Gipps Had Some Issues

In 1838 when Governor Richard Bourke left Australia to spend the remainder of his life in the retirement of his native country in Ireland, he was succeeded in the Government of New South Wales by Sir George Gipps, an officer who had recently gained distinction by his services in settling the affairs of Canada. The new Governor was a man of great ability, generous and well-meaning but of so arbitrary (unrestrained) nature and so violent in his temper, that the advantages which his powerful intellect might have secured for the colony were often marred, and sometimes destroyed by the unfortunate weakness of his character. No governor had ever laboured more diligently for the welfare of his people and yet none has been more unpopular than Gipps.

Unpopular Governor

During his term of office, the colonists were constantly suffering from troubles due, in most instances, to themselves but always blamed others, and as a rule, to the Governor. It is true that the English Government, though actuated by a sincere desire to benefit and assist the growing community, often aggravated these troubles by its crude and ill-formed efforts to alleviate them. And as Sir George Gipps considered it his chief duty to obey literally and exactly all the orders sent out by his superiors in England, however much he privately disapproved of them, it was natural that he should receive much of the anger and blame from the colonists. But, on the whole, the troubles of the colony were due, not so much to any fault of the Governor or to any error of the English Government, as to the imprudence of the colonists themselves.

Monetary Crisis in New South Wales

During 12 years of prosperity in the late 1830s to 1840s in New South Wales, so many fortunes had been made that the road to wealth seemed securely opened to all who landed in the colony. Thus it became common for new arrivals to regard themselves on their first landing as already men of fortune, and, presuming on their anticipated wealth, they often lived in an expensive and extravagant style. In Sydney, the most profuse habits prevailed and in Melbourne, it seemed as if prosperity had turned the heads of the inhabitants. The most expensive liquors were the basic beverages used by the waggoners and shepherds. In 1843, when Governor Gipps visited Port Phillip he found the suburbs of Melbourne littered with champagne bottles.