Governor Grey and South Australia

The colonists of South Australia had, in 1841, received a sharp but salutary lesson and as a result they had profited by it. They had discovered that the land was their only source of wealth and many, who had suffiecient means o puchase farms or stations, went out into the country, determined to endure a year or two of hardships in hopes of prosperity to come. Nor had they very long to wait; in 1844 they were able to export corn to the extent of £40,000 and in that year the colony possessed 355,000 sheep and 22,000 cattle.

Captain George Grey

The new Governor, Captain George Grey, took every care to assist the colonists in returning to more discreet courses. Many changes were needed ; for in 1840, while the colony had a revenue of only £30,000, it had spent at the rate of £171,000 per annum. Such behaviour would surely lead to nothing but ruin, and the first task of the Governor was to reduce all expenses as far as possible.

Governor Grey Reduces Expense

In the first year the expediture was cut down to £90,000; in the next, to £68,000; and in 1843 , to £34,000. Instead of employing the poorer labourers on costlu and unnecessary public works, he persuaded them to take employment in the country with the farmers and squatters, who were rapidly opening up the interior parts of the colony. He settled many on small farms or stations of their own, but in this he was greatly impeded by the high price of land ; for Wakefield's friends in England were not yet convinced that their favourite scheme was defective - they attributed every mishap or problem to the incompetence of Governors Hindmarsh and Gawler. "To lower the price," they said, "will be to ruin the colony," and lest such a thing should happen, they raised the price of all lands, whether good or bad, to one pound per acre. But many of those who had bought land in the first days of settlement had been so anxious to part with it during the Land Law crisis, that they had sold it for much less that it cost them ; and thus a greta number of the poorer people became owners of land at very moderate prices.

Bountiful Crops

In 1839 there were but 440 acres under cultivation ; three years afterwards there were 23,000 acres bearing wheat and 5,000 acres of other crops. So rich and fertile was the soil that, in 1845, the colonists not only raised enough corn to supply their own needs, but were able to export about 200,000 bushels at cheap rates to the neighbouring colonies, and even then were left with 150,000 bushels, which they could neither sell nor use. So rapid a development of resources, and so sudden an accession of prosperity have probably never occurred in the history of any other country.

 

History of Australia