New Zealand – the way it used to be.

The freedom of being an artist was epitomised for me by the yellow bus on a one-way bridge recently. One of the last one-way bridges in the south island it connects SH8 between Queenstown and Dunedin over the mighty Clutha river to the tiny hamlet of Millers Flat.

 

This bridge operates on a country system- you just look and go when it is free, no signals, signs or barriers. If someone is waiting on the other side you raise a couple of fingers at them in a lazy salute.

 

On a weekday morning I was passing that way and the yellow bus on the baby blue bridge caught my attention – it was going so slowly it made me smile.

 

Happily they stopped on the other side for petrol or a snack or to fix some small defect on the bus at one of those independent garages  that are also disappearing. I had a chance to see them; a retired couple living the dream.

 

As a landscape painter I am always on the lookout for interesting sights. I too have time to turn off the main highway into a one-horse town and look at the sights or find the special moments and capture them.

 

And Millers Flat has an interesting claim to fame. An anonymous grave dating back to 1865 is said to below to a young good-looking man who died crossing the river. A local farmer buried him and because they didn’t have a name he wrote ‘Somebody’s Darling lies buried here’ on the grave. At the time there were many gold miners from all around the world in the area. Somewhere in the world a mother, wife or friend was grieving for their loss – not knowing why they hadn’t heard from him, where he was or if he would return. When the local man died in 1912 he also asked to be buried next to the grave. The two graves are still visible.

 

It is a nostalgic little story of compassion in tough times on the opposite side of the river. But you have to make the time to turn off the highway… as I did. It is worth it.

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