Shortly after this the governor visited the settlement at Parramatta, for the purpose of examining that part of the country which he designed to cultivate on the public account; and to observe how the convicts who had lately arrived, the major part of whom had been sent thither, were provided for. The cattle which had been landed from the Supply had been also sent thither, and were, with the government stock that was at Toongabbie, thriving exceedingly.
The ground that it was proposed to clear on the public account was not more than two miles and a half from Parramatta, and most advantageously situated in point of fresh water, having a chain of large and excellent ponds in its vicinity. The deputy surveyor having accompanied the governor, the spot was marked out for erecting the necessary buildings; and the whole was named Portland Place, in honour of his Grace the Duke of Portland.
In consequence of the proclamation which was issued in the last month, one of the run-away convicts delivered himself up to a constable, and another was taken and lodged in confinement: they appeared to be half starved; yet their sufferings were not sufficient to prevent similar desertions from work in others, nor a repetition of the offence in themselves; such was the strong aversion which these worthless characters had to any thing that bore the name of work. More labour would have been performed in this country by 100 people from any part of England or Scotland, than had at any time been derived from 300 of these people, with all the attention that could be paid to them. Had 200 families of decent labouring farmers been sent out as settlers a few years since, and had a few convicts to assist them been placed wholly under their direction and authority, the cultivation would have been much farther advanced; and, in point of provisions, those families would have been living in luxury. More grain than could be consumed would have been grown, instead of crops which in some years were barely sufficient to last until the following harvest.
These people were brought to trial for a theft which they were stated to have committed, but of which there was not any positive proof, and they were acquitted. There was not any doubt of their having associated with and instructed the natives how to commit, with the least hazard to themselves, the various depredations which the settlers had sustained from them; yet there was no proof of this, at least no proof whereby they might have been capitally punished, nothing short of which would ever be sufficient to prevent this dangerous intercourse.
After exciting some apprehensions for her safety, his Majesty’s ship the Reliance anchored in the Cove on the 26th, from the Cape of Good Hope, having had a very stormy passage, with 26 cows, 3 bulls, and about 60 sheep on board, on government account. She had been extremely leaky all the voyage; and it must be remembered, that the other colonial ship, the Supply, arrived in a very infirm state.*