Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Out & About in Alex

Our next stop was a short 9kms down the road in Alexandra, where we parked up for two nights at Molyneux Park, a NZMCA POP. There’s a three night maximum stay and only eight vehicles at a time, are allowed to park over but we had the place to ourselves except for one vehicle who arrived late and left early on the last night. A little different to the last time we passed through Alexandra when we called into check the site out and it was full.

Molyneux Park contains Alex’s sports fields and buildings which are used for a range of sports from rugby, soccer, cricket to judo and squash, it also contains the aquatic centre, a skateboard bowl and an ice rink. David enjoyed having a spa, and swim in the heated pool, at the Aquatic centre. Other than Saturday morning the place was pretty quiet (a hint  for fellow campers- don't park near the skateboard bowl where kids now ride their bikes). On Saturday there was a steady stream of vehicles moving up and down the road delivering children to their Saturday morning sports, most seemed to be running late to get somewhere, hitting the speed humps with a good thump.

The park is also very handy to town with the supermarket just down the road. An ideal place to stop and do all the chores except for the lack of an easy access dump station in town. Try filling up with petrol (for generator), diesel (for heater & ute), water for house tank and dump the three house waste tanks on the forecourt of a busy Caltex service station on a Saturday morning. Dumping right beside the drive through carwash is very off-putting, both for us and the people waiting in their cars in the queue. And I can imagine Subway just behind the dumping vehicles gets a few unpleasant smells when the wind is blowing the wrong way!

Busloads of children arrived and departed from the ice rink during the day. An ice rink is another novelty for me, this is the first outdoor ice rink I have seen. I learnt to roller skate on a concrete rink, that’s all we had in Napier. The Marine Parade rink was my ‘hang-out’ place when I was a teen. How cool that the local children learn to ice skate and curl as part of their winter school curriculum, a skill they’ll have for life.

I love the penguin sledges which help them with their balance as they learn, I wonder if they have bigger versions for adults..... Don’t you love that little guy's helmet. And going by his skating skills I don't think he'll be keen to give the sledge away anytime soon. He knew what he was doing, racing fast everywhere and knocking a few kids off their feet along the way. His helmet matched his character for sure.

I’m not sure whether the rather large scary looking wooden sculpture near the front gate entices the little kids in, I saw a couple  giving him a wide berth. It was interesting watching the kids curl, those white ‘things’ are for balance instead of the brooms the big boys use. Check out the small child in the background on the bottom photo, hanging onto the wall for dear life- I think that’d be me if I tried to give it a go. Ice skating is a lot harder than roller skating.

Before we left Alexandra, I took a drive up to the lookout, that’s the Clutha River along the back and the Manuherikia River in the foreground, their junction is at the top left near the steel truss arch bridge over the Clutha. The town centre is on the point on the inside of the rivers.

It was late in the afternoon but I managed to take a few church photos- this is St Enochs Union Church built in 1877.

And I found ‘Shaky Bridge’, an historic suspension bridge built over the Manuherikia River. Before the bridge was built the only way across the river was by punt, the bridge was also used by wagons and horses however today the bridge is strictly for pedestrians only.

The bridge opened in 1879 at a cost of £974 and was later sold for £1 to two settlers living across the river. The bridge fell into a state of neglect but was eventually repaired, it was at this time the bridge was narrowed to foot traffic only.

And across the bridge I also found a great little cafe, aptly name Shaky Bridge Cafe which is part of the Shaky Bridge Vineyard next door. I bet this place is busy during the weekend and over the summer, there were many walkers, cyclists and runners crossing the bridge on their circuits even while I was there. We’ll have to stop there the next time we are in town.

How many astute readers noticed the clock on the hill in the photo, two above? This Alexandra icon has been hanging above the town since 1968 and lit up at night, it can be seen 5kms away. Here are the facts and figures-
  • Diameter: 11m
  • Minute Hand: 5.6m including the counterweight.
  • Hour Hand: 4m including the counterweight.
  • Weight: Each hand weighs approximately 270kg. The driving mechanism weighs approximately 760kg.
  • Mechanism: Reduction gearboxes powered by one 3/4 hp synchronous motor.
  • Lighting: 150 torch bulbs, powered by a reduction transformer.
  • Structure: Six vertical steel columns averaging 7.3m in length, supported on concrete foundations, fastened into the rock face with steel supports.
  • Location: On the Knobbies Range to the east of Alexandra.
  • Height Above Sea Level: 200m

And one last photo, of the historic Vallance Cottage which was built in the late 1880s and lived in until the 1970s when there was still no running water inside and only cold running water in the separate wash-house. I didn’t check, but apparently the back door step is almost level with the ground due to the lady of the house being a “fastidious housekeeper” who scrubbed it daily. This tiny two bedroom mudbrick cottage was the home of William & Jean Vallance and their nine children. Nine children!!


  1. Another great post , your last pic is "Vallance Cottage", a distant relation , we have been inside , very well preserved

    1. Of course! I totally missed that when I checked out the brass name plate. How interesting, it's a small world. When you live in New Zealand.


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