Market Gardening in Victoria - Poultry Farming - Fruit Farming - The Woman Who Succeeds - Qualities and Capital Required - Cost of Passage - How the Government Helps the Settler Advantages and Disadvantages of Life in Australia
Without health, industry and adaptability, the girl who has a vague idea of going to Australia and putting her legacy or her savings, or her share of the family estate, into market gardening, fruit farming, and poultry farming, is doomed to failure. These three words should be written in letters of fire on the mind of every prospective emigrant, and in this matter women are on a par with men.
The woman who goes to a new country without the idea of working as hard as she is capable of working, and without possessing, either by nature or by education and experience, the power of adapting herself to new circumstances, new people, and new methods, never will make a success, and had much better take whatever she can get to do at home. Therefore, hard work, and the power of making the best of things and people, without grumbling, are an absolutely necessary part of the equipment of every girl and woman with her mind fixed on the chances in an uncrowded country across the seas, where the Union Jack flies in fresher, finer air.
A well-to-do settler's home in Victoria, Australia. This district is admirably suited to fruit and poultry farming, both of which can be made profitable by emigrants possessed of a small capital, health, energy, and some knowledge of farming Photo, Record Press
The priceless gift of adaptability will prevent her making mistakes which are the children of a patronising attitude towards "Colonials," and a certainty that the ways in which she was brought up are the only ways to be considered seriously by sensible people. It will prevent her - at least, pray Heaven that it does - telling an Australian that she is "not in the least like a Colonial; in fact, I almost would have thought that you were one of us," as I heard an otherwise blameless Englishwoman say.
Having assured herself, after severe self-examination, that she possesses these essential parts of a stock in trade, the prospective farmer should make up her mind, after careful inquiry, and weighing the pros and cons, to which part of the big continent of Australia she should bend her steps.
Suppose she chooses Victoria. One of the reasons that Victoria is recommended is that the climate is extremely healthy, the death-rate being 12.55 per 1,000, which is lower than that of any country in Europe. The climate of Victoria rivals that of Italy. There are the same blue skies, deep and far away, the same brilliant sunshine, the same glorious nights, and the so-called winter is very mild. Though most of Australia is sub-tropical, this state can call itself temperate.
In the south, in the rich Gippsland River flats, hops are grown; cherries, gooseberries, black currants, and raspberries flourish, while almost anywhere peaches, apricots, and almonds grow to perfection. In the northern parts of the state, turkeys are said to be more profitable to the farmer than lambs, for if care be taken to keep them out of the early morning dews, they may roam the paddocks, and pick up their own living.
Another reason for choosing Victoria is that it is more closely settled than the other states, and the newcomer will not experience such a vast difference between the country she has left and her new home. This is a point she will appreciate only after she has emigrated, for the difference between a country life in Australia and in England is very great, but it is felt more in the larger states than in the "Cabbage Garden," as the Australians call Victoria. It must be remembered, however, that, small as it is, Victoria has a much greater area than England, so that naturally there will be a difference in climate in various parts of the state.
A woman going alone to Victoria can go with confidence that all information supplied by the representatives of the Government of Victoria, either in England or Australia, is correct, because it has been prepared under the supervision of the members of the Government, and each Minister endorses and accepts responsibility for the information supplied to inquirers. Conditions are as represented, it is safe to say, when the Government holds itself personally responsible.
A woman considering emigration must find out what capital she requires in order to take up land, have a little house built, and stock her property.
First as to capital. No woman should consider going to Australia, with a view to farming on a small scale, without a capital of £250. With that sum she can buy land on easy terms from the Government, plant fruit trees, etc., buy poultry, and have something to fall back upon when necessary, until her land begins to pay.
The best time of year in which to go to Australia is March. There are several lines of steamships plying between England and Australia, but one line which is inexpensive and comfortable is the White Star, whose boats leave Liverpool every few weeks for Melbourne, going via the Cape. These boats carry only one class of passengers, so the sensitive woman has none of the embarrassment attendant upon going second-class on a boat carrying first-class passengers. The fares are from £20 to £30, according to the state-room, and very pleasant people are met on board. Six weeks seems a long time for a journey if your travelling has consisted hitherto of a trip to London from the provinces, or from the Midlands to Scotland, but after one passage the distance and the time consumed shrink considerably.
The prospective emigrant, of course, must have definite ideas as to what part of Victoria she is bound for, otherwise she will land in Melbourne feeling very much at "loose ends," and apt to spend some of her capital in looking about. If she has no friends to consult about accommodation, she can get addresses from the representatives of the State Government who meet the boats.
Having made up her mind to settle in the irrigated areas of Victoria, and take up land with a view to fruit-farming and market gardening, with poultry and bee-keeping as a by-product, our woman immigrant should study carefully the best locality with a view to finding a good market for her produce, and being fairly near a railway.
From £8 to £15 per acre is paid for these irrigated lands, which is the unirrigated value of the land, and offered to the settler at the above prices to encourage settlement. Payments, which may extend over 31 1/2 years, amount to 6 per cent. per annum of the capital value, being 4 1/2 per cent. interest and 1 1/2 per cent. towards the repayment of the principal. Of course, if she wishes to do so, the settler may pay the total amount at any time. All settlers must fence their holdings within a year of occupying them, and must make improvements on their farms equal to 10 per cent. of the purchase price before the end of three years.
Blocks of land suitable for small farmers and fruit-growers are divided into two-acre blocks, ten acre, and twenty to two hundred acres, the latter being for farms of some size. The woman and her partner - if she have one - will find the ten-acre block as much as they can manage at first.
When our Englishwomen have chosen their land and made arrangements for their little house, which may cost from £31 upwards, payable in fifteen years, they commence their work of planting fruit-trees, etc., and raising poultry. In addition, they raise vegetables for the market and for their own use. The fruit finds a market not only in Australia, but in England and America.
View on the River Yarra at Healesville. Victoria. This part of Australia is extremely healthy, and noted for its glorious climate, which resembles that of Italy. As it is more thickly peopled than the other Australian states, and possesses a fertile soil, it offers special advantages to prospective settlers, especially if these are women
Photo, Record Press
For the poultry-raising it is well to get all the information possible from the State Government (Department of Agriculture) and from obliging neighbours. One poultry farmer tells me that on sixty hens for twelve months she averaged 10s. weekly over and above the cost of feeding, and found a good market for them in Melbourne, which is within easy reach of the irrigated lands.
Life for the newcomer will be lonely, of course, because she has left her kindred and friends, but she will not be quite so lonely as a girl situated in like circumstances would be in England. Even in the biggest town in Australia one takes an interest in one's neighbours, and the newcomer, moving in, probably finds that the mistress of the place nearest to her has brought in bacon and eggs for a meal, or, at the very least, has been good for a cup of tea. Outside the towns interest is keener, and they would be churlish neighbours who did not offer every assistance in their power to the young woman setting up her own establishment.
They are a cheerful, kindly people the Australians, and if the newcomer be not "stuck-up," she will find herself very soon joining in the daily round of toil and pleasure as one of themselves.
It cannot be emphasised too strongly that all the foregoing is written for the benefit of the woman who has had some training or practical experience in farming, and has a fair idea of colonial conditions. No other woman is advised to leave England for the purpose of taking up land for herself. In fact, it would be madness for an inexperienced woman to put her small capital into such an enterprise.
Drawbacks should be considered carefully, and weighed against the certain and possible advantages, before definite steps are taken.
A woman should remember the great distance from kith and kin, and the loneliness and home-sickness from which she must inevitably suffer. She must face very hard work and possible disappointment. She must realise that she has to adapt herself to existing conditions, for the conditions belong to the country; it is she who introduces a new element. She must throw overboard prejudice, snobbishness, and discontent. She must realise that among the drawbacks to any new country is the great difficulty of getting help for work on the farm, etc., and that much which is rough she must do for herself.
But if she decides to go, after thinking of all possible drawbacks, and asking friends who know the country to mention any she may have overlooked, she has a chance of making a good living in pleasant surroundings. If, on the contrary, she has the courage to admit that she is not the woman for life in a new country on the land, then she has saved herself disappointment and great expense, and Australia a lifelong enemy.