The ‘Skunk and the ‘Wallaby’ were two Class ‘A’, 8-tonne locomotives built by E. W. Mills at the Lion Foundry in Wellington with outside Stephenson valve gear. They were the first locomotives to run a scheduled service between Palmerston North and Foxton in 1876. A third, called ‘Opossum’, was held back in Wellington after completion and was shipped in 1877 to Greymouth to work in the harbour, and latterly on West Coast logging operations. The ‘Skunk’ soon followed, being transported to Westport in 1882.
This image was taken in 1973 by R. T. Curry and the text “’Skunk’ Locomotive – Greymouth (just north of railway station) Photographed on 7 February 1973 by R.T. Curry” is written on the back.
However, this image more likely depicts the ‘Opossum’. Alterations were made to its exterior during the Opossum’s time in the logging industry and it was put on display in Greymouth in the 1950s. In 1986 the locomotive was moved to tourist attraction Shantytown, where it was extensively retro-fitted in 2009 and 2010 to its original 1876 condition.