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View of Port Macquarie, at the entrace of the River Hastings, New South Wales

Date: 1825
Overall: 178 x 281 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Aquatint
Object No: 00000877
Place Manufactured:Port Macquarie

User Terms

    This aquatint was printed in 'Views in Australia or New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land' (1825) by Joseph Lycett. It was first published in thirteen parts on a subscription basis by J Souter and subsequently as one volume.

    This work depicts 2 British ships at the mouth of the Hastings River with a tribe of Indigenous people, many carrying spears, on the river bank. Lieutenant John Oxley discovered this area in 1818 and named it after Governor Lachlan Macquarie. It was settled as a penal colony and the first convicts arrived in the area in 1821.
    SignificanceThis aquatint documents the expansion of the NSW colony beyond the initial settlement at Sydney Cove.
    HistoryThis work was printed in Views in Australia or New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land' (1825) with the accompanying text:

    "Port Macquarie is situated about two hundred and twenty miles north from Sydney, upon the east coast of NSW, at the entrance of the River Hastings. Mr. Oxley, the Surveyor-General, in his Report, states this Port to be in latitude 31° 25' 45' south, and in longitude 152° 53' 54" east. He adds, “It is a bar harbour, on which there is, however, at low-water spring tides, at least nine feet. The true channel is perfectly straight, and the tides set so that there is no danger from their operation. The Port is perfectly capable of receiving vessels of the class usually employed on the coasts of this territory; and, in my opinion, is far better and safer than many considerable bar harbours in Europe, and which are much frequented by vessels adapted to their navigation.”

    The Hastings is, perhaps, the finest river in the Colony. It was discovered by Mr. Oxley, on the 23d September, 1818. The intelligent discoverer, with his party, who had been exploring the vast Australian wilderness during eleven weeks, reached on that memorable day the~summit of the last of the immense chain of mountains over which they had passed, and were greeted with a welcome view of the ocean. “Bilboa's ecstasy,” says Mr. Oxley, “at the first sight of the South Sea, could not have been greater than ours, when, on gaining the summit of this mountain, we beheld old Ocean at our feet.” He estimated the height of this mountain at between six and seven thousand feet. Such was the elevation of the mountain on which the party stood, that they could distinctly see the ocean and the waving of the coast line, although fifty miles distant. Between them and the sea, the country was broken into pleasing undulations of hill and date, richly clothed with timber; and, in one of the principal valleys, a small stream was observed running towards the sea this stream was afterwards found to be a fine river, to which the discoverer gave the name of Hastings.

    The Settlement of Port Macquarie was originally designed as a place of banishment for disorderly and incorrigible Convicts or other [illegible], instead of Newcastle, to which Settlement these desperate characters were previously exiled; but from which there was too great a facility of escaping, owing to its proximity to Sydney. Port Macquarie at present consists principally of the Commandant's House, King's Stores, the Hospital, and Military Barracks: all of which are temporary buildings, and are situated about half a mile to the left, after turning the point of land which faces the harbour.

    The country all around is remarkably fertile, and is capable of producing the finest crops of all sorts of Grain and Vegetables. The Timber is chiefly of the Eucalyptus species, but fine Casurinas are also to be met with. There is a very abundant variety of Shrubs and Plants, particularly a most beautiful yellow hibiscus.

    Parrots, Pigeons of the richest plumage, and all the varieties of Birds and Wild Fowl, of every description, to be found in the Colony, abound in the vicinity of this new Settlement; which at this time is under the direction of Captain Allman, of the 48th Regiment, an officer, of whose measures Governor Macquarie expressed his entire approbation, with reference as well to the works begun by him, as to the humane and judicious treatment of the prisoners under his direction."

    According to Mr. Wentworth, however, "it has been determined that the immense tract of fertile land surrounding Port Macquarie, as well as the country about Hunter's River, shall be abandoned to general colonisation, and that a penal establishment shall be formed elsewhere. From the facilities, therefore, which Port Macquarie and the River Hastings afford for the conveyance of the produce of the circumjacent country to market, and from the extreme fertility of the country itself, little doubt can be entertained that a large pro­portion of the Emigrants, who may hereafter proceed to New South Wales, with an intention to devote themselves more particularly to agriculture, will find it their interest to settle in this part of the Island, or at Hunter's River".

    On this spot there is ample scope for the pursuits of the Botanist and the Geologist. Here numbers of the Kangaroo arid the Emu are to be found; as they very much frequent these parts, and more particularly the sides of this wonderful Glen. Much of the Land near these truly grand Ravines resembles a Gentleman's Park, the declivities are so fine and open; being thinly wooded in parts, and the whole covered with the most beautiful and luxuriant verdure, over which large flocks of the Kangaroo may be seen flying in all directions, to evade their pursuers.

    The feathered tribe in these parts consists principally of Parrots, Paroquets, Pigeons, and Wild Ducks; and the Lakes in the vicinity abound with every species of Wild Fowl."

    Joseph Lycett, a professional painter of portraits and miniatures, was transported to New South Wales, as a convict, for forgery in 1814. Following his conditional discharge in 1819 he travelled and painted landscapes in the two colonies of New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, adopting the role of unofficial government artist (Wantrup) After gaining an absolute pardon in 1821, he returned to England, and found a publisher to produce his views in 13 monthly parts between July 1824 and June 1825. Demand immediately proved strong enough for the proposed lithographic plates to be replaced by aquatints. On completion of the parts issue, the work was published in book form. Wantrup calls Lycett 'the outstanding artist of his period in Australia’ and his publication 'a landmark in the development of the Australian illustrated book'.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: View of Port Macquarie, at the entrace of the River Hastings, New South Wales

    Web title: View of Port Macquarie, at the entrace of the River Hastings, New South Wales

    Related People
    Publisher: J Souter

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