Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Bathurst: the Montpellier of New South Wales

In contrast to Darwin's unfavorable view of Bathurst and surrounds, the Reverend John Dunmore Lang portrayed it as an excellent place, especially "for persons either suffering, under, or threatened with, affections of the lungs, or for the refitting of shattered India constitutions". He may even have started the comparative geography meme, although it's not entirely clear which of the multitude of Montpelliers he meant.

The plain of Bathurst is upwards of two thousand one hundred feet above the level of the sea—an elevation which compensates for ten degrees of latitude, the vegetation at Bathurst being exactly similar in its character to that of Van Dieman's' Land, ten degrees farther to the south. This elevation is remarkably conducive to the general health of the district, Bathurst being unquestionably the Montpellier of New South Wales. The cheeks of the children beyond the mountains have a rosy tint, which is seldom observable in the lowlands of the colony; and diseases which affect the human frame in other parts of the territory are there in great measure unknown. For persons exhibiting a tendency to phthisis pulmonalis, medical men consider the climate of Bathurst as perhaps the most favourable in the world, both from the mild temperature and the rarefaction of the air. A gentleman possessed of considerable property in the Bathurst district had long been a victim to an asthmatic affection in the mother country, and was so ill during his residence in Sydney, that he could not venture to go to bed, but had uniformly to spend the night leaning his head on his arms at a table: on ascending the Blue Mountains, however, he found, to his great surprise and delight, that the distressing affection had completely left him. He resided for several years in perfect health in the Bathurst district; but in occasionally coming to Sydney on business, he found that the affection uniformly returned when he reached a certain level in descending towards the low country on the coast. As the presence or absence of the asthmatic affection did not depend in the least on the state of the weather, the case can only be accounted for from the greatly diminished denseness of the atmosphere on the elevated table-land of the western interior. In short, I am inclined to believe that there is no country on the face of the globe so well adapted for the residence of persons either suffering, under, or threatened with, affections of the lungs, or for the refitting of shattered India constitutions, as the district of Bathurst in New South Wales.

Lang RD. (1837) An Historical and Statistical Account of New South Wales, Both as a Penal Settlement and as a British Colony.


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Snail.
Great account by Lang of a chronic asthmatic condition.
Nice counterpoint to Darwin's view of Bathurst.

Snail said...

Two completely contrasting views. I wonder what both of them would think of Bathurst now?