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Down south again, with the family in tow

Following are the first few paragraphs of Thomas MacGibbon's reminiscences of the family's second and final trip from Dunedin to Southland, at the end of 1858.

"Shortly after my father and I had left the Otapiri Run and returned to Dunedin, we found that the Otago Provincial Government had advertised tenders for a seven years' lease of the newly established ferry or bridge at the Mataura Falls, together with a run of over 1,000 acres in connection therewith. As both of us had been much impressed with the luxuriance of the 'feed' in the South, my father tendered for the lease and was successful.

"For the ensuing month or two we were very busy getting everything ready for the 'exodus'. In this, we were considerably assisted by the experience we had gained on our first trek down South. We were able to provide for the 'camping out' many little conveniences of which we had been entirely ignorant on our first journey. Our bullock dray was provided with a comfortable 'tilt' [cover], and we also secured a good tent which could amply shelter our whole family while on the tramp.


Travelling south by bullock wagon


"The party consisted of my father [49], mother [41], two sisters [Jessie, 16; Jeannie, 14] and three brothers [John, 9; Ebenezer, 4; Archie, 2]. [Thomas himself was 19.]

"Also with us was a young friend who was a shipmate from the Old Country and an old schoolmate of mine in Glasgow. He was engaged to accompany us and give us a start in our new home.

"We left Caversham [in Dunedin], where the family had resided for eight years, in the latter end of December 1858, and commenced what was quite an adventurous journey.

"On this occasion we had a small mob of cattle and with them a quiet cow in milk. We bailed her up night and morning to the dray wheel and we had a plenteous supply of the lacteal fluid to make our tea more palatable. In addition we had a large coop filled with fowls suspended from the end of the dray. As some of these birds were laying, we were able to be quite epicurean in our dietary scale.

"Fish, as I stated in my notes of the previous journey, were plentiful in every creek in the shape of eels, and ducks were to be shot in every lagoon and stream. So we were able to restock our larder almost every day."

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Last modified: October 31, 2004