Sydney Soils

Tench Soil Types

?? rocky,sandy and barren

Kangaroo Ground good land

Barren Sands

Sandy and barren

Sandy, barren, swampy, Country

Very rocky barren

Bad full of ???

Barren Country

Patch of good land

Bad country

Country from here to Rose Hill is good

Poor country

Land worse


Land still worse allmost entirely ???? with floods

Still the land ???? brushy

Bad country

Miserable country

this bank very sandy, rocky and uncultivable

this bank full of rocks

sandy and bare

sandy the opposite bank same

Mount Twifs
All this country as far as the eye can reach from very high hills bears the most dreary barren appearance which can well be imagined, nothing to be seen but ridge beyond ridge of mountains covered with trees and in many places with rocks, without a single visible interval of plain or cultivable land.

Deep coarse sand on every parts of the banks of the river

The land on some parts of the creek not ?????

Very dreadful country the whole that we saw upon this creek the ground covered with large stones as if paved

Very hilly

better country

very bad country

bad country

Tench map west

tench map north

tench map inner sydney
Sydney Soils
The 1st fleet arrived in Sydney in 1788. The early history of Sydney was dominated by soils. Government Farm failed miserably. The soil was an infertile, sandy soil and the 1st settlers were heartbroken as they tried to grow wheat, maize and barley with yields less than the seed sown. Their little herd of cattle escaped and found better pastures 20 miles down south. By early 1791 the colony was starving and it was feared most settlers would die of hunger.

In June 1791 the 2nd fleet arrived with stores and hundreds of sick convicts who were cruelly treated on the convict ships. Sydney was saved and many times since Australia has suffered from droughts, floods crop failures, mice plagues, grasshopper plagues, salty soils, water erosion, dust storms, acid soils and many silly politicians. Despite all this farmers have fed the locals and exported food to a hungry world. In past years it was said Australia grew from the wool on a sheeps back. Our economy is now dominated by coal and gold. In the future will global warming dominate the economy and natural biocarbon sinks replace the dominance now held by coal? The greatest asset Australia posses for generating biocarbon sinks is soil.

Sydney founded 26 Feb 1788

map sydney 1788

Early map of Sydney showing 1st Government farm, behind Gov. House on land now part of Botanic Gardens.

gov house 1

Ist Gov. House with extensive gardens in front of house. Many houses maintained vegetable gardens to provide fresh vegetables, especially when rations were reduced because of reduction in Government supplies.

Government Farm established near Farm Cove (present Sydney Botanic Gardens).
Soils were shallow, infertile, sandy soils formed on Hawkesbury Sandstone rocks.
The Officers and soldiers were smart enough on parade, but were useless on a farm. The profession of the convicts was to do no work and to gain an income by dubious means. No new settler was a farmer.

The ground bent the blades of hoes. Timber twisted the the blades of axes. Summer heat was oppressive and giant ants bit everyone. The seasons were confusing and trees never lost their leaves. In many months it never rained and then a violent storm dropped flooding rains. The production of wheat and barley was not sufficient to feed a hungry new settlement. Supplies originally brought out with 1st Fleet began to run out.

2 bulls and 4 cows lost June 1788 (60 head of cattle found Cowpastures Camden 1795)
1st crop failed Sept 1788.
1st Government farm abandoned.

Several food plants grew well in early Sydney. Maize best grain crop. Vines flourished and grapes produced good wines. Melons, cucumbers and pumpkins grew well. Oranges lemons and figs best fruit trees. Most settlers with allotments possessed pigs and poultry. In early Sydney sheep, cattle and horses were rare and only wealthy land owners possessed these stock. Horses and bullocks were not available to pull wagons. There was plenty of convicts who pulled the carts and wagons.

tench map

Captain Watkin Tench published his diaries 1792 “SYDNEY’S FIRST FOUR YEARS”. He was interested in agriculture and soils and his diaries contained good descriptions of farming. Included in his diaries was the very interesting map.

Paramatta settled Nov 1788.
Farming was more successful on the alluvial creek flats and the surrounding Wianamatta shales.
Prospect Hill, west of Paramatta, is basaltic with fertile soils on the surrounding slopes.
James Ruse land grant on 21st Nov. 1788, Rose Hill (Paramatta).
Ruse was very successful and the 1st farmer who grew enough food to feed his family.
Norfolk Island had good soils and settlers sent to the island to reduce the number of starving mouths in Sydney.
Starvation became a reality in the colony.

2nd fleet arrived with stores and averted starvation June 1791.

map prospect 1792

Ponds a settlement North Paramatta, 14 allotments Dec 1791.
Prospect Hill settled 1791, 11 allotments Dec 1791.
Prospect Hill, west of Paramatta is basaltic with fertile soils on surrounding slopes.

Population 26th Nov. 1791
Sydney 1259
Paramatta 1628
Norfolk Island 1172
Total Colony 4059

There were more new settlers in Paramatta than Sydney. In these early years more effort was placed on growing food than building a nation.

13th Dec 1791 Marines left Sydney on Gorgon
Captain Phillip left for England.

Toongabbe Government farm
Hawksbury River. 1st land grants 1794. Macquarie Towns 1810, Windsor, Richmond, Pitt Town, Wilberforce, and Castlereagh. The towns were built on higher ground above floods. This enabled farmers to live above floods and to farm the flood prone river flats. Farm produce by boat down Hawksbury, Broken Bay, and along coast to Sydney Harbour.
Captain Johnston received grant 1793, Annandale on Wianamatta Shale.
John Macarthur received grant 100 acres Paramatta, 1793. and 5 000 acres Cowpastures, Camden 1805.

map sydney 1798
Map 1798, Sydney and surrounding settlements.

windmill 1
1st windmill, Millers point. Windmills were built on ridges surrounding early Sydney to produce flour from wheat and maize. After 1850 steam replaced windmills.

Cowpastures discovered 1795. John Macarthur grant 5,000 acres 1805.

Birth of early civilizations
The birth of civilization occurred where there was fertile soils. Alluvial soils Nile, Tigris, Euphrates, Indus and in China.The great civilizations of Egypt, Babylon, India and China. Early man was often nomadic, it was necessary to move from place to place to find food. Where there was fertile soils ancient man could obtain all his food from the one spot. In these areas where people settled on fertile soils he domesticated animals and cultivated plants. Early agriculture began, only a small number of people were required to produce food. Civilizations began when a large workforce was free from food production and able to build up large and powerful nations. The necessary elements for ancient civilizations was fertile soils and water.

The biosphere of planet is a by-product of life.
4.6 billion years ago earth forms.
4 billion years first life
3.8 billion years photosynthesis
2.9 billion years chlorophyll
0.8 Billion years Plants
0.4 billion years land plants
0.16 Humans Homo sapiens (160,000,000)
40,000 years aboriginals arrived in Australia
7,000 years ago cultivation farming on alluvial river flood plains. Persia, Sumerian people of Mesopotamia, Tigris and Euphrates River Valle. Egypt, Nile River Valley.

Stone Age
Lower 1,000,000 years ago
Middle 100,000
Upper 32,000 BP Modern man
Mesolithic 12,000 BP
Neolithic 11,000-6,000 BP first agriculture and first towns in Near East
Bronze Age 5,000-4,000 BP First Cities
Iron Age 3,200-2,5OO BC BP
End of Ice Age in Europe 10,000 years ago. Humans originally nomadic, moving from one food source to another and from winter to summer places of living.
End of ice age enabled people to permantly settle in river valleys where firtile soils existed. Mesopatonians and Egyptians formed large cities and civilizations by irrigation of allulival soils along large rivers.


2 responses to “Sydney Soils

  1. Pingback: BIRTH OF CIVILIZATIONS | Tedfloyd's Blog

  2. Pingback: Biocarbon in Australia | Tedfloyd's Blog

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