Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

05 December 2009

N.Z. House & Cottage 12. Dudley’s Cottage, Arrowtown

I wrote and illustrated ‘New Zealand House and Cottage’. It was published in 1997. It’s a snapshot of some historic New Zealand homes - both grand and modest - as they were preserved at the end of the 20th century.
I have decided to share some of the entries from the book from time to time on this blog.


Noelene Dudley-Garbutt lives in the little white cottage that stands near the remains of Arrowtown’s Chinese settlement; it has been in her family since the early 1900s. These are her words:

‘The cottage was built in 1862 by the Sillifant Bros (Frenchmen) for the Butler brothers (Irish). My grandfather, George Dudley, purchased the cottage from the Butlers … There have always been Dudleys in residence since then.

‘It’s built of river stones, 2 ft thick [600mm] and bonded together with river sand and lime. The whitewash that kept the sand and lime in place was made from shell lime, mutton fat and cream! This mixture was put into a forty gallon drum and left for twelve hours or so until a beautiful, thick creamy solution had finished “working” and was ready to be painted on with brooms.

‘I remember my grandparents and father, plus aunts and uncles, all being involved in re-painting during my childhood.

‘My grandfather came from Ireland in the late 1800s and married Catherine Austin who was born “just over the hill in Cardrona” … they had eight children, and two daughters are still living.

‘Grandma and grandad were the buffer between the Chinese and miners in Arrowtown. Neither group mixed with the other and if the Chinese needed either the doctor or the police or even groceries from the township grandma would always see that they got help. The Chinese were always very appreciative of anything done for them and were very good to my grandparents . . .’

I’ve drawn and painted lots of cottages in Arrowtown, some of them long before it became the tourist trap it is today. The best known are in Buckingham Street which so far survives creeping commercialism as a pretty, tree-lined road. Somehow, though, despite the hoards of visitors that pass its doors and trespass in its little garden, Dudley’s Cottage gives me a more genuine feel for the old goldmining town than most. Perhaps it’s because the river is close by and if you listen carefully you can hear, through the golden dapple of autumn sunlight, the shuffle of gravel in riffle boxes and the sounds of miners cursing and laughing…


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By Don Donovan