MOTOR PIONEERS IN THE ROADLESS BACKBLOCKS
WELLINGTON TO AUCKLAND. THROUGH THE HEAET OP THE BUSH. (By "Autos. ") You will not find parts of the track of the tndtoi' pioneers on any map ; scores of miles of it you will find in the official four-mile-to-an-inch survey sheets only in the Bh&pe of dotted lines to' sighify pack tracks ; a hundred miles had never se'enany motor-cai* and over two hundred only one or two in an equal number of years? The country through whifch the car -Went iw^S regarded just as much as forbidden ground to the mot6ris!ts,as it Was to the builders of the Main Trunk Railway twenty years ago, and to the very white man himself not so long before that. It was all very fully described six months ago by the writer in the special edition of the Evening Post, entitled "Ten Years of the Main Trunk," an issue, by the way, indirectly responsible for the enterprise, which, after many trials and tribulations of car and crew in a week of rain through the sloughs of the roadless bush, through running rivers and treacherous seas of mud," over hills never previously crossed by motor, ended ' so successfully in the. safe , arrival of the cat in Auckland last Saturday. The remote possibilities of such a route Appealed to the sporting instincts a& well as the business acumen of the manager "'of a' well'known colonial motor company, and, when the word came to go, the car and crew were ready. \ CAH AND CBEW. Premise then and picture at Taihape last Saturday morning—the fun up from Wellington in seven hours overnight was only a preliminary canter— the car, crew, and equipment. The car, an ordinary Ford Model T Koadster, used about the .garage in Wellington tor hacking round with luggage and lending to owners uritil their new cars arrived, carried a plain homely-fashioned body on the standard chassis, something of an American buggy in general looks, two seats in front, ahd a dicky behind— no torpedo j body, no shining accessories, no spares, i except tires, nor-nothing, On each i footboard was a long wicker basket, especially made to carry the kit; at the .rear htiijg a great coil of rope with block and tackle,- in the hollow of the hood were oilskins and overcoats, and under it, cramping very much the legs of the tenant of the back seat, & case of benzinei surmounted by a canvas sleeping bag containing blankets. Portmanteaux and bundles filled up other vacancies. The crew consisted of the pilot, the pressman, and. the photographer in one capacity} the engineer, the. purser, and the bo'dun in another; and the expert, the .bushman, and tackle-rigger in . a third. Other duties may subsequently have beeii evolved by circumstances, but that was the idea. The pilot-engineer-expert was to drive the car, the photo-graphei'-bo'stuvtackle-rigger was to photograph it in a hole and then rig tackle to help to pull it outj and the pressman-purser-bußhman was to pick the road, help to make it passable wherever possible, cook tucker in camp, cut timber for corduroying, and incidentally pay the way of the car, wherever necessary, along the road. - The scheme worked, successfully, and every member of the tf iple^ alliance was employed to his full * capacity, with something "now and again of "an • overload" that made' "the "radiator 1 boil. The success of the trip was due to the staunchness of the car and the complete co-operation of the crew through the period of stress and strain. FROM TAIHAPE TO TAUMARU- ■• N.UI. . At Tarhape the main avenue of' motoring comes to end. Care have gone through to Ohakune and Pipiriki on one eide and to Tokaanu and Taupo on the other, and possibly through to Taumarunui— the information frpm th© peoole along the road was quite conflicting oA these point*. But the birds of passage must have been few and far between, and there had certainly been none at all the preeent year. The reason is quite simple. While the Main Trunk was being built, there wai? towards the finish quite a good coach tout© along the service road by the railway. That road hAe now deteriorated, until in Many places it is practically no longer worthy of the name of road at all. The bridges were strong, but built of local timber, and are now rotting or rotted away. Ruts a yard deep have been bitten through the soft surface by the torrential rains of yeare, and never repaired. Lafit winter was the worst on record, and the roade, according to old hands all along the way, as bad ac they had ever been. To cap all, where the' traffic did come, it came with the force of a bombardment in six-horse or sk-stan bullock w&sone, lumbering loads of' timber from the mill to the nearest station. The conditions, therefore, were bad in varying degrees only of ' badness. It wa* no country for a car, even there— and that was not the worst— and only skilful handling got the outfit through Without mishap. The pioneere were naturally incensed "agin all Governments" for leaving the roade in that atate. HOW CREEKS WERE CROSSED. On the Waiouru Plains the car hit soft stuff just beyond the bridge over the WaAgaehu, but, with a little judicious track-laying with benzine case wood and cut flax leaf, ehe got out under own power, and took the tuseock to avoid the rest of the bad road. At the Waitaiki Creek— a stream about forty fedt wide and then up to a yard deep— tho Maoris of tho pa ; Scenting petrol prosperity in ( a tow-over, came galloping in from all sides with their horses for a communal joint-etock act of Good Samaritanship. But the car, with radiator bound up in an oilskin—after the depth had been tested— steamed through all well, much to the surprise of the Maoris, who had never seen any cari do that before. So on, over timberbroken roads through Raetihi-— where a woman upset a pram in terror at the car, but picked up the baby still flmil-lng-^nd Horopito to the Manganui-a-te-ao Creek and Viaduct, just before dark. The depth of the creek was nothing, but the boulders were big enough to build the foundation of a sea-wall, and it was no good bumping through them in the dark. The bosun got his block and tackle rigged out, and hitched to a neighbouring stump, and co-operation in a tug«of'War on thd towrope, aided up the lower pinch by the car's own power, got her through til© water and far enough up the slope to back her on to a nice grassy bay for the night. It was then som«wh«r& about H o'clock, but the camp Was floon up— a fly hung, sailor-fashion, on a rope from a htump over a pair of sheDr-Tega, and anchored down bolow to another stump. Under it were spread tho Bleeping bags oh oil-sheeting. The campfire, in charge of tho purser-cook, was soon ablaze and the billy boiling for hot coffee. Over the high viaduct" just above) th« expresses roarpd luminously through the darkness both ways. It was a beautiful bush flight, turning a little chilly towards the morning, with the stream 'bolow for a -somewhat boisterous lullaby. Tho only regret wins j that the flash&slit; puwder for v. piuiure |
of tho camp had gone overboaid somewhere in the miles behind. THE BKOKEN BRIDGE. 'The nest day was a summer Sunday in "the bush. At 4. o'clock breakfast was ready— bacon ip the pan over the fire— and at 7, after packing and portaging the gear over the boulder hill, the car was hauled up a bit further, and then sped for Taumarunui. all well. Down in the Makatote Gully, by the big viaduct, a slip had brought trees across the road, but the little hatchet made room to Jiassi On the Waimarino a rain-channel in the pumice had to be filled with hnndy fencing battens. Ngauruhoe and Tongariro were cloudily visible, but no loiw »v.iit was made, and the car soon dipped into the biiEh again down by the Kaurimu Spiral. In the language of an old bullocky met on the way, it was "a corker." A mile or so beyond, just across the raihvjy and only two miles from Oio station, one of the numerous timtt service road bridges had collapsed like a dead man into the bed of the river, sonle twenty feet below. The rotten timbers lay in a heap, slopping about in the shallow water, aild the good resolutions of the authorities were shown in some new planks and beams alongside the road. CIVIL AND MILITARY ENGINEERING. What to do ? No road forward : no going back. A survey) of the situation showed possibilities. If the- car could be let down with block and tacklo it might ako be hauled up the other side. The old timbers placed up and down stream pontoon-fashion might act as sleepers for transverse planks, and on this the car might bo got across. No sooner seen than started. The heavy, I water-sodden, crumbling timbers ' were laid down in two and three tiers, and then tho big planks Were placed on top. It was strenuous work in the broiling sun, and the human radiator boiled. At the spell for smc-ke-oh and billy tea a party of helpers turned up from the neighbouring sawmill and made th/s rest of the task easy. Tracks were cut on each side — the car lowered down on to the temporary bridge by skilfully artanged block and tackle, and, after delicate negotiation across on the- skew, hauled up again by block and 'tackle on the other side. There were congratulations and photographs— a young giant, who had handled balks of timber like- a team, asking that it 6hould be mentioned he was a Red Federationist, which is done gladly, for a man's private convictions are his own affair,in the bush, but his. acts arc public. With three big hearty cheers from the crowd of jolly sawyers the car was sent off on the thirty miles left between there and Taumarunui — through Owhango, Kakahi, Piriaka, and Maliunui— nothing to speak about after what had happened before and what was destined for after.
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MOTOR PIONEERS IN THE ROADLESS BACKBLOCKS, Evening Post, Volume LXXXIV, Issue 138, 7 December 1912
MOTOR PIONEERS IN THE ROADLESS BACKBLOCKS Evening Post, Volume LXXXIV, Issue 138, 7 December 1912
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