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The Diary of James Brogden, August 1871 – December 1872

30 April 1872

30 April 1872

Left at 5 o’clock the following morning with Ned Divine, one of the most celebrated characters as a Driver of Cobb’s Coach in Australia to Ballarat, and in New Zealand to the Otago Diggings. Six horses to begin with an a box seat with Ned, were things to enliven one after a hard night’s wakefulness. Ned starts with rum and milk; takes his seat and the reins before the horses are fastened, as he has some queer customers, but he takes it out of them from stage to stage. The road is shocking, axle deep in mud, - and sometimes it seems as tho’ we should be shaken out hold as hard as we can. “Now” says Ned, “we don’t want a railroad here, - you see, it wouldn’t do – they tried to start a coach in opposition, but it wouldn’t do;- and besides, say I, to everybody ‘Now just suppose page 101 as that aire Coach upsets do you see’!. ‘Oh, no fear’, you answer. ‘No fear? Sirrah!’ “Why if it did, where are you?” “Well, Ned, and what else?” “Why do you see if we was to upset in this Coach. Why do you see. There you are!” - No doubt, a great difference, which was self-evident. Ned drives his 6 horses, puts the break on, lights his pipe with wax match in a gale of wind – and on such a road! Sometimes the Coach slips away faster than the horses, down greasy and step clay hills, and then we have such a scramble to get up. Then follow anxious enquiries as to the next rivers – how they are? We got to one where three men had just had a narrow escape – their buggy stuck a little, the steam rapidly rose, sanded up the wheels, - these wise-acres threw out their baggage and some valuable instruments to lighten the “Ship”, - but after all, they cut out the horses, and one man got ashore, obtained a rope and so rescued the others. We afterwards crossed as the stream was going down, and breakfasted at the Shag Valley – when we sent to the Hon. Dillon Bell whose house was close by, and who came out to us. The drive thro the Shag Valley is pretty, and from Palmerston to Dunedin over the Blueskin, a high ridge, is very fine. Ned’s six greys are prime steppers and after climbing to the top, we dash down the hill and into the City in as grand a style as never was surpassed in the old Coach days of England.