There are but few, citizens of Sydney, comparatively speaking, notwithstanding that they and the city depend all and all on commerce that visit frequently the wharfs - or are at all aware of the extent of business, practically, whatever they may learn from published returns of exports and imports, which is carried on at and off these wharfs. Take a walk round them ; leave the Circular Wharf ; (as it has hitherto been most improperly called, for even when finished, if it should be, in the days of a second generation hence, it will scarcely be semi-circular) and come on to the Tank Stream, which is already very nearly stopped, by the way.
The first wharf you come to is that best known as Wilson's now Captain Hector's, here there is accommodation for sundry small craft that frequent it, as well as cheap wharfage for wood-boats, which, by landing their wood here, (as they do at other places also) evade the dues payable to the city, at the City Wharf, formerly as now, known as the Market Wharf. But there is an important feature about this wharf, which must not be left unnoticed - there has been established a receiving place for copper ore from the neighbouring colonies - be it ore that has heated during the voyage to Sydney, or ore not heated, but for which there was no ready shipment for England. On the wharf, also, are capacious stores, and others adjacent to it ; the latter were formerly, if not now, strictly confined to the South Australian trade.
It must not be forgotten either that on Wilson's Wharf was the first depot for the bone manure which Mr. A. Wilson has been endeavouring for some time past to introduce into use in the agricultural districts of this colony. Between Captain Hector's Wharf and the next is a miserable muddy inlet, whence watermen formerly plied, - the King's Stairs, or - the Queen's Stairs, as occasion might be ; there are yet one or two watermen who stick to the spot, but although some fair ones disdain not now and then to be lifted over the filth by the obliging apprentices, while the Captain keeps the boat steady, all who know it will, if they can, eschew it as a landing place.
Next to this "muddy inlet," is a most wretched wharf, now yclept the Queen's Wharf ; there is only one thing about the wharf - it is not worthy the name - that would lead any one to believe that Her Majesty could have any property in it - only one thing we said, but did not mean the word - we allude to Tom, the keeper, a sturdy old pensioner, one of the old style, who, lately, to his sorrow, has had to put on widower's weeds ; but, nevertheless, keeps up his pigeons and poultry as well so ever ; and what Her Majesty's officers like better, a sharp look-out after the gentlemen who come with barrows and baskets for samples from casks which happen to be on the dilapidated wharf.
Formerly there were numbers of vessels coming and going from this wharf ; but now they are few and far between ; the Waterlily and some few others, "for auld acquaintance sake," come there still ; but such is the state of the place that the smartest skipper, steadiest mate, and soberest foremast man, would risk his thighs and spine if he ventured down to his vessel alongside the wharf, on a dark night, without feeling every inch of his way with a pole of some feet in length before him. After the Queen's beautiful Wharf come a number of Commissariat establishments, with which, it is to be presumed, Her Majesty's officers are satisfied, as the Royal Engineer department has been for some time past engaged in putting up solid stone work and strong gates on the land side: from this portion of the Cove, a solitary sentry and dingy store doors are not likely to attract much attention, for all who have to make a near approach are glad to hasten away.
The Dockyard, - ehew ! Was ever such a place so miscalled. But a short time ago a 500 ton ship's long-boat could not get alongside to take in water, notwithstanding all that kind-hearted old Mac, (who, by-the-by, has now gone to Soldiers' Point, where he has much more to do, but much less trouble,) could do for them. By dint of boring the Harbour Master (whose offices had not then been removed to the new Custom House) - and in consequence of complaints in the Herald, some alteration was made in a drain, which came all the way from Prince-street, and the water cock was thereby rendered more approachable, but unfortunately the only dock - capable perhaps of admitting a boat of seven or eight tons, if there was water enough, or at least three men-of-war gigs - has been by the alteration made a nice soft bathing place for " babbies."
Now to Cadman's. Cadman, (who since his reduction keeps an inn at Parramatta), was a well meaning old man, and he had been an old servant, and it was not his fault that those who were sent to him to make up boats' crews were the veriest scoundrels that ever lived. But the place might be put to far better use than it is at present.
Next comes the new Waterman's Wharf. Readily enough will it be imagined that we prefer this to the muddy inlet formerly spoken of. The landing place is commodious, and the road upwards into George-street has been rendered passable, although still too stiff to please a fidgetty man, who has to get up a chest of drawers or a basket of crockery. The watermen. here are, as indeed they are, with some few exceptions, at all the plying places, civil men. They have been neglectful of their own interests in the matter of not establishing ferry charges, and in adhering too closely to the fares long ago fixed by [the] then, competent authority. It is a question, however, if the evil so far as now-watermen are concerned, is not to be laid at the door, in a great measure, of the various Chairmen of Quarter Sessions and Justices of the Peace. Be this as it may, the characters who were formerly said - and known too - to profit far above the legitimate rate, from undue practices, have almost disappeared and good honest watermen abound. There is another pleasing feature with respect to watermen called to mind while referring to this particular plying place - it is the apprenticing of sons of pensioners of Greenwich Hospital to such pensioners now holding licenses as watermen. One instance (not the first) has recently occurred ; this is considered a valuable privilege in the mother-country ; and is expressly conferred by Act of Parliament. Now we come to Campbell's Wharf. This Wharf must have a few lines to itself.-.Wharf Ranger (perhaps to be continued ?). SG 11 Apr 1846
The bridge leading from Hector's Wharf to the Circular Wharf is near its completion, and will be opened on Monday next for the convenience of the public. It is substtantially constructed ; but we are informed that pedestrians alone will be allowed to cross at the rate of one penny each. The convenience to mercantile parties will be great. SG 23 May 1846
^ back to top ^