OPENING OF THE CHRISTCHURCH AND DUNEDIN RAILWAY.
* £BT TEtßQftAPff, (Frora tbt Special Correspondent oj (he LytttWm Times.) Dr/NEDiiT, Sept. 6. In accordance with my instructions, this morning I turned out of he'd at the unwonted hour of five o'clock, and in a few minute 3 found myeelf at the railway station. Presenting my pass, I was admitted at the gate, within which none were allowed who were sot provided cither with a card of invftation or a pass. This precaution kept the platform pretty well free from obstruction, which in the dim light when luggage wife very apt to go astray was a convenient measure. Every moment the holiday-makers arrived in increasing numbers, M.H.R.'s, City Councillors from both north and south, educational dignitaries, and members of the various Boards and Chambers, to whom invitatiess had been extended. A marked feature wag the number of ladies, principally northern visitors, wives j ■of members of Parliament, and others. In i front of the station was waiting the train, I which consisted of ten carriages and two of i the ornamental, but solid looking, newly ! built break-vans. The engine was the j "Washington," one of the two American engines specially imported for the speed to be got out of them. Bye-and-bye when the sun cornea out we are able to sec that the carriages j .are all either new or freshly painted, and j ■with the rays of light falling on them i they present quite a dazzling appearance, j Gradually the travellers settle tiuwn into their places in the carriages, and busy them- 1 selves with the morning paper* md an j amusing little brochure descriptive of the j journey fr«n Lyttelton to Timaru, which Im3 been printed in a manner suspiciously resembling Hansard, and contains a serio-comic narrative of what may be seen on the route and the dangers that used to attend the old style of travelling. Just before six His Excellency arrives, and accompanied by Lieutenant I« Patourel, Major Lean, Mr Seymour George, and tho Captain of H.M.S. Nymphe, takes his seat in a special carriage resplendent with the vice-regnl arms emblazoned on the side. Everything now 13 ready, the signal is given, and in one carriage the Dunedin glee X&ub strike up, while from another at tbe far •end are heard the strains of the Dunedin railway band. There is some cheering from tile few spectators who hare braved the keen frost to see thejparty off, and with a sharp tug " Wa3hingran" sets his long retinue in motion, and off we glide. Even as we pass the bridge at the end of the station two or three frantic passengers rush across the road, but we have already delayed seven minute 3, And no more grace is given them. They are left behind lamenting, and in a few minutes we are well beyond the city. The morning was as fine as anyone could wish, and many of us we.'c able to get a view of what was rather a novelty with us, namely, a glorious sunrise. A slight haze, however, hnng over the plain, and out of the damp windows the strangers who wished to see what the country was like could only gaze as " through a glass darkly." It was too cold to stand on the platforms, and so the curious had to stifle their anxiety to see the famous plains until we had got further south. Up to the Rakaia we ran rather leisurely, about 23 milc3 an hour, and here a stop was made for a minute or two to water the engine. A good deal of admiration was expressed by the visitors at the long bridge over this rive; 1 , but they seemed to be a little disappointed at finding TintJiing but a few paltry streams in tbe bed. I fancy the little pamphlet I mentioned above had led them to expect a broad sheet of water about a mile wide, dashing along at the rate of fifteen miles an hour, if not more. Rakaia we left precisely at half 'past seven, and to make up the time " Washington" had to put his best fool foremost. It was determined to get to Ashburton by eight o'clock, and aernrdingly we sped along at the rate of 30 nvles an hour. The 18 miles were accomplished in 37 minutes, and precisely two hours after leaving Christchurch the train drew up at. the populous and flourishing centre of Midland Canterbury. A large crowd was waiting, and the newly-elected Borough Council, headed by their Mayor (Mr Bullock), lost no time in "addressing" the Governor. The station platform was kept clear of people, with the exception of the Mayor and Councillor?. Immediately on the arrival of the train, the Town Clerk, Mr Braddell, read the following address: — .-. "To the most noble the Marquis of Normanby, Governor in and over, Her Majesty's Colony of New Zealand, and Vice- Admiral of the same. "May it please your Excellency: — 'We the Mayor and Councillors of the Borough of Ashburton, on behalf of the burgesses, be" •to tender your Excellency a respectful and cordial welcome on the occasion of your first visit to this particular part of the Culony. " Ashburton owes much of its progress and prosperity to the railway, the completion of which is being to-day illustrously signalised by your Excellency's passage in the first through train from Christchurcn to Duneuin. "We heartily join in the general hope, that the system Of Public Works, already so plentiful in beneficial results, may be carried out so as to further develop the resources of the Colony. "As representing the community we beg to assure your Excellency of our loyal attachment to the throne and traditions of Englandr r" Further assuring your Excellency of our goodwill towardsyour own person, aud of our trust in your Excellency's government, and respectfully wishing your Excellency and the ladies and gentlemen who accompiuy you on this auspicious occasion a safe and pleasant journey, " We beg to subscribe ourselves, 11 Tour Excellency's obedient pervants, "Thomas Bnttocji, Ma> or, " The Councillors and Town Clerk." His Excellency, in reply, said — Gentlemen, — I have to thank you very much for the address of welcome, and the expressions of loyalty which it contains. I cordially agree with the Council's heartiness in wishing every prosperity to the great work which was inaugurated to-day, and that it may contribute greatly to the progress and happiness and prosperity of. Her Majesty's subjects, both in Ashburton, and the whole Colony. I thank you again heartily for the reception you have given me. The railway band struck up a favourite air, and three hearty cheers were given to his Excellency, and the distinguished visitors, which were duly acknowledged, and the party drove off in a waggonette to the Town Hall, whrro tables were laid with breakfast for about 350 persons. In the front of the ha 1 !, a large triumphal arch was erected iktoss the street, paily festooned with cvergivpns, aud Surmounted with ffags. On one ?id? werd the words Welcome to the Borough of Ashburton," and on the other " Success to the Christchurch and Duuedin Railway.'^ The great energy displayed in the erec! ion o; this uebandthe oth<«r matter* connected with the reception of the Vice-regal party, shows that the Councillors of this newßorough deserve every (banks for their loyalty, and have proved that they aife fully alive to the great step that, hns been made in opening through communication between the two chief Southern cities. TVery little time was taken over these proceedings, and at half-past eight exactly the train set off on the long run to Timaru. By fids time a clear view could bo obtained of the country, and it was with admiration that, those who had not seen them before scanned file bold line of the Southern Alps. Very beautiful they looked in the morning j>uii, with their snowy crests sharply defined against the blue sky, and relieved by the chocolate hue of the lower elopes. Past the Onriand Winchester we hurried, groups of children and residents welcoming us with a cheer as we dashed by, and soon 3femuka was reached, and another stop made to," give the engine a drink." Several Wellington gentlemen were very loud in their praises of the country, as it appeared hero with its holiday look, and one well-known member of the Council who has but lately been raised to that honour very decidedly flbited that it was by far the finest country Bo bad seen. His word ought to have some weight, for he is a ]«*» landowner, and Ing inowylacto attested wfc ha spoke with
the experience of many years to help him. Approaching Timaru there is a good deal of craning of necks to catch a sight of the oTaee which was recently the scene of so sad" a disaster, and some surprise wa* evinced at the sight of fire vessels already lying in the roadstead. The train passes within a ? few yards of two of the vessels lying high and dry on the beach, and they are of coarse the objects of many eyes. Timaru is reached at five minutes past ten, the journey having been accomplished at the rate of 25 miles an hour. The pity is a little before its time, but notwithstanding there is" a large crowd, containing half ' the population of the town waiting to greet the visitors. A salute is fired by the Artillery, a guard from which receives His Excellency at the station. The following address was then read by the Town Clerk on behalf of the Corporation :— "To His Excellency the Governer of New Zealand, &c., &c. "May it please your Excellency. We, the Mayor, Councillors, and burgesses of the Borough of Timarn, the members of the Harbour Board and Chamber of Commerce of Timaru, unitedly desire to express the very great pleasure we have^ in welcoming you on this your second visit to our town and district, more especially we do so on the present occasion, being the event of celebrating the opening of the line of railway connecting those two important commercial centres — the cities of Christchurch and Dunedin. We desire to call your attention to the continued prosperity, and the very marked improvement which have taken place on every hand since your former visit here. This you cannot fail to observe, although travelling so hurriedly through our rich agricultural district. We sincerely trust your onward journey may be attended with pleasure and safety, and that you may long remain in health and happiness, enabled to continue the administration of this our adopted country, and of which we as loyal and true subjects are justly proud." Close to the station a very pretty triumphal arch was seen, bearing the blazon of " Welcome," and on either side were two banners. That on the left was inscribed "Progress, Canterbury and Otago united," and that on the right " Success to Agriculture, Industry, and Commerce." The arch was from a tasteful design by Mr M'Dewar, a local architect, and a great deal of pains had evidently been bestowf d upon its erection. Amongst the materials employed in it were a couple of tree ferns brought all the way from Geraldine. The local fire brigade were drawn up near the arch The Governor and some of the party went to the Grosvenor Hotel, where there was plenty of champagne to wash down the dust which had become rather thick in the carriages, and a large number availed themselves of the vehicles in attendance for the purpose, and were driven round the town. Some who indulged in this amusement were rather taken aback to find when they returned that the train had gone without them. Amongst those left behind were Mr and Mrs Seymour George and Mr Wakefield, who drove up just in time to see the train leave the station. The Mayors of Ashburton, Hokitika and Greymouth, were also left behind. Mr Commissioner Conyers determined upon keeping to the time-table arranged for the trip, and docked the allowance of time at Timaru, and instead of 40 minutes, allowed rather 1e33 than 35. The feelings of the disappointed ones may be better imagined than described. It was 20 minutes to 11 when we left the capital of South Canterbury, the Artillery firing another salute as we did so, and the crowds of spectators, who mustered thicker than over, cheering with hearty goodwill. The way lay for many miles through the lovely downs of South Canterbury. The line is a succession of cuttings and bridges until the plains beyond the Waimate junction appear. The sea is close on the left ; in fact, in places >we almost touch the sea beach, and on the right the nestling farms, the broken contour of the downs, and the rugged peaks of the Alps bathed in a flood of sunshine, give to the country this morning that appearance which has been so aptly described a3 " smiling." On we go, at nearly double the usual speed, past the junction of the Waimate branch railway, and over the level plain beyond, till a sudden rush to the platforms, betoken the Waitaki* is neared. Over the splendid cylinder bridge we moderate our pace, and then putting on more steam glide over the 15 miles between us and Oamaru at a pace which brings us there exactly two hours after leaving Timaru. We do not get out except for a few moments, while another address i 3 inflicted on the Governor, which as your readers have already had to wade through two, I will spare them. A salute is fired, three cheers given, and we go on to the breakwater, of which this city of whiteness i 3 so justly proud. Another address (this time from the Harbour Board), and a truck or two of stone is run down iuto the new wharf inside the breakwater, and the Marqui3 then declares it open under the name of the " Normanby wharf." A luncheon followed in the goods sheds, at which the usual speeches and toasts occurred. Hitherto I have refrained from giving any minute description of the line, as it is already pretty well known, and moreover was fully described in the columns of the Lyltellon Times when the line from Oaraaru was opened in February last. < The portion between Oamaru and Dunedin is, however, little known, and moreover passes through country of so different a formation to the flat and dreary plains of Canterbury, that the change cannot but be interesting to the stranger, a3 contrasted with the ever recurring tussocks of the Northern Province. As far as to Moeraki tho lino has been open for many months. TKo distance is 26 miles, and the average cost £6000 a mile. From Moeraki to the junction of the main line with the Port Chalmers line is 4G miles, total cost of which was £33,000. The greatest height surmounted is 315 feet, and the sharpest. curve has a gradient of 7£ chains. The tot*! cost of the 72 miles was thus £511,000. The contractors for the Mocraki section were Brogden and Co ; for the Cartigi section, extending to Waikouaiti, M'Kenzie, Paisley, and Co ; and for the section between Waikouaiti and Blue?kin, M'Kenzie, Paisley, and Murcott. The lino is nil gradients and curves, and the construction, particularly in the last 14 miles, was of the heaviest nature. Of the Blucskin section, I shall have more to cay when we reach it. The luncheon was over by 20 minutes to 2 o'clock, and embarking once more we were toon on our way. Just as we were leaving the town, I observed a fine sort of a building of four stories, intended as a flour mill and grain store, which is almost completed. It is built of the prevailing white stone, and with its tall, round chimney presents a very imposing appearance. Toaccommodatc the returning Dunedin people, the train had been increased and now numbered 14 carriages and two engines. "Washington," the gaily painted led the way, succeeded by one of the double engines with two funnels, known as fcheFairlie Engine. As we owepfc across the broad central strept of Oamrtru, there was something exciting; in the appearance of the curved lino of glittering carriages, and the happy looking crowd that needed not even the parting cheer to rouse the fwlings of the visitors to something like enthusiasm. The two engines had been put on to one train in preference to dividing it in two, and in consequence we were able to travel but at a comparatively slow pace round the sharper of the curves. On many occasions the train was on two curves at once, and my fellow travellers began to speculate as to how we were to get round the Blueskin cliff, of which a great deal had been heard on the way down. Many shake their heads, and fail to see how we are going to get into Dunedin by 5.45, the time fixed. Meanwhile we arc passing through some of the large estates close to Oamarn. There is the Totara property, which is now in the market for sale in umafi blocks. A great country this for coursing. The long, sweeping downs, divided into 10(10 acre paddocks, unbroken by any fence, afford capital sport, and here it is that the meetings or the 1 Oamaru club are held. The spectators have only to take their stand on one of the prominent mounds, and without moving they can' tike in the whole field at a sweep,, Tbe estate gains its name from a solitary toUra tree growing on the brow of a little
hill which stands clearly defined, against the sky, andean be seen for mites. There are plenty of other trees now "-/grown, but they have been planted since the land was settled. A little further on and we come upon a wb'te stone quarry. A machine specially contrived for the purpose was sawing out blocks as we passed, which lxave only to be lifted into the trucks and they are ready to be carried away. They can be cut of any size, and are unlimited in quantity. The country round about here is simply an immense mass of this stone, and it crops out upon the surface in every direction. Where exposed to the atmosphere it is quite 'black, but it is easily recognised by ' ite'-jjecnliar • look. The soil above this limestone f6rmation is particularly rich, and as much, as £30 and £35 an acre is asked for such as there is for sale. Quitting the big estates we cross the Kakanui river, a yery low and never very large stream, and leaving the Eakanui range on our right, wo reach the Ofcepopo district. So far there have been no engineering difficulties of any moment, but now we pas 3 through a small tunnel and emerge into the valley of the Otepopo river. This is a very picturesque spot. The river has cut a deep bed through the soft soil, and scraped the sides of the hill almost perpendicular. The face of one hill under which we pass is covered with cabbage trees, and reminds one of the Rangitata Island. From this point to Hampden the train runs through the New Zealand Land Company's estate, and is remarkable chiefly for the heavy cuttings. The character of the district is still rolling downs sloping to the Beashore backed . by ridges of brown-looking hills. Hampden is a little village which some think will one day become the centre of a flourishing agricultural district, and as for Moeraki, the harbour, such a3 it is, is formed just like that of Oamaru, by a projecting bluff, and consists at present of a short jetty and two houses. There is not a foot of flat land on which to view the little branch railway by which it is reached, and which is constructed for nearly half its length upon trestles in the sea, and a few months ago when I had a ride over it, a cutter was lying jammed into the piles where* it had been thrown by a severe gale. Hampden is prettily situated on the slopes at the front of the hills, with a background of bush which at one time must have been very extensive. On the beach opposite are to be seen quantities of boulders, worn by the sea quite smooth, and as round as cricket balls — the famous Moeraki boulders, the delight of the learned, and much used for the* ornamenting of gardens. After leaving Hampden the line, to avoid the precipitous Horse Range, diverges to the sea shore, along which it runs for some miles, as far as Shag Point. Passing Trotter's creek, which runs down the gorge in the Horse Range, through which the coach road goes, and where that lamentable accident occurred a few months ago, we ascend Pukeoitai hill, the highest elevation reached being 115 feet. From here it is intended to run out a branch line to Shag point, a distance of three miles, to facilitate the transport of the company's coal, which i 3 largely used in the District of Palmerston. At present they have to carry it over a bad road three or four miles, but they also have a little steamer. When the weather is rough the Eteamer cannot get near, as there is no harbour, and it is expected that the branch will well repay the expenditure. Through some heavy cuttings we now strike into the Shag valley and Palmerston District. The flats through which the Shag River runs are extremely fertile, though liable to floods. A splendid view is unfolded as we enter the valley. On the right are the forbidding-looking crags of the Horse range, and in front the Slopes. Bushy park, the property of Mr Rich 3 cncls on the one hand at the sea, and on the other at Mount Pukeitapu, a conical peak, which thrusts itself upon the attention of the stranger immediately he enters the valley. These conical peaks give the charm of variety. A pretty place is Palmerston, and in my opinion it stands upon the finest site in the whols district. Feara were expreased that the opening of the line through to Dunedin would injure Palmerston, but it has the advantage of being situated at the junction of the road from the Dunstan Goldfields with the main road. A branch line will before long extend some 10 miles up the country, and this will amply make up for any loss of traffic the opening of the trunk line may cause. This place is also a great coursing district, and hare 3 I am told are so plentiful that you cannot go for a five minutes' walk without starting one. Queen Death and some other well-known hounds are located here, and the inhabitants take great pride in them. According to the programme there was to have been another banquet here but some hitch occurred. The Mayor of Palmerston was in the train, and the Corporation deprived of their head seemed at a loss, and as there was no one to receive the Governor of course he did not alight from the carriage. We were all happy in the thoughtof escaping another speech, when some one rushed up and informed the Marquis that the Councillors were looking for lum everywhere and had an address to present, They had been looking from carriage to carriage, and the platform being rather small, the Governor's carriage was not one of those which stopped opposite to it. There was nothing for it but to be " addressed " once more, so the Marquis got out, listened to the speech, and made a brief reply, adding, "we can't stay." "All right, 1 ' good humouredly replied the crowd. The usual cheers went up, and now being behind our time, Mr Conyers insisted on our going at once. There is little to say of the journey to Waikouaiti. The distance is about nine miles, and the way lie 3 through undulating country, like that between Oamaru and Moeraki. Waikouaiti is situated on the river, and being of that imrae, is an old whaling station, and has been settled from early times. The Maoris here still pursue the avocation of the old residents. The Waikouaiti river must have given a good deal of trouble to the contractors, a3 there are no less than three bridges in a few hundred yards. The river forms a large laijoon, in which the tide ebbs and flows, ami when the mud is bare tbe effect is not pleasant, and spoils what otherwise would be a fine landscape. Crossing the river we find our passage barred by heavy looking wooded mountains, rejoicing in the uueuphoneous name of Kilmog. Dp the sides of it we climbed and the heavy work commenced. The curves are something dreadful, the engines often disappearing in a cutting long before the tail end of the train had come round a curve- At the Maori kaik, a group ot ! Natives arc assembled waving mats, sticks, mores, and anything apparently they had been able to lay hands on. One man in particular caused great amusement by his frantic gesticulations on the edge of a cutting, where he jumped about, flourishing a greenstone mere, as if anxious to execute a war dance for our special delectation. Looking back the bay presented a fine appearance, the hamlet of Waikouaiti gleamed out white in the rays of the declining sun, (for it was now four o'clock) like a sparkling jewel in a setting of blue and brown, while the bush close at hand lent an additional charm to a picture well worthy of the brush of a Gully or Chevalier. On the opposite side the bay is guarded by a queer hill that looks as if some giant had laid it half open with an axe, and in the middle is low and irregular. It is quite isolated, standing out in tho sea, and entirely separated at high water from the mainland. The picture was as pretty as you could wish. The other side of it could only be seen on a wet day. Our view, however, is almost immediately cut short by a small tunnel through which we go, in tho eastern slope of Kilmog. Along this we travel for some miles all through, with steep gradients, and then descend into Blueskin Bay. The cliffs on the other side of the bay, along which the line runs, ' can be easily seen, and of course all eyes are turned upon them immediately, while speculation is rife as to whether with, our long train we will be able to compass them in time to reach Dunedin at the appointed hour.. At the bottom of the bay the line runs for some distance on a, level with the seashore, until , we !f each, Waiteti station. Ever since leaving Waikouaija,,the downs have disappeared, and' the' motmtains; now come right down .to the r waters edge. The. station and townsh'ia itf/the bay hare been called Waitati, the old whaling name of BluesWn/having;been^ the'iwMioTrit£es;" f ' r|w ' T l: " 'I'C -.o ■-,,-". '-nt „"£*.*? The next section of the line, ;known mw
Blueskin section, is one of the heaviest pieces of railway work in New Zealand, anu deserves a more minute^ descriptidn; than the less interesting, and I may ."add . less dangerous portions of the line over which we have already, travel ted. It was not completed t'U the end of last vear^ and in a JDriiedin paper I find the following description of the line, published just after the < official inspection, previous to the section being tr-i-owA open to traffic:—
A portion of the Port Chalmers railway has been absorbed into the trunk line, the junction being effected at a plates called Sawyers Bay, a little above Port Chalmers. " Leaving the function," says my authority, who describes the route northwards from Dunedin, " At Sawyer's Bay the course is up a gradient of 1 in S(V along the side , of the hills and through heavy cuttings till the Deborah Bay Tunnel is reached. The first section of the line terminates a few chains from the tunnel and is two i»iles 4 and 70 chains long. Some of the cuttings have been very heavy, and much difficult work had to be done. On this section there are two large stone bridges and two tunnels, each of the latter being curved. The first is called c The Mansfordtown Tunnel,' being situated over the township of that name, and is one mile and a quarter from the Junction. The excavation is 10 chains long, and for the most part the sides are lined with rubble masonry, the ai-cb being bricked. The second tunnel, a little further north, is known as ' the M'Gregor Tunnel,' and is four chains in length, protected as in the case of the former one with rubble masonry aod brick. A large embankment occurs on this section about two miles from the commencement. It is 60ft. ■high, 18 chains long, and slopes to the water's edge. There are several other embankments, varying from lift, to 30ft. in height. Along this portion of the line a magnificent view of the harbour and port is obtained. Messrs Allen and Kingstreet were the contractors, and the total cost of carrying the section to its completion has been £48,000. The work is well done, and has given every satisfaction. The Deborah Bay Tunnel, which, together with the near approaches forms the second section of the line, comes next, and after 7£ minutes the engine and carriage emerged once more into daylight. The tunnel is 66 chains long, straight, and perfectly dry. It is lined with rubble and masonry, with a brick arch, to the extent of about 55 chains. Till within 16 chains of the north entrance the grade is 1 in 60, the rest having a gradient of in 995. Messrs M'Kenzie Brothers and Elliott were the contractors, the cost of construction being £57,000. This tunnel was pierced on Saturday evening, July 28, and was finished in the following month. Having been completed under contract time, the contractors applied for and obtained the Government bonus of £2500. The history of this great work is briefly given on a marble plate over the south end of the tunnel as follows : — " Deborah Bay Tunnel. Commenced Bth June, 1877; finished August, 1877. Win. Blair, District Engineer j E. R. Ussher, Resident Engineer ; M'Eienzie Bros, and Eliott, Contractors." On the exit of the train from the tunnel the third and last section of the Blueskin line, which is known as the Purakanui contract, is reached. The contractors are Messrs Job Wain and Co. This section passes through very rugged bush country for some three miles, the remainder being of a more open character. A little . over a mile from the Deborah Bay Tunnel, one of the largest 'constructed' embankments in the South Island— probably in the Colony — is met. The highest portion is at an elevation of 80ft, and it contaius noarly 100,000 cubic yards of earth and rubble. The approaches on each side are through very heavy rock cutting, 23' chains in extent, the highest portions of which are 60 feet. A mile and three-quarters north of the embankment referred to the line passes over a precipitous cliff, along the Maori Reserve, at an elevation of two hundred feet above the sea, which lies immediately beneath. The scenery from here is grand and beautiful. Purakanui Bay and the headlands of Waikouaiti and Moeraki are unfolded to view in the north, whilo a wooded valley on the east enchants the the gaze. A quarter of a mile farther on the line winds round a precipitous and frowning bluff of solid bluestone. The approach to the bluff is through a cutting of 66ft. deep in the solid bluestone, the total length of the cutting being a quarter of a mile. The track round the bluff is merely a siding cut out of the cliff at a height of about 150 ft. above the sea. j From this point to the Waitati station, a distance of a couple of miles or so, few difficulties in the construction of the line have been met with, the whole passing over easy, undulating country, and haying a downward gradient. In approaching the Waitati (Blueskin) section, the rails pass over the j Orokonui Inlet by means of a substantial timber bridge of three spans of 30 feet each. Further on the Waitati river is crossed by another well-constructed wooden bridge o£ seven spans, making in the aggregate 93 feet. The Waitafci station consists of a fourth-class passenger station with sidings and other necessary adjuncts. # The total cost of the j Purakanui contract is £68,000, exclusive of the station." No stop was made here, and hurrying by the usual knot of people on the platform, we commenced the ascent to the cliff. I may here explain that though the name Blueskin is commonly applied to the district and therefore to this section of the line, yet the proper appellation of the latter is the Purakanui section. The _ cliffs are the Purakauui cliff, and the station beyond there is the Purakanui station. The ascent is a little more than a mile in length, and in that space we rise 200 ft. During our passage of the cliffs there is a long row of outstretched heads from one end of the train to the other, and everybody is intent on seeing all they can " for their money." The speed is decreased, and very necessarily so, for not only is the way narrow and actually overhanging the sea, but there is not an inch of straight rail at any point j in fact; and I am not exaggerating, so long was the train that when passing through the heavy . cutting referred to by the authority quoted above the engines disappeared before the last three carriages had come out of a smaller cutting behind. The carriages were twisted into the exact shape of a huge prolonged letter S. There w:is but one opinion expressed by all as nfi rode round tho cliff, that if over any accident happened the Government would have a few compensation claims to pay. The dizzy depths or the sea below which washes the foot of tho rocks are enough to appal weak nerves, and I Bhould suggest to all tremulous people who may happen to travel on this line to keop well inside the carriage doors. Having rounded the cliff, which is quite a quarter of a mile in extent, the dangers are not yet over, as the track lias been hewn for some yards out of an almost perpendicular mountain side. To effect this, men had to be slung down from the top in ropes to hew the rock with pick and chisel } blasting could not be resorted to on account of its unreliable character. Below are the sand-hills of tho little bay_ of Brokonui, and the shore is appropriately named " Murdering Beach." This is on account of the slaughter of a whaling crew here by the Maoris many years ago. A_ tract of the country is reserved for the Natives and known by that name. Brokonui Inlet is expected to become a watering-place for Dunedin in the future, as it is rather a pretty place with a nice, sheltered, sandy beach. Still ascending, the engines puffing and panting vigorously, wo pass through heavily timbered country, presenting no special feature in the fading light. The last time I saw it, however, it looked very different. It was at night, after a Bnowßtorm, and with the pale, light of the moon irradiating the sides of.the bills. The contrast of light and shade, and the various tints aided by the blue sea in the dim distance, formed a sight for grandeur to be remembered. At present, however, the party are getting tired and anxious to reach town; and' great amusement is caused by the anxiety of one old 'gentleman in our carriage about the tunnels/^ Tunnels seem his abhorrence, and as they are , pretty plentiful between Blueskin and Dunedin, his complaints were endless. Another relief to the general weariness was the narrow escape Sir Cracrof* Wilson had of being left behind. The gallant knight,' getting tired of bemg cooped up, took advantage ot a temporary WppMe" to get out "and BtretehTTiis llmks. A sudden cry of "He's left behind," M we
started again, denoted that semething unusual was up, and looking out, Sir Cracroft was seen making a frantic dash for the last fan. Luckily he reached it, but it was a near thing, and a walk into Port Chalmers along the line -would have been no joke. The Deborah Bay tunnel took us -Just four minutes and a half to pass through, and then in one of the little tunnels beyond the novel sight was seen of the engine issuing before the lost carriage had entered it. It was past six o'clock before we, reached the station above Port Chalmers, and in consequence of the frequent curves and the darkness setting in, we had to go still slower along tne line after the junction at Sawyer's Bay. 'I'his is about six miles from Dunedin, and there was a good probability of being an hour late. However, at 23 minutes to seven the metropolitan station was reached. The trip occupied exactly twelve hours and a half, and but lor the delay at Palmerston, would have been done in the 12 hours. Here the display of the trip awaited us. Drawn up on the platform were the Volunteers, with the guns, which belched forth a salute to the Governor, while the band played " Home, sweet home." The town was already illuminated, and J the crowd was denser than I have ever seen one, except at a big < fire in Ohristchurch. Rockets were whizzing through the air, Roman candles burning in every direction, and glowing above all was the dazzling electric light, which shone from four or five buildings in the principal streets of the town. Most of the large places of business were also illuminated in various ways, the best of them being the portrait of Sir J, Yogel at the Prince of Wales' Hotel, in a sea of fire.
, And so we landed, tired, but delighted on the whole, I think, -with the trip. If I may judge from the numerous expressions of delight constantly escaping the visitors a more glorious day we could not have had ; it was comfortably warm, and any amount of sunshine to show the country in the best light. After literally fighting my way through the crowded streets, I managed by great good luck to secure a bed, and hero for the present the labours of the day end. To-morrow a number of the M.H.R.'s and other visitors will vi3it the famous Blue Spur, and another party will be made up to visit the Mosgiel "Woollen Factory. Tliis evening there are various kinds of entertainments, and other festivities, pretty well all advertised as under the patronage of the visitors. °
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OPENING OF THE CHRISTCHURCH AND DUNEDIN RAILWAY., Star, Issue 3251, 7 September 1878
OPENING OF THE CHRISTCHURCH AND DUNEDIN RAILWAY. Star, Issue 3251, 7 September 1878
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