was established to provide work for an influx of convicts after the end of the Napoleonic wars. It initially accommodated 270 convicts and 11 overseers. Wheat, maize and tobacco were the main crops cultivated. The first superintendent was an ex-convict, Richard Fitzgerald.
William Cox was appointed by Governor Macquarie to construct a road across the Blue Mountains to Bathurst. New farming land was needed to support the growing settlement of Sydney. Cox completed the road in six months, following a route surveyed by George Evans the previous year.
John Dickson was a Scottish engineer who applied to settle in New South Wales. He brought with him a steam-engine as well as other equipment and tools. Governor Macquarie granted him 15 acres at Cockle Bay for his steam-driven mill – Australia’s first. He was also granted 3000 acres near Camden as a grazing farm. More
Thomas West who arrived on the Earl Cornwallis in 1801 received a conditional pardon in consideration of his general good conduct and character for sobriety and industry and in having erected a water mill for the grinding of grain at Barcom Glen within two miles of Sydney, being the first water-mill ever erected in the vicinity of Sydney’ (Caledonian Mercury 7 November 1814)
A letter from Sydney dated June 30 1813 pointed to a flourishing agricultural and pastoral industry. “The colony of New South Wales is in so flourishing a condition, that a memorial has been forwarded by the principal inhabitants, through the governor, to his Majesty’s Ministers, praying, among other privileges, permission to distil from their surplus grain, and to export flour from thence to Great Britain; and pointing out that there is no farther necessity for any salt meat being sent thither, as the colony can furnish fresh beef, pork, and mutton at a cheaper rate.” (Caledonian Mercury 7 March 1814)
Although Frenchman Nicolas Appert earlier pioneered the preserving of food in glass jars, it was an Englishman, Peter Durand, who patented the food canning process, sealing food in airtight, tin-plated iron cans. The instructions for opening tins of roasted veal read: “Cut round on the top near to the outer edge with a chisel and hammer”. Canned foods were first shipped to Australia in 1815.
The rum trade was influential in the new colony. When government funds were insufficient to build a new hospital, Governor Macquarie persuaded a consortium of businessmen to undertake the task. In return they were granted a monopoly on rum imports. The contract allowed them to import 45,000 gallons of rum, later increased to 60,000 gallons. Convict labour was also provided for the building works. The Rum Hospital, in Macquarie Street, accepted its first convict patients in 1816.