Newsletter 3, part 2
Morning broke fine and sunny. I considered making coffee in the van and got it in town instead, then made my way to the cemetery. A couple of hours later, rather footsore, I had done the photography part of the job - and found the grave of Janet Frame. Time to address my list of places to explore. First to try was the old wooden house you can see on the right of the highway when approaching Oamaru from the north. The second door I knocked on had the owner behind it and he couldn't have been more welcoming. He warned me that some of the trees on the sides of the road to it would scrape the sides of the van a little which was ok. Making my way up the adjacent field - full of healthy-looking lettuces - I wondered what he meant about trees scraping. Then realised he meant the road up from his driveway which I'd parked in. I got quite close to bogging the vehicle on the dirt track on the edge of the field. The house had been the home of a horse stud. Nice place in its time but its time was well past. The owner told me that a few people had knocked on his door to talk about the possibility of shifting it to another site. No one had knocked a second time after a closer look at the place. Leaving the house, which had been on my list for a little while, I took a bypass road up through the hills above Oamaru for the next site on my list. This was part of the old Oamaru water supply, - the still standing piers of an aqueduct or pipe bridge visible from the road. I drove up a farmhouse driveway, knocked on a door but there was nobody home. A strong workplace sign on the access gate to the milking shed meant I wasn't going through there. I proceeded to the next house down the road adjacent to the aqueduct piers. No one home there. I took a few photos then moved on. My next target was a place I'd photographed before - from the road. I asked the neighbour - a fertiliser spreading business - which door to knock on for permission to get inside. It belongs to the quarry across the road, I was told, and given a phone number. I rang Shane at the quarry (or, at least, of the quarry) and he couldn't have been more friendly. In fact, he said, do I want to get photos of the old quarry buildings? Sure! I went across the road and wandered around, looking for the workers who would give me some directions. I found a couple of guys having lunch who told me I was in the wrong place. The quarry itself was on the other side of the hill. I drove up the haul rode and around the hillside, following directions to the quarry office. Nobody there, so I looked around for people and eventually found someone entering the office. She was also friendly, gave me a bright orange vest and instructions on where it was better not to go. Apparently they get a few photographers pointing cameras at the sharp light and shade of their limestone blocks, cliffs and roads. I happily walked around the quarry, photographing limestone and old machinery. Then back to my original subject. It was built as a schoolhouse. Two large rooms either side of a central corridor. Nice light and shade, some deep erosion of the stone. I then headed south. Stopped just before SH1 to photograph the cenotaph for the Deborah and Alma area, one of the many things that some people - including me - see every time they pass and always say they'll have a look when they have time. Well, today I had time. Onward, on a whim, to the coast and Kakanui for a quick walk and a look at the now unused part of the road being eroded away by the sea. Then through Kakanui and further on the coast road past All Day Bay and, again on a whim and because I'd not driven it before, onto Maclean road. It was an easy gravel road on a low ridge between creeks and the kind of place where, if you're looking for abandoned buildings, you can get lucky. Not today though. Back onto SH1 just north of Herbert. Ah, Herbert. Years ago I was hitching home from Christchurch and was on my last ride when we drove through Herbert after nightfall. The driver told me he'd worked for a time at Cherry Farm mental hospital. One of the patients there was a completely uncontrollable alcoholic, who said that his troubles began when he "fell in with the Herbert fast set." I always remember that phrase when I drive through Herbert, and I've often told the story to others, especially after dark when we can look for the bright lights of the "Herbert fast set" while passing through. Another place I've often thought of stopping and hadn't before was just before the Mill House at Waianakarua. Beside the road there is the southernmost (as far as I know) oak tree planted as a memorial for a Great War soldier who didn't return. After photographing that and its adjacent cross I was back on my way. At Goodwood again I thought I'd have another try at finding a cannon. It was also kind of an excuse to visit a place I'd seen photos of and read about - an 1860s house designed by the well-known Victorian architect Lawson. Maybe an old place would have an old cannon. I parked in the driveway where it splits to make a circle in from of the place, knowing that I'd have to make a reverse turn to get out. Then I wandered up and knocked on the door. No answer but there was loud music behind the house. I wandered around, shouting hello, and met Nevil. Nevil, it seemed was spending the afternoon drinking gin and lemonade and listening to the radio while work was being done inside the house. He was a retired engineer, knew what a ship's cannon looks like and hadn't seen one recently. He was happy for me to wander again around the house and take photos, then have a glass of wine with him. Truly, my overnight expedition was one of meeting friendly people. Promising to return - and I'd like to get more photos of the place in different light, I left, briefly stopping at the stone barn for my last of 1262 photos - not a good one, shooting into the sun. Then back over Pleasant river, under the railway bridge, back on the highway and homewards.
PS: Lolene here, NEW WEBSITE!!! www.darkestdunedin.co.nz
This is huge. Now we can advertise through Trip Advisor, have Darkest Dunedin available on tourism sites and generally be super cool and totally with it. Thanks everyone for your support so far and looking forward to the future of talking about the past!