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The Diary of James Brogden, August 1871 – December 1872

31 March 1872

31 March 1872

Next day we rode up the Valley to see as far as possible the route of the proposed Railway, which was a rugged way indeed – sometimes we passed along ledges of rock cut out – then up the bed of a river. The smaller ferns grow here in great profusion – and are certainly the richest in color and the best I have ever seen. Having arrived at the little settlement round the Coal Mines we found the [gap — reason: unclear] manager who shewed us thro’ the working. It is a level or drift way on the side of the hill entering at once on the coal, which is some 18 ft thick in one solid streamseam. I cannot speak well of the management on the mode of working, but the Nelson Provincial Govt. are to blame in this matter. About 12,000 Tons of Coals are worked per annum which is sent down the rapid river in shallow boats to Greymouth. New Zealand pass from £80,000 to £100,000 per annum to Australia for Coal, and here are riches lying idle. We heard some extraordinary accounts of Inangahua Gold Reefs and of their large and regular yield;- but as time pressed, we returned by boat down the rapids. There is no good horse track to Inangahua and £35 per Ton is demanded for 55 miles Carriage by Packhorse. Everything is dear; our horse were hired at £1-1-0 per day each; - and the hotel Bill for two page 87 of us and our horses for 2 nights was over £10. The way the diggers spend money is something extraordinary. A liberal expenditure of capital on these Workings would effect wonders. The reefs are waiting for money to open them; - the coal mines the same – and the crushing of Gold is held back for want of machinery, and want of water, which latter cold be obtained by means of very profitable investments in the way of water-races. A small wooden tramway is laid to some bush, along which we must pass. Geologically, the coal here appears more like our own at home, but is doubtless of much more recent formation, - and has of all the coals in New Zealand undergone the greatest change. It is any anhydrous, cakes well, and is wrought at small cost, altho’ labor is dear, 12/- per day being the wages of an ordinary labourer. Above at the Inangahua, coal is found on one side, and gold on the other of the valley.