Auspicium Melioris Ævi (1)
The official name of the document was “Declaration of the Rights of the Citizens of these Australasian Colonies and their Role in the British Empire.” It became known as the Spencer Gulf Resolution because, of the five towns whose governments were the first to sign on to it, four were on the Spencer Gulf.

The document began with an assertion of loyalty to the Crown and the kingdom, and a declaration of rights that would be uncontroversial in London or Edinburgh. It enumerated the abuses and injustice suffered under Arthur’s government that were discussed in the previous chapter. The final segment began; “Therefore, in the name of God and of our rights as Britons, we the undersigned hereby entreat the Crown and Government to remove George Arthur from office directly, and to appoint in his place an Official of their own choosing; one suited by knowledge, skill, and temperament to minister to the needs of a free People.” In order to “break the instruments of tyranny,” the document called for the following reforms:
• Freedom of speech, the press, and assembly were to be absolutely guaranteed to all free citizens, including former convicts who had completed their sentences.
• The penal system of Australia was to be separated from the government of the colony, and was to have no authority over anyone or any place beyond its own employees and facilities, and of course the convicts. The head of the penal system was to be separate from, and subordinate to, the governor-general.
• A legislative assembly elected by the citizenry (the document glossed over the still-contentious issue of how far to extend the franchise) was to convene to pass laws, which could be approved or vetoed by the governor-general.
• Penal colonies would be restricted to specific areas which the legislative assembly would designate for the purpose.
• All persons imprisoned at Macquarie Harbour were to have their sentences reviewed by a judiciary committee of this assembly, which would have the unilateral power to free those whose conviction and imprisonment it deemed unjust.
• The governor-general’s office would draw new provincial boundaries within Australia to reflect the growth of the colony and anticipate future growth, and would submit these boundaries to the assembly for approval.

The mayors, town councils, and leading citizens of Broughamport[1], Mundoora[2], Northend[3], Tarparrie[4], and Vauxhaven[5] all placed their names on this document and published it April 22, 1839 (see Appendix A). Port Lincoln signed on one week later.

Arthur was furious. He immediately sent small squads of soldiers to find and arrest everyone from the first six towns who had dared to put their names to this document. The soldiers arrived only to find that the signatories had fled by boat to Greyhaven, whose leading citizens had signed the Resolution on May 6. This was true even in Port Lincoln, but in the fractious whaling settlement an angry mob formed anyway to taunt the soldiers on principle. Rather than risk a fresh incident of violence in a place where they were outnumbered, far from reinforcement, and surrounded by men with large flensing knives, Arthur’s men retreated.

Word of the Resolution spread to the western colonies. Kinjarling signed on May 20, while Swanmouth[6] and Yerrigan[7] signed May 21…

By the end of the month, with winter descending on Australia, it seemed that things had reached a breaking point. The mayor of Greyhaven still would not turn over the fled citizens, saying that “in no way have these men acted contrary to public order.” The governor-general, in turn, denounced Batman[8] as a “lawless renegade” and the people of Greyhaven and Kinjarling as “ingrates.” He had willingly placed two cities outside the operation of his perfect machine for “grinding rogues honest,”[9] on the understanding that they would do nothing to interfere with that machine, and here they were engaging in blatant interference.

Arthur had the power to invade the city and place it under his direct rule. For that matter, he had the power to do the same with Kinjarling in the west. But to do so would be an irrevocable step that was quite likely to get him recalled as soon as Whitehall found out about it. Australia ran on prison labour, and Arthur would have happily run the whole continent as a prison, but he knew that to succeed as a colony in the eyes of the Government—especially Brougham’s government—it had to be more than a prison itself. At the same time, Arthur was well aware that his authority over the rest of the colony was slipping. By defying him so publicly, Batman had become a symbol of hope. But we will never know how, or if, the situation would have resolved itself of its own accord.

In fiction, the deus ex machina is rightly despised as a literary device. It appears from nowhere, ending the story without truly being a part of it. It suggests that the author cannot think of a proper resolution to whatever conflict he or she has created. But real life is under no obligation to adhere to the rules of good writing. And certainly no one who lived through the events of Australia in the latter half of 1839 would call them an end to trouble…

Hugh Roberts, Upon the Dreadful Shore

May 6, 1839
Greyhaven, New South Wales[10]

William Buckley, known to his friends as “Big Bill” back when he had some of those, tried to ignore the side-eyed looks he was getting, and the people skittering to the other side of the street to avoid him. So far no one had dared to confront him, but sooner or later either someone in uniform would comb through a list of known bushrangers and their physical descriptions—and he wasn’t a man you could mistake for anyone else—or else just come along and arrest him for something. Men like him didn’t just get to walk the streets like they were open to the public.

Especially not in Greyhaven. As proud of these people were of being outside the tyranny of Arthur’s New System and signing this resolution or declaration or whatever the hell it was, they wanted nothing to do with convicts or anyone who might be a convict. Buckley’s hair was long and unkempt, he hadn’t shaved in years, and his clothes were too raggedy to fully conceal the knives hidden in them. Everything about him said “convict” except his height—convicts were usually short, scrawny little men. At six and a half feet tall, Buckley had stood out among his fellow bushrangers like a wolf among jackals, a foot or more taller than most of them[11]. Unfortunately, he stood out even more in Greyhaven. It didn’t help that he had the face of an ape that had been in a lot of pub fights.

Buckley glanced around at the little shops on Dootigala Square. He wasn’t planning on stealing anything that anybody would miss, but at some point he was going to need some kind of rags to wrap around his bare feet—the weather was getting very chilly, and the last thing he wanted was frostbite. Nobody had ever warned him that knocking a man down and stomping him to death ruined your shoes. But when a native woman had been your wife in all but name for more than a year and Tom fucking Jeffries raped her and killed her and said, “Get another murky bitch, there’s plenty left,” what the bleeding fuck were you supposed to do? Laugh and clap him on the back because he was part of your gang? And now the rest of the gang had deserted him, and he’d had to stride as far into the hills as his long legs would take him to make none of them came back and stabbed him in his sleep. What was left of his shoes had fallen apart on the journey.

Of course, there was no hope of finding a pair of shoes in his size, but he could steal rags from anywhere. The reason he’d taken a chance on walking right into the middle of Greyhaven was that it seemed the likeliest place to find… there was one now. Dr. Gloster’s Apothecary, right across the street.

Dr. Gloster, if that was him behind the counter, was a stout, balding man with a face that might have been cheerful if he weren’t looking at Buckley right now. As it was, his eyes were wide and terrified. He held his hands up.

“There’s… there’s no money in the till, friend.” His accent was definitely some sort of Irish, probably from the north. Buckley had heard enough Irish accents among his fellow convicts to know.

Buckley hadn’t exchanged words with another human being in nearly two months. It took him a moment to remember how to speak. “I ain’t here for money.”

The doctor nodded. “I might be willing to part with a bit of laudanum on credit.” Buckley mentally translated his as I’ll give you whatever drugs you want, please don’t kill me, and shook his head.

“Ain’t here for that, neither. I’ll make this quick—what do you know about… minerals?”

The doctor blinked. To be fair, that probably wasn’t a question he heard every day even from respectable gentlemen, or what passed for them in this colony. “A fair amount.” He made the ou in amount sound more like an eye. Definitely from the north.

Buckley took a carefully folded handkerchief out of his shirt pocket. “I want to know if this is what it looks like.” He was deliberately trying not to get his hopes up—he’d found it was better to keep them low than to have them dropped on the ground over and over again. And yet… he’d taken the risk of coming into town for this. Well, it wasn’t as though there was anybody left to talk him out of it.

He opened the handkerchief. Gloster’s eyes widened to see the bright little flecks. He seemed stunned again, but then recovered himself and studied the flecks under a magnifying glass.

“Looks pure,” said the apothecary. “And I believe this sample is large enough to be testing for density. At least I hope it is—there’s a test we call the acid test, but I haven’t any nitric acid.”

Gloster produced a tiny glass phial with markings along the side and filled it partway full with an eyedropper. “Just put it in here.” This took a minute or so—the mouth of the phial was very small, and Buckley wanted to get all the little grains in there. He’d found the stuff glittering in the bed of a flowing stream, so it stood to reason more water wouldn’t hurt it.

Gloster nodded. “We have here… a volume of roughly seven minims. Perhaps a bit more.” He poured the water and the sample back onto the handkerchief, then scraped every last speck out with a toothpick. “Now to let it dry out, and then to weigh it. I should warn you, it’s best not to be too much of an optimist. There are many shiny minerals in the world.”

“I’ve heard of ‘em. That’s why I came to you.”

“Of course.”

“Don’t suppose you have a couple extra rags?” Buckley held up one of his feet.

“I’ve an old apron I can spare, and some needle and thread. Let me go and get them.”

While Buckley was turning the apron into a pair of makeshift slippers, Dr. Gloster got to talking about his life. “A few years ago, I got meself tangled up in the disturbances over the tithe. Seemed very likely I’d be arrested and sent off in chains to Botany Bay, like many another Irishman. So I thought, ‘What if I take the bit of money I have and go there of me own free will, as a settler?’ And here I am, with me own shop already.”

“So how’s business?”

“Not as good as it might be—I wasn’t lying about the empty till. My stock comes mostly from London, and the cost of shipping is considerable. There are many here who can’t afford it… ah, I think it’s ready to be weighed.”

With great care, the doctor scraped every grain onto one saucer of the scale. He placed a tiny weight on the other saucer, then a second, then a third. His eyes went wide. “Jesus, Mary and Joseph.” The mineral was still heavier. He placed a fourth weight, and the scales tipped the other way. He replaced the fourth weight with an even smaller weight, then two of them, then three. At the addition of the third, the scales began tipping the other way again.

“Between seventeen and eighteen grains,” he said. “Nearly four times the density of any known sulfide of iron.”

“So it is…”

“It can be nothing else. Where did you find it?”

“North of here.” Buckley smiled at the thought that he never would have stumbled onto it if the rest of his gang hadn’t scattered and left him all alone in the outback, and if he himself hadn’t wandered so far trying to avoid them. Served them right. And he was sure he could find the way back—if he’d learned nothing else from his native woman and his life as a bushranger, it was how to remember a path through the wild.

Gloster nodded. “Then we’ve need of one another,” he said. “You know where to find more, and I can testify that it is… what it is.” Neither of them was foolish enough to speak the word gold out loud, even with no one else in the shop. The secret would be out eventually, but the longer they could keep it, the more they would both profit.

[1] Adelaide
[2] Port Broughton
[3] Port Augusta
[4] Port Pirie
[5] Victor Harbor
[6] Fremantle
[7] Perth
[8] John Batman, mayor of Greyhaven.
[9] The author is quoting Jeremy Bentham.
[10] At this point IOTL and ITTL, New South Wales constitutes basically all of eastern Australia.
[11] “Thus a giant poster published in Hobart in 1850, listing 465 escaped convicts at large (cumulative over 20 years) puts more than 80 percent of the men below 5 feet 8 inches, with the largest group, some 15 percent, only 5 feet 3 inches tall.” - Robert Hughes, The Fatal Shore, p. 174
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Kinda feel bad for Mr. William Buckley, assuming the Aboriginal woman he was living with was with him willingly. At least he avenged her, and maybe with finding gold his circumstances will take a turn for the better.
Huh, its funny I was just the other day checking for data on the ITTL Down Under. If Brougham stays in power I'd say Batman and his allies have a chance to get most of their demands met.

With BC likely to also get some attention this is shaping up into an era of colonial reforms.

Time for a gold rush to upend everybody's plans for that beautiful dangerous continent.
IIRC there's a sizable escaped slave population in that area of OTL Oklahoma. So, no, that's not happening. It's far likelier that a border state or two tries to abolish slavery than any new slave states getting created.
At this point, *really* small butterflies might do it. The history of Slavery in Delaware post 1820 is quite fun.
Do you have any sources on that? I've been digging into the history of slavery more lately, and this seems interesting!
Quick googling found . It seems to be partially copied from

Political efforts to end slavery include efforts in 1792, 1796 and 1797. Gradual emancipation failed to pass the house in 1803 on a tie breaking vote by the speaker. Such a bill passed the State House in 1850 and was tabled in the Senate by one vote.

It looks like the ultimate source here is probably
Quick googling found . It seems to be partially copied from

Political efforts to end slavery include efforts in 1792, 1796 and 1797. Gradual emancipation failed to pass the house in 1803 on a tie breaking vote by the speaker. Such a bill passed the State House in 1850 and was tabled in the Senate by one vote.

It looks like the ultimate source here is probably

Brilliant! Thanks mate!
Does this mean London's own choosing or Australia's?

Where is New Zealand in all of this?
London's choosing. The signatories want to make it really clear that they're not trying to secede or anything, they just want a system in place that respects their rights and gives them a voice in running the colony.

British colonies in New Zealand are still being run by the New Zealand Company.
London's choosing. The signatories want to make it really clear that they're not trying to secede or anything, they just want a system in place that respects their rights and gives them a voice in running the colony.

British colonies in New Zealand are still being run by the New Zealand Company.

Thanks for the confirmation.

I can see Brougham being open to this. Though I wonder how this will affect the longevity of his administration?


Corrected and updated the North America map to 1839. I have a link to the full quality image if anyone wants it.