To Allan McLean1    10 December 1890


10 Dec. 1890.

To the honorable A. M'Lean,

Minister of Lands and Agriculture, &c.



In compliance with a request of yours at a recent interview I have the honor, to submit in writing2 my views on the advisability, to facilitate rural settlements in the Australian Alps, as now some western portion of that region has become approached by the railway as far as Bright,3 so that pastoral, agricultural and orchard products from those parts of the Australian highlands will readily reach markets.

Altho' abundance of land is available for rural settlements yet in the lowlands of Victoria, it seems deserving of attention, that the occupation of sub alpine vallies would afford advantages, so far, as to provide hardy fruits and vegetables til much later in the season than from elsewhere here. Furthermore in the highland-glens water is hardly anywhere wanting even naturally refertilizing for irrigation, and in the cool clime dairy-products, kitchen-vegetables and table-fruits could be raised as articles of particular local excellence. I would further beg to point out, that many ruralists, particularly those from the Scottish highlands, Scandinavia and Switzerland might prefer to settle in a clime, similar to that, to which they were accustomed. Anyhow, when the lower lands of Victoria will have been more fully taken up, settlement of the less frigid portions of our Alps is sure to follow. It seems further worthy of consideration, that by the establishment of many habitations in the subalpine regions here, tourists will in far greater number visit our own wide alpine tracts than before; and what is of far greater importance still, miners will be encouraged, to explore much more for their purposes, when they can more cheaply and more readily replenish their supplies, and are not left so much in loneliness as now.

In following up this subject it might at the commencement suffice, to obtain from the Land-Officer at Bright, who enjoys the advantage also of being able, to confer with the alpine Club of that town, some detail information about the access to the best vallies, if even for some short distance only by pack-horses, about the length of time, during which the lower vallies of the Alps at various altitudes are covered in winter by snow, about the respective fertility of the soil in the regions nearest to Harrietville, to which village doubtless also soon the railway will extend.4 If rural settlements thus once have been commenced in the Alps, they would likely soon extend, and add to the productiveness, the private wealth and the revenue of our colony.

I have the honor to be,


your obedient

Ferd. von Mueller


As Mr. J. Stirling occupied long the position of Land-Officer in Omeo, and thus became intimately acquainted with the physiographic aspect of many portions of the Alps, information of special value might also be elicited from that Officer, for the purposes under consideration.5

There is a typed copy made in the Chief Secretary's Office at P90/12940, unit 567, VPRS 3992/P inward registered correspondence, VA 475 Chief Secretary's Department, Public Record Office, Victoria. A precis of the letter was published in the Ârgus,19 June 1891, p. 4, and in the Leader , 27 June 1891, p. 14.
See M to T. Wilson, 10 December 1890.
All places named in this letter are in Vic.
The railway, though surveyed, was never extended beyond Bright.
In respose to M's letter, Stirling was instructed to prepare a report; see M’s two letters to J. Stirling, 19 July 1891 (in this edition as 91-07-19a and 91-07-19b), M to J. Stirling, 20 July 1891, and M to A. Howitt, 19 July 1891. See also M et al. to the Linnean Society, London, 22 November 1882 (in this edition as 82-11-22d), proposing Stirling for membership of the Society.

Please cite as “FVM-90-12-10,” in Ɛpsilon: The Ferdinand von Mueller Collection accessed on 19 September 2021,