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Almost as remarkable m his way as the soon-to-be world-famous falls which have been named m his honor is Sutherland, the hermit of Mil ford Sound, concerning whom some very interesting particulars are supplied to the " Otago Daily Times " by its special correspondent, who accompanied the recent exploring expedition. From this source we gather that this notable man, who has dona so much to make known the wonders of the West Coast Sounds, took up his lonely abode at the head of Milford' Sound no less than eleven years ago, and has been there ever since, leading a more or leBB solitary life, sometimes with a mate, and sometimes with only his dogs for company ; searching for minerals, exploring the country generally, and occasionally catching rare birds for thr sake of their skins, which he sells to tourists. Bight at the head of the Sound he has built himself a snug little house, which he keeps scrupulously olean and tidy. lii the centre is the kitchen and dining room, with a great fireplace containing a Dutch oven, and at either end is a bedroomone for himself and one for his mate. His own room is s very snug little crib, with a few sketches, done by himself, banging on the walls, samples of minerals neatly arranged m bottles, and skins of kakapos, and other peculiar birds depending from nails m the wall. He is a Scotchman, and like many another Scotchman, has travelled far. Jle is believed to have been at one time a sailor, and later on m life took part m the Maori war. He is a good mountaineer, a fine bushman, and quite expert at handling a boat. He is described as rather a queer fellow, who tells wonderful stores about precious minerals, diamonds and rubies, and spins tall yarns about the footprints and other traces of some strange animal which ho has named the poscidon. His object, he says, m going to live m such a lonely place was to explore the country for minerals, and he avers that he has discovered geld and precious stones m nearly every gully he has visited. His bedroom contains quite a museum of specimens which he has collected, among them being samples of asbestos, copper, garnets, and rubies. He has made a discovery of some valuable stone or mineral, but declines to give particulars, but says that he means to follow it up and expects to reap great results. He certainly deserves a fortune as the reward of his courage and patience. He has for a companion a wonderful old dog, who, it is said, "comes and tellb him when there are pigeons and kakas about, and goes out into the bush to Becure a kakapo or a weka as occasion requires." This faithful four-footed friend is a brown retriever, whose days of usefulness arc nearly over as ho is getting old. His accomplishments, however, even m his best days, seem to have been excelled by his predecessor m the hermit's service, a black retriever which ho called "Thief." By all accounts, this dog was really a very wonderful animal. Ho would go out m the morning and get his owner's breakfast before he was awake. Often his master would rise m the morning and find a couple of ducks or a kakapo lying at his tent door, showing that Thief had been early at work. 'He has often stood between me and starvation.' Sutherland will tell you, adding * All you wanted when you had Thief with you was a little flour.' Unfortunately, however, Thief is now no more. Sutherland would not have taken £500 for him, but one of bis men employed m cutting the track either shot Thief— with a gun — or shot him down a rapid. At all events he went out with this man one day, and that was the last that was ever seen of him. Sutherland now says he wonders he allowed that man to leave the Sound alive." Such is the story, as briefly told by the correspondent, of the Hermit of Milford Sound — one which has m it all the elements of a tale as captivating to boyhood as that of Robinson Crusoe or the Swiss Family Robinson. Indeed, an enterprising litterateur might do worie than to seek out Sutherland and i get from him the full details of his experience!, which would form the foundation of a book that would eclipse m interest such stories as Farjeon's " Set m a Silver Sea," or Stevenson's « Treasure Island."

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Bibliographic details

THE HERMIT OF MILFORD SOUND., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 1988, 6 November 1888

Word Count

THE HERMIT OF MILFORD SOUND. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 1988, 6 November 1888