Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The wild West Coast

Well, as you may have guessed I have been away travelling for work. It's a bummer but someone has to do it! Actually, being out and about is one of the great bits of my job and I get to see our wonderful country and meet the people who live here so really I'm not complaining. This time I was back to the West Coast of the South Island (you can see how imaginative we are with our place names already!)

On the way there I had to stop and take this photo, I got even closer to the Southern Alps but it was warmer to take this photo here. Isn't it breathtaking! Click on it to make it bigger, and no those sheep aren't the only ones we have. We have loads of them.

I also took the occasion to call into a wee cemetary that for years I have only ever driven past. The Stillwater cemetary is one of the resting places for 65 miners killed in the Brunnerton mining disaster of 1896.

The photos below show (hopefully) the memorial grave where 33 miners are buried, many others are buried in family plots at the cemetary. I was really taken with the grave featuring red roses, it was rather a grey day by the time we got there and that splash of colour was striking. Considering the grave was over one hundred years old, it made me wonder who had placed the flowers there. I guess that those dead miners have family still in that part of the Coast. The graves were really in bad states of repair, and many were unmarked other than by rocks outlining them. Sad to see.

It was a stark reminder of how much our history and indeed our working history has been shaped by the blood, sweat and tears of those who went before.


VioletSky said...

It is hard to imagine the ever-present fear of mining disasters in such towns. Sadly it is still present, though not as prevalent.

Steve said...

People often forget just what a constantly dangerous job mining was - and going back a couple of hundred years in the UK we even sent kids as young as 8 down into the mines. Seems utterly barbaric now.

The Sagittarian said...

Violet - we still seem to hear horrific modern disasters regarding mines don't we!

Steve - agreed, altho' it never did them any harm being sent up the chimneys now did it? (joke)

Steve said...

I think the ones who had to follow horse drawn carriages and pick up the dung had it cushy.

louciao said...

Mining disasters--a long history of those in Canada. My Italian grandfather was a goldminer for a time. Fortunately, he got out of it before it did him in, else I might not be making inane comments on people's blogs.

I thought the scenery in the You Tube video with that haunting melody had a Canadian feel to it. Sure enough--it was a Cowboy Junkies rendition.

It is stunning to see in your photo how the mountains just rise straight out of the ground. The hell with foothills, they seem to say, let's get on with being mountains.

The Sagittarian said...

Steve - indeed! I have a book by "Baldrick" which details all manner of horrible jobs young children had to do - I tell my kids its an instruction manual!

Louciao - an Italian Grandpa - how exotic! We might be related as my husbands family have Italian ancestry which they have traced back to about 1690 something! I am really pleased you are able to leave comments. I love your comment about the mountains - they sure do ahve attitude. I love them! That Kea really was close, he just edged closer to me and then stared defiantly.

louciao said...

Saj, sadly I think we are not related as I've been unable to trace my father's family any further back than my great-grandfather. I was the first of his descendants to travel back to the village they came from and there was no one left with our surname. Even the lady that ran the only store in the village had never heard of us. I believe I must come from solid peasant stock. Certainly I have the hips to prove it!

The Sagittarian said...

Louciao - wonder what the village was? Ours are from Lavorno (or Leghorn I think it's also known as...nothing to do with Foghorn Leghorn tho'....)