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Exploring Picton

Tuesday 20th October 2015

sunny 20 °C

I woke up this morning with a strong feeling that I didn't want to spend the whole day rushing around and away from our apartment given that the view was so captivating.

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Nigel felt the same and so we decided to stay put for the morning and perhaps explore the town in the afternoon. I did some washing, taking advantage of the laundry facilities in the apartment, and spent a bit of time updating my blog. Nigel listened to his radio and just relaxed. A little after midday we decided to go out to get something to eat and see a little more of Picton. We didn't initially venture very far, as there were a number of cafes and bars just a stones throw from our apartment. We chose one, probably quite arbitrarily, and while I had an iced coffee Nigel chose to have a beer. We both had a light snack which was just enough to tide us over until the evening. Once we had finished we wandered along the harbour front just as the Interislander was about to pull out on its way to Wellington. Just as I have a rough idea of the time by the comings and goings of trains in Saxmundham, I suspect it is the same in Picton with several arrivals and departures each day.

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We then made our way to the Edwin Fox and its museum. This is the only surviving ship used for the transportation of convicts to Australia. Built in 1853 in Calcutta, she was used for a number of purposes including general cargo, moving troops during the Crimea War and delivering labourers from China to Cuba. It was in 1858 that she was commissioned by the British Government to transport convicts and then in 1873 she was chartered to take people emigrating to New Zealand making four such voyages taking a total of 751 passengers. She was towed to Picton in 1897 and spent her last days as a place to store meat prior to it being frozen and shipped to England and then for storing coal. In 1965 she was bought by the Edwin Fox Society for a shilling and initially was moored in a nearby bay before being placed in dry dock on the 18th of May 1999.

We watched a short film about her early days and her preservation and then we looked around the museum. Once we had done this we went to have a look at what remains of her in dry dock.

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It was fascinating to look round and see the way in which she was constructed and get a sense of what it would have been like on board. There was a reconstruction of both the steerage bunks and cabin class so you could compare the two. It was also possible go into the dry dock itself where the ship seemed to be rather precariously steadied on timber poles and blocks. It looked very weather worn with large amounts of the copper cladding, that once would have protected the hull from the elements and termites, worn away.

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We both agreed afterwards that it was a great museum and well worth looking round.

Next we made our way back past our accommodation and over the harbour 'coat hanger' bridge to the eastern headland.

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We did a shortish walk past Shelley Beach and along what is called Lower Bob's Bay Track and then continued climbing a short way returning perhaps unsurprisingly by Upper Bob's Bay Track. Both paths gave good views of the harbour and queen Charlottes Sound and in the latter stages great views of our apartment block.

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There were lots of native trees and wild plants to be seen including some wild sweet peas.

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By the time we got back into the town we were feeling a little weary and so we went back to the apartment and chilled out for a while before Nigel went to get us a fish and chip supper. perhaps not such a healthy option but very tasty and a good value meal in New Zealand, costing much less than eating out and probably even less than cooking food ourselves!

Posted by Gill's Travels 02:20 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes sea hills new_zealand picton

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