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REMINISCENCES OF A TONE TO SOUTHLAND., Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 29, 2 December 1879
REMINISCENCES OF A TONE TO SOUTHLAND.
[cOKTRIBUTHtI.J ( Continued I left the city of DujLedin for the Southland capital punctually at 9 a.in., the advertised time. As the train started it appeared predetermined that the journey would be a misty, if not a rainy one. Nothing transpired worthy of notice until tho town of Mosgicl was reached ; a place which is becoming more and more renowned throughout New Zealand as the seat of an important woollen manufactory. The goods produced at this establishment are, I believe, so well known for their good qualities as to place the Mosgiel Woollen Manufactory upon the basis of a sound commercial footing, and its energetic proprietors are all the more worthy of credit when it is considered that iri spite of the spoliation principle of protection to native industries the business has not only thriven, but bids fair, ultimately, to become a most formidable rival to home competitors. . The. materials used by the firm are of the very best kind, as there is no “shoddy” whatever worked up, so that wearers of the manufactured article may rest assured of their getting a bona fide fabric from this establishment. I most cordially wish the promoters every success. * From Mosgiel the country is mostly of an unexceptionally high-class character, and to the mind of one practically versed in the qualities of good land, the renowned Taieri Plains cannot be otherwise than attractive. The only apparent cause for regret Is that the expanse is somewhat confined, and that owing to its naturally low situation the land must be occasionally subject to floods, and probably of a disastrous kind. There can be no doubt about the quality of the land, which is, indeed, of the very best description, having a rich and inexhaustible subsoil. The pioneers of tho soil in this part of New Zealand havo ; had to encounter difficulties of a moat formidable kind, but their indomitable perseverance lias deservedly won reward already. 1 The township of Milton is much to be admired. It has a well-to-do appearance, and an aspect of steady prosperity. All the way to Invercargill the country is most favorable for agricultural arid pastoral pursuits. The ’ crossing of the Molyneux vividly brought back to my mind early associations, which will never be forgotten. The land in this locality is, generally speaking, in the hands of large proprietors, and as the chief town of Southland is approached the evil deeds of the rabbit pest become unfortunately, only too perceptible; The owners of the land are however, evidently determined in taking the most stringent measures for the final extirpation of this offensive arid highly destructive’graminivorous and granivorous quadruped. It is the opinion of many people, however, that the complete subversion of this omnivorous animal will not be effected until the land is mure generally and permanently settled upon by an agricultural people. The city of Invercargill was reached precisely to the minute of the advertised time—3.3o. p.m. From the Scottish Emporium the distance is officially stated to be 139 miles. The average speed of the train was 21.38 miles per hour : certainly not very expeditious for an express mail train. Invercargill is Capaciously laid out, a great feature being the marked width of the principal; streets, which are much wider than those of Dunedin or Christchurch. Judging from the names of the streets one would be almost justified in asserting that their baptiaers must have originally hailed frdrii beyond the Dee, the Don, the Tay, the Esk; etc. They are all good names nevertheless. There are many evident signs of progression, notably the recently erected and substantial looking Banks which are very handsome and costly edifices, and worthy of the emulations of builders in other towns. The Athenaeum alone is a credit to the town. There are two daily newspapers, but it is deplorable to find that the same tyrannical system has been in force here as in other parts of New Zealand with respect to Government advertisements beirig confined to a few of its favored organs: The impotency of such an unconstitutional arid gagging policy is enough to condemn any Ministry, even though it succeeded ih, administering the business of the .country iri other respects satisfactorily. While at Invercargill I was much impressed . with tha apparent inferiority of the meat displayed in the butchers’ shops, the mutton, in particular, not being' of a first-class character, from the absence of the fat so conspicuous in prime animals. My destination was still farther south, and so with the view of reaching the noted river Waio I bent ray way to the hospitable roof of a friend. After a most enjoyable night’s repose I booked for Winton. The Makarewa pottery vividly recalled many of rny exploitsin early colonial times, but more especially in regard to the bullock driving business. I certainly never expected to see, in these civilised times, one of these patient and useful animals doing duty at the clay-puddling trade. '■ The , one in question was working what is technically termed a “ horsepower,” and was under the control of a boy, who continually goaded the beast with a pointed stick. As they got through the work in this style, it struck me as being, at the best, a very primitive method of carrying on the manufacture of tiles, etc. The white elephant near Winton, in the shape of a defunct meat preserving factory showed signs of one of two things, viz;, that its construction was Originally a mistake in regard to its design, ' or that the supply of meat had diminished. I learned from a fellow passenger that the place had fallen into the hands of a proprietary of a similar factory at Woodlands. From Winton I patronised the coach as far as Wray’s Bush. After making a start I was much struck with the beautiful view presented by the Eyre Mountains. They are like a mass of pyramids, and their snow-capped covering showed to great advantage, extending to the Takatimo Mountains. On crossing the New River I concluded from the amount of debris left by recent floods that the stream must be both a dangerous and destructive one. The extensive area of land Sfeaward from the coach route is, _ in my opinion, capable of great productiveness. The land, at present, is almost in a state of nature, and the mail track in this part of the country "Wants looking after with the view of rectifying the present unsatisfactory. submerged state of the road ; the
bottom of the coach was, for a considerable distance, Hi close proximity with the water.
In approaching the “ Jacobs,” or Apavimi river there is strong evidence of the ravages of the afore-mentioned “ rabbit pest.” I was informed that n certain landed proprietor in this particular place, viz., on the Winton side of the river, was an outrageously obdurate man, and that the rabbit inspector had been compelled to employ men for the purpose of extirpating this unvelaonc intrusion of the rabbits. If a ■ proprietor can afford to make “ both oncls .icet” by encouraging such a ruinous peso he is truly a fortunate man, and the tact speaks volumes for the high class character of this land. The township of Wray’s Bush cannot yet boast of a Lord Mayor and municipal government. The business portion of the community appeared to comprise an hotelkeeper, a shoemaker, two blacksmiths, and a few others. The land outside the boundaries of the township has been “ taken up ” at £3 per acre—upon the deferred payment system. Some of the recent selections bear ample evidence of the high producing power of the land which is particularly exemplified iii the large yields of corn, &c., represented to be 80 bushels of barley and (50 bushels of wheat per acre. Such results must be very encouraging. After crossing the Wairio creek, the renowned “ Gap coal ” bearing country evinces signs of an immense area of inexpensive and easily workable coal fields. The undulating rises afforded unmistak able evidence of this from the seams which continually meet the eye of the tourist, and the Government has acted wisely in matting temporary reserves in this valuable tract of coal producing territory, especially as the coal is said to be good for all ordinary purposes. The mines once opened up will doubtless prove an inexhaustible source of wealth. The valleys of the Sharp Ridge and those through which the Ora win and Morley streams flow, possess all the high class qualifications absolutely necessary to‘an extensive agricultural district, and which this locality will probably become at no very distant date. The novel manner in which this large coal bearing area was originally discovered is so peculiar that it is worth . mentioning: The sod-wallers whilst at work came in contact with the ‘‘ black diamonds.” The measures now extend to the north of the Morley stream, and the thickness of one of the seams is reported to bo groat and easily workable ; deep sinking and the aid of machinery being unnecessary. Having had some little practical experience in agricultural pursuits, I was much struck with the general adaptability of the land for all kind of produce growing, .and more especially in regard to that situated in the valleys on the north and south sides of the Morley stream, and below the junction of the Orawia. In this isolated part of New Zealand the plough, during the past twelve months, has certainly been very effective in transforming the wild aspect of this part of the country, and it wasquite cheering to notice the extent of the progression which has been made. There were three fourhorse teams with double-furrow ploughs engaged in breaking up the land. Also one three-horse team sowing and harrowing ; che four-horse team and a two-horse team rolling, all at the same time on the Birchwood riin. The wisdom of this kind of enterprise bears evidence of its fruits in a very striking manner. The process followed is to burn and clear off the native tussock, and then to plough lightly aud leave the land exposed to the action of the frosts, which acts as a pulveriser. The virgin soil is afterwards sown with either oats or. turnips ; if the latter course is adopted oats follow with a mixture of English grasses for permanent pasture. The results are amazing. Although my observations only refer to the early part of last September, yet the English grass looked quite luxuriant, and was as much an object of interest to the traveller as a well-knoiyn land mark would be to the mariner. The verdant appearance was observable for miles. The turnip crops seemed to be unexceptionally good. Asa fortifier of the. best proof of the deductions I wish to make I may state that ! employed my holiday time at Birchwood in a sort of practical way, and engaged in chaffcutting, corn-thrashing, seed mixing, land surveying, and even in. preparing ground and planting potatoes. Of this edible Greiit Britain and Ireland consumed in 1877 no leas than 557,000,000 ■ dwt., the money value being £17,400,000 sterling. While at Birchwood, I noticed that the chaff from oat-sheaves gaveevi- ‘ deuce of a fertile soil. The straw was of an extreme length having stems of a robust nature, TKe corn was remarkably well ‘filled, Of the threshed oats the yield was estimated, by machine weights, to be eighty bushels per acre. En passant, I also partook of the proffered hospitality of the proprietor of the Mount Linton station, and in proceeding thitherward, on “shanks’ pony ”.in company with two other invited guests discovered that I had to ford the Morley stream, I naturally interrogated niy companions as to how we were to cross it, and was handed a pair of what they designated “Gum Boots;” formidable looking things, putting me in mind of the old veteran—“ Jack the Giantkiller,” of boyhood days. I put them on however, taking slippers in my pocket in case of accidents. The fun of the thing was that although there were three of us yet we had to'cross the swift stream with only two pairs of the boots. This was another puzzler to me. After various suggestions it was finally arranged that myself and another should cany over the third party between us. No laughing was permitted for fear of dropping our friend and giving him a cold water bath. A start was made, *nd I speedily had an opportunity of testing my powers of resistance against the rapidly running current. To my astonishment I experienced a feeling as if ray feet were slipping from under mo, so that I was disposed to cry off the contract. It was clear, however, that my education in stream crossing had been neglected, and I was directed to avoid lifting toy feet too high. Another attempt was made, and, after a great deal of floundering and splashing, with a successful issue. The whole scene to an observer must have been highly ludicrous. I was most sumptuously entertained at Mount Linton, and did ample justice to to the cuisine skill of the Chinaman who officiated as cook. One of the courses that I was asked to partake of was a j mountain wild pig. Its flavor was | simply delicious. My host assured me 1
that the flavor of the fern «iamV ri gr.RU-fc.;" was far superior to flint of the s:-y----fed one. Being credited by my i'riunds with being a connoisseur in regard to potatoes in all their stages of growth, I was induced to make a few inquiries relative to the fine ones then before m°, and was told that they had been grown on the land already described. Thu sysv-m for planting is a very simple one, merely consisting in setting them after a doublefurrow plough, not a single thing in the way of good husbandry being done afterwards to them. The yield was alleged to bo at the rate of, twelve tops per acre, and almost free from small ones. I naturally inquired whether I might inspect the sample in bulk, and . the request meeting with a ready response, I found them in all respects equal to the very best circularheaded potatoes that I had ever seen. The samples shown were even in size, oblong shaped, smooth eyes, and possessing all the qualities of the best potatoes of the kind I had ever examined. The sight of the sample was confirmatory as to the yield being an exceedingly heavy one. Agriculture, except on a small scale, has not till recently been carried on at Mount Linton. I saw samples of very fine oats of a heavy kind, which it would be difficult to beat in any part of the world. The yield could not have been less than ninety bushels an acre, and I feel confident that had samples of these oats, potatoes, and turnips been forwarded to the Sydney Exhibition they would liave merited top places. The weight of the oats alone proved their quality ; they are known as the “ Sparrow-bill. ” . The implements and other machinery used on the above farm are all of the most approved type, and are from the manufactory of the renowned firm— Reid and Gray.
From the junction of the Morley and Orawia streams the valley is splendid agricultural land.
Having partaken of the hospitality of the host and hostess of the Otahu station, I, as a stranger, tendered my feelings of acknowledgment, and with my friends turned “ right-about-face ” eastward. After spending a few more days in Southland my first impressions were confirmed, namely, that with an extension .of the railway through this part of Southland, it is certainly destined to be, at no distant period, a great agricultural and coal producing district. During my journey back to the ‘ ‘ City of the Plains ” a fellow passenger gave me the history of the cause of the introduction of the “ rabbit pest ” referred to above. He assured me that it was a fact that they were protected, to the extent of £SO penalty against anyone found destroying one. The Australian Government has I notice spuit during the last ten months’ £9106, towards the extermination of the pest, and with the moat gratifying results. The following recipe has been tried with most marvellous effects. I commend it to the Southland land owners. POISON FOR RABBITS. Nine gallons water, 11b. sugar, lOOlbs. wheat, slightly crushed, and the flour sifted out, 11b. phosphorus, 1 fluid oz. of oil of rhodium. Heat the water to n boiling point, then add the sugar and wheat. Draw the fire to prevent train from burning. Dissolve the phosphorus in a saucepan, pour the boiling water on the wheat, and mix thorougnly, then cove’- close. Thirty hours afterwards add the rhodium in half a pint of cold water, and turn it about well. It is then fit for use. Doze : a small iron dessert-spoonful. There are 5000 doses in above quantity. It should be laid in their play places, and on camps and feeding grounds. The English invoice coFt of phosphorus is 2s 4d per lb., and the colonial cost about 12s per lb. Rhodium, English coat, Is 6d per lb. ; Colonial, 5s 6d per lb. If you think the few hurried reminiscenses of my tour as a stranger to Southland likely to afford interest to your readers you are at liberty to publish them.
REMINISCENCES OF A TONE TO SOUTHLAND., Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 29, 2 December 1879
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