Wanderings on the Way Home

Wanaka What a strange place it is now from when I first wandered by. At least it does have a shopping area. Retrograde ‘progress’ with all the expanding houses scattered right out to Hawea Flat. From my observations many small towns have simply burst their boundaries with no forward planning at all. With all the talk of conserving the world, why are there so many so called life style blocks? It seems to me to be an extravagant waste of land conservation wise. 

Lake Wanaka after leaving Makarora.

I remember an old saw miller telling me once that a local couple wanted rimu for their new house so he sourced a supply for them.  A couple of years later another couple nearby wanted to build a house using rimu but the first couple protested and stopped them using rimu.  Now it’s reasonable not to use rimu like this, but it seems to many, it’s ok for me but not anyone else. The same sort of thinking goes for large sections? ….  Councils seem to be intent of these subdivisions to garner taxes for their little empires? 

Bendigo One has to really look to find Bendigo and the historic and scenic reserves nearby. They are more historic but well worth seeking out. It was gold that they found here in 1862 and the remains of their workings and huts are scattered around. Once the alluvial gold was taken they started digging so here and there are abandoned mine shafts. The remains of the old miners stone huts seem to appear whenever one looks closer along the gully sides. Most have maybe one or two walls left standing but there are also some that mainly just have the roof missing. Pengally Hotel is in a similar state. I think it is a shame that DOC doesn’t keep things properly maintained. At least stop any further deterioration to the stone work and other relics like the old drays.  

Logantown relics, Bendigo area.
Pengally Hotel, Bendigo area.

This is the country where the ‘world famous’ sheep Shek wandered about and he must have had some good hiding places to evade being rounded up and shorn like the rest of the flock. Grape vines creep up higher to this area than before and one wonders how they can survive in such dry rocky country. Water  from our reducing supply pumped up to them I guess. 

Cromwell The old part of the town is quite good and well worth a visit – the ‘new’ part not nice now. The much thought of the new shopping area soon after the dam was built now has many vacant deserted shops and the place seems to be distorted somehow. Queues form at the coffee shops and toilets these days it seems.

Old Cromwell.
Ophir P&T sign.

Clyde is just off State Highway 8 and rests below the Clyde Dam that holds back the water of the long Lake Dunstan. The town was ‘disturbed’ when the dam was being built but now it seems relaxed and preserved!  We wandered around the old but well presented buildings and had lunch. 

Ophir A short drive out from Omakau is Ophir. Nothing much at Ophir except history and that made it well worthwhile. Interesting is the old post office built in 1896, and its Queen Victoria letter box sign and one can still post a letter and frank it themselves by hand using the old Victorian era rubber stamp. Only on weekday mornings though. 

Ophir old P&T.

To St Bathans for the night. The next morning we walked the track to the village and the Blue Pool passing a nearby rugby football paddock with the goal posts, country style.  They were tree poles wired to fence posts and at one end, the poles lent inwards, but to compensate any disadvantage to a goal kicker, the crossbar had a downward curve! There were lots of rabbits scurrying away from us along the track to the Blue Pool. We had to step over mini screes formed by rabbit scratchings. In passing a number of rabbit dung heaps I thought we might have seen on the side of the road, bags of rabbit pooh for sale! 

St Bathans ‘country’ style rugby field

The old school a disgrace to our past in being letting it go to ruins. It is a pity that some effort was made to re-install some of the stone work and at least to stop it further deteriorating. It was built around 1875 and they had a ‘Grand Ball’ to mark the occasion.

The remains of the school at St Bathans.

They seemed to have had a problem about the irregular attendance of pupils whose parents ‘treated these duties too lightly.’  Sounds like there hasn’t been much progress with this today either. In 1899, a newspaper reported that ‘nearly every child from 6 years old and upward’ was irregular in their attendance. They were  away trapping rabbits for some cash from the Rabbit Board. During the winter the ink froze in the inkwells and huge snowfalls kept the children away. Later they improved the heating but the ink still froze. 

The Blue Pool Refections, St Bathans

We had a look at the Blue Pool again, with its reflections and rabbits scrambling up its white sides. Another ‘left over’ from gold mining days.

Naseby  A cricket match was in progress when we passed. Apparently the match was between a couple of local schools and it was serious stuff. Boys and girls were out in the field all dressed in their whites. One chap missed a couple of catches and I wondered – they seemed easy enough. Soon after I guessed the reason why as when he took a catch, all his mates rushed up and just about flatted him with their congratulations. 

Cricket match at Naseby.

It was interesting to wander around the village observing the different old buildings.

Naseby old shops.

On the way out we spotted some teasels growing wild along side of the road. Maybe another left over of by gone days? In Europe the dried flower heads were used on spindles to raise the nap of woollen cloth by textile workers.

At the Steampunk HQ in Oamaru, this old thing started up fuming steam and noise.
Intricate column work on a Oamaru main street building.

Oamaru It is always worth a walk along the main street of Oamaru and then to continue along to the historic district with its magnificent buildings built with the local Oamaru Stone. One shop of interest was Adventure Books who stock rare and out of print books. Later we went out to a beach to watch for any Yellow Eyed penguins coming ashore for the night. We did see one too, but at the far end of the beach. The town boasts the Steampunk HQ and we watched an old steam engine making noises and we passed bye an old wharf ‘littered ’ with resting shags.

A gathering of shags on a wharf in Oamaru.

The last stretch was through Ashburton through Christchurch, Kaikoura and home. At Ashburton I was interested to check out a church that I worked on years ago.  During 1962 I worked on forming the boxing for the end window (as seen in the photos) and also the tower by the entrance. It was the St Stephens Church – dedicated on 22nd June 1963. 

The Ashburton church that I worked on 1962.
The Asburton church 2019.

Rainfall for April at our place was 54mm (monthly April average was 131mm)

1 Comment

  1. Jenny

    Awesome Will…would love to do that trip…great photos and history…hope you are both well

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