Thursday, 21 July 2011


Gold Office, St Bathans, Otago

Vulcan Hotel, St Bathans, Otago

Post Office, St Bathans, Otago

old stone house, St Bathans, Otago

Over a year ago we said we'd go back to St Bathans. Another promise to ourselves we have yet to honour. I must admit, the claims that a ghost haunts the Vulcan Hotel (where we planned to stay when we re-visit the place) creeps me out. Despite the wide popularity of Harry Potter-like or vampirish-fictions these days, I remain a paranormal-horror-semi-phobic. I have no fascination for ghosts and their ilk, just a wary unease. I think an alternative place of accommodation may have to be found. 
When we visited the town of St Bathans, it felt peaceful yet heavy with history; a relatively recent history compared to the history of the 'old countries' such as Ireland and Scotland ... but a history nevertheless; one that dates back to the 1860's when the town was full of gold-miners and associated activities. 
The more I delve into the history of our world, the more I realise how true the saying, 'The more things change, the more they stay the same'. (I believe we can credit someone French with that truism).
The people who frequented the buildings in the photos above, or worked the land in the photos below, would not be that much different to us. They may have worn funny clothes and spoke weird, but like us they sweated, swore, bled, cried and laughed. They thought themselves fortunate or thought themselves wretched, depending on the weather or circumstances. They endeavoured and they dreamed. They despaired and gave up. They loved, they hated, were optimistic and bitter. They were cynical. They were realistic. They were romantics. They were hopeful. They believed in a better future and yet they were convinced that they lived in the best of times.  

remains of a sluice pipe and gold dredging mounds; Blue Lake, St Bathans, Otago

remains of gold dredging, Blue Lake, St Bathans, Otago

Blue Lake, St Bathans, Otago


I invite no ghost
to look right through me,
nothing from the past to find me
hiding in the here and now 
from whatever wraith howls 
for a future turned inside-out. 

Kay McKenzie Cooke


Di Mackey said...

I may have whimpered, upon arriving on your page, via my google reader ... and I may have said, Oh St Bathans, in a weak and wishing kind of voice. I lived in Cromwell for 5 years, way back then when we were young xx

susan t. landry said...

these cliffs and hills are amazing, kay.

and i like your hang-tough poem, too!

Marja said...

Oh what a gorgeous place. I love these old towns and photo of the blue lake is just amazing. I am certainly going to visit it.
Thanks for sharing. Love your poem !

Kay Cooke said...

Di - It's all still here waiting for you to re-visit one day. :)

Susan - Thanks. Putting on a brave front maybe (the poem).

Marja - Thanks. Enjoy your visit. It's an amazing place.

Avus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Avus said...

Lovely, evocative meditation, Kay. It immediately brought to mind Edmund Blunden's poem "Forefathers"

(Previous deletion is mine - I got the link wrong!)

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