Welcome Rocks Gardens owes its existence to a VERY lucky break: “If I hadn’t stopped here, a day later I’d have been locked down in a Queenstown hostel for six weeks.”
Have you ever noticed how, sometimes, split-second decisions have far-reaching consequences? Tiny choices can lead to life-changing events — and you never know when the Fates are spinning their threads.
Welcome Rock Trail owners, Tom and Katie O’Brien, needed a WOOOFer to clear some firewood. And when Brendan Lopez applied, he never dreamed that he’d end up running a market garden south of Queenstown.
I mean, there wasn’t even a hint of an idea of market gardening in Garston at the time.
Yet, two years later, he’s at the helm of Welcome Rock Gardens, a thriving supplier of fresh, organic vegetables in Queenstown and beyond.
Russell Glendinning was a giant of a man in Northern Southland. I think you’d be hard-put to find anyone as passionate and dedicated to trains and community as the man known to many as Mr Kingston Flyer.
A Crowd Gathers In Garston
On February 22nd a crowd gathered near the little railway shed on the Garston Green. They came from all over Southland and beyond. Railwaymen caught up with their mates. St John’s personnel leant against their ambulance chatting to friends.
Locals from Kingston, Garston and Athol came along. Family, friends, dignitaries…
We were all there to honour one extraordinary man.
The Russell Glendinning Memorial Seat
This rustic seat is a heartfelt tribute to a legendary Southlander. And, like Mr Glendinning, it’s down-to-earth yet complex. Aaron Abernethy built it carefully, from railway sleepers and cartwheels. Russell might have blushed to read the information board created by Donna Hawkins and Chris Chilton. But he’d have loved the attention to detail on Macaela Hawkins’ re-creation of the Kingston Flyer perched on top.
“I think it is a great tribute to Russell,” said Kingston Flyer Ltd Director Neville Simpson. “It’s a place to come and remember him, to sit and contemplate.
Russell used to do a lot of that. He’d go up the track, do a few sleepers then lie back in the grass and contemplate life.”
But, who was Russell Glendinning and why did 100 people gather to honour him on that rain-threatened afternoon?
Revenant 2020 was all we hoped for and more. It had drama, heartbreak and challenge a-plenty.
I was lucky enough to be out on the course in this year’s event. Here’s how it unfolded.
Can You Imagine Going Deep Into The Revenant?
“ I saw a black and white cow pulling a caravan up the river.”
That might have bothered Shaun the first time he clambered up the Nokomai River. But as he scrambled over boulders and under logs for the fourth time in 60 hours, the cow didn’t faze him at all.
When you’re pushing body, mind and spirit to the limit, hallucinations happen. Your brain starts to play tricks when you’ve been running and navigating with no sleep. And when you’re climbing, descending and racing for 190km over three days.
It happens when you go deep into The Revenant.
25 men and women lined up in the 2020 race on Welcome Rock Trails this year. Some had been there before — they had demons to conquer. Last year, no-one came close to finishing the race.
Others were there to discover their own limits. How would they face the challenge that is the Revenant Ultra Adventure Run?
Photographer Philippa O’Brien travelled the world before coming home to Kingston. Now, her latest adventure is more personal; the opening of a new art gallery at her lakeside cottage.
In this bright room, you’ll find copies of her three books. ‘Photo Fables,’ (whimsical tales without words.) ‘How Art’ (a book of poems and photos with her Dad, Des.) And ‘Skateface,’ her sensitive portrayal of New Zealand’s roller derby world.
There are huge, framed photos of cowboys on the gallery walls, part of Pip’s recent rodeo series.
And what about the carefully-oiled yes/no river stones? These are ‘Seyonstones’ — a tool that Philippa created to “help when you just can’t make up your mind.”
Art photography — on old-fashioned, film cameras — is Philippa’s passion. Her photos are detailed and thought-provoking. The more you look, the more there is to see.
But, before she got behind the lens, Philippa O’Brien had another intriguing career. I’ve always wanted to know more about the world of movie costumes, so I was thrilled when Pip agreed to tell me all about her job as a costumier.
The normally-tranquil Garston Cemetery was a-buzz early in November.
Residents past and present were gathering along with SDC mayor Gary Tong and councillors John Douglas and Rob Scott, for the opening of the cemetery memorial board and shelter.
The ceremony marked the end of two years planning, fundraising and organising for the Garston Cemetery Trust. Designed by Gordan McMillan and built by Aaron Abernethy and Jordan MacGregor, this lovely little building is one-of-a-kind.