Friday, June 26, 2009
2009. Avonside and Six Bridges, Christchurch
2009. River Road upriver view of Avon River & Fitzgerald Avenue Bridge, Christchurch
As I wanted to continue walking beside the Avon River which I'd begun seven months ago, I parked my car on River Road beside the Avon near Fitzgerald Avenue Bridge. I avoided Avonside Drive on the opposite riverbank as it was a busy, narrow road with a narrow cycleway and no riverside walkway between Fitzgerald Avenue Bridge and Stanmore Road Bridge.
2009. River Road downriver view of Avon River & Avonside Drive, Christchurch
I walked downriver along a muddy path with duck dung on the grassy bank, past riverside houses, past leafless wintry willows, alders, liquidambars and lindens. I passed Avonside Tennis Club, and switched off my hearing-aid as traffic noise on the opposite bank was irritating. Despite my switch-off, I still heard a St John Ambulance when it howled past.
2009. River Road view of Christchurch City Council Organic Refuse Wheelie Bin in Avon River
Two male joggers passed me on River Road while I looked at ducks swimming in the Avon. I wandered past riverbank litter: paper, cardboard, paper cups, booze bottles, a supermarket trolley half sunk in the Avon, and a Christchurch City Council green-lid, organic refuse wheelie-bin fully sunk in the Avon. Ha!
2009. River Road downriver view of Stanmore Road Bridge, Christchurch
At Stanmore Road Bridge near Leah's work at Jean Seabrook Memorial School, London Street, I read a bronze plaque which stated:
"In pre-European times the Avon then known as Atakaroro was at this point the boundary between two families within the Ngai Tahu tribe. The swampland adjacent to the bridge site provided highly prized foods for the local Maori.
In the early days of European settlement the Avon and Heathcote rivers were used as vital shipping access to the infant City of Christchurch. Bridges were regarded as a nuisance and their construction was discouraged outside the city boundaries.
2009. Stanmore Road Bridge Plaque, Avon River, Christchurch
The first Stanmore Road Bridge was built at this site in 1862 and largely ignored ships statutory navigation rights. As a result in 1865 part of the bridge was cut away by Mr John Mills and his men to allow his steamer 'Maid of Avon' to pass.
2009. River Road upriver view of Avon River & Stanmore Road bridge, Christchurch
By 1875 the bridge was in a state of bad repair and in 1878 a new bridge was constructed with a 6ft path each side of a 24 ft carriageway. Since then the bridge has been further widened and strengthened over the years.
By 1995 the old bridge had reached the end of its economic life and was replaced by the present bridge. The stone facing on the wingwalls and the light support pillars are built from materials recycled from the old bridge."
2009. River Road upriver view of Avon River near Stanmore Road Bridge, Christchurch
2009. River Road view of Avon River downriver bend. Linwood Avenue on opposite bank, Christchurch
It was pleasing to know we'd arrived in Christchurch the same year, 1995, when the new Stanmore Road Bridge arrived. I remembered its construction and Leah and I drove over it many times.
I continued walking along River Road where the Avon took a sharp bend eastwards. On the opposite bank, Linwood Avenue began its long stretch towards Avon-Heathcote Estuary. I walked past houses, willows, Taxodium, liquidambars, toe-toe, flax and cabbage trees. Mostly bare, wintry trees enabled me to see Avonside better through a mesh of branches.
2009. River Road downriver view of Avon River opposite Avonside Girls High School, Avonside Drive, Christchurch
2009. Black Swan & Mallard Ducks, Avon River, Christchurch
With sunlight glistening Avon waters opposite Avonside Girls High School, two black swans floated over to scavenge food with a retinue of ducks. A man paddled upriver in his kayak. I stopped to coolpix a small flock of Canada geese on Avon River bank. Two men walking by with leashed dogs, scared the geese, which splashed into the Avon.
2009. Canada Goose, Avon River, Christchurch
2009. Canada Geese, Avon River, Christchurch
2009. River Road downriver view of Swanns Road Bridge, Avon River, Christchurch
2009. River Road view downriver of Swanns Road Bridge, Avon River, Christchurch
After I crossed Swanns Road Bridge 1954, Avon River meandered north-eastwards past birches, cabbage trees, flax and toe-toe. I strolled past riverside suburbia and on the grassy riverbank I found a smelly concrete and iron stormwater (sewage?) outlet covered by a solid iron hatch, right by Avon waters. While I examined the hatch, small flocks of grey gulls and Canada geese stood around expecting titbits.
2009. River Road downriver Avon view of Canada Geese. Avonside Drive on opposite bank, Christchurch
2009. River Road Stormwater Outlet, Avon River & upriver view of Avonside Drive, Christchurch
2009. River Road downriver view of Gulls, Avon River & Avonside Drive, Christchurch
2009. River Road downriver view of Medway Street Footbridge, Avon River, Christchurch
Near Medway Street, I walked past a steel & wooden footbridge across the Avon, and further on by a south-eastwards bend, a tributary flowed into the Avon. River Road began / ended as a road bridge over the tributary, then continued round the riverbend as Dallington Terrace.
Beside the road bridge, I walked across a wooden footbridge, and coolpixed grey gulls on the handrail, then I followed Dallington Terrace along Avon meander.
2009. River Road upriver view from Footbridge, Avon River, Christchurch
2009. Avon River Tributary Footbridge, River Road, Christchurch
2009. Avon River Tributary Footbridge downriver view, River Road, Christchurch
2009. Dallington Terrace downriver view, Avon River, Christchurch
2009. Dallington Terrace upriver view, Avon River, Christchurch
2009. Dallington Terrace downriver view of Avon River & Witch Hill backdrop, Port Hills, Christchurch
Warm sun on my back, on a long reach past Dallington houses on my left and Avon River on my right, I admired Port Hills in the distance and St Pauls school on my left. I crossed the Avon at Gayhurst Road Bridge and returned upstream to my car along Avonside Drive.
2009. Gayhurst Road Bridge upriver view of Avon River. Dallington Terrace right, Christchurch
2009. Avon River downriver view of Dallington Terrace left & Gayhurst Road Bridge, Christchurch
I followed three women pushing prams along the tarsealed track splattered with bird dung. I thought they were safer on Avonside Drive side of Avon River, as River Road and Dallington Terrace side of Avon River had muddy, clay tracks.
By a wooden boatramp, I passed a yellow CCC sign on a post warning about Egeria aquatic weed. I watched a male kayaker paddle upstream, while grey gulls stood on the bank and ducks swam towards me begging food.
2009. Avonside Drive upriver view of Avon River near Gayhurst Road Bridge, Christchurch
2009. Avonside Drive Boatramp downriver view of Avon River, Christchurch
2009. Avonside Drive Stormwater Outlet left, Avon River, Christchurch
2009. Upriver view of Avon River Bend by Tributary Bridges. River Road left, Dallington Terrace right, Christchurch
2009. Upriver view of Avon River, Medway Street Footbridge, between Avonside Drive & River Road, Christchurch
By another Avon bend, I passed another concrete stormwater outlet, with thick iron grills, padlocked closed, and disguised by riverside trees near a weeping elm. After passing the two footbridges again, Avonside track became muddy and slippery. Below willows, I watched a woman and her infant daughter on a pink tricycle, throw food to grey gulls swirling above the Avon.
2009. Upriver view of Avon River Gulls & River Road, between Gayhurst Road Bridge & Swanns Road Bridge, Christchurch
2009. Upriver view of Avon River between Gayhurst Road Bridge & Swanns Road Bridge, Christchurch
2009. Avonside Girls High School Students crossing Swanns Road Bridge from Avonside Drive, Avon River, Christchurch
2009. River Road upriver view of Avon River & Avonside Girls High School, Avonside Drive, Christchurch
2009. River Road view of Avon River Canada Geese & Avonside Girls High School, Christchurch
Back at Swann Road Bridge, to avoid Avonside Drive congestion, I recrossed the Avon to River Road again, where groups of Avonside Girls High School girls also crossed the Avon on their way home after school.
Near Avonside Tennis Club, three cop cars and a St John Ambulance pulled up, and a cop led a middle-aged woman from a house to the ambulance. She looked battered.
2009. River Road upriver view of Avon River near Avonside Tennis Club, Christchurch
2009. River Road view of Cop & Ambulance Call Out near Avonside Tennis Club, Avon River, Christchurch
I kicked my way through ugly litter mulch, mowed by CCC mowers on Avon River bank. I examined a discarded bottle: "Woodstock Kentucky Straight Bourbon and Cola 5%." And a discarded aluminium can: "William Cody's 8% Bourbon and Cola." I thought Avonside alcohol and Avonside assault were a toxic mix.
The Avonside six bridges walk took me 2.5 hours with many coolpix stops.
2009. River Road Litter. Upriver view of Avon River near Fitzgerald Avenue Bridge. Avonside Drive left, Christchurch
2009. Upriver view of Avon River & Fitzgerald Avenue Bridge, Christchurch
Coda: The above was idyllic pre quakes Avonside. During Christchurch 2010-2011 earthquakes, much of Avonside, including River Road, Dallington Terrace & Avonside Drive, was severely quake damaged & liquefactioned into a muddy mess: schools closed; bridges cracked or twisted; broken drains and sewage pipes; broken roads & houses; tilted houses sunk into liquefaction mud. Most of the area was red zoned with houses abandoned & demolished.
Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.