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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 2

I Technology Transported; 1788-1840

II Technology Established; 1840-1940

III The Coming Of Science

IV From Science To Technology: The Post-war Years

V Products And Processes

VI Conclusion

VII Acknowledgements



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Technology Transported; 1788-1840 [5] (continued)

Phillip brought vine cuttings but they did not thrive at Sydney Cove. By 1791, however, he had three acres under vines at Parramatta and P. Schaffer, a German, with an acre under vines was the first private vigneron. Nothing came of these, however, nor of other early attempts in spite of the article, translated from the French, in the first issue of The Sydney Gazette of 5 March 1803. Gregory BlaxIand began in the years 1816 to 1818 and in 1823 and 1828 even received medals for his wine from the (Royal) Society of Arts. The Macarthurs had established a vineyard at Camden in 1820 and at Penrith where the vintage in 1827 was 20,000 gallons. From 1820 wine growing was attempted in the Hunter Valley, too, when men who had served with Wellington in the Iberian Peninsula put into effect some of what they had learned in Portugal. The South Australian settlement in 1836 quickly turned to wine growing also and later attempts were made to establish the industry in Victoria and in Western Australia.

The prophet, as he as been called, of Australian viticulture was James Busby, a Scot. In 1824 he taught viticulture in a boy's orphanage near Liverpool, New South Wales, and in 1825 and 1830 he published influential books on the subject. In 1831-2 he collected vine cuttings in Europe for the Macarthurs and in 1833 published yet another book, the important Journal of a Recent Visit to the Vineyards of Spain and France. His contribution to Australian wine growing in those early days was significant.[9] It was natural that other fermentations also were tried and illicit stills were set up well before the end of the eighteenth century. The raw material was wheat and the returns to the distiller a great deal higher than those which could be expected by selling the wheat to the government commissariat for food. Such activities were, of course, forbidden and the distillation of spirits was not permitted until 1821, when the only raw material allowed was imported sugar. The use of local grain was forbidden until 1827.

Other beverages also were manufactured by enterprising men. Twenty-two gallons of cider were made in 1803. Benjamin Hill was making ginger beer in Sydney in 1814 and he later had many imitators. The equipment was primitive but was imported into Australia quite early. Soda water was made from 1830, and in 1838 a soft drink factory was in production in Adelaide also. In Hobart in the 1820s true cordials and other medicinal beverages were available, as were fruit salts and other powdered drinks.

To the end of the eighteenth century protein foods, specifically meat and fish, were preserved by drying (mainly solar drying), smoking, which is a combination of drying with some preservatives derived from the smoke, and salting. England's climate is not conducive to solar drying, nor is dried meat particularly attractive, so the preferred method was salting, and barrels of salted meat were a normal and very necessary part of the provisions supplied to all ships.

The First Fleet was no exception and the colonists subsisted on salt meat for a long time. At first salt for meat preserving was recovered from salted provisions, but soon attempts were made both at Sydney and in Van Diemen's Land to recover salt from sea water. The product was crude and unattractive because of the potassium and magnesium salts remaining in it, but it served a useful purpose though for a long time imported salt was preferred. There was little enough meat to preserve in the 1790s, though between 1791 and 1796 Norfolk Island supplied some 264 tons of salted pork. In 1801, however, Governor King stimulated the import of this product from Tahiti. This trade continued until 1826 but all the salt used had to be obtained from Sydney or Hawaii. As settlers moved out of Sydney to the Hawkesbury area, agricultural products improved and by early 1813 some were optimistic enough to suggest to Governor Macquarie that excess meat could be salted down in barrels of local wood and exported to Britain. Van Diemen's Land was exporting to Sydney from 1817 but salting for export from New South Wales was possible only from 1830.

People in Bright Sparcs - Blaxland, Gregory; Busby, James; Hill, Benjamin; Schaffer, P.

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© 1988 Print Edition pages 74 - 75, Online Edition 2000
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