Spying Out The Land
We have come to think of the Edie clan as inextricably linked to Otago, and particularly to Central, or the Blue Moutains area.
But it nearly wasn't to be so.
The Tuapeka Times in October 1882 carried a story entitled "A TRIP TO GISBORNE, NORTH ISLAND" and sub-titled "Spying out the Land."
The story was supplied by John Edie (Senior) and begins:
"I left Lawrence by the 2.45 train on the afternoon of Monday, 2nd October, and reached Dunedin shortly after 7 o'clock. On the following afternoon, I left the metropolis by the 2.30 train for Port Chalmers, which was reached in half-an hour. At 4 o'clock, the s.s. Wairarapa, bound for the Northern ports, left the wharf, and in half-an-hour's time the Heads were cleared."
He was sailing north, headed for Christchurch by way of Lyttelton initially. En route he engaged in a bit of sight-seeing.
"During my stay (in Christchurch), I visited the Cathedral— the leading feature of Christchurch - and also the Museum; with the wonders of the latter I was greatly pleased."
Then it was on to Wellington and Napier, before he finally reached Gisborne "at six o'clock on the following morning. Here also we had to anchor in the bay, and take advantage of a small boat to reach the shore. It appears that the bar at the mouth of the river is not navigable to the larger class of steamers."
He cast an experienced across the landscape: "All the land has to be cleared; it is covered with dense scrub and fern: shortly afterwards it is sown down in artificial grasses- there being no natural grass in the neighborhood worthy of the name. The climate is remarkably fine, and stock sheep chiefly thrive amazingly well. While in Gisborne, I was asked by a friend to accompany him on a visit to Mr W. B. Johnston's estate, fourteen miles from town. Mr Johnston is the possessor of 12,000 acres of freehold... I was told by Mr Johnston, who treated us very hospitably and took us through his estate, that the land carries three sheep to the acre all the year round - an unmistakeable proof that the land when sown down in English grasses is really good."
John (Snr) was clearly not a 'stranger in a strange land': he met up with "the Rev. Mr M'Ara, Presbyterian minister (who at one time held a charge in the Clutha district), I visited Mr G. Bruce's homestead, ... Mr Bruce, I might add, was at one time a resident of Murrays Flat, Waitahuna. ... [and was interested in a sale of land managed by] The New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Co., of which Mr R. Hill Fisher, formerly agent of the Bank of New Zealand at Tapanui, is the local manager."
But the eye-opener is his passing comment that "While there, I had my eye to some fine pastoral land - a block of 8000 acres in extent. I did not make final arrangements for securing it from the aboriginal owners, as business arrangements caused me to hasten to Dunedin a week earlier than I intended."
So it might so easily have been the "The Edies of Ormond" or some other location near Gisborne!