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Thursday, 12 November 2015

'Beyond The Skippers Road' ;

I bought this book at the Riccarton open-air market for $4.  - Having driven down this tracks length (bravely? - foolishly?) some thirty years ago with my young son - I truly enjoyed reading Terry Macnicols' story about the harsh living found while rearing her kids and living remotely there - with access only via this dirt track that was often closed by land slips, floods, ice and snow.

The Skippers Road
This book relates to their hard back-blocks life in the years (1941 - 1956) around the second world war.

Terry talks of using .22" - .32" - and .303" rifles to shoot feral goats, wild cattle, and deer, in between shearing the sheep.-  Riding horses, driving bulls - herding sheep - and of  "fatting" and skinning thousands of rabbits for the small rewards that the skins would fetch - all the time with her young children at foot (- or rather - sitting in front on the saddle!).

Her tales of rabbiters, gold panners, shearers, and old station hands are delightful in exposing the lonely and eccentric hermits way of life. - Odd folk certainly - but tough and self-sustaining definitely!

She and her husband ran the Mount Aurum Station and the neighbouring Branches Run where freezing winter conditions complicated their lives for sixteen years - until Archies ageing combined with her loosing an eye in a serious head wound (while launching their boat on Lake Wakatipu) led to them selling-up and a move to a farm in milder conditions at Roxburgh.

No doubt the road was improved some when I drove it 30 years ago - compared to how it was in their day 45 years earlier - but it was still thrilling and spectacular even in good summer weather.

I expect that nowadays - helicopters, motorbikes, and 4W.D.s are easing management in the "back of beyond" - but you'd still need to be hard working and tough to thrive in there

.- If you can find a copy of this book .. Grab it.

Marty K.