Barbara Hoskins (nee Anton)
For teenagers growing up in Island Bay at the end of World War II, there were not many of the activities around that there are today. We needed to make our own fun. We had bikes, but not many families had cars and we saw most of the movies that we went to at the Empire, although occasionally we went into town. We made the most of the beach, right on our doorstep and also the tennis club. Many of the activities that I was involved in were centred on the Church – chiefly the Catholic Youth Movement, to which many of us belonged.
The Island Bay group had a great reputation for organising hikes. Some of the hikes were planned ahead and we invited other groups from the rest of Wellington, but sometimes they just evolved on a fine Sunday! We would meet after Church and agree that it was a great day for a hike, rush off to our homes to collect a knapsack, sausages, potatoes, bread, milk, tea and a billy and all meet at the Terminus.
If we were planning a long day of it, we hiked around past Red Rocks (you needed to keep an eye on the tides, because you couldn’t always get around ‘The Runaround’ at high tide) and further on around the coast till we came to Long Gully. We would start up the gully where, at one stage, you had to go past a water fall and then on up the stream until we came to a fence (I think it was the third fence, but I was never quite sure!) Then we would leave the stream and head up into the hills till we found Shepherds’ Hut. This little bach which was unlocked, had a couple of sacking bunks, an open fire place and some pens outside it. It was obviously used for penning and working with sheep, but we never saw anybody at work there.
We would have our food – cook the sausages on the fire and boil the billy – and, on those wonderful days in autumn when we had found mushrooms on the way, we would cook and eat them. What a marvellous flavour! When it was time to go home, we would go up the hill behind the hut until we reached a path that curled around the tops and around Mount Joseph and would make our way back down the track beside the road where the entry to the Landfill is today.
On days that we were not so energetic, we would sometimes go up Spooky Creek to a flat spot up there or build a fire under the rocks, by the entrance to the Creek just before Red Rocks. Only once. did anyone stay out for the night and that was when a group came back down the wrong stream and were not back at the expected time. The phones of Island Bay were buzzing and a group of the boys set out as a ‘search party.’ They went off up the track by the landfill and, inevitably, once they were out of earshot, the bedraggled group turned up! No cell phones to reach them then! The boys in the search party spent the night at Shepherds’ Hut and were all in trouble for not being at work the next day!
Before I was old enough to go on these hikes, my sister and I used to enjoy the hills where the new native bush and bird reserve is to be established. We lived in Derwent St, quite near the right-of-way opposite Mersey St. where we could have access to the hill. We also had friends who lived in Ribble St, whose house backed onto this space. There was a lovely little creek and some trees there, but not many natives trees or birds. We often climbed up the hill, through the gorse, to the foundations of the ‘haunted house’ with our friends. According to local kids’ legends, we believed that a German used to live in that house and that he signalled to submarines that were out in Cook Strait. Some said he had committed suicide and that was why the house was haunted! We wondered why it had been burnt but we never did see any ghosts!
It is great, fifty-five or so years later, to see the Native Bush and Bird Reserve being established in the Ribble St area and to see how many wonderful walkways have been established all around the Wellington hills. Let’s use and enjoy them!