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UNKNOWN, Issue 8031, 7 October 1889
[From a CornueniMinnrr.J
Although it is admitted in your part id tho colony that the scenery is of the grandest description, it cannot he gainsaid that here in the North Island we have tho beauticsof Nature bestowed on ua plent.lully, botnet of quite so wild a character. Atiipfrom Auckland to Warkworth well repays the pleasure seeker. '1 he distance is only forty miles, and occupies about four or live hour;’. Hut during the entire journey the attention and interest in nearly everything t ) be met with on the way make an impression on one not likely to he forgotten for a long lime. We left Auckland at eleven o’clock in the morning, and when fairly out in the barber tho immensity of tho city and suburbs was at once demonstrated. It is a pity that a line city like Auckland .-liould bo fu such a state of depression, for it is blessed with advantages above those of many other paitr of New Zealand. These advantages are in a measure due to the congenial climate, and as a fruitproducing district it is second to none in the colony —in fact, everything imaginable can be grown here in abundance ; but the outlet is by no manner of means capable of absorbing half what is grown, the grower, of course, being the loser. However, it is not my intention to write on the products of the North Island, but simply to give your readers an idea of some of the inland towns to be met with on an excursion trip. When the steamer turns the North Head she enters Hauraki Gulf, and then little is seen of the city. Nothing of special interest is met with, beyond a range of lowlying mountains on either side of the vessel, until we pass through the channel between firi Till and Whangaparoa (distance, about eight en miles fiom Auckland). Then one h°,struck with the extreme beauty of the surroundings. As far as the eye can reach the golf appears to be dotted all over with innumerable small islands, many of which arc u-ed as residences, the occupiers of some of which are seldom (perhaps once or twice during the year) to be seen off their own particular little isle. I was told that some of these small blocks ft tolled very high prices, compared with what has been paid for properties on the main hmd ; but then those living on these islands are free from all rates and taxes, so that is a consideration which must weigh a deal with those who prefer a quiet, secluded life, The first port of call was Waiwera, celebrated for its hot springs ; but these arc so well known that a description of them is unnecessary. Suffice it to say that a late gale, which blew in from the N.E., made great havoc with that pretty little resort. After a stay of an hour we weighed anchor for Mahurangi. It is now that one finds himself in a maz?, as it were, of islands, through which it requires the greatest caution to navigate. The people in this district derive ?. livelihood in various ways, mostly by sending fish, eggs, and poultry to Auckland ; but it cannot be classed as a prosperous or thriving settlement by any means. Leaving Mahurangi wc commence cur journey up the river, which is nothing more than a continual zigzig and winding narrow strip of water for a distance of about eleven miles. The scenery is of the prettiest desciiption. On one side the land is comparatively 11 it, with several thriving homesteads and grazing paddocks, etc, ; while on the other is a high mountain of hush, with here and there large trees towering conspicuously above the rest. Some of these trees measure 7ft in diameter, and a considerable number of them are transferred to Auckland weekly in large blocks weighing three and four tons. Along the river banks, till we arrive at \S arkworth, are several lime-works and sawmills, which appear to bo the principal mainstay of the district. There is, like most New Zealand scenery, a sameness about it; but it is the network of lagoons, streams, nooks, etc., which have to be passed that makes tho trip up the Mahurangi River one of the pleasantest description. Warkworth, at the head of the river, contains a population of over 1,000 people, has a Masonic hall, three churches, and only one public house. The inhabitants appear a very temperate class of people; so that will probably account for there being only one hotel in that district and it is more than sufficient to supply tho wants of those who indulge at the shrine of Bacchus. Wc happened to arrive here on what was considered a gala day in Warkworth, The people were going to have a concert and “ball.” The occasion was for the benefit of a widowed ladv. In the evening pedestrians arrived from all quarters, and the town presented the appearance of having something of great importance on tho tuj>U. A large number of people patronise the entertainments here, which are few and far between, there being always a difficulty in getting sufficient musical talent together without having to secure the services of those who live long distances away. The exceedingly low charge is one of the principal features of tho entertainments provided. The admission is one shilling to all parts of tho house, and each parson taking part in the ball has only to pay the modest sum of sixpence. Refreshments of a most liberal nature are provided, but these are supplied by some of the more charitable and philanthropic settlers free of charge. Some of us were rather inclined to bo critical, and although not hearing anything likely to take one’s breath away, wc one and all enjoyed it thoroughly. The entertainment was below the average of those given in Dunedin for similar purposes, but it was a treat to see how the settlers appreciated it. Every jtem on the programme, good, bad, and indifferent, was applauded to the echo, but when ten o’clock arrived the chairman announced that the room would be cleared, he apparently having volunteers enough to give a concert to extend to twelve o’clock if he had been so inclined. However, the fair sex appeared to bo anxious to commence the dance. The dresses of the ladies were of various colors and descriptions, from tho pink satin down to the common muslin; but some of the gentlemen appeared in costumes that would not Lc tolerated in any other place. Fancy a couple of stock-riders coming in from the ranch with “ clodhoppers ” several sizes too large for them, with the customary spurs attached, and leggings covered with mud, to complete their lower attire. The music was provided by a violinist and pianist, the tunes being mainly a lot of old airs stiung together regardless of time or tunc. Rut tho dancers were equal to the occasion, and managed to enjoy themselves, notwithstanding that at the completion of several figures in the square dances they were invariably two or three bars behind. But that was nothing serious, as in one or two other figures there wore a couple of extra bars thrown in ; so that, although they were losers at one time, they were the gainers shortly after, I must not forget to mention the facilities enjoyed by settlers living as far as twenty miles away from Warkworth for attending entertainments. The company who own the Rose Casey (commanded by Captain Somerville), a pretty little steamer of about fifty tons, allow the settlers about here to travel free on their boat when wishing to be present at any entertainments given for charitable purposes. This probably accounts for tho largo number who attend, as some of them by paying the admission fee to the concert only can also have a nice water trip of forty miles thrown in. We left Warkworth the follow ing day, but had to wait for high water, it being impossible for the steamer to turn except at that time, and when-she does make the essay each end of the vessel touches the land at either side, the river being very narrow at this point. We arrived at Auckland at about 4 p.m., and it was admitted by all our party to have been one of tho pleasantest outings that could be imagined.
UNKNOWN, Issue 8031, 7 October 1889
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