109. The Catlins – Invercargill 

We made several day trips to Invercargill, then after leaving Niagara spent two nights behind an Invercargill motel which offered showers and a washing machine and also a rather mediocre restaurant which we tried once as the menu sounded good (!).

Our first visit was on a rainy day, so after making sure the Gibb family paintings were still on display …..



….. we paid our customary visit to Henry the Tuatara and his quite active offspring at the Museum, spotted an interesting display of old keys, and did some shopping.




Returning to T5 at Niagara via Fortrose, we visited the old wooden lighthouse at Waipapa Point, the scene of NZ’s worst civilian maritime disaster in 1881 when the SS Tararua sank with the loss of 131 lives.



The site of the well-sheltered lighthouse keeper’s house is just discernible among a thicket of huge old trees.


We briefly turned off the main road to investigate a sign which said “shipwreck” in the Fortress Estuary. Not too much to see there.


Somewhere along the way we also spotted Dead Horse Road. Maybe the name is not so uncommon after all, Nic and Mick!

IMG_6005Some days later, with T5 ensconced in Invercargill we ventured further afield to Riverton for lunch. It seemed much further away than either of us remembered! – actually about 36 km. Lunch was in an old building where Mrs. Clark’s Cafe has been going for over 100 years. Highly recommended.


The wind is obviously rather strong in that area, as well as the Catlins. Witness the trees at the cemetery outside Riverton with their lopsided wind-sheared tops. It was when returning from that trip that spotted the latest fashion colour in hay bale covers. Marshmallows for baby dinosaurs?


IMG_6213We stopped at Hayes’ Engineering shop on the way back from Riverton. Besides an amazingly comprehensive stock of motorcycle parts etc plus old motorcycles and some cars, it had the best stock of gourmet kitchenware that I have ever seen. I wandered around for at least half an hour, a luxury I seldom enjoy on my own but this time Dave was engrossed with the motorcycles and the contents of Burt Munro’s shed(s) –  “Offerings to the God of Speed”. Unfortunately caravans are not the best place to keep a stock of gourmet kitchenware so I contented myself with a two-ended teflon scrapper which I badly needed.






Indeed I was quite surprised at the number of big new shops in the area to the west of the old main shopping area. A new Farmers, Briscoes etc.

While in Invercargill Dave also paid a visit to Richardson’s Transport Museum. Here’s his report:

While we were in Invercargill I took the opportunity to go through Bill Richardson’s Transport Museum, Nancy decided to stay “home” and do some research. The museum was originally for trucks but has expanded to include a range of Fords, the so-called “Letter” cars as well as several other makes including some Citroens and VW Kombis.

The museum covers 15,000 sq/m of floor area and has an amazing selection of cars, trucks and other memorabilia. Most of the vehicles in the Museum have been restored but there are quite a few that have come in off the street and just been cleaned before display, the quality of the restorations is amazing. 

I managed to spend three hours checking out the displays and probably missed half of what was there. The Fords included the range of letter cars  that were built before the model T as well as examples that were built into the 1930s.  All beautifully restored and in working order. 

The trucks included some that I had never heard of before from English, Continental, Japanese and American manufacturers. If you are ever in Invercargill with some time to spare then I can recommend some time spent here.

Truck Museum 1Truck Museum 2Truck Museum 5

Truck Museum 6Truck Museum 7Truck Museum 8A visit to Invercargill would not be complete without paying my respects to Great Grandfather Frederick Wentworth Wade (1838-1912) and his second wife Ada (Macloskey) (1858-1931) and also for the first time Ada’s sister Constance (Macloskey) Tothill (1862-1897) (I had not known until recently that she was buried in the same cemetery). GGFather Wade’s first wife Adela Macloskey died aged 26 on a visit to Melbourne with my grandmother aged 6 months, the youngest of six children all under 10; and Constance died aged 34 when her six children were also under ten years of age. The similarities do not stop there. Adela’s husband remarried two years later, to her niece Ada Macloskey; and Constance’s husband George Compton Tothill remarried one year after Constance’s death, to his cousin Henrietta Tothill.


When I first visited Great Grandfather in 2000 there was a large cross with ‘ADA’ on top of the plinth. But on my second visit about 2007, the cross had vanished. I enquired of the cemetery people and they did a search but could not locate it; however on this visit I spotted it lying face downwards in a nearby gravesite.


Here’s Dave holding it in place, and also standing near Constance’s grave with Ada and Frederick’s in the foreground. (His name is misspelled and we noticed a similar error on several other graves!)



At least “my” graves didn’t have a huge tree growing in it. I wonder if there was more than one sarcophagus in the enclosure initially.



Frederick and Ada’s daughter Fonna left a large bequest to St. John’s Invercargill, part of which was used to beautify the grounds. St. John’s is an imposing old church and in the rounds are some enormous old trees which Frederick would have known. I’ve got goosebumps ….


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