Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

A Romance of Lake Wakatipu

Note 12.—Kawarau Junction

Note 12.—Kawarau Junction.

The junction of the two rivers Clutha and Kawarau form a peninsula, on the outer lip of which the Town of Cromwell is built. It originated with a ferry-house, which by degrees blossomed into a grog-shanty and general store. Both river-banks are very deep, averaging between 40ft. and 50ft. These, in and around the borough, have in many instances been scooped out by the hydraulic forces employed to aid in recovery of their mineral deposits. As a rule these deposits proved exceedingly rich, and Cromwell, now a corporate borough, has progressed under auspices of their developments. The gold deposit is still far from being worked out or exhausted, so that in its dependence on this resource alone Cromwell has not a bad future. But Cromwell has other resources to look to. It is the chief outlet for the Upper Clutha Valley, or, as it ought to have been named, Clydevale—a fine rich-soiled agricultural flat, extending from the Nevis and Carrick Ranges to the Wanaka and Hawea Lakes, a distance of at least forty miles. New Zealand has been slow to admit the importance of this country, as shown by the half-hearted way in which Otago Central Railway works have been carried on, but when that line is completed we venture to say its results will be a standing rebuke to this remissness. In Note 10 of this series, being an extract from an official report during the early days of the Dunstan, allusion is made to the scarcity of timber, and the hope is tacitly expressed that a raftage system for conveyance of fuel from the upland forests may soon be devised. Enterprise of that kind has long since been established, and some of the best New Zealand woods have found their way to the lower townships. The country in question has within itself all the staple resources of the New Zealand colony, and yet, strange to say, great portions of it remain unknown outside the pages of the tourist guide-book.

If Cromwell, as an incorporated town, had achieved no other purpose in life, the fact that it commemorates the hero of the Rump Parliament, and was instrumental in developing the latent genius of Captain William Jackson Barry, would be enough to place it beyond the immediate prospect of sinking into oblivion. Oliver Cromwell and his Protectorate we all know something of, and as for William Jackson Barry he is fast coming into notice. To such as have not had the pleasure of his acquaintance, we say emphatically he is a compound of the naked truth, the fag-end of a natural philosophy. Whether the prefix "Captain" to his name came to him in respect of military or marine services is not generally known. There are those who pretend to say it came to him by spontaneous combustion, and that he won his spurs by vanquishing the hero dubbed

Chief cook and bottle-washer,

Captain of the waiters.

These, Captain Barry asserts, are ill-informed people of spiteful disposition, who have not yet learned to appreciate him on his own merits. That, however, is wholly unimportant, and need not be recounted here. The captain's grand coup de grâce was the reception he gave Sir George Grey on the occasion of his viceregal visit to the goldfields. Captain Barry was at that time first Mayor of Cromwell, and it behoved him to do the civic honours on behalf of the Corporation to the best of his ability. How far ho succeeded let the impartial reader judge: After showing Sir George Grey round the page 112municipality, and explaining the various objects of interest to his satisfaction, "Look here," said Barry; "you know a soft thing or two, Sir George, when you see it. What do you think of them there pigs of mine? Have a look at that Berkshire boar. He's one of my own breed. Ain't he a beauty? How would a rasher of that gentleman's flank go down with you? It would soften some of them horny-handed morsels that get sticking in your gizzard, I'll bet" "Just so, Mr. Mayor," said the polite Sir George, evasively. "It is of great importance for you to feel that you are actively employed raising the standards of life, and improving the bountiful provision made therefor. At our time of life, Mr. Mayor, it is a grand thing for us to be able to pause and reflect that we have been instrumental, under Providence, in elevating the masses, even although it should only be, as in your case, a mass of Berkshire pork." This speech so upset the old gentleman that he could hardly contain himself. "Sir George Grey," said he, "you're a brick! You're the man after my own heart, and soul, and body, and mind. If you'll just light up your dudeen and take things easy for a minute or two I'll give the boar a few inches of cold steel, and you can take his hind-quarters away with you as a present from old Jack Barry. It 'll make a capital roast. Just you gridiron it the same as the Canterbury runs, and, my conscience! what a blow-out you'll have for your Sunday's dinner! I think I'll go to Kawau and have a feed with you."

The great proconsul now began to feel a trifle small, and, looking round wistfully, saw his opportunity, and, with a feeling of thankfulness, made good his escape. That was the first and last viceregal visit paid to the Municipal Corporation of Cromwell. This did not end the adventure as regards the redoubtable Captain Barry. So much alarmed were the others that they called a special meeting of the Council for an evening when they knew the Mayor could not attend. At that meeting a resolution was passed conveying a vote of censure, and calling on the Mayor to resign. On the minutes coming up for confirmation at the ensuing regular meeting, the captain demanded the name of the Councillor who moved the motion. "I did," said the leader of the Opposition. Before he had time to draw another breath a blow from the captain's fist doubled him up into a corner, where he remained coiled round the coal-scuttle for the rest of the evening. "And who seconded this resolution?" demanded the captain. To this no answer was vouchsafed, not a word in reply being uttered. The silence was most profound, almost oppressive, until at length it was broken by the captain himself. "All right, gentlemen," said he; "this motion drops for want of a seconder; scratch it out, Mr. Secretary." Captain Barry retained peaceful possession of the chair until the next general election, and no further motion was made to oust him.