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Anita and Bernie’s Travel Diary

Monday, 28 Jan 2008

Location: Masterton, New Zealand

MapHi, everyone & Happy Birthday, Rachel!
Well, would you believe it? The Wairarapa is under drought conditions & there is a water shortage. Guess what happened last night? (no you do not have to answer the question!) It rained! And this morning! But I went to Mass at the local church, St. Patrick's, only to find that it is being re-furbished with smoke detectors & spinklers. The Mass centre had moved along the road to the funeral parlour chapel! An interesting service! but a good sermon.
After Mass, we went out into the countryside towards Castle Point to an old homestead sheep station (of only 75,000 acres), called Brancepeth, for lunch with Donna, an old friend of Yvonne's. We were made very welcome by Donna & Stuart & by Simon the other tenant farmer. The station is 'managed' by the NZ Heritage Trust, but still occupied by the family - a bit like the National Trust. In its day, the station had 300 workers. It is like a small village with its own school & post office. The buildings still contain their contents as when they were last used. The post office has its letter & folders slots, the folders still there - I think that the letters were sent! The house is part occupied, the library having been donated to the University of Victoria. The farm buildings are still used by the owners and 2 tenant farmers. The gardens are beautiful and well maintained - it contains the 'oldest Red Gum tree in NZ - it's 156 years old. The house has a watch tower for protection during the Maori wars. It has a hidden room built into it to hide the family. There is a substantial book written about the station. It was built using 'old (English) money' Donna's husband, Stuart gave us an impromptu demonstration of sheep-shearing. It was a very pleasant experience with 'the natives' - Stuart is proud of his origins: his mother is from Leicester & his father from Kircuddy (sorry if this is a mis-spelling, John!). And the sun shone!!!