Our next stop, an entire twenty-four minutes from Tolaga Bay by car, is Tokomaru Bay. This small bay reminded me of Calliope Bay, the setting for one of New Zealand’s great unread classic novels, Sydney Bridge Upside Down by David Ballantyne. (Some suggest Hicks Bay, further up the coast, is the actual setting. But for me Tokomaru Bay has three of the key requirements: a cliff, a crumbling wharf, and a disintegrating old freezing works; all in close proximity.)
The themes of this coming of age novel are bleak, the story dark, the narrator unreliable. I was hooked from the remarkable opening sentence: “There was an old man who lived on the edge of the world, and he had a horse called Sydney Bridge Upside Down.”
The ending is one of the most menacing in a novel, ever! And now, three years later, I was spooked at Tokomaru Bay Wharf. I don’t even believe in ghosts … much.
Unlike Tolaga Bay Wharf this small community still has to raise the funds to restore their old wharf. After the events earlier that morning, I’m sure you can appreciate I was relieved to see this sign.
During it’s hey day more than four hundred ships a year berthed at the wharf. How things have changed. No signs of life, now.
John was fascinated by the place. Me not so much. I had a serious case of the creeps.
“I want a photo of that old freezing works,” I said to John. Leaving my handbag in the car, I high tailed it back up the road on foot.
I kept my eye out for Cal and Harry and Dibs, and Caroline – no sign of them, though. Just one lone dog who ventured on to the road to check me. But he wasn’t game enough to approach the ruins, which I took as a bad sign.
Unlike Ballantyne’s characters, this was as close as I got!
My arrangement with John was that he would pick me up from the road outside the freezing works. I was there waiting. He drove past without seeing me.
Seriously weird. And not a good moment, my imagination being what it is. I was left there, just me, my camera, and the ghosts of Harry and Cal and Dibs Kelly. I’m surprised you can’t see them in my photos. But then again, it’s pretty difficult to catch the sensation of a haunting.
Fortunately, it’s the real world I inhabit. I hadn’t fallen through some veil of time, or landed in Ballantyne’s fictional world. John realised he must have driven past me and returned a few minutes later.
We ate our picnic lunch a few metres up the road at a table beneath these phoenix palms, well away from the nearby cliff, and happily plotted the rest of our trip and more besides.
Nevertheless, I was pleased when John suggested we have a cup of tea at the pub near the main road.
The welcome at Te Puka Tavern was warm and friendly. The next time we take a road trip around the Cape we might even stay there – it’s a safe distance from that old wharf and the freezing works.
For more interpretations of the Daily Post photo challenge visit Broken.
If you enjoy photography check out Photo101 Rehab.
And tell me, where in the world are your favourite novels set?