Festivies for the 30th Arrowtown Autumn Festival started on Thursday April 24th and run through until this Sunday, May 4th with last Saturday being Market & Parade Day, the highlight of the programme.
As mentioned, our rally organisers had arranged for two buses from “Remarkable Experience” to pick us up out at the farm where we were parked and deliver us into town for the day starting at 9:30am. With the first heavy frost of winter laying thick on the ground and the sun not yet over the mountain range behind us (but promising a sunny blue sky day ahead) the queue for the first ride was rather thin on the ground.
But once the sun reached us & we had all warmed up it was a race for a seat on the next bus & look who has the prime spot! With the screen windows removed it was rather a brisk ride into town.
The driver took us on a quick detour around Millbrook Resort where a Mercedes Golf Tournament was about to start; black cars & people dressed in black everywhere! We got a few strange looks as we rumbled through.
Arrowtown is a historic gold mining town but with the gold long gone this gorgeous little town has reinvented itself into a boutique visitors destination (too many visitors some would say). Many of the buildings in the main street were built during the gold rush and are still in everyday use, used as cafes, shops & offices. A lot of the houses that surround the town have also survived from the gold mining days. The buildings are protected & there are also strict design rules in the wider town for any renovations & for building new homes.
The town is also famous for its autumn colour, the new “gold”. Many of the trees were planted around 1867 after the initial gold rush & in an attempt to make the new settlement of Arrowtown look like the European towns settlers had left behind. Many of these trees have self-seeded and spread up the slopes of the hills that surround the town on three sides turning the hillsides into great swathes of gold & red at this time of the year.
The Buckingham Street & Village Green oaks form a beautiful canopy of dappled light & falling leaves over the many food and market stalls set up for Saturday's programme.
A busy Buckingham Street on a gorgeous autumn day.
Street theatre with Adrian Kirk, an award winning juggler, unicyclist & comedian. It was well worth stopping to watch this guy for an hour or so as he was a great entertainer, especially when he tricked 3 guys from the audience into performing a ginger-nut race. Their facial contortions as they tried to move the biscuit from the forehead down to the mouth with only their tongue & face movements had us in hysterics. And I’ve never before seen a buskers hat overflowing with coins and notes at the end of a performance. The girls on stilts were very good too, they walked and danced the length of the main street without rest.
As the start time for the parade approached people started to line the main street and move into the prime spots for a good view including this guy and his two dogs. Maybe the dogs were waiting to see their mates behind the Arrowtown Vets float which had 20 or so dogs (& owners) following along behind. I don't think they were too impressed as they hid behind their master when the band came through.
First came the vintage cars along with a few not so vintage & the Town Cryer.
What’s a parade without bagpipes, music & dancing girls…..(and Sponge Bob)
And a fire engine with a message that brought a more than a few smiles to people’s faces.
Once the parade finished we found our way back to the food stalls for a bite to eat & a coffee before catching the Remarkable Experience bus back to the rally site just in time for another rather chilly “happy hour”.
After a brilliant Saturday, Sunday dawned bitterly cold, wet & dismal. The rally finished after a final morning tea and most of the vans left the site heading for home after the long ANZAC weekend. Those who wanted to could stay on, and along with us, about a dozen other vans stayed Sunday night. The dozen other vans left on Monday morning leaving just us parked up on Monday night.
We were very grateful to the farmer for allowing us to stay on and as you can see the sun came back out on Tuesday (along with snow) as we hitched up & headed off once again……........just 4kms down the road to the Arrowtown Holiday Park where we are parked up waiting for our Invercargill family to join us tomorrow for a couple of days before they all return to school after the holidays.