The Argus at KellyGang 24/2/1873

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THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMMISSION

(FROM OUR SPECIAL REPORTER)

WANGARATTA, FRIDAY EVENING

The commissioners reached town from Sandhurst on Tuesday night. They were unwilling to lose a day in Melbourne, and as the present inscrutable arrangements of the North-Eastern Railway do not include an early train as far as Longwood, it was re- solved to start for Benalla by the one which gets to Seymour at 10 am, and to trust to luck for a lift along the line beyond that place. Luck, fortunately, turned up in the person of an official gentleman, who made his appearance upon the platform at Kilmore, and was instantly hailed with enthusiasm by the whole party. Before arriving at Kilmore much doubt had been expressed as to the chances of bridging over the interval between Seymour and Longwood. Whispers had gone round about the obduracy of railway Ministers when appealed to upon the subject of "specials," and the mournful conviction had become gradually stronger that upon their arrival at Seymour the commissioners would have no alternative but to wait there for the evening train.

The official gentleman soon dispelled these gloomy anticipations. His exertions, and the courtesy of Messrs Styles and Murray, soon smoothed away every difficulty, and the commissioners were gladdened five minutes after their arrival at Seymour, by the news that the contractor's engine, with ballast train attached, was at their service. From Seymour to Longwood, and thence to Euroa, the journey was of a novel not to say exciting character. The commissioners disposed themselves upon the locomotive in various places and positions - some perched aloft upon the wood heap, and others clung in a daring manner to the rail which surrounds the boiler, while the more nervous members of the party preferred to enjoy a view of the surrounding scenery from a safe seat near the driver's window.

The scenery itself was rather monotonous, but it was astonishing to see the steadfast way in which several of the gentlemen in the safe seat concentrated their attention upon the beauties of the permanent way. Group after group of plate-layers flitting silently about the line appeared in the distance and separated to let the engine pass. Gates, bridges, and gravel pits flew by, and still the gentlemen in the safe seat stared earnestly at the track ahead, and only lifted their eyes occasionally to cast a hurried glance at the red flag which lay ready to the driver's hand. The conversation, which was rather spasmodic, mostly took a scientific turn, as concerning, for example, the distance at which the whistle of an approaching locomotive could be heard, or the red flag, if displayed, become visible.

At every steep incline the gentlemen in the safe seat made feverish offers to assist the stoker in the execution of his duty of twirling the break handle, and at the curves, of which there were very few, they leaned inwards with faces expressing a frenzied desire to avoid, for the future, the method of travelling now under description. Some wicked person at Longwood had whispered, it seems, that the "ballast" was a little late, and that there was an uncertainty as to the number of obstructions to be met with on the road. The pace was good, notwithstanding, and about half-post 12 the travellers reached Euroa, at which place Cobb and Co had been ordered to provide a special coach. One or two of the party elected to go on with the engine as far as Violet Town , saving thereby some additional miles of road, and while waiting there for the coach an accident occurred which brought the energetic habits of the chairman out to some purpose.

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