On Monday, August 29, the inhabitants of Kooringa held high festival in honour of the opening of the Northern Extension railroad. The possibility of establishing such a communication between their township and Adelaide has been under consideration for a quarter of a century. A railway to the Burra Burra was one of the dreams of early colonists; but year after year passed, and its realization seemed to become more and more remote. The mines prospered exceedingly, and sent out into the world’s markets thousands of tons of copper; the neighbouring village grew until from hundreds its population extended to thousands; but still no practical movement was made towards connecting this great centre of mineral and pastoral wealth with the seaboard by the agency of steam. Not only so, but the provision for the roads was of the scantiest description. Hundreds of teamsters made regular pilgrimages to the ore heaps of the Burra, and came back with well laden drays to feed the shipping at Port Adelaide; but Macadam was not propitious to them. A rough bush track gave them their general direction, and if dissatisfied with this they were forced to navigate the adjacent country in search of a better. Whatever road engineering was requisite they had to perform, for the supply of public money was limited, and the demands of districts near Adelaide had to be first met. Even to this day, although by slow degrees improvements have taken place, the traveller by coach has mournful experience of the fact that portions of the Burra-road have benefitted but little from the Land, or any other, Fund. Its reputation depends more on its historical features than upon any macadamical excellence of which it can boast.
It was not until the decline of the Burra Mines that serious attention was given in Parliament to the question of carrying the railway system further northwards. The Treasury was then in a thriving condition, and new channels for the outflow of State enterprise were being diligently sought. The determination to extend the iron roads of the province was come to at the time when the public building policy, since so much abused, was at the height of its popularity, and the broad principle was affirmed that their extension could most advantageously be secured upon borrowed capital. On the hint thrown out by the Legislature that it was open to receive applications for new railways, many districts spoke. The people on the plains eagerly urged their claims, and people in the hills commenced elaborate calculations as to the gradients that a locomotive could safely overcome, and the amount of traffic that they might reasonably promise. The northern townships were agitated by public meetings, and prayed with edifying fervency to have their condition and capabilities regarded. The petitions from Kooringa and intermediate localities at once recommended themselves to an Assembly in the humour to receive favourable impressions. The line would have to pass through the centre of almost unlimited tracts of rich agricultural land; it would attract towards its terminus the traffic of hundreds of square miles of pastoral country; and it would monopolize the immense carrying trade of a mine that promised under systematic
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management to regain much of the celebrity which in former years it had so strongly maintained. In 1867 the Bill authorizing the construction of the line was passed, and on the 29th August, 1870, the opening ceremony, of which we have given ample details in other columns, took place.
The completion of this work consummates the policy of railway extension adopted some five years ago; for the authority to lay down the Narracoorte and Mount Gambier Railway, which still lies dormant in the Act of 1867, is not likely to be exercised. In computing the results of that policy prominence must be given to the fact that our national debt has been increased by about £600,000, entailing upon us an additional yearly liability in the way of interest of something like £35,000. With a diminished revenue from land, this is a matter worth consideration, particularly as experience fails to justify the expectation of large profit from the new undertakings. The total length of line has, by this expenditure of half a million added to a small contribution out of the public revenue, been increased from 70 to close upon 200 miles (more correctly 193 miles). One hundred and twenty miles are under the direct management of the Commissioner of Public Works, the rest being at present leased to two contractors. South Australia can now boast of having a line 100 miles in length without a break, and of having constructed the greater part of it at a cheaper rate than any locomotive line has been carried out for in the Australian Colonies. The whole of the railway from Roseworthy to Redruth, embracing 70 miles, has not exceeded in the average £5,000 a mile. The extension proper, from Tarlee northward, has cost rather less than £4,950.
The Burra people anticipate that the inauguration of the railway will be for them the commencement of a new era, and the circumstances warrant such an anticipation.There are resources which the line will be peculiarly fitted to develop—enterprises which it cannot fail to advance. The three staple interests—agriculture, mining, and sheepfarming—will each receive benefit, and will be all engaged to promote the success of the line. The farmer will be saved some pence a cental on his wheat and other produce; the sheepowner will be offered facilities for the transport of his wool and live stock, of which he in the first instance and the public in the second will reap the advantage; whilst mining proprietors will receive precisely the kind of encouragement they require in these times of large expenditure and narrow profits. Other mines besides the Burra Burra may be induced to resume operations when the means of conveying the ore to port are brought so temptingly near to them. At all events a dark cloud has been lifted from Kooringa, and the prospects of a brighter future — one more in accord with the prosperity which she has in past years enjoyed — have opened to her. The fact that the demonstrations and festivities prepared in honour of the day had all a local origin shows how deep an interest the people take in the work.
It is difficult to trace back the history of this line to any definite date. Long before actual steps were taken for the authorization of the work it had received the stamp of public approval, and only awaited the recommendation of a reasonable estimate as to cost. The severe lessons in railway expenditure taught by the old lines discouraged for years everything like an extension of the system; but it was hard to resist the temptation to carry the steam-horse to what had been for such a length of time so important a centre of Northern settlement. In the meanwhile surveys more or less accurate were taken, and all things that could be done, as preliminaries to Parliamentary action were done. When the fever for cheap railroads began to infect the Legislature one of its earliest symptoms was the proposal to construct a trunk line from Roseworthy or Freeling up the Valley of the Gilbert towards Mount Remarkable. This was embodied in a scheme placed before the Assembly by the Hon. H. B. T. Strangways, and afterwards submitted for investigation, by a Select Committee. It stood the test of enquiry, and was unequivocally advocated in the report as a matter worthy of immediate consideration. This was in 1866. In the following year the Public Works Commissioner of the day (Mr. Santo), fortified by petitions from the residents, and strongly supported by the sympathy of the House, introduced a Bill to continue the then authorized Roseworthy and Foresters section northward to Redruth. ‘Hansard’ shows how unanimous was the feeling in favour of the scheme. The debates were little else than an exchange of congratulations amongst the members upon the prospects of having so necessary a work put in hand. Before the end of 1867 the measure had received the assent of both Houses, and with it a Bill for raising a loan of upwards of £800,000, comprising in its schedule an item of £260,000 for this particular undertaking. This was in excess of the estimate by some £7,000, but so satisfied were hon. members of the importance of the line that this difference escaped challenge. There was an impression abroad at the time that Mr. Mais, who had not very long been in charge of the Engineers’ Office, was over-cautious in his calculations, and inclined to take rather more of a margin than was absolutely needful, but in the face of this apprehension the amount was freely voted.
Properly speaking the Northern Extension line commences at Roseworthy, but so much has already been said as to the first section ending at Tarlee, that it is only necessary to recall the fact that it extends over about 24 miles, and involved a cost slightly in excess of £5,000 a mile. Beyond this to the terminal point at Redruth the Railway traverses a distance of 46½ miles. It follows the course of the Valley of the Gilbert, and is skirted by fertile tracts of undulating ground, the greater part of which are already under cultivation, much of the remainder being well adapted for the purposes of husbandry. The work of construction has occupied two years and a few months— no very protracted period, although to those who have been impatiently waiting the completion of the line there has seemed to be more delay than there was any warrant for. We have so recently gone at full length into a description of the undertaking that it will be sufficient now to present a few of the leading facts connected with its progress, giving special prominence to the question of cost.
Through the advantageous arrangements completed with private proprietors the total expense of land and compensation for severance, set down in the estimate at £121, has been kept at £110 per mile. The first contract for earthwork and masonry was taken by Mr. Haynes, and related to seven miles of line, measured from Tarlee; the second covered 14 miles, and was entrusted to Mr. Bloomfield; the third was of a like length, and fell to Mr. Walker. Following upon his section was one of 11 miles, for which Messrs. Fry were the successful tenderers, the final half mile being under taken by Mr. Tiver. This brings the line up to the terminus, which is in close proximity to the Bon Accord Company’s Works, Aberdeen. When the project of extending the railway through Farrell’s towards Mount Remarkable is realized, a few miles at the extremity of the present line will take the place of a branch. None of the five contractors for the masonry and earthworks had any formidable engineering difficulties to vanquish. There is no bridge on the entire length of 46½ miles to compare with the imposing structure spanning the Light, and known as the Hamley Bridge. The only erections deserving of separate notice are those crossing the Gilbert and Wakefield. They are of 60 feet span, and consist of wrought-iron plate girders, with cross girders and rail-bearers, on well-built stone abutments. The culverts are in the main open-topped, with wrought-iron girders for spans of from 10 to 20 feet, and redgum timber for smaller spans. In the case of the heavier embankments, nothing but stonework is used, the tops being made flat or arched, according to circumstances. The masonry is all of the best description, the material being good and the workmanship unexceptionable. Flat-headed rubble with dressed quoins, string courses, and so forth, have been employed throughout, and the aggregate measurements for the bridges and culverts show 11,000 cubic yards of rubble, 14,000 cubic feet of dressed ashlar, 9,000 superficial feet of coping, and 5,000 superficial feet of pitching. The cost of the masonry has been about £400 a mile, a result which compares favourably with the estimate.
The earthworks amount in all to about 450,000 cubic yards, including several heavy rock cuttings, but without reckoning 182,500 superficial yards of surface forming. They have been executed at an average of £510 per mile. This also looks well by the side of the estimate. Going more into detail, it may be mentioned that on No. 2 Contract, where the earthworks begin to show to an extent meriting notice, the entire amount of excavation was 93,000 cubic yards. In No. 3 the total reached 145,000 cubic yards, and embraced one large cutting, yielding 40,000 cubic yards, and one of 27,000, situated in the Wheelbarrow Hills, which have furnished several lengths of hard rock excavation. In No. 4 Contract the amount of earth and stone for removal aggregated 80,000 cubic yards, and in No. 5, short as it is, 16,000 cubic yards.
The sleepers were supplied by Mr. John Rounsevell. They are sawn die square from the solid gum, being 9 feet long, 9 inches wide, and 4½ inches deep, and placed upon 8 inches of metal, at a regular distance apart of 2 feet 6 inches from centre to centre. The ballast consists of limestone, sandstone, and gravel of the best quality, broken to a guage of 2½ inches. The only instances in which the metal supporting the sleepers is less than eight inches deep occur, are in the case of embankments, where an allowance for sinkage has been made. The average stock of ballast per mile is 3,000 cubic yards. The contractors for the plate-laying were Messrs. Morris and Bond. The permanent way is formed of wrought iron rails of the Vignolle section, 40 lbs to the yard. They are screwed to the sleepers by dog spikes, and fished at the joints after the manner of all the more recently constructed lines. The switches and crossings are of steel, fitted with Deas and Rupin’s patent switch boxes. The cost of the permanent way, inclusive of sidings, is set down at £2,180; as nearly as possible the amount estimated.
The stations number eight in all, and the cost of these has been regulated with the strictest regard to economy. They are plain even to inelegance, but additional accommodation is to be or has been provided for the station-masters in detached stone dwellings of massive appearance. The goods sheds are for the most part roomy buildings, varying from 60 to 100 feet in length, with a uniform breadth of about 56 feet. They have stone foundations, hardwood timber framing, covered with galvanized tinned corrugated iron and wrought iron principals for the roof, which also has a covering of galvanized iron. Connected with these sheds are platforms with dwarf stone walls. At the chief halting-places extensive outside platforms have been constructed, and furnished with cranes and other facilities for large traffic. Provision has also been made for the loading and unloading of live stock. The entire cost of station buildings, engine houses, and wharfs for sheep, cattle, and minerals, amounts to £14,500—a considerable excess upon the sum set down in the estimate submitted to the Assembly. The contractors for this branch of the work were Messrs. Sara & Son, Schroeder & Wishart, and J. Tiver.
Wire fencing has been adopted throughout. The straining standards are of cast-iron, and staunch in proportion to their size, which is something out of the common. They are fitted with screw bases, and placed at intervals of 600 yards. The intermediate standards are of wrought iron of T section, and are also provided with screw bases. They are spaced about 14 feet apart, and those which have passed muster are substantial looking posts, although judging from the dismembered hundreds strewed along the course of the line they have had to be carefully weeded. The rails are galvanized strained coke wire in five tiers, the top being No. 4, the two next No. 5, and the other two No. 6 gauge. The fence is strong and good, capable of resisting all the ordinary pressure of small and great cattle, and enjoying also an immunity from injury by fire. The cast iron is practically indestructible in the ground, so that a very limited allowance for repairs need be paid. The fencing has been erected at an average of £340 a mile, an excess of just £120 upon the first estimate. This has arisen from unforeseen difficulties connected with the material supplied.
The entire superintendence of the line has devolved upon Mr. P. Galt, the Resident
Engineer, who has discharged the responsibility with great credit to himself. Mr. R. C. Patterson, Assistant-Engineer, has had charge of the correspondence and the details of office work; and the departmental inspectors have been—for masonry, Messrs. Gordon and Anderson; for plate-laying, Messrs. Bampton and Nichols.
The rolling stock for the railway includes two kinds of locomotive—one adapted to passenger, the other to goods traffic. The former are light tank engines, weighing 17 tons when in steam, but, considering their size they are very powerful, being equal to the task of hauling a gross load of 120 tons up an incline of 1 in 100. Tender engines, supported on a double Bisssell bogie frame, and weighing in steam eighteen tons, are used for the goods traffic. The whole of the locomotive stock ordered has not yet reached the colony, but it is intended to make still further additions to the available supply. The carriages are of the composite class, with wrought-iron underframes, blackwood body framing, and cedar panels varnished. They seat 40 passengers comfortably, and ample means are provided to secure ventilation, and to render the carriages as cool as possible. In addition to the ordinary ones two bogie-tank carriages have been built especially for this line. They are 42 feet long overall, 7 ft. 6in. wide, and 6 feet high between floor and roof. The underframe is of wrought iron, trussed in the usual manner, supported at each end by a wrought iron bogie truck on 4-feet wheels. In the centre a wrought iron water tank is fixed, holding 1,000 gallons of water, which is supplied by means of pipes and hose to the engine tanks by its own gravity. The carriages have two first-class compartments, one of which is for smokers, a luggage and break (sic) compartment, a travelling Post-Office, and three second-class compartments. The weight, including water, is about 18¼ tons. The wagons are of the medium class, constructed with wrought-iron underframes and timber bodies, with sides to drop. Their axles are fitted with trucks and oil-boxes. They are built to carry 7 tons, but at present are limited to 6 tons. The sheep and cattle wagons are also formed with wrought-iron underframes, the bodies being made of blackwood. The carriages, some of the wagons, and the sheep and cattle vans, were built at the Railway workshops at Adelaide. Forty of the medium wagons were imported from England. The cost of rolling-stock to date has been £27,000—far beyond the contingent estimate—although the quantity to fully equip the line is not completed.
Arrangements have been made for the supply of water at Riverton, Manoora, Farrell’s Flat, and the Burra stations by sinking deep wells and pumping the water into cast-iron tanks, from whence it is led to the station building and to the water columns for the engine. The cost of this work has been about £105 per mile. It may be mentioned in this connection, that the unusually large number of separate contracts into which the works were divided, involved a heavy amount of trouble and care in supervision and management. It is partly on this account that the superintendence has led to an outlay of £150 a mile; from 40 to 50 per cent. more than the estimate. The plan adopted, however, is better suited to the requirements of the colony than the system of letting out the through construction of the line, and in this instance it has led to a saving in cost. A line of telegraph is carried along the railway, and is now nearly completed. The expense of this, although not contemplated, has been defrayed from the loan for the use of the undertaking.
The guage is 5 feet 3 inches, the standard guage for all the trunk lines in the colony. The gradients are for the most part easy, the heaviest being 1 in 91. The curves are also easy, the stiffest being 30 chains. The entire cost to date has been about £4,946 per mile. This comes well within the estimate of £5,340, but a portion of the balance will be required to provide additional rolling-stock, goods shed, and station accommodation at Riverton, Manoora, and Mintaro Stations when the exigencies of the traffic demand them. This is really the first piece of railway that Mr. Mais is answerable for throughout, and he as well as the public has good reason to be satisfied with the result. A really substantial line has been made across country presenting a fair share of ordinary obstructions, and exhibiting an average quantity of earthworks and masonry. As far as can be seen it is sufficient for the purposes of the traffic; it seems thoroughly trustworthy both as respects materials and workmanship; and what is more, it has been carried out within the estimate. It must be gratifying to the Engineer-in-Chief and the department generally to have perfected the work so quickly, so well, and so cheaply, and the community in general must view with satisfaction this successful inauguration of an inexpensive system of railways.
The tardy consent of the Commissioner of Public Works to the formal opening of the line having been at length obtained, Monday, August 29, was fixed upon for the great event. This selection was made chiefly out of deference to members of Parliament, whose legislative duties prevented them from visiting the Burra on the four succeeding days. On this occasion the whole of the arrangement for the public demonstration were carried through by a local Committee numbering some 30 or 40 influential residents, and having Mr. W. H. Rosman, Manager of the Branch of the National Bank, as its Chairman. The sinews of war were assiduously collected from all sources, local, rural, and metropolitan, and a considerable sum was eventually placed to the credit of the opening fund. The Ministerial Jupiter, delighted at the energy displayed by the people in helping themselves, came down handsomely in the matter of locomotion. Extra trains were ordered, and the entrée to them was placed in the hands of the Commissioner, who with a generous spirit gave carte blanche to the invited guests in the matter of lady companions. Free passes, instructing all guards to admit Mr. — and — ladies, offered facilities for a disproportionate influx of the fair sex, that could not be disregarded. Monday morning, 7 o’clock, came, and with it a perfect crowd of eager guests, who thronged the platform, and presented a variety of life studies far in advance of Frith’s model picture. Although the air was cold and raw, there were few clouds and no rain, and when once the sun had crept from behind the hills the weather assumed a genial warmth peculiarly appropriate to the occasion. Two trains were provided for metropolitan visitors to the Burra—the one a special, the other what may be termed a select train. The demand for seats by the first was so great that carriages, new and old, to the number of eight, had to be pressed into the service, and the public were stowed away in them without respect for class or any other distinction. The start, announced for 7, came off a little more than half an hour later, the train being freighted with between 300 and 400 citizens interested in the North, or at least in the bounteous hospitality which rumour had promised them. They were indeed a jovial and pleasant company, quite prepared to bear existing ills, and to be cheerful under them. They had, as before explained, the advantage enjoyed by most official excursionists—female society without limit. To say nothing of the ladies, there were to be seen amongst dozens of other influential colonists—Hon. E. Solomon, with Messrs. J. P. D. Laurie, M.P., J. G. Ramsay, M.P., T. Paltridge, M.P., F. E. H. W. Krichauff, M.P., E. W. Hitchin, A. Hallett, W. Everard, S. Tomkinson, C. Peacock, J. B. Spence, J. Beck, and Dr. Davies.
Shortly after 8 o’clock the select train started with a viceregal and Ministerial party, including His Excellency the Governor, Miss Fergusson, Lieutenant Fergusson, Sir George Kingston, Lady Charlotte Bacon, the Treasurer (Hon. J. Hart), the Commissioner of Crown Lands (Hon. A. Blyth), the Commissioner of Public Works (Hon. J. Carr), Hons. J. H. Barrow, T. English, J. Bentham Neales, and F. P. Barlee (Colonial Secretary of Western Australia), Messrs. W. Cavenagh, M.P., C. Mann, M.P., E. Wentzel, M.P., D. Murray, M.P., William Townsend, M.P., G. W. Hawkes, S.M., J. Forrest (Western Australia), C. Bonney (Superintendent of Railways), R. C. Patterson (Resident Engineer of the Port and Northern lines), Galt (Resident Engineer of the Northern Extension), Stewart (Surveyor of the line), W. H. Charnock, J. Colton, W. T. Sheppard (Secretary to Commissioner of Public Works), J. S. O’Halloran, and a large number of ladies. The Engineer-in-Chief drove the engine, which was decorated with bunting and evergreens. The state carriage had been brought out for the accommodation of the viceregal party and for the delectation of the Burraites. No accident of consequence occurred during the first two hours of the journey. Both trains, but particularly the special, made discreetly slack speed. It reached Gawler at 20 minutes to 9, and after a stay of 10 minutes set out again, calling at nearly all the stations, and traversing the intervening distances at a uniform rate of about a quarter of an hour. The Northern Extension line at Tarlee was entered at 10 minutes past 10, and 20 minutes later the engine commenced taking in water at Riverton. At five minutes to 11 the select engine and carriages thundered up, and for a time the authorities were undecided as to which train should take the lead. The decision was in favour of the majority, and the special sped on towards its destination, taking note of the scores of people assembled at the various stations to pay their devoirs to His Excellency, who throughout the day was the ‘particular star’ of all observers. Upon his coming the Burra Committee rested much of their hope for the success of their festive preparations, and the welcome accorded him at the several townships along the line, if not reduced to address form was inscribed on the banners floating above the houses, beamed in the countenances of the people, or found voice in a joyous “Hip, hip, hurrah.” At Saddleworth there was a semblance of formality. Mr. Ernst Siekmann having been introduced by the Premier to His Excellency, assured him that, though they had not troubled him with a regular address, they greeted him heartily, and were exceedingly glad to see him. Mrs. Porter and a number of little children nicely dressed in white presented some bouquets of flowers to Miss Fergusson. His Excellency thanked Mr. Siekmann for his expressions of welcome, stating that such receptions were often quite as pleasant as if they had been more formal.
At a quarter to 1 o’clock the special came within inspection distance of the Burra, or rather the Aberdeen, Terminus. The group of buildings here, including the station, carriage, and goods sheds, although their erection has involved no great drain upon the loan for the line, has an imposing appearance. After the eye had accustomed itself to the unwonted spectacle of such a display of architecture in a place which for long years has stood silent and bare, the details of the picture demanded attention. For the sake of the levels the locomotive track has been laid some four or five feet below the natural surface, and this where still remaining afforded admirable standing ground for the spectators. Of these there was an amazingly large number assembled. The Burra and neighbouring townships had by mutual consent proclaimed a public holiday, and the people were determined to make the best of it. Whoever has been labouring under the delusion that the whole of the glory has departed from Kooringa should have an opportunity of seeing its aggregate population as it exhibited itself on Monday. It was not a few feeble sallow complexioned men, women, and children who turned out to pay their regards to the Governor and take their change in the gratification of private curiosity; but a host of strong healthy-looking men, hearty matrons, rosy cheeked damsels, and a reserve of youngsters such as only a mining community can boast of. Of course all the villages and locations within many miles of the place contributed to the crowd; but its chief explanation was to be found in the deserted aspect of Kooringa, Redruth, and Aberdeen. Dilapidated as these townships now look, the closing of doors and shutters, and the banishment of the populace from the streets, gave to them an unusually desolate air, although even this was relieved somewhat by the decorations plentifully spread out in prominent situations. Verandah fronts were well nigh hidden under pine branches, and the housetops yielded a handsome crop of flags, many of them palpably new rigged out for the occasion. In Market square stood a triple arch, gorgeously decked with foliage, and breathing through half a dozen different transparencies words of welcome to the Governor and loyalty to the Queen and country. Across the main road at Aberdeen a second erection of similar character stood; whilst opposite his new railway store, Mr. Tiver had hung out a line of streamers to dry. In Ludgovan-street, Redruth, Mr. Davy, of the Court-House Hotel, had at his own expense built a really tasteful arch handsomely festooned with evergreens, and adorned with banners and mottoes. It was intended as a rival to the Aberdeen Arch, and in point of looks was decidedly its superior, although its dimensions were smaller.
But to return to the terminus. Not only were all the platforms and available standing ground near the station adorned with pine and wattle boughs, but the various buildings were set off with a bewildering display of evergreens, which might have been Birnam wood come back again to Dunsenane, as in the days of Macbeth. The Goods Shed had clothed itself in evergreens till it looked a monster bower— size, 100 feet by 40 feet; and the Carriage Shed had blossomed into festive vegetation on a smaller scale. Its decoration had absorbed half a dozen good truckloads of material sent up from Wasley’s Station, while the Goods Shed, besides receiving its contingent from this distant forest of small trees, had occasioned havoc among the trees for 15 miles round. Fair hands had not been excluded from the pleasant task of preparing a welcome for the visitors extraordinary. Flags and streamers testified to their industry, and all the colours of the rainbow vouched for the catholicity of the local taste. Inside and outside adornments were to be found, all resolving themselves into an effort to produce the most tasteful effect with the materials at command. There were wreaths of pine foliage, standards of pine and wattle boughs on the exterior, and flags and other decorations in the interior. The responsibility of the decorations belongs to Messrs. Roberts and Ridgway, whose zeal has been rewarded with great scenic effect.
It has already been stated that the special train drew up at the station at a quarter to 1 o’clock. At 1 precisely the select carriages arrived, and through one section of the crowd, which, all told, could not have fallen much below 3,000, His Excellency and party were conducted to a special reserve adjoining the cattle platform. After the spontaneous loyalty of the people had relieved itself in a round of cheers, and the local ordnance had fired an irregular salute,
Mr. W. H. Rosman read and presented an address of welcome and congratulation, which was elegantly engrossed on parchment, and signed by:—
W. SWANSBOROUGH, (W.M., Kooringa Lodge.)
H. DAWSON, (N.G., Burra Lodge.)
R. A. J. MULLER (N.G., Aberdeen Lodge.)
His Excellency said— Mr. Rosman and gentlemen of the Friendly Societies, brethren of the Freemasons, and ladies and gentlemen of the district, I thank you heartily for the handsome and cordial address which you have given me on the occasion of this my first visit, deeply interesting as is that visit, seeing that it is paid on the occasion of opening this line of railway — a work destined, as I hope, to revive and increase the prosperity of this district. I waited until I could come in the most convenient and agreeable manner, for it seems to me that the event of to-day is one of the most important that can happen during the term of my government. (Hear, hear.) I see you under favourable auspices, and I am sure you share the hopes I express that this district, which has done so much already for the prosperity of the colony, and which still contains such treasure waiting to be developed, will have an increasing amount of population and prosperity in the time to come. (Applause.) I will not detain you longer now; but for the readiness with which you have assembled in such numbers to give me this hearty welcome, I thank you.
Three cheers followed for His Excellency, and three for Lady Edith.
Mr. W. H. Challoner, J.P., on behalf of the Justices, presented an address, to which
His Excellency replied— I need say no more than that the Government always count on the co-operation of the Justices of the Peace in maintaining good order in the colony. I believe I have now to fulfil the duty of formally declaring this railway open for traffic. (Loud and prolonged cheering. )
The viceregal party then proceeded to Mr. Challoner’s house on the mine to prepare for the luncheon. It may be mentioned that, although operations at the mine are still being vigorously prosecuted, it will be some time before the new process is in full work.
The luncheon took place as arranged in the Goods Shed, which was most elaborately decorated for the occasion with flags and evergreens, and around the walls there were a number of appropriate mottoes suspended, including ‘A Loyal Welcome to Sir James and Lady Edith Fergusson,’ ‘Advance Australia,’ ‘Science, the Handmaid of Commerce,’ ‘Capital and Labour Develop our Resources,’ ‘The Flag on which the Sun Never Sets,’ ‘Our Staple Products— Wool, Wheat, and Copper,’ ‘There’s a Good Time,’ the whole being crowned by the following poetic effusion, doubtless the production of some local celebrity:—
‘Hurrah for the new iron horse,
Hurrah for its whistle and scream;
Hurrah for its speed and great force,
Hurrah for the railway and steam.’
The Concordia Band was stationed close by, and during the progress of the meal, as well as at intervals between the speeches, played a variety of musical selections. The arrangements for the luncheon were entrusted to Mrs. Lamb, of the Burra Hotel, and they gave general satisfaction. The Hon. J. Hart, C.M.G. (Premier), occupied the chair, and he was supported on his right by His Excellency the Governor, Lady Charlotte Bacon, Sir G. S. Kingston, Miss Fergusson, and the Hon. J. Carr (Commissioner of Public Works). On his left were Mrs. Carr, Miss Hart, J. A. Fergusson (Private Secretary), Miss Dashwood, Miss Blyth, Hon. A. Blyth (Commissioner of Crown Lands), and Mrs. C. Mann. Mr.C.Mann, M.P., filled the post of Vice-Chairman, and he had on his right the Hon. J. B. Neales, M.L.C., and Inspector Roe, whilst on his left he had Captain Killicoat and Mr. W. H. Rosman, jun. In addition to these there were many other distinguished guests, and the company altogether numbered over 300 ladies and gentlemen. After the provisions had been duly discussed,
The Chairman called upon the company to drink the health of ‘The Queen—God bless her.’
Band— ‘God save the Queen.’
The Chairman next gave ‘ The Prince and Princess of Wales and the members of the Royal Family’— a toast that was drunk with its usual cordiality.
The Chairman proposed a toast which would, he knew, be received with great enthusiasm; it was ‘The Health of His Excellency Sir James Fergusson.’ (Applause.)
Band—’Auld Lang Syne.’
His Excellency said:— Mr. Chairman, Ladies, and Gentlemen— I thank you heartily for the most kind manner in which you have been pleased to receive the toast of my health. I come among you to-day with the utmost satisfaction, and I believe that the object of our visit to the Burra is one which must in the highest degree affect beneficially the colony. I must say in the main I agree with Lord Derby when he expressed his disapproval of mere inaugural ceremonies, because these public meetings, which take place at the completion of undertakings, have often little more in them than self-glorification; and when the refreshments are given at the public expense, I must say that I think that mode of celebration is one open to grave exception, because it is an entertainment to the few at the cost of the many. (Hear, hear.) I should not have ventured to have made this remark after the liberal hospitality that we have enjoyed were I not aware that we are at this moment the guests of the people of the Burra. (Loud applause.) And I must say I think they have shown a liberal and an intelligent comprehension of what the colony has done for them in so freely and liberally inaugurating this undertaking. It is as unjust that such an entertainment should take place at the expense of the gentleman who happens to be Commissioner of Public Works, as was the case on a previous occasion—(Hear, hear)—as at the public expense; but I, for one, am proud to come here as the guest of the people at the Burra, and I trust that the expectations held out to-day of the increase of prosperity of this place will be abundantly realized—(Hear, hear)—and so, ladies and gentlemen, I feel sure that from one end of the colony to the other there will be a general expression of satisfaction at the completion of a work which is calculated, and I trust destined, to encourage the further development of the treasures of the soil, and so to contribute largely to the industrial prosperity of the province. (Cheers.) Those are short-sighted who look at the prosperity of any one of the great branches of our industry as destitute of interest to all; for whether it be the mining, agricultural, or pastoral branches of our staple industries, it is evident that the development of each gives encouragement and success to the others. Now, gentlemen, there is another great event which must be present to your minds in coming together to-day. Whilst we are inaugurating, as it is our happy lot to inaugurate, an important work of peace, others are less happily circumstanced. It is impossible to forget, meeting here as we are to-day in peace and security, that the mail of yesterday has brought us very terrible news. It has brought us intelligence that two of the most powerful nations in the world — I may almost say the two loading nations of Europe — are engaged in strife, hand to hand, aggravated by all the resources of science and developments of the art of war. Little was this sad intelligence anticipated, for we had begun to think that the days of war were past, and that people were too wise to waste their substance in strife. Even now those who look but on the surface are saying that the pretexts of the war are shallow, and that the motives on the one side or the other are unworthy. Well, ladies and gentlemen, we should ill appreciate the tremendous importance of the crisis were we likely so to conclude. Those who have given but a superficial study to the politics of the day must have seen that there had grown up between Prussia and France a state of feeling which it was hardly possible could have had any other issue to attend it but war. Nothing, in fact, but the almost self-denial and prudence on the part of the statesmen who swayed their destinies could have averted this terrible calamity, and we, who may rashly imagine that the ambition of one man has plunged two nations into war, must remember by the lessons of the past how little it is in the power of any man, however politic, to carry on such an undertaking unless he be supported by the will of the people. I believe it will be found that the Sovereigns of France and Prussia are rather urged on by the sentiment of their people than leading them unwillingly into battle. The old sentiment of revenge which animated Prussia in opposing the First Napoleon has left behind it a debt which France for 60 years has only been too eager to repay, and those who have lived amongst the French, and know the keen military spirit, and the pride of race and country which pervade them, must be aware how intensely sensitive the whole of that people are with regard to anything which seems to detract from the glory and position of their nation. I do indeed fear that the state of feeling in both of these great nations, separated not only territorially but by the foundations of their respective races, portends a war most bloody, most terrible, and which can only be terminated by the exhaustion of one or the other party. That Providence may avert such a calamity every good man must hope and pray; but I feel deeply convinced that the worst has to be feared, and when we say the worst has to be feared of the conflict between these two nations evil is to be dreaded for the whole world. It may be imagined that those who are far removed from the strife, who have no interest whatever in it, might not only stand entirely aloof, but may profit from the trade that may be thrown into their hands. That is a most short-sighted and shallow idea if it were seriously entertained, were it not even unchristain (sic) and impious, for war has never existed on any large scale without its effects being felt far and wide—without a temporary disturbance of trade, and a derangement of the transactions of the world, which cannot be redressed for many a year. I do trust that our own country—our nation, of which we never forget we form a part—will be saved from any participation in this terrible conflict; and sure I am that no effort on the part of the Government, the Parliament, and the people of Great Britain will be wanting to save our nation from such a danger. (Cheers.) But at the same time we have never forgotten our national obligations, however acquired; and it may be proved that our share in the business of the world, from which we cannot divest ourselves, will render it impossible but that the waves of this conflict will break even on our shores. May heaven avert such a fate, and may He in His mercy bring this most horrible conflict to a close, for horrible it is to the mind of any man who remembers the misery and wretchedness which are caused by even the highest glory of war. Ladies and gentlemen, I could not help saying some words on a subject which must be present to the minds of all; but we for our part must be the more thankful for our freedom from present danger, and in being privileged to inaugurate a work of peace so well calculated to increase our material, our national prosperity. I am permitted without sitting down to propose the toast which stands in my name, and which must be held to be the toast of the day. In wishing success to the Northern Extension Railway and to the producing interests of South Australia, we have two subjects most intimately and naturally connected. I trust that the first is certain, and that it may materially serve to the fulfilment of the second. Perhaps in the old country it might be that the completion of a line of 100 miles in length is a small matter, but to this community it is not a small one. I can but rejoice that the work has been somewhat long delayed, because we have escaped many mistakes, even if we have not been early in the completion of an undertaking much required. We have learned by experience how to economize in construction, and although the success which has attended the exertions of our engineers, the most creditable success, by which they have kept down the cost of carrying out this line, is of a kind that would, even in the old country, be thought moderate so far as expense is concerned. Governments may hope that in the future they will be able to construct lines through the Far North—(applause)—at an outlay of capital so small that profits will not be withheld. It is most gratifying to know that, we have engineers amongst us who can construct railways most creditable in themselves, and at a cost so little burdensome to the community. I believe that small comparatively as has been the cost of this line, our engineers have seen the way to economize further in the future, and I earnestly trust that the time which some may think has been lost in delaying the construction of other lines will be found to have been well spent in acquiring knowledge elsewhere, and in saving the colony from the waste of money which comparative ignorance would have entailed. I will not further anticipate the remarks of those who will follow me on this special subject of the day. I can only say I congratulate the colony on the happy and prosperous completion of this line. I congratulate the district on the formation of an outlet to its resources, and I congratulate—and that most heartily—the engineers under whom the railway has been constructed on a work creditable alike to South Australia and to themselves. I now beg to propose—’Success to the Northern Extension Railway and the Producing Interests of South Australia, coupling with the toast the names—the well-known names—of Mr. Challoner and Mr. Killicoat.’ (Applause.)
The Hon. J. B. Neals, M.L.C., being called upon to respond, said he had to congratulate the people of the Burra upon the completion of a railway, which if he could have had his way they should have had 10 years ago. (Cheers)
Mr. W. H. Challoner, J.P., responded for the mining interest. They were going to work the mine in the most scientific manner, and if they made discoveries they would have to go deeper, and they ought to have 100 men engaged at the machinery with probably a thousand others employed on the works generally.
Captain Killicoat also returned thanks.
Mr. W. Everard, J.P., proposed ‘The Legislature, coupling with it the Ministry.’
Music by the Band.
Sir G. S. Kingston (Speaker of the House of Assembly) returned his sincere thanks.
The Hon. J. H. Barrow, M.L.C., and the Hon. A. Blyth (Commissioner of Crown Lands) responded.
Mr. J. P. Boucaut, in very complimentary terms, proposed ‘The Engineer-in-Chief and Staff’.’ (Loud cheering.)
Mr. H. C. Mais, Engineer-in-Chief, returned thanks, and trusted that the visitors had had practical experience of the excellence of the work on the line. He believed this was about one of the cheapest pieces of railway executed in the colonies, to say nothing of England. They had managed to complete the line for £4,945—a sum considerably under the estimate of £5,360—and yet leave an available balance for completing the work as circumstances might require. That they would have employment for the railway, as it passed through some of the best agricultural districts in the colony, he had not the slightest doubt on the point. He believed that if the promise of a good season was fulfilled it would be as much as they could do to bring down the produce, especially as the far famed Burra was also expected to be in full work shortly. He also wished to point out the small cost of supervision, not amounting to 3 per cent, of the whole, and even that might have been modified under different circumstances. He might be pardoned for saying that the workmanship of the line would bear comparison with that of any line in the world. (Hear, hear.) One little regret he had was that the rails should be so light; but if the traffic was heavy beyond their expectations, they would perhaps be called upon to replace them when they were better able to do it. One great question in carrying out the line was that of speed. He believed the rate of speed had been in advance of their requirements. They were not supposed to be in such a hurry as the people of Europe, and it had been their custom to put on rather an excess of speed. It was intended, he believed, to run at a reduced rate, and also to lessen the charges. Mr. Galt had superintended the work, and had given him the utmost satisfaction.
Mr. Patterson appropriately responded for the staff.
Mr. Galt briefly returned thanks.
The Vice-Chairman proposed ‘The Health of Lady Edith Fergusson and the Ladies of South Australia.’
Drunk with cheering, the band playing ‘Here’s a Health to all good Lasses.’
Mr. J. A. Fergusson (Private Secretary) returned thanks, and explained that Lady Edith’s interest in the undertaking was so great that nothing but illness would have prevented her being present on so auspicious an occasion.
Mr. T. S. Porter gave ‘The Press,’ which Mr. W. Harcus, J.P., briefly acknowledged.
Mr. W. H. Rosman proposed ‘The Health of the Chairman.’ (Loud cheering).
The Chairman returned thanks.
Mr. W. H. Williams gave ‘The Health of the Vice-Chairman,’ and expressed the hope that at the next election Mr. Mann would be placed at the head of the poll.
The Vice-Chairman responded. He claimed permission to propose ‘The Health of the Demonstration Committee,’ coupling with it the name of Mr. Rosman, and remarked that the proceedings throughout were extremely creditable to them. (Cheers.) j
Mr. W. H. Rosman, Jun., replied, and said the success of the demonstration was owing to the unanimity which prevailed among the people of the Burra.
The Chairman proposed ‘The Health of our Stranger Visitors, coupling with it the Hon. Mr. Barlee from Western Australia.’ He was
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quite sure that Mr. Barlee would return to his own colony, and say something on behalf of South Australia.
The toast was drunk with much cheering.
The Hon. Mr. Barlee, in responding, said he was altogether unprepared for the honour that had been done him, and he heartily appreciated it as a tribute of respect to the colony which he represented. He only landed yesterday in this great colony of South Australia, and it afforded him great pleasure to accept the kind invitation of His Excellency to be present at and to witness that festive gathering. It had given him the opportunity of seeing more of the colony than he might otherwise have seen. He had seen a great deal of fine land, and he envied it when he thought of the little that there was in the small colony he had just left. There were, however, a few grains of comfort in his heart when he noticed that here there was a great lack of water, while they had plenty in Western Australia, and that they had vast forests of fine timber which this colony did not appear to have, and which if it wanted their colony would be thankful to supply. (A laugh.) Western Australia was but little known, and was less appreciated; but it required to be known to be appreciated. They were a quiet sort of people. There was some fear that they were a bad sort of people, and he was not allowed to land on these shores until he presented his certificate. (Laughter.) Since, however, he had landed he had been met with kindness and hospitality, and he could not sit down without thanking them for their attention to his young friend Mr. Forrest, whose expedition had been so successful as to make him feel proud of them. (Cheers.) He was sorry he was a day too late to witness their entry into Adelaide. He could only hope that the road that had been opened up between the two colonies would soon lead to a greater intercourse between them, for when they were better known he thought it would pay South Australia to come against them, and he hoped that in a short time Western Australia would be vie-ing with its neighbour in its prosperity and progress. He again thanked them for the way in which they had drunk the toast. (Cheers.)
Mr. J. Forrest, in response to loud calls, said he was much obliged to them for calling upon him, and he was grateful to his friend Mr. Barlee for the encomiums he had passed upon him. Their journey had not been marked by so many hardships as might have been expected. They had had plenty of water, and had not wanted anything. He did not know of one instance where any of the party evinced signs of distress. He returned them his sincere thanks. (Applause.)
The proceedings of the luncheon then closed. At the close of the luncheon His Excellency was driven round to take a hasty view of the townships. At 20 minutes to 5 o’clock the select special train left Redruth, followed, at no long interval by the main train. At twenty minutes to 10 the Adelaide terminus was reached, the other train arriving some time later.
As a supplement to the demonstrations of the day an entertainment was given in the evening at the Lodge-room of the Burra Hotel. Those who took part in it were, with the exception of the Concordia Band, almost entirely local artistes. Following upon this entertainment a ball took place, which held the dancers in thrall until a late hour in the morning.