Monday, December 20, 2010

A long way to go to church

I'm not sure when I learnt of it, or when the desire set in, but I have wanted to visit the Serpentine Church for many years. It was the highest church [about 1030 metres] in New Zealand, and is situated in a snow tussock basin 90 mins. drive south of the Old Dunstan Rd. or between Poolburn Dam and Lake Onslow The road is only open for a few months of the year, and is only easily negotiable, with no harm to the environment, when it's dry.

A plan for a landscape photography expedition was hatched with my good friend Roger, and it deemed we approach via the Ida Valley and Poolburn Dam [thanks to advice from Gilbert of Clean Green Images], using my favourite route: The Old Dunstan Road.

Poolburn Dam is host to many Kiwi cribs and batches...
#alttext#

Owner of one batch, Dick, shows off his day's work...
#alttext#

We were enthralled by the weather...
#alttext#

It was a stunning evening for 4wd travel and we stopped often to enjoy the landscape and make some images...
#alttext#

The local farmer is obviously a skilled metal worker...
#alttext#

One of many stops to take in the immensity of the landscape...
#alttext#

The track meanders down to where we thought the church to be...#alttext#




There is no way you can hurry on this track though, and we barely made it to catch the best light we've seen for many years...
#alttext#

#alttext#

#alttext#

Around midnight we finally finished the photo shoot, and here Roger examines the fruits of his labours now on his laptop...
#alttext#
I slept a troubled sleep though: there was something about this place I found very odd, and on discussing it with Roger, he felt the same. We certainly noted, that unlike other historic gold mining sites in Central Otago, there is just no evidence of other buildings - just a church literally in the middle of no where!


Dawn saw us under different weather...
#alttext#

#alttext#

#alttext#

#alttext#

#alttext#
From the the Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust web site: "The church was built at the forlorn site of the Serpentine Goldmine. The Serpentine Union church opened in July 1873, the minister was late attending and by the time he arrived the miners gathered had already been down to the hotel for refreshments and had been drinking heavily. After the first hymn was sung the miners in their drunken state demanded an encore, the minister was not impressed, he cut short the service and said that he would never return there for another service. It was later sold to a couple of miners, and has recently been restored by the Department of Conservation"

http://www.nzsouth.co.nz/goldfields/dunstrai.html




With rain threatening we thought it wise to get up on the tops again, rather than grapple with extreme four wheel driving on a wet and slippery track...
#alttext#

#alttext#

#alttext#

A rabbiter's hut - two bunks, probably constructed in the 1940s, and still in mint condition...
#alttext#

On the roof again to get a photography perspective that shows the hut in the context of the immense landscape...
#alttext#

Back at Poolburn, and on a better road in the wet, we had a nine to noon snooze to catch up, and awoke to yet more stunning weather events...
#alttext#

And on down to the Ida Valley and refreshing rain...
#alttext#

#alttext#
Thanks Roger and Mylee for yet another memorable adventure

#alttext#

Merry Christmas dear readers

Labels: , , , , , ,

Share |

12 Comments:

Blogger Deirdre said...

What a marvellous trip Donald - photos are fantastic.Had no idea there was a church out there!
Deirdre

December 20, 2010 at 1:54 PM  
Blogger Shirley Goodwin said...

Lovely photos as ever, Donald - they make your readers feel like they are there in the landscape.

Very best wishes for a pleasant and safe Christmas break.

December 20, 2010 at 5:27 PM  
Blogger Shirley Goodwin said...

PS The church reminds me of a ruined chapel (Our Lady of the Rocks) that I visited in Provence which was perched on a rocky outcrop, with absolutely nothing else around it. Admittedly, it was older, probably 13th or 14th century, but it was hard to imagine that there would have been any other buildings up there.

December 20, 2010 at 5:30 PM  
Blogger Bob McKerrow said...

What an amazing historic yarn and superb photos. What light you got.

Thanks.

Bob

December 21, 2010 at 12:48 AM  
Blogger Donald said...

Dear Deirdre

Yes, indeed. There's a lot out there. Would like to get to the Stone Man someday too!

Cheers

Donald

December 21, 2010 at 4:56 PM  
Blogger Donald said...

Hi Shirley

Thanks for dropping by.

Interesting about the old church you mention. Maybe they either built them so well they've outlasted all, or they were isolated deliberately.

All the best for Xmas to you also.

Cheers

Donald

December 21, 2010 at 4:59 PM  
Blogger Donald said...

Hi Bob

Historic yarns seem to capture the imagination, but sometimes it's hard if not impossible to find more detail of places like this. It must exist, but takes time.

I'm a great fan of the concept 'OK I've got the light, now where is the subject?' I think Galen Rowel said this.

Cheers

Donald

December 21, 2010 at 5:22 PM  
Blogger Marg said...

I love the story of the poor minister who arrived to find his flock drunk. What a shame he didn't have a better sense of humour!!!! Merry Christmas

December 21, 2010 at 5:37 PM  
Blogger Donald said...

Dear Marg

Yes, he must have a 'soul-less' man of the cloth. I would have thought an encore and good cheer would have gone a long way in those days!

I have it in my brain you're not in Dunedin right now, but in the US, or have I got this wrong?

Cheers

Donald

December 21, 2010 at 5:42 PM  
Blogger Ruahines said...

Kia ora Donald,
Sensational photos with the light and essence of the country. There are a few places in the Ruhaine where I sleep restlessly. Not in a bad way, but in a way where I am very aware of the voices and connections to the past. Just the way it is.
Have had to put off a trip with my oldest son this week as the weather ws just too wild and unsettled, so we are leaving now either on Christmas night or Boxing Day. I am then heading out in early Jan. with a guy I met through blogging and have become friends with. There is a link from my place to his two places - Pohangina Pete and Ruins of the moment (his photo blog), both places I think you would enjoyable and Like Minded.
Have a fantastic Peaceful Yuletide, hopefully filled with Nature. Kia kaha e hoa.
Cheers,
Robb

December 22, 2010 at 10:06 AM  
Blogger Donald said...

Dear Robb

Thanks for the positive comments.

Yes, pretty interesting the links with the past and whether or not we're tuned into them. I've always figured they're worth listening to.

Hoping you get away with your eldest, but won't hold my breathe as it's so unsettled.

I'll check out your two blogger friends thanks. It's been wonderful how this medium can be used to make new and solid friendships. A delight!

Cheers

Donald

December 28, 2010 at 8:55 AM  
Blogger cragrat said...

I really like the one of the Rabbiters hut

January 23, 2011 at 4:54 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home