From "The Advertiser", Wednesday 6 th May, 1936

The Good Old Days

I have just been reading an interesting old letter which Dr. E. Couper Black showed me.

It was given him by Mrs. Ridgeway (nee Perry), (should be Mrs. Ridgway, nee Puplett), of Magill, and was written by her uncle, Alfred Perry, to his sister, Mrs. T. Puplett, who lived in Corn Market Street, Oxford. The letter is from Mr. Perry's address, Onkaparinga, and dated October 9, 1848.

The writer tells of how he had been married by the Colonial Chaplain at Trinity Church, and then went to their home on sections 13 and 21 in District C, 300 yards from the Onkaparinga River, at Noarlunga.. "Mr. Clark", he writes, "catches in the river great quantities of fish, which come up from the sea, and which he sells in Adelaide."

The Migrants Ideal

Here is an idealistic touch from that letter:- "The colony is in a very prosperous condition," Mr. Perry wrote in 1848. Everybody who will work gets a comfortable living, with no anxiety or care.

"No taxes or rates of any kind! What is collected at Customs pays the expenses of the Government. No Exise poking their noses into people's houses.

"I bought one of my sections, and mortgaged it to buy another, for which I have to pay 15 per cent interest. I hope to be able to pay the whole after the 1849 harvest, and then I shall consider myself comfortably settled for life.

"I am now carting slate with my brother-in-law James from Willunga to Adelaide. Harvest will begin here in about a month; it looks as well as ever I saw it. There will, I fear, be a deficiency of hands to house it quickly. We have shiploads of emigrants every month, but none is out of work.

"Living is still cheap - meat 2d. to 3d. lb.; flour (rather dear), 28/- to 32/- a 200 lb. bag; butter, 1/- to 1/3 lb.; tea, 1/ 6 to 2/6 lb.; sugar, 3d. to 4d. lb.; coffee, 1/- lb. Clothing is as cheap as England."


Converted to decimal currency and weight (approx.):

meat 4c to 7c per kg; flour $2.80c to $3.20c per 90kg bag; butter 26c to 33c per kg; tea 40c to 66c per kg; sugar 7c to 9c kg; coffee 26c per kg.