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The Journal of George Hepburn
Part I - The Journal of George Hepburn, 1850 - Chapter XI


After seven months "by the good hand of God we are at last all safely landed here "—Eleven days’ voyage from Wellington to Otago—His first impressions of Dunedin, "as good if not the best of all the settlements "—Dr. Burns.

Otago, Dunedin, Rattray Street,

September 13th, 1850.

By the good hand of God we are at last all safely landed here on the evening of Friday last week, the 6th current, exactly seven calendar months since going on board the ship, the longest passage of any of the Company’s ships yet known. Even our last days from Wellington occupied eleven days, although only 320 miles, during which we all wearied very much, it being very cold, not to speak of the return to salt beef and biscuits. Indeed, now that the voyage is over it was anything but comfortable. In addition to the bad weather and contrary winds our medical doctor and the passengers were at cross purposes most of the way, so much so that he was brought before his superiors at Nelson and he had to pay a fine of 15 to the men for drawing the water and punishing them. We all signed his liberty at Wellington, and so went without one the rest of the voyage. He lost two babies, twins, which, with other two delicate children and a seaman, were all the deaths on our long voyage. Happily our family all stood it well; indeed the children are remarkably stout, and even fat, their usual clothes will scarcely fit, especially the boys who, by the way, earned among them 2 8s. during the voyage.

Now as to my first impressions of this place. Notwithstanding all we heard by the way to the contrary, it is as good if not the best of all the settlements, and its appearance far exceeds what I had expected after seeing the other settlements. It is even amazing what the people have accomplished in little more than two years. There are already upwards of 100 houses, all of a superior quality—at least would match any hundred either in Wellington or Nelson. There are four large buildings entirely of stone and lime, one of which is another half added to the church equal to the first, forming a double-roofed house like Abotshall, but only to contain when filled about 400. I am glad to add that the first house is already too small. On Sabbath last it was crowded, both fore and afternoon, that extra forms had to be brought into the lobby; and I am also happy to add that Mr. Burns preached far better than I expected—indeed it was excellent, and was told he was always as good. There is also a prayer meeting in the church or vestry every Wednesday evening. The schoolmaster’s house is the next largest building—two stories, but regret to add that Mr. Blackie, the teacher, is in bad health and not expected to recover.

(The concluding paragraphs of the Journal have been transferred to form the opening to Part II, as they relate to events which occurred after arrival at Dunedin, and form a convenient introduction to the letters.)


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