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"Cabbage-tree Ned," otherwise Edward Devine, who in the early coaching days was known and welcomed on every Victorian goldiield, died in the Benevolent Asylum on December 18, at the age of 71 years. Devine, who was born iv Tasmania, was practically brought up among horses, and his skill as a driver secured him, on his arrival in Victoria, one of the most responsible posts in the service of Cobb and Co. When only 17 years of age he had charge of the mail coach on the main route from Ballarat to Geelong, and since then he had driven upon almost every road upon which Cobb's coaches travelled. In those days the coach was the only approach to rapid transit which the State possessed, and the 6peed attained by the crack teams of which Cabbage-tree Ned had charge is still a matter for reminiscence amongst pioneers. The life was by no means prosaic, for Victoria was in its youth, and fresh mining camps were being pitched at every new rush. The number of miners who travelled through the bush with gold where an escort was not available made it possible tor bushrangers to ply a profitable trade, and the sticking up of the mail coach itself was not altogether a remotp contingency. Cab-bage-tree Ned, so called from the cabbagetree hat which he invariably wore, was the central figure in more than one stirring incident, and had several stories to relate of encounters with armed men, intent upon, the robbery of the passengers' gold and Government mail 3. Devine was a skilful whip, courageous and resourceful, and in "his almost complete immunity from accident he had cause to take considerable pride. He drove the first English cricket team all over the State, 12 horses being harnessed to the coach. The trip was not marred by any serious mishap, at its conclusion he received a bonus of <£300. When the Duke of Edinburgh came to Victoria, Cabbagetree Ned was selected to take charge of the vehicle in which his Royal Highness visited various places, and the -old man was always pleased to be alluded to as "the Duke's whip."

An instance of Devine's resource as a driver is related by Lieut.-Colonel Sleep, when. Cabbage-tree *Ned was in his prime. He invited the colonel to accompany him for a drive on the box seat. As the ponderous vehicle, with its team of eight horses, was descending a steep and* .winding hill near Buninyong, the braHfe suddenly failed to act. Th«*~ coacß quickly gained speed, 1 and would soon have overrun the' horses had not Devine whipped them up, and urged them at f]jll pace down the hill, haying first taken the precaution to warn passengers inside to "hang on." The descent was safely negotiated, and the horses came to a stand half-way up the next slope. It was then that the passengers learned the reason for what seemed the reckless driving of Devine. Colonel Sleep stated that that portion of the drive was the most exciting he had' ever experienced.

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Bibliographic details

"CABBAGE-TREE NED.", Wanganui Herald, Volume XXXXIV, Issue 12660, 5 January 1909

Word Count

"CABBAGE-TREE NED." Wanganui Herald, Volume XXXXIV, Issue 12660, 5 January 1909

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