Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

24 June 2010

Burkes Pass: St.Patrick’s Church 1871

The last time I saw this church it was in a slightly run-down state and was no longer a church but some sort of arts and crafts centre. At least it wasn’t a Bingo hall! It was built in 1871-2 and intended for use by several denominations in what was then a very remote place. But the Catholics (being almost as élite as the Elusive Brethren) declined to use it.  Seeing St. Patrick’s again in autumn 2010 was a pleasant surprise; it’s become loved again and looks very spruce for such an old lady.

I was travelling with an old friend from Sydney who was brought up over 80 years ago on a local sheep station. Our real mission was to visit the nearby cemetery where some of his ancestors are buried. The cemetery is a bit ramshackle but we found some stones, two of which were poignant to say the least: one recorded the death of an uncle in an avalanche while he was trying to find Merino flocks in a snow storm; the other was a grandfather gored to death by a prize bull.

Rural life was a game of disaster or survival in the 18th century. I shivered at the thought of such horrible ends and felt lucky to be alive.


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By Don Donovan