Alexandra Times at KellyGang 7/10/1876
MORNINGTON AND SOUTH GIPPSLAND
By A. TRAVELLER
The oldest settlement in Mornington, and one of the most backward as regards improvements. As you approach the township - if you can call it one - you see that the inhabitants are fifty years behind the times. Trees, &c., are standing as they were fifty years ago; no fine streers meet your view no side-walks, or clear streams of water running alongside to cleanse and purify, though there is plenty of water there, I can assure you. For a summer residence, for hunting, fishing, or shooting, and good air, it is superior to any in Mornington, but in the winter it is "the very dell." The buildings of any note are the Schoolhouse, Bass Hotel, and Pender's private residence at Bass Park, which abuts the township. All the other habitations are built after the Irish style of architecture, combined with the "Highland baking" system. Indeed the residents - some of 34 years' standing - might well exclaim, " Tea-tree you're my darling, and dab you're another." For if ever they had any energy they must have kept it inside their houses, as outside their habitations are wretched in the extreme. It seems they are content with at a few cattle, horses, pigs, geese, &c., running about, wattle and dab for a shelter, and they think Bass a second heaven, and the grandest place in Victoria. At this place and for miles east there are thousands of acres of the finest land ready and open for selection, but the Mines and Lands Departments have had it proclaimed a mineral area, therefore no man can select more than 20 acres.
The roads are about the worst in the colony. The present government and all former ones have sadly neglected this part of the colony, for in looking over some papers and returns in my possession. I find that the government; has received from land stiles, licenses, rents, &c, a sum of £70,000. and spent the magnificent sum of £4000! Indeed it was a race between one minister and another of the different governments that have been in existence since 1856 which could prevaricate most. Three hotels grace this place. Where they get their customers from is a puzzle, as most of the inhabitants get their wants supplied by the trading captains in Western-port Bay. I put up at the Bass Hotel, which is on the Woolamai side of the bridge.
After a good night's rest I pushed on my way. The first property you come to is Duerdin's, back on the river is M Haffie's, then Messrs Anderson's, Kidd and Turnbull's. Now we are in what is commonly called the coal country, and as it demands more than a passing notice, I shall try and describe Griffith's Point, as it stands near the junction of Westernport Bay and the ocean, at and near " Cleeland's folly," Cape Woolamai. This the place where the coal-mines tramway runs to a jetty they have built. The Government, with that favoritism that "Bristling Jimmy" displays to those that give him a vote, has erected another jetty, light, crane, &c. Talk about stone-wallers, ultra free-traders, partial protectionists! I firmly believe that there is more legislation done in Cleeland's Albion than is done in the Assembly by the one-pound an-hour gentlemen. There are two jetties, one on the mainland, and the other in the township called Newhaven, where the gulls are the only living things that break the monotony. Now for that misery of miseries,
This place is beyond all redemption, full of arrogance and assurance. It can boast of a school house, three hotels, with about as much trade as would buy oatmeal to bait a 'mouse-trap, in fact it is a matter of astonishment to hear of a stranzer's visit, though it is pampered by the Melbourne land-owners on Philip Island. Mails three times a week, and the monthly returns during the past eighteen months have not averaged 200 papers, letters, &c. Other parts of Mornington can scarcely obtain one mail a week. A worthy hotel-keeper of Melbourne has built and let a fine hotel here, and whether it is the landlord himself, or that the residents of this fishing hamlet are not used to good furniture or clean and tidy bars and rooms, I wot not, but trade has fallen, I believe, to an average of 10s per week. If I were a publican I would not care so much for that if I could get any employment within a small radius, but every one here is steeped in poverty to such an extent that they all sup with the same "gibby." I think the amount of traffic is not likely to cause that highly intelligent body the Shire Council of Woolamai and Phillip Island to have their streets metalled; nor do I think this place will ever become famous except for a sea side residence for lunatics - in fact, a local 'supply could already be guaranteed. Near the coal mines stands the only police quarters in my travels since I left Cranboune. Crime here is almost unknown, and the constable's duties mainly consist in looking after timber licenses.
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