Letter from Port Philip 1852

Southport Visiter, May 7th 1852


Extract of a letter from Port Philip, January 11th 1852

ď30.S. Latitude, caught two Albatross, ten or twelve knots an hour, ship sailed for 5 wks. Becalmed for a week in the tropics. One seaman had smallpox so put in quarantine for eight days, which was very galling, and, what made matters worse, was the grand accounts of the gold-diggers, only 27 miles from Melbourne, and there are thousands there, and it being Christmas, the town is crowded with men from the diggings, with plenty of gold, and they are turning the town upside-down.

I have seen lumps of gold many pounds in weight in the shops, that are buying it. Everything has risen a terrible price, bread 5d per lb, milk 1s per quart, eggs 3s per dozen, butter, cheese and bacon 2s per lb, and everything else in proportion, except fresh-meat, which is very cheap - only 3s per cwt, you may buy a cow for 20s, and as for land nobody will buy it.

Horses and carts are a tremendous price, but if you saw the diggers that are coming to town, riding on horses and carriages, such a sight as you never saw, galloping in dozens about the town.

Of all the places for drink this caps it all. They care no more for a sovereign here than you do for a penny. Spirits are 1s-6d a glass, tobacco 7s-6d, board and lodging from 20s to £5. The day I landed and where I slept that night they only charged me 6s for a bed and breakfast.

The next day I got a situation - the first offer that I had - in a grocerís store at £10 per annum, board, lodging and washing, and I only engaged for any length of time I liked, for I shall stay about 2 weeks, to look about me, then off I go to the diggings.

There where two of G and B and Coís vessels in the bay when we came in and not a man on board except the Captain and 2 boys, one of them the ZETLAND had been lying for 15 weeks, and cannot get men to come home for £85. They are giving £12 to Sydney, 4 days sail. The men discharging lighters at the sheds are getting 10s a day, and precious few of them at that. I do pity the men at Liverpool Docks getting one day a week.

The diggers as soon as they have drunk all their money, go off again and dig for more and stop for about 3 weeks. I wish John where here as he would get about £120 per annum, board and lodging at twenty places, and people be thankful to have them. Servants are treated as they ought to be here, but there is good reason for it, as everyone is so independent here.

There are a great many ships lying in the bay that cannot get discharged, and offering men 10s a day, a horse, clothes and tobacco.

In a few days I am going off to the diggings. The bay is splendid and going up river is beautiful shrubbery, and what country I have seen is delightful in appearance. Melbourne is laid out in good style, wide streets, and run E and W, N and S. A few neat buildings of stone and brick.

We arrived on 1st January 1852. The weather is beautiful so as you donít have in England. I am going to walk in the bush, so good afternoon. I wish you were in this land, there is room and work, plenty for all.Ē


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