John Bidwell Letter 1848
To the Hon. Colonial Secretary,
Wide Bay District,
North Side River Mary,
December 30th 1848
I have the honour to report to you for the information of His Excellency the Governor that I arrived at this place, called “the settlement”, today, having visited all the squatting stations in my district on my way down the river.
The “settlement” at present consists of about eight buildings on this side, and some on the other side, of the river. It is supposed that 1100 bales of Wool will be shipped from this place during the present season, and I think that next year the whole of the wool of the Burnett District, and even some from Darling Downs and the Condamine will be sent to Sydney by this river instead of to Moreton Bay, because the road is much more level and that in order to arrive at the North bank of this river from the south or east of the Burnett, it is not necessary to cross any river whatever.
The upper, or western, part of the district is, so far as I have seen it, very good land, exceedingly well watered, well grassed with good grasses and timber almost exclusively with Ironbark.
The geological formation of the upper country is very similar to that between Canowindra and Carcoar in the county of Bathurst. The rocks are Granite, Mica and Clay Schists, Limestone too, and it is not unlikely that hereafter mineral veins may be discovered, although nothing of the kind has hitherto been observed. It is commonly reported that Mr Mactaggart’s house is built upon a vein of Copper Ore , but the stone, although of a green colour, does not contain a particle of Copper, being merely a variety of the green stone (Jade) of which the New Zealanders formerly made their axes and owing its colour to other ingredients of no value.
At about 30 miles West of this place, which is supposed to be about 30 miles from the coast, the [ ]sandstone appears, and the ridges become barren, but the valleys are fertile and watered by constantly running streams.
About 10 miles west, commences a very strange looking, almost perfectly level country, covered chiefly with Paper Barked Tea Tree, clay soil, tolerable short grass (at present) and vast numbers of permanent water holes.
At this place the soil is much like that of the neighbourhood of Newcastle (NSW), chiefly gravel derived from the decomposition of the Puddingstone of which the substratum is formed. I do not imagine, although situated on rocks of the carboniferous series, that coal will be found very near this place, because the beds which here appear on the surface are those below the Coal at Newcastle. Coal will however probably be found at a great distance, up or down the river as the strata may dip.
I hope soon to have the honour of communicating to you further information on the subject of the capabilities of the district and probable best site for the future town of Maryborough, on which subject I am of course at present quite unable to offer an opinion.
I have the honour to be,
Your most obedient servant,
(New South Wales State Archives, NRS 906 Colonial Secretary’s Special Bundles, Document Number 49/1389. Transcribed from the original. Reproduced with permission from NSWSA)