Australia visited by earthquake and famine

We take the following, printed under the above headings as a New York dispatch, from the Boston Post of April 4: —

The inexorable forces of nature seem to have placed almost tbe entire continent of Australia under a scourge.

And the terrible conditions of affairs is not confined to heat waves, electric storms, and cyclones. Recent reports tell of a wide-spread epidemic of typhoid fever. Almost all the wells in many districts were dried up, and creeks and rivers ceased to flow. A water famine resulted, and the inhabitants were compelled to use impure water. As a result, typhoid broke out, and the mortality from the disease was, at last accounts, even greater than that caused by the terrible heat.


The Australian papers are filled with stories of the great heat and storms and the loss of life and property resulting therefrom.

The greatest heat recorded during the hot spell which occurred in January was in Adelaide, 117 degrees in the sun and 111 degrees in the shade; in Melbourne, 112 degrees in the shade; Hopetown, 113 degrees; Swan Hill, 116 degrees; Bourke, 118 degrees; and Mildura, 120 degrees.

In Bourke, N. S. W., a town of 3,000 inhabitants, 35 people died in one week of heat apoplexy. People fell in the streets and died, without regaining consciousness.

A woman attending her dying husband became suddenly ill from the heat, and died a hour before her husband. A son-in-law of these two died from the heat while making the funeral arrangements. Many people were found, after the heat was over, dead in the country roads and in the fields. The railway departments of the various colonies made special reduced rates to enable people to escape to the colder districts of the. Australian Alps, and the residents of the plains fled to the mountains panic stricken.

Millions of fish perished in the lakes throughout the country because, of the water drying up. The pelicans profited rather than suffered by the heat. They thronged the banks of the lakes in thousands gorging themselves on the fish exposed by the evaporating waters. Birds fell from the trees and died in great numbers. The wax cells of beehives, melted and imprisoned large numbers of bees, which were thus, smothered in their own sweetness.

Cattle and sheep died in droves all ovor the continent, and the’price of stock has gone up greatly. […]

Serious fires occurred not only in the bush and country districts, but also in the cities, started by spontaneous combustion. Extra guards were placed at many factories and warehouses to watch for and guard against fire generating in closely stored goods. Bush fires prevailed all over the country, and the fate of many settlements is still in doubt.


Source: Boston Post (via Barrier Miner)