Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cabbage Tree Ned

Ned Devine, so named for the immense hat he wore, was born in Tasmania about 1833 and at the age of 17, was driving coaches between Ballarat and Geelong. Some of the 'coaches' of those days were more like our buses, carrying up to 70 passengers and a coach-man had to be resourceful and courageous.

When the Otago goldfields opened, Ned arrived and was engaged to drive the Dunedin-Palmerston-Pigroot trail. His reputation may have preceded him because when the Duke of Edinburgh arrived on a royal visit, Ned was chosen to drive him around. Though a coach emblazoned with Royal Arms and tricked out in hammer-cloth and gold wasn't his usual style, apparently Ned looked really fine.

He had absolute command of his horses and there are many tales of his prowess. One story is that a half-crown was placed on the a road in Dunedin and Ned drove his coach over it; pulled up when a rear wheel was on it, turned round without allowing the wheel to leave the surface of it.

Ned returned to Australia when cars and trucks trains looked like too much competition and as late as 1894, he was driving coaches in Western Australia. He died at Ballarat in 1908.

Source: New Zealand Freelance 31st March 1937
Further reading: Paperspast Te Ara

1 comment:

  1. This looks like a great post for our #waitangiblog challenge. Want to post the link to Facebook page?!/topic.php?uid=110496925664674&topic=229