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THE KING COUNTRY.

HOW TIMBER IS WON. TRIP ON A MOTOR-TROLLEY. STIMULUS OF THE UPLANDS. MODEL BUSH SETTLEMENT. No. 11. A sawmill beside the railway at Mangapehi indicates to the passing traveller that there is " a bit of timber hereabouts." The ' bit of timber " there, dealt with by Messrs. Ellis and Burnand's staff of nearly 200 men, under Mr. H. F. Hayes, amounts to 9,000,000 ft. a year. But the settlement is small. It is timber alone that has made it. The little hollow in the hills resounds with the shriek of saws, big and small, and the pleasant aroma of new wood fills the air. The community is composed mainly of permanent residents. There are men who have worked there for 20 years, and in scmo cases father and son are on the pay-roll. A fine spirit of co-operation prevails. There is no fierce sectarianism in religion. Whatever denomination holds a bazaar everyone turns out, and sometimes the proceeds equal £1 per man. The people play games, and find the daylightsaving system in vogue a great advantage. There are fine bard tennis courts and football teams travel on Saturdays to seek laurels afield.

" But where does the timber come from?" asks the stranger, who has not noticed that the steel-railed line leading to the saws is not part of the railway yard. Here, however, is the timber coming —a long rake of logs, 40 to 50 feet long, each log resting upon two fourwheeled trolleys. The bars upon which they rest are called bolsters, and the bolsters are attached to the trolleys by a pivot bolt. Thus it is possible to negotiate sharp curves in the line. The logs which overlap and are chained swing wide at the turns, but 50ft. is the maximum length for the curved cuttings. The Path of the Bushmen. One looks up the valley whence the train has come and sees no timber, but pleasant farm homesteads. Upon a trolley driven by a motor engine one sets out to find the bush. This noisy, speedy vehicle races along the rails in the bright sunshine of early morning, the manager s dog, sitting on the prow of the thing, yelping in the gladness of life. He likes a trip to the bush. It is all very intoxicating. One forgets to marvel over the evenness of the track upon its bed of pumice because wisps of wayward clouu cling to the treetops in the distant ridges and capture the eye. This is light bush and therefore remains. Up the valley we speed toward a high ridge, which seems an insuperable bar- > rier. We swing to the left as the grade increases, whip round a curve to the right, and climbing at the rate of one in fourteen for two miles, mount the barrier. Here bush, its beauty quite restored since the partial cutting of timber decades ago, sets one's heart singing. Cascades of green sweep down the slopes and ferns bedeck the banks of the cuttings. The roar of a waterfall hidden in the growth is music to the ear. It is good to be alive. Already there is the stimulus of the higher air and a very satisfying sense of gaining the freedom found away from roads increases with every yard.

Accidents of the Day. We sweep round a curve and pull up in front of a break in the line. A cloud burst on the higher levels has filled a creek that has made a breach in an embankment and several yards of track are hanging above it. Men are rushing on the work of repair aud a locomotive with trucks is bringing spoil for the job. The trolley is pulled over the obstacles by strong hands and just as the engine is being " let out" a Maori farmer's trolley behind an old grey horse comes crawling down the line. It is the one conveyance possible in this roadless country. It ha.i to be taken off the track to allow thu motor-trolley to proceed, just as it has to be removed when trains are met, but the Maori farmer's philosophy of life does not permit him to become fretful. He gets his vehicle back to the track and proceeds upon his leisurely way. There is a stimulating uncertainty about travelling on the track by trolley. If one does not risk rushing into a loco- J. motive, there is always the chance that a farmer's equipage may be 011 the line, or the chance that points are against one, or a piece of metal on a rail, knocked up by a horse's hoof, may derail one, to say' nothing of a pig, a domestic pig, that has free run of the country, that may choose to dash over the line in front of the trolley. The exhilarating run eats up the miles. In the distance ahead one sees a clump of trees and what resembles a flag pole, the flag hanging down m the still air. Imagination, of course! Flag poles do not grow at what is approaching the# 2000 ft. level of the central uplands of the island. Away to • the south the snowy head of Ruapehu cuts the horizon, the friend of other days of freedom, and the surroundings more than ever resemble the approach to Whakapapa or the sweep of the slope above the Ohakune mountain hut. It is the friendly expansive solitude once more that strikes a chord in more hearts than many people suppose.

A School in the Wilderness. And then quite suddenly one sees that the dry tree with the top like an idle banner'is a flag pole after all, and that the Union Jack is aloft. It is a school. Who would have dreamed of finding a school in this wilderness ? There is a roll of over 40 children at Pukemaku, the bairns coming from two bush settlements and from the farms down the track, on horse back s,nd on log trains. They are true pioneer;:, these children, in spite of their familiarity with rag-time songs. They posses;; the strong self-reliance of the bush, quiet and reserved with strangers, but are boisterously gay among themselves, and the forest and the creatures of the wild are an open book to them. Pushing on we find a little sawmill where the small logs, uneconomical to take out whole, aire cut into timber. Then we meet a well-horsed Maori with a well-laden pack-horse. He has spent the night toward balded-headed Pnreora that, overlooks Taupo on a hunt for wild cattle, and he has made a kill that will furnish the cooking pots with me< - or quite a time. He remarks that he saw pig tracks near at hand, and that he tvill have some pork next Sundaj. _ We are now close to the fringe of tho forest, and before one can s ™ s ® b the open plain ceases and the bush begms so -tbruptlv, the panting trolley has nnlled uo at the door of a commodious huilclin =t It is the cookhouse of the settlement, surely the most ideal ysettlement in the uoram inn It occupies a natural clearing only few aSes in extent, beautiful .bush completely surrounding it. There is- no mud because of the pumice surface, and bavond the comfortable cottages which are the married quarters, there is a Snnis court, of .11 Pukemaku is no bush camp. Ine ">S frain toings daily supplies, and the newspapers ofthe day before are being d.s, tributed.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NZH19251119.2.138

Bibliographic details

THE KING COUNTRY., New Zealand Herald, Volume LXII, Issue 19179, 19 November 1925

Word Count
1,245

THE KING COUNTRY. New Zealand Herald, Volume LXII, Issue 19179, 19 November 1925

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