Each year Clan Donald Canterbury arrange a 3-day weekend away for Clan members. Some years we have travelled outside the Canterbury area, however we have also discovered many interesting and delightful small towns within a short drive of Christchurch. So, this year we stayed at Darfield (population 2,900) which is 50 kms from Christchurch. Darfield is the main town between Christchurch and the West Coast and lies in the Malvern district arable and pastoral farming area.
On Friday, the 17th we met for lunch at Clan Donald Canterbury members, Paul and Faye McOscar’s home at Glentunnel where they operate a B and B. Glentunnel is a small village 14 kms from Darfield with a rich history. Coal mining and the manufacture of pottery and bricks used to take place in the area. Paul and Faye provided an interesting tour of their property and the village which included a visit to the Glentunnel museum and New Zealand’s smallest public library.
Pictured in the Glentunnel Museum (left to right) Andrew Muskee, Raewyn Hinton, Ann Smith, Ian Bright, Alison Kinraid, Elwyn Martin, Irvine Kinraid, Maggie Donald, Alan MacDonald, Pauline McIvor, Helen Ring, Valerie Bright, Paul McOscar, Gordon McIvor
The octagonal brick Glentunnel library was built in 1887 and incorporated the various types of brick and terracotta tile then produced by the nearby brick works. In 1984 a postal agency was established and continues to provide mail and postal services in addition to the free library service offered to residents.
Pictured (left to right) Elwyn Martin, Ian Bright, Pauline McIvor, Valerie Bright, Andrew Muskee, Gordon McIvor, Irvine Kinraid, Alison Kinraid, Paul McOscar, Raewyn Hinton, Maggie Donald, Ann Smith, Alan MacDonald, Helen Ring.
On Saturday morning we visited the Dean’s farm property “Homebush” situated about 8km from Darfield. The tour included an interesting talk from Crispen and Fleur Deans about the Deans family who were the first settlers on the Canterbury plains. In 1843 the Deans family took up a lease of 33,000 acres. Homebush is now a working farm of 1,350 acres. We toured the 8-acre garden, viewing the magnificent trees, rhododendrons, and spring flowers. The farm buildings were built from the 1850s onwards. Most still survive. The woolshed, stables, pigsties, and the apple house were all built from bricks made at the Homebush Brickworks. Sadly, the old homestead did not survive the 2010 earthquake and a new home has been built. The museum which is housed in the beautiful brick stables building contains an extensive number of exhibits including memorabilia of legendary All Black, Bob Deans who lived and worked at Homebush.
Crispen Deans, descendant of the original owners, gave an interesting overview of the property and its history.
The historic stables building which includes a water driven turbine.
Helen Ring amongst the bluebells
The historic apple house used for storing apples picked from the orchard.
After lunch at the popular Darfield Bakery we went for a walk in McHughs Forest Park. It was established in 1893 as a plantation forest for timber but is now a public reserve. The forest is dominated by Douglas fir but with a mix of other exotic conifers. Under the planted conifer canopy is extensive natural regeneration. The park includes The Magical Fairy Door Walk which our two youngest members, Bella and Phoenix found enchanting.
About to start the McHughs Forest Walk are (left to right) Alan MacDonald, Bella, Valerie Bright, Andrew Muskee, Raewyn Hinton, Linda and Kevin Giles, Phoenix and Valerie Bright.
Pictured on the forest walk are Bella and Phoenix with Ann Smith.
On Saturday evening we had a very enjoyable dinner at the Darfield Hotel followed by an election party back at the motel.
Sunday morning, we travelled back to Glentunnel for breakfast at the picturesque Glentunnel Golf Club before returning home to Christchurch.
Maggie Donald at the Glentunnel Golf Course