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.
A newspaper report from 1819 talks of mangoes, among other fruits, being cultivated by Torres Strait Islanders on Murray Island. Since the mango had been known in India and south-east Asia for 4000 years, it may well have been grown in the islands for centuries before the first specimens were imported to mainland Australia. More
In 1814, Matthew Flinders had suggested that the name ‘Australia’ be adopted for the continent which had, until then, been known as ‘New Holland’. In December of 1817, Governor Macquarie officially recommended that Flinders’ suggestion be adopted. Australia remained a geographic, rather than a socio-political entity until 1901 when the various colonies federated to form the Commonwealth of Australia. More
John Dickson was a Scottish engineer who applied to settle in New South Wales. He arrive in 1813 and 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
In the early days British currency, or sterling, was in short supply in New South Wales. Much of it was exchanged for imported goods and therefore left the colony. This led to a widespread barter system, where rum was often exchanged for other goods. By punching a hole through Spanish pieces of eight, Governor Macquarie’s administration created the holey dollar, which was only acceptable within the colony, alleviating the crisis. More
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) More
Thomas West who arrived on the Earl Cornwallis in 1801 received a conditional pardon because of ‘his general good conduct and character for Sobriety and industry and also in consideration of his having erected a Water Mill for grinding of grain at Barcom Glen within one mile of the town of Sydney, being the first Water Mill ever erected in the immediate vicinity of the Town’. (Caledonian Mercury 7 November 1814) More
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. He sold the patent to Bryan Donkin who began sealing food in airtight, tin-plated iron cans in 1813.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. In 1910, 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. What became known as the Rum Hospital, in Macquarie Street, accepted its first convict patients in 1816. More