Monday, 7 November 2011

We're On The Train To Nowhere

Driving Creek Railway
Roger Smith 2011
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The view of the Harbour View Motel is partly obscured by power lines; I say slightly because the vista remains very soothing at any time of day.

Power is a subject with which I have become intimately acquainted these past 24 hours as for a couple of hours last night, there wasn't any.

It reminded me of the old days on the Coromandel where light was provided by a kerosene lantern and cooking took place on a coal or wood-fired range.

Shortly after I had powered down my laptop last evening the lights started to flicker, the electrical relay to make a tango staccato and the alarm clock reset itself to zero.

All very disconcerting but a quick check with the proprietor assured me that it was not my computer activities that had destroyed the infrastructure of Coromandel township.  Apparently the switch over to a new substation somewhere had not gone to plan which meant all of us had to make do with no power.

As we had already showered and eaten it didn't matter too much and I was relieved not to have to watch yet another election debate on local television.

Today the weather has improved and the Southerly storm has blown through.  The top item on our schedule was a visit to the Driving Creek Railway, the brain child of potter Barry Brickell and his life work for the past forty years.

I had known of Barry since the late Sixties when my Teachers College art tutor, the late Frank Davis made the introduction.  He and Barry had been at Teachers College together and according to Frank,  Barry was besotted by trains even then; at parties he could  mimic every sound of a train traversing the North Island's Main Trunk line, including its traverse of the Raurimu Spiral.

First and foremost though, Barry is one of New Zealand's foremost potters although it would be better to describe him as a ceramic artist, as many of the works he produces are large terracotta sculptures.

Fern - Driving Creek
Roger Smith 2011
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I once owned a salt glazed pitcher that I bought from his pottery in the early days and I still have a couple of soup mugs that were created by his hand.

So was the hour's train trip on his narrow gauge railway worth the $25 - in short, every penny!

We wound our way through regenerating native bush including stands of young kauri trees.  One has to be impressed with Barry's energy and single-mindedness as the Driving Creek Railway was largely created by him alone.

Bush Walk - Driving Creek
Roger Smith 2011
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Sculpture - Driving Creek
Roger Smith 2011
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If you do just one thing on a visit to the town of Coromandel, do spare an hour to enjoy the ride on the Driving Creek Railway.

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