Sunday, October 4, 2009
2009. Oxford Alpacas, Mears Bush and Glentui Waterfall
2009. Cottage, Main Street, Oxford, NZ
Leah's work colleague kindly lent us her Oxford holiday cottage for a few days:
Thursday morning: I drove from Christchurch via Tram Road to Oxford. Our holiday cottage was off Oxford's Main Street, where Leah's colleague had four male alpacas on her land.
2009. Alpacas, Oxford. Cow With Calves hill backdrop
2009. Alpacas, Oxford, NZ
Our cottage bay window had magnificent views of Mount Oxford and The Cow With Calves hill. Our neighbour was Oxford's butcher, with a sheep slaughter-shed at the bottom of his garden. Another neighbour had a horse and stable in a paddock at the bottom of his garden. Early afternoon, he gassed us out by cleaning his stable with buckets of carbolic acid: toxic pong.
2009. Alpaca Al Pacino & Alpacas, Oxford, NZ
2009. Alpacas Berty & Goofy, Oxford, NZ
2009. Four Male Alpacas. Mt Oxford backdrop
2009. Alpacas: Goofy, Berty, Tiamak. Oxford, NZ
Late afternoon we observed the alpacas: Al Pacino, white; Goofy, black; Berty, brown; Tiamak, beige with a white mop head. Their grazing ground was a large L shaped paddock below the cottage: the L base went below two neighbours' plots, part of old Oxford's railway track.
The alpacas' feed shed was behind our cottage, and two alpaca sleeping sheds were on their grazing paddock, used only during extreme weather, as the alpacas preferred sheltering below fence gums and pines.
2009. Four Male Alpacas, Oxford, NZ
2009. Alpacas Goofy & Berty, Oxford, NZ
We watched alpacas graze; dust bath; gnaw fence wire and gate posts; urinate; defaecate; ruminate and stare at us with big quizzical eyes and pursed lips; their hairy ears erect or laid back. Smart animals, keeping their distance, as they thought we were shearers, or the vet.
2009. Alpacas, Oxford, NZ
2009. Gate Gnawed by Alpacas, Oxford, NZ
We drove to Coopers Creek to find Mount Oxford Track, as I planned to summit Mt Oxford (1364m) in summertime.
2009. Mt Oxford Sunset, Oxford, NZ
Twilight: Back at our cottage, we relaxed watching sunset over Mt Oxford.
2009. Mt Oxford Morning, Oxford, NZ
2009. Butcher Slaughter Shed, Oxford, NZ
Friday morning: While drinking early morning tea, through our lounge glass door, I watched our neighbour butchering in his slaughter-shed: In quick succession he slaughtered, decapitated, hung, gutted and skinned a dozen sheep.
He and his son loaded 12 carcasses onto a utility vehicle, covered the meat with a plastic sheet, then drove off, the son driving a 4x4 with a trailer load of barrelled and bucketed offal and heads.
2009. Mears Bush Entrance / Exit, Crallans Drain Road, Oxford
2009. Mears Bush Plaque, Oxford
2009. Potassium Cyanide Warning Sign, Mears Bush, Oxford
2009. No Dogs Sign, Mears Bush, Oxford
2009. National Trust Sign, Other Signs, Mears Bush, Oxford
We drove along Mill Road, then turned right up Crallans Drain Road to Mears Bush, remnant beech forest, preserved in 1980 by Lorna and Peter Mears with a Queen Elizabeth II National Trust Covenant.
2009. Picnic Table & Mears Bush Track
2009. Mears Bush Track Fork & Beeches
2009. Mears Bush Understory & Beech Canopy
I coolpixed a bronze memorial plaque on a rock to the Mears, and several gate signs at the start / end of Mears Track. By the gate we passed a bench under beeches, then walking uphill we passed a picnic table below more beeches.
Dawdling uphill, we passed diverse understorey with beech canopy. Beech trunks and mature branches were blackened by fungi, feeding off mites' and scale insects' honeydew, hanging as viscous strands on blackened branches.
2009. John Moffett Memorial Plaque, Mears Bush
2009. Mears Bush & Crallans Drain Road. Mt Thomas & Canterbury Plains Backdrop
2009. Mears Bush & Alpine Backdrop
At the top of Mears Track we sat on John Moffett memorial bench, and admired views down Crallans Drain Road and beyond to Canterbury Plains and snowy Southern Alps.
2009. Top Track view of Mears Bush
2009. Top Track view of Mears Bush & Gorse Pollution
2009. Mears Bush Beech Trunks
Further on, we passed a PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB THE ANIMALS sign, presumably red deer, or sheep, which we didn't see in nearby paddocks, or bee hives, which we did see beyond Mears Bush fence.
A NO ENTRY sign on a beech trunk forbade us disturbing bee hives, which produced honeydew honey from beech mites, and manuka honey from understorey manukas.
2009. Honeydew on Beech Branch, Mears Bush
2009. Mears Bush Ladder Bridge.
2009. Cabbage Tree Flat, Mears Bush
2009. Ron Boocock Memorial Plaque, Mears Bush
We crossed a dry creek on a wooden ladder-bridge, then on CABBAGE TREE FLAT by cabbage trees, we passed a memorial bench to Mears Bush conservationist Ron Boocock. I liked dappled light in the understorey amongst blackened beech trunks.
Leah was fascinated by different coloured bracket fungi on rotting beech logs. Amongst leaf litter and blackened roots, we passed a dark poison dispenser filled with blue bags of potassium cyanide to kill possums. Around Oxford, we'd already seen several potassium cyanide warning signs on fences.
2009. Mears Bush Glade
2009. Golden Bracket Fungus on Beech Log, Mears Bush
2009. Multi-Coloured Bracket Fungus on Beech Log, Mears Bush
2009. Mears Bush Understorey
2009. Fresh Fallen Beech Branch, Mears Bush
2009. Brown Bracket Fungus on Beech Log, Mears Bush
2009. Yellow Bracket Fungus on Beech Log & Young Beech, Mears Bush
2009. Yellow & White Bracket Fungi on Beech Log, Mears Bush
We crossed another wooden bridge over a trickling stream and passed several tree fuchsias, Fuchsia excorticata, in the dark understory. Till then, I'd never seen real tree fuchsia flowers and had imagined them to be longer than their 2-3cms. Possums browsed tree fuchsia flowers, which were depleted on trees I saw, and possums seemed to thrive on potassium cyanide, as there was no stink of dead possums.
2009. Tree Fuchsia, Fuchsia excorticata, Mears Bush
2009. Potassium Cyanide Dispenser, Mears Bush
2009. Mears Bush Track
2009. Mears Bush Bridge
2009. Mears Bush Exit / Entrance
Afternoon: We drove to Ashley Gorge, which we'd visited several times over the years on picnics and fishing trips. We walked briefly on Ashley River bank.
2009. Oxford Millennium Lookout Plaque, Oxford, NZ
2009. Lookout eastwards view: Oxford & Canterbury Plains, NZ
2009. Lookout View, Oxford, NZ
We drove to Oxford Millennium Lookout on a hill above Oxford, to look over Oxford and Canterbury Plains. Leah liked coolpixing a yellow flowering sophora tree, and closer to Oxford, coolpixing a colourful row of rural letterboxes.
2009. Sophora Flowers, Sophora tetraptera, Oxford Lookout, NZ
2009. Rural Letter Boxes, Oxford, NZ
2009. Mt Thomas Camping Ground view over Canterbury Plains
Saturday morning: I drove to Mount Thomas to find Summit Track, as I wanted to summit Mt Thomas (1023m) in summertime. We picnicked by a Mt Thomas stream near Cherry Orchard Walk, and enjoyed Canterbury Plains views from the empty camp ground.
2009. Glentui Waterfall Track
2009. Glentui Waterfall, NZ
Afternoon: I drove to Glentui to find Richardson Track, as I planned to summit Mount Richardson (1047m) in summertime. Richardson Track started together with much shorter Glentui Waterfall Track, which we walked through beech forest. On the track we found two dead mice, poisoned by cyanide.
2009. Mt Richardson Sign
2009. Glentui Waterfall Track / Mt Richardson Track
From a gorge lookout we looked down on Glentui Waterfall, which had a gorge pool above it. On our walk back to the carpark, we had glimpses of Canterbury Plains and Southern Alps through beech trees down Glentui River valley.
2009. Glentui River Valley Alpine View
2009. Beeches at Glentui Carpark
2009. Farm Gate near Glentui Carpark
Leah coolpixed a farm gate welded together with old farm implements, tools and junk-metal, like spanners, spade, farm fork, car bumper and bicycle. On the winding road out of Glentui, past the schools' camping hostel, gorse infested the hillside. Where forestry disturbed NZ hills, gorse polluted the land.
2009. War Memorial, Pearson Park, Oxford, NZ
Sunday morning: Oxford Farmers Market near Pearson Park. I liked the grey granite obelisk war memorial in Pearson Park:
"They lie in many lands
That we may live in peace..."
2009. Protea Stall, Oxford Farmers Market, NZ
2009. Oxford Farmers Market. Mt Oxford Backdrop, NZ
Leah liked shopping and chatting to youngish farmers selling proteas, honey, coffee, pork pies, Cornish pasties, fish, venison, vegetables, cakes, plants, eggs... Prices were steep. e.g. 1 doz Free Range Eggs: NZ$5.00. Cheaper at Pak 'n Save supermarket.
Oxford Farmers Market was cold and windy, as a late winter storm was blowing over the Alps. A USA expat told Leah that he'd emigrated to NZ, as he didn't like USA wasteful consumerism and pressures on his kids to grow up too fast in USA.
2009. Oxford Farmers Market, Oxford, NZ
Craft Market, Oxford Town Hall: I liked two wooden WW "Roll of Honour" boards on a wall, and revarnished floors and the wooden gallery.
2009. WW1 Roll of Honour, Oxford Town Hall, NZ
2009. Craft Market, Oxford Town Hall, NZ
2009. WW2 Roll of Honour, Oxford Town Hall, NZ
Thereafter, Leah pilloried me by the old wooden gaol on Main Street.
2009. Pillory, Old Oxford Gaol, NZ
Afternoon: I drove back to Christchurch via Old Main Road.
Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.
See Southern Beech Forest