Livestock breeding. – The English Lieutenant Macarthur, was the first to introduce in a practical way the breeding of sheep, which is now the country’s greatest wealth; he obtained in 1797 merino sheep from the Cape Colony and some others from the royal flocks of London, and a large concession of land was given to him in Camden (60 km. southwest of Sydney), where direct descendants of the original flocks. It was later found that the drier region to the west of the highlands was more suitable for sheep farming and a second large pastoral center was formed around 1830 at Mudgee. The gold rush of the period 1850-60 led to a very rapid development of farming in the following decades: and it is indeed probable that, due to the land available at the time, the flocks became too numerous. Two facts ended this period of prosperity. First, the terrible droughts of 1888, 1902 and 1914 in the main pastoral regions of south-eastern Australia; secondly, the scourge of rabbits. By 1870, these spread from central Victoria and by 1890 had invaded the entire western half of New South Wales and the colonized regions of South Australia. Since then, they have continued to spread north and west, and are presently found throughout the temperate portion of the continent. In Queensland, rabbits travel north to Cammooweal. Their spread is fought by means of poison, traps and expensive nets. Around 1900, the introduction of refrigeration systems made it possible to sending large quantities of mutton abroad and was a stimulus to the breeding of robust animals and cross breeds that give the good wool of the merinos and better meat than these. The rest of the industry has, in many respects, changed since 1800, when the best fleece weighed no more than 3 and a half pounds, while today they sometimes get those that weigh even more than 30 pounds of wool. The selection is very accurate: new breeds are imported from all over the world, although the English (Lincoln, Romney-Marsh) are still the most numerous after the merinos. Another recent change concerns the size of the farms (new breeds are imported from all over the world, although the English (Lincoln, Romney-Marsh) are still the most numerous after the merinos. Another recent change concerns the size of the farms (new breeds are imported from all over the world, although the English (Lincoln, Romney-Marsh) are still the most numerous after the merinos. Another recent change concerns the size of the farms (stations): while in 1891 there were 73 stations, each with more than 100,000 sheep, it was found more appropriate to divide these large estates, and in 1920 only one station was left with such a high number of sheep: By number of sheep the ‘Australia, with about 100 million head of head of world production: in fact the Republic of the Soviets has only 67 million, the United States 41, Great Britain 24. The annexed picture gives the division of the sheep into the various states of the Federation, for 1921 and 1925, in absolute numbers (and for 1925 also in percentages):
The breeding of cattle is of much less importance. Australia has only 13 million heads and is in ninth place among the countries of the world, being surpassed by India (119 million), the Republic of the Soviets, the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, from China and France. Slaughter animals are mainly raised in Queensland and Northern and Central Australia, but the greatest amount of livestock is found along the southeastern coasts from Rockhampton to Portland (Victoria), where dairy cattle predominate. The state of Victoria took the lead in this industry and in 1885 the skimming machine began to be widely used. Butter factories spread across the state and, later, in all the wetter temperate regions of Australia. The Jersey and Ayrshire are the main dairy breeds, while the Hereford is perhaps the best breed for slaughter. Cattle increased rapidly until 1894, in which year the continent already had 12 million heads: but in the following years the drought and the disease caused by a tick (tickfever) reduced the number to 7 million (1902). The disease first affected Darwin’s herds in the north, then spread to the southeast, invading Queensland from 1890 to 1899 and sometimes killing 90% of the cattle. Now, however, it is not very dangerous for the general use of disinfectant baths for livestock. The decrease in the trade in frozen meats and the drought of 1922-23 (which especially affected the eastern regions) have led in recent years to a significant reduction in livestock farming in the eastern states.
Agriculture. – The first settlers who arrived in Sydney in 1788 tried in vain to transplant British crops there. In 1913, however, it was found that the western side of the Monti Azzurri is very suitable for the cultivation of cereals. The grain crops then gradually spread to other suitable regions of the temperate zone. The following table indicates the area (in tens of thousands of acres) occupied by the main crops in the various states of the Federation (1923-24):
According to Indexdotcom, most of the hay in Australia is made from wheat and oats which, due to the lack of natural meadows, are cut before ripening: as a result, 80% of the crops are occupied by these two cereals. Tropical crops consist almost solely of Queensland sugar plantations. In this same state, in 1924, there were 50,000 acres of cotton. The following table shows which crops, in each of the main states, are of greater importance (the figure in brackets indicates the place occupied by the state for each of the crops mentioned):
In the main grain regions, the works are carried out in this order: in the spring (July and August) the earth is plowed to a depth of 8 to 20 cm; after each rain the soil is harrowed to stop evaporation, after the first autumn rains (in April) the seed is spread with a seeder and about 60 pounds of hyperphosphate are added per acre. The rains that normally fall from June to early November are the ones that decide the harvest. The earliest varieties of wheat are harvested in December.
Mining production. – The mining industry, whose particular characteristics will be exposed in the articles relating to the individual states of the Federation, constitutes, after breeding, the most notable source of wealth. In certain periods of the century. On the contrary, XIX seemed to prevail over every other and greatly contributed to accelerating the population of the continent, the construction of communication routes, the excavation of artesian wells.
Coal, known since 1797, is mostly supplied by New South Wales (11.1 million tons in 1923) while Victoria is rich in lignites. Gold is collected in all states, but nearly 8/10 now come from Western Australia, the rest largely from Queensland and Victoria. In 1903 the total production reached its maximum: it then gradually decreased and from 27% of world production it went to represent just 5% (1923), and is surpassed by that of southern Africa and North America.
Very notable is also the production of silver, lead and zinc often associated, as in Broken Hill (v.), One of the most notable silver deposits on earth. The pond is supplied by river floods in New South Wales and Tasmania; copper, in which Australia was at the head of world production from 1865 to 1874 with the mines of South Australia, is now produced to a considerable extent also by Queensland and Tasmania. After the war, the methodical exploitation of the numerous iron ores began and the search for oil was undertaken, for which there are good promises in the eastern and southern regions. Not negligible is, among many other minerals, the production of radium (M. Flinders) and noble opals (Queensland, New South Wales). The mining treasures of Australia are far from being all exploited and still seem to have a great future. The following table gives the production in recent years, for the main metals and coal: