THE WEST COAST TRACK.
[FROM A CORRESPONDENT.]
The following narrative will give your readers a faint idea of the condition of the track from Waratah to the West Coast.
Leaving Trial Harbour in company with two others bound for Waratah, we reached the camp of Mr Roberts, who is constructing the telegraph line from Corinna to Trial Harbour, about 4 p in., a distance of 20 miles, and stayed there for the night. We had not been there long when two other travellers arrived, who were also made welcome for the night, it being very wet, There was a marked contrast between the two last arrivals; one was rather a tall man, the other very short, which was very incon- venient on such track as my narrative will show. Next morning, after partaking of breakfast, the two latter travellers started on their journey through the forest to the Pieman, Shortly after we thanked Mr. Roberts for his hospitality, and proceeded after them. We had not gone far before we
came to what is known as the Three Mile Bog. This three miles of track has not been stripped of the decayed vegeta- tion as other parts of the track have, nor the stumps and roots cut out, consequently it is a continuous quagmire for the whole distance. We had not got many yards into this bog before we saw the tallest man of the two who had preceded us looking very disconsolate at something in the middle of the track. Hearing us approaching, he called out "Come quickly, my mate has almost disappeared;" and, sure enough, there he was sunk in the mud up to the chin. After considerable difficulty we managed to extricate him and place him on terra firma. I asked him his height when he was able to speak, and he said he was 4ft. 9in with his boots on. How to get this short man over this three miles was a matter which (to quote a Ministerial phrase) required careful consideration. After deliberating for some time, we decided that one of the taller men should carry his swag. We tied a piece of sapling across his back under the arms; so that when he got in again the sapling would prevent him going down quite so far, and also act at a lever to hoist him out again. After securing the sapling with some straps, and my mate shoulder- ing his swag, we made a fresh start; our scheme acting admirably. Half way through we met the mailman, whose horse was down, and Her Majesty's mail buried in the mud—unloaded the poor animal, and with difficulty it struggled out. The mailman informed us that was the third time his
horse had been down since entering this
three miles of bad road.
Just before entering this boggy portion of the track there is a very deep creek which is spanned by a very rotten structure com- poced of sasafras spars that have evidently been there since the track was opened. It is very dangerous to cross, especially with a horse, as it is liable to give way at any time and impede traffic. The sub-inspector of roads passed along the other day on his way to the Pieman, and his intention was attracted to this bridge by his horse putting his leg through one of the holes, so he asked Mr. Roberts to give him a price for a new bridge, either squared timber, or an ordinary round spar bridge. Mr. Roberts said as he had a gang of men on the spot, be would put a squared timber bridge over the creek for £10, or an ordinary round timber bridge for £5—if done at once—but if he had to come back to do it he should want double the money. After a few minutes' consideration Mr. Sub-inspector said the Government could not afford £5 to put a bridge over the creek, so for the sake of £5 the limbs of men and lives of horses are to be risked over this rotten structure.
Thank goodness we arrived at the Pieman in due course, and had resort to the waters of that noble river to rid ourselves of the
surplus mud. To our companion, the short man, we suggested the best way to wash him would be to put a line round his body and tow him across the river behind the boat, but this he was not agreeable to, as he thought the water too cold. We were told there were no provisions at the Pieman, and sure enough the supply was limited, but what there was Mrs. Foster, of the hotel, willing shared, with us. She informed us it cost her 4d. per lb. to pack what provisions they had from Waratah. Fortunately, they had caught a wallaby that morning, so we had a wallaby stew for tea, ( which was a treat, as, like the rest of the men working on the road at Mount Zeehan we had not tasted meat for three weeks, Nothing but Johnny cake and butter, although there is plenty at Macquarie Har- bour. The half starved condition of the 300 men in the vicinity of Heemskirk and Zeehan ought to arouse the apathy of the powers that be, and urge them to make the road from Trial Harbour to Strahan accessible for carts by bridging the two Hentys, or putting punts on them, so that the provisions could
be carted, and not allow the working man to starve through the uncertainty of a steamer calling at Trial Harbour.