Monday, October 6, 2008

A furry story from the Old Stone Jug hotel

A recent post in The Mad Bush Chronicles regarding certain four-legged Aussie immigrant overstayers from the 19th century brought the following little bit of lore from the Great Northern Hotel (aka the Old Stone Jug) in Western Springs to mind:

Strange bedfellows are sometimes met with. This was exemplified the other night in the Northern Hotel. A son of Mr. Edgecombe, the proprietor, went to bed as usual in the upper story — three stairs up — but during the night, or early in the morning he was awakened by more than ordinary warmth on one side of his head and near his throat. He felt something unusual beside him and was slightly alarmed. However he got up and lighted a candle. On examining the bed he discovered an oppossum lying coiled up in the bed, under the bed clothes. This is the first occasion on which such an animal has been seen in the neighbourhood, and how it got there, is at present a mystery . Some time ago, however, an animal having the appearance of a cross between an opossum and some other animal was shot amongst the scoria rocks near Mr. Edgecombe's hotel. Some people entertain the idea that opossums exist in the locality in a wild state, but this has not yet been proved. The animal was captured, and is being well cared for by Mr. Edgecombe. The family were once of opinion that the opossum found in bed may have been the one belonging to the Acclimatisation Society's gardens, but it is stated that they have since learned that such is not the case, and the whence of the opossum at Mr. Edgecombe's hotel still remains to be answered.
(Southern Cross, 16 August 1873, p. 2)

The Acclimatisation Gardens were those at the Domain here in Auckland from the late 1860s to the early 1880s. This piece is interesting to me, in that it comes from a time when Aussie possums were seen as a curiosity and valuable commodity, rather than the out-and-out pest we know them as today.

That, and the son was lucky not to have been clawed to ribbons ...


  1. very very cool!!!! I'll link this one off the Mad Bush Chronicles. Thanks Ice!!

  2. Cripes, doesn't take you long to spot stuff, eh? :)