Chapter 181818583

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Chapter NumberVIII
Chapter TitleFROM BENDEMEER TO TAMWORTH. from the Week of Saturday last.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article181818583
Full Date1878-04-06
Page Number20
Corrections0
Word Count3493
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Week (Brisbane, Qld. : 1876 - 1934)
Trove TitleThrough New England. A Holiday Trip
article text

THROUGH NEW-ENGrLA^D

A HOiilUAY,:TUIP.

Bt ABditEjiiAH.

- ? \ V CMAP±ER VILLI.

, ; FROM, BENDEMEEIt TO TAMWOETH.

(Continued from the Week of Saturday lant.)

. It was whilo waiting 111 the bar of 'the hotel at Bendomeer for tho coach to be got ready-fur starting that the lust question was - asked me during this trip about tho Brisbane twenty-four, thousand-pound heiress and her widowed mother. These questions bogau at "Warwick ; they were fepedted at retiteffieid; dlbil.ltitles, and Arml. drilc, and every coachnulii< oii.fche iine :-&as fltil of particulars respecting this interesting pair; At every hotel where wd: lodged the* landlady took an early opportunity of engaging:my wife in a confidential chafe,.which included,a severe oross-examinatioii as to;: her knowledge; r of these, ladies*; .who they .were, ,whafe;jthey rwere, .how. they , lived, ^ what position: they occupied inBrisbano " society," and a host of .ther questions which ladiosiuterost themselves in.Thou in rotumfor tho information given* Interesting particulars were communicated of the 'sayings and doings of this heiress and her mother during their stay in that place. I was cross-examined, by gentlomon on the same subject. 'Neithet my wifo. nor. I had the honour of being personally acquainted-With "the ladies. We kneti: there wore such people, living in the suburbs of Bris bane, that . they owned some valuable pro perty in. Bnsbane, that tho fathor died a year

or two ago-arid wo had no reason to] doubt their bondi:Jides. That « was all we* could aay^';Bdt? the perpetual wonder with me was that these two persons 6hould havo created such a sensation and cxcited such a' widespread arid'absorbing interest all through vNew Eng land. With tho ladies, m that portion of New South Wales," the Eastern Question paled into ii^gnftcanco,before this of the Bnsbane heiress and her,mother. . r . ,(... y «»0| t:l>r o

\ It seemed thattbeaetwu ludics took an excur sion from Brisbane to Armidale a1 few months 'before I was' that way,'staying a wuok or fort night in 1:each, of :the New.'England itowns through; which;they>ipassed.:/'The( j mother thought^, it; was , high time j her^ daughter, was married, and the yoiing lady held much the "same opinions, on the subject. But for some

.cause not explained,^ at^all explainable, both

the^mother and' daughter took it-into their

heads to'make this excursion into the'heart of

'New England-chiefly for. the purpose of ascer taining'the exact susceptibility of tho hearts of 'the eligible young men in that region. 'From what'I can leart, it'did not appeatthat the old* la'dy exg'ected 'anyoho to fall m lore with her, .but 'fihe thought lier* daughter 'would* prove irresistible. Sho confided as a grefct- secret . to ra number of ladies on the journey, nearly every lady of consequence that'she came in contact -with, that her daughter's fortune was quite £24,000 and she should liko to sco her married 'to some nice, respectable young gentleman who loved her for her own sake,' and-not for'he1 money. For this reason sho did not want it to <be known that her; child had any. " expecta tions;" The daughter prattled after the same fashion to tho ladies she' met, but begged «f each one a not: to mention tho things for the [world.!! Yet in the basest possible manner .these ladies went and. spread tho .news far and wideband this defeated tliq object tho s mother and daughter had in view. All the " nice, res pectable young gentlemen'' to whom the hint was given, jumped to tho conclusion .that the

daughter was an adventuress, and tho mother a . withered old impostor. To my ccrtain knowledge there aro no less than four young gentlemen in Glen Inncs . who are as mad as hatters that ,they did not snap up the young lady, now. they know she really has a fortune. At Armidale there are two in the same stato of mind, .al though something happoned thero which eaubcd the ladies to lcavo in a liurry, and shako the dust of the city from their feet. It pecinB that the old lady, dressed in her most gorgeous

attire, mado a call upon the wifo of an old and highly influential resident. "'Bui. 'Ihe old and highly influential resident had scon the lady at the Armidale Flower Show, and rccog 'nised her as an " assigned servant" of his iu tho'old convict days, so his wifo would not rcccive her. And- not only this, hut eli© warned all the ladies of her acquaintance in Armidale against her and her daughter, telling

them her antecedents, and alleging in a: »nost t unchristian manner that when the . old lady was an assigned servant sho was no better than. 6be should be-and not nearly so good.

It seemB hardly creditable that a. little pal'ry; incident like this «hould , sot . hundreds (d tongues wagging iu New Euglund, but it did» and that is my only excuse for mentioning ,it here. I was annoved at bein£ cross-examined so incessantly and persistently on this miserable subject for three hundred miles. :nnd when a young gentleman incnLioned it to me at Bendemeer I was not in my usually amiable soud. I gave him a soft answer that wm net

calculated, to.turn,away-wratlij in spite of King Solomon's statement that soft answers do have tJiis effect. It might havebeen bo in the old 13iblu days for anything I know to the con trary^. *1 * * . y\ :

Bendemeer is a very considerable distance, west of the Great Dividing-Range, but the country between there and Tamworth is moun tainous notwithstanding-; A number of ,s6li-; tary peaks and detached ranges seem' to have eet up on their own account in this portion of Liverpool PlainB,*;and;*.under~ordinary circum stunccH, the drive is no doubt a;very agreeable, and, indeed,; an interesting one.' Shortly after leaving Bendemeer there is Mount. GuIIigal standing .out cleai> and sharp against the sky.

on" the one., side, and on the other there are l)ungleinah and .Bullimbalia, twin mountains, raising, their, igrey granite heads -in majestic grandeur,; and'the road goes winding1-and turn-' ingi round; tho feet of these giants, givin'g charming} views;: of;* .them from' _* all, possible

points! But on that unfortunate afternoon when we passed along this road, it was impos sible ; to get up much' enthusiasm; The grey dust rose in dense clouds, which often prevented the coachman from seeing the heads .of his "leaders";1 the £un was4blazing'down with pitiless severity, and the Hot wind kept tearing . on J scorching and burning face,,'hands,and

nejk, until one/began to have serious doubts about being able to retain any portion of- the exposed cuticle. And the flies were a caution !

Mosquitoes are very fond of me. Sometimes X. fancy that a 'mosquito will travel a .inile to makca meal off,.me in .preference to anybody and everybody else in= the neighbourhood. ' 1 regard all ^mosquitoes' as * my deadly enemies. But if vl had to make my' choice between mos quitoes and Liverpool Plains flies, I should say " mosquitoes ;by all means !V These flies are in myriads,j and their chief aiiri and object ing lifo. seems; to be' to get' into7 people's ; eyes. Sometimes, "fori a change,1 they will' try the nose,, or month-^-but the .eye, is the spot they, yearn for most.. ; And, talk about.persistency!

I vorily. believe that some of the flies which' started with us from Bendmeer that1 day went the whole thirty miles to Tamworth. Nothing short of smashing them to atoms will get rid of them, and they are that cunning, treacherous,: and preternatorally < active, that you cannot kill one in a thousand you aim at. I noticed' that all the^ male residents of the district wear netted falls, mostly, of-green silk, which hang from thehat'brim to just below the chin* It is the only safeguard against blindness from these flies. A very few days of their ravages would inevitably bring on blight.; ,

We went tearing along, the coachman being a splendid whip andused to this sort of thing ; ho had a green silk netted veil to protect his eyes ; . he seemed to take the flies, the dust, and the hot wind as legitimate portions of the day's work. 'He said the hot wind had been blowing for three days, and he didn't mind it so much now. The.country all round looked as though there had never been a blade of grass on it, and for miles and.: miles we kept passing the whitened bones of sheep and cattle. There must be hundreds of skeletons by the roadside

between Bendemeer and Tamworth. And on beyond Tamworth to Warrali, where the coach road joins the railroad, there was the same dreary denressing evidences of the drought. Soon we came to the most magnificent sight of nil, namely the descent of tho Moonbies. These are a rango of ,mountains which have to be. crossed on tho way to Tamworth. Thoy are about half way between that town and Bendemeer. The road has been raado across the shoulders of this range and some of the views aro beautiful beyond tho power of words to convey. The fierce blazing sun, the blistering hot wind, the choking dust, and tho army of Hies which accompanied us, wero not able to utterly SHbdue my enthusiasm as we went spinning down this range. The road has been literal^ cut out of tho side of the mountains, about half way down or rather more, and looks like a shelf or ledge running winding along. To the right hand are the towering hills with their , huge granite blocks piled ono on - the other, and giun and'ironbark trees growing out of the rents and interstices away np for hundreds of feot high; to tho left is a deep, ravine, which sometimes makes your flesh creep to look down as if tho horses were to shy and only.swerve a few, feet to that side, horses, ooaohi and passengers would inevitably be hurled to destruction down the steep declivity ?which in somo places is so steep that although not, exactly a precipice it is a very near-ap proach to ono. Por a hundred yards at a timo while going down this: rango tho coachman could not see tho heads of his leading horses for tho clouds of white dust which rose up beforo us, but he remained all calm and serene, guessing as to the track by the hillside on the right hand, and not allowing anything1 to interrupt the con versation except a more dense cloud of . dust than usual which compelled him to closehis lips until itwas past or run the risk, of being choked. He has u grim sort of humour, and his favourite anecdotes partake of that character. For in stance* he told mo of a'free, selector in the neighbourhood of the Moonbies who assured

birri that tho.threo year's drought had at last, set him on his legs. The : coach

man --expressed -his pleasure at hearing

remarking that in most cases the effect had been of the very opposite character. Then he asked him how it had set1 him on bis legs and the man explained that it had killed all his .horses, so that now ho was compelled to walk,jwhereas he always; used.,to. ride. This tiokled fthe coachman; wonderfully, and he 5spoke i of it; as about the hesti'thing he had heard for many a long day. This'coachman is called " Bob." I don't knowwhether he has any other name, but if so nobody addresses him .by it. "Wehad had a " Harry," " Bill/'. "Tom/ and'.f. George'.> at different parts of the road* all good' drivers, and exceedingly civil and qbliging fellows;'aird they all told me that 'when I reached "Bob" I should witness driving, that was driving, going, down the Moonbies." Those men did not exaggerate jn :*tho,; slightest ;!degree; in this particular. Bod is the oldest driver in the Com pany's employ; that is to say he has been, a driver a longer time.than any of the rest* and he is regarded by the others with a sort o^ veneration as the very prince of coachmen; He told me on the road that he had been'driving-a mail coach for twenty-one years. Had never dono anything else, for the last twenty-one

years but drive a coach. -.It iB a curious sort of life he leads. . His homo is at Tamworth, and tho mail coach leaves that town for Bendemeer every :: night at ? eleven o'clock, travelling through the night, and reaching Bendemeer afc four o'clock in tho morning. Tliero Bob spells until tbreo- o'clock in *tho afternoon, ,when ho starts again, for Tainworth, reaching the latter place-' shortly after seven in the evening.

j As we went down the Moonbies the hot wind Beemed to get hotter and hotter. I never knew .what. a real genuine bona fide hot wind was .until that trip over the north-enstcrn end or Iiiverpool Plains. There have been times in ^Brisbane/; during the hist fifteen years, when for'half, a day, or so there has been what the people hero call, a hot wind, but it resembles the hot wind of the plains only as mist resembles

the thunder-shower. - '1

; Soon after reaching the foot <$f the range wo came to; the township of Moonbi, where we . changed horses, and got out for a drink. The bottles^ glasses, and decanters of tho hotel were as-warm as though they had been in an oven.

The water WBB so warm on the counter that tlie! landlady was obliged to go and draw fresh water from the well before we could get a drink Moonbi is i not much of a place to look at. There are two public-houses, a' post-office, a blacksmith's shop, and about a dozen private houses, large and small. . But there seems to be a considerable amount of settlement in the

immediate locality, as horses and drays are fre quently met with, and the blacksmith has three or four men hard at work shoeing horses, 'pointing up r ploughshares, forging coulters and similar, work, showing the . -exist Jehce of an: agricultural population somewhere not very .far away. These blacksmith's at Moonbi are great on the Eastern question, and shamed mo into silence at once by the ful ness of detail they could give of the Russian and Turkish commanders, where they were, wheie they came from last, and what they had each done since the commencement of the war. -I envied those men < their, splendid memories. Perhaps leading quiet secluded lives with little to distract their attention, information of this kind fixes itself more indelibly on'their minds than would otherwise be the case.

i The road from Moonbi to Tamworth is moun-. tainous, or. hilly at all events, and the dust is not quite so.thick as it was from Bendemeer to the foot of tho Mooubies, but the hot' winds seem to get hotter and there is still a suffocat ing dust cloud every now and again. With this exception tho road is :i very good 0110, macadamised nearly all the way through and in good'repair. This seems to bo a granito country., The mountains are granite, and the soil is granito debris, and said to be very, fer tile in ordinary seasons, but when I,passed through the district,^ thero- had beon a three years drought, and a stranger could not say for certain that anything had ever grown there except the gum,, ironbark, - and wattle trees. Certaiuly we saw some little patches of, maize, which were-absolutely parched up, and dead; although only about eighteen inches or two feet high. It looked like stunted sorghum. There were also somo . lucerno pa idocks which were the nearest approach to green vegetation of anything on the road since leaving Armi dale. At last, after many longing looks, wo began to see uuinistakeablo symptoms of a near approach to a large town. The road was bettor, kopt, and: there'was moro traffic on it; tho fonces' on either side were in better order; then detached houses woro seen; and last of all wo reached tho town itsolf, passed along tho main street to the Post Office, and delivered the mail bags, and then proceeded to the Commercial Hotel, which is Cobb's coach ing house here. It was about half-past seven in the evening wlion we got down from that coach, and I was doad beat. It required a very considerable amount of washing and scrubbing, j and brushing to get even partially rid of the I grey dust which had been enveloping us nearly | the whole day, and then face, neck, and hands

had to bo rubbed over with glycerine to pre

vent the skin from coming off. By the time ' this w»a accomplished it was past eight o'clock and all appetito for food had departed. The heat wasstilljsuffocating, and not a breath of fresh air was to be had anywhere. I ."was as sured by a gentleman in the hotel that the thermometer stood at 113 at half-past seven o'clock that night in the coolest part of his house'. :'I was told that I should get some ex

cellent draught beer at Tamworth, so I ordered ] a pint and took a chair on to the verandah to i smoke. ; The Tamworth ale is not to my taste, 1 if that was a fair sample of it which I had that 1 evening.- I did not try the tap again, but con fined myself to New England wine, which is really very good and reasonable in price. I believe it is the pure juice of the grape,

it is only slightly intoxicating, pleasant to .(the taste, and exceedingly refresh ing. As I sat on the verandah smoking and gasping for breath, the 5 landlady, a kind hearted, motherly old lady, unconsciously added insult to injury by remarking in an unctuous, self-congratulatory sort of way-" You must find the climate of Tamworth a* great relief from - that of Brisbane, 3Ir. >H-?" A great relief from the climate of Brisbane! Holy Moses ! And' I left the' thermometer in my dining room at 76* on the morning I started -from home ! Here I had just heard that it was

113-," ami, Judging from my feelings, it was (twenty or thirty degrees higher than that even! I could scarcely forbear saying something

uncivil to .the^.old lady, but I resisted the ' impulse, laughed a grim laugh, and then

assured her that during the fifteen years I had i been in Brisbane the thermometer on no single j occasion had ever _stood so high as 100 in 1 the shade at half-past 7 o'clock in the evening, . and that it was a very rare thing indeed for it j to reach as high a figure in the. hottest part of . the hottest days of summer. I don't think she i quite believed me, for she remarked in an in- < credulous -tone that " she had always under- ^ stood that Brisbane was a very warm place." I - durst not trust myself to make any reply, but ( eat and smoked my pipe in silence, and then

retired to bed, but ' not to sleep.. I threw up 1 the window sash, opened the fanlight over the J bedroom door, and tried my utmost to coax a

breath of cool air into that room, but all in j vain. - There did not seem to be any to coax, j The brick walls were hot with the sun, and the ' hot A'ind which bad been, blowing for the 3

three previous days, and we were again in the j

region of mosquitoes, and had to put down the

curtains to bar them out. The worst of this .

heat yoii'meet with at the back of themoun- ' tain ranges is that it is a dry,' parching, blis- \

tering heat. If one could perspire freely j

thereiwould be relief, but that is impossible,

and so the burning sensation is the more in- ; tolerable. I shall have a lively recollection of i the two nights and the day IspentinTam- . . worth as; long as I live. It was thirty-six 3 hours of utter misery. No sleep at night for . .the heat, no rest in the day for ditto. About

a week of this kind of amusement would have i

finished my mortal career to a dead certainty. } As it WHS I began to get in a funk. I went

down the main street next day to do a little } business which iiad been entrusted to me. \ I was only away; for half an hour, and I ' never left my hotel again until tho coach came |

to take iw to Warrah. J

{To be. continued.)