About the south

A photo of Whoop being winched out of a swamp en route.
Pic courtesy of Kathleen Sturrock

A photo of Whoop being winched out of a swamp en route.

In 1932 three Invercargill men, Hec and Jack Thompson and Jim Gilbert drove the first car to Lake Wakatipu from the Mavora Lakes.  

Hec had built the car from an assortment of parts, intending it to be rugged enough for cross-country adventuring.  

His daughter Kathleen Sturrock says, "The car was wisely equipped with a winch.  It was given the name of 'Whoopee', or 'Whoop' for short.  Elaborately prepared for the worst, they would follow the Oreti River to its source in swampy land near Lake Mavora.  From there they would drive over to the headwaters of the Von River and follow this down to Mt Nicholas Station on the shores of Lake Wakatipu."  

A road now follows the route of their journey.  

Longest fleece

The longest fleece recorded in Southland was a 24 inch or 61cm staple taken from a hermit ewe by Bob Cowan more than 100 years ago.  Cowan's nephew Neil Andrews has a sample.  

He says, "It was shorn from a six-year-old ewe, which was part of a hermit group of sheep that lived on Mararoa Station in the early part of the 20th Century.  It is believed these sheep were Cheviot cross and numbered over 30.  They had eluded many attempts by shepherds to capture and remove them.  Bob Cowan was a stockman with notable ability and was able to muster these sheep to civilisation in 1911.  What was exceptional is that these sheep didn't have lice, ticks or any other vermin.  Nor did they have any dags and were in excellent health.  The sample is free from vegetable matter, grit and shows no sign of tenderness – which is breaks in the wool due to fluctuating feed."  

Another long staple comes from a wild merino-romney cross ewe found in near-helpless condition on Bernie Selbie's property on Mid Dome in 1951.  

Her seven-year growth of wool was 470mm long but was full of grit and breaks.

The famous hermit Shrek had a fleece a mere 380mm long

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Southernmost burial

The southernmost female burial in New Zealand is that of Elizabeth Farr on Campbell Island in 1810.  

She was drowned when a dinghy overturned.  

A 1945 novel based on the legend that developed around her, Lady of the Heather, tells of the adventures and death of a woman marooned there as punishment for being a Jacobite spy.  

"The scene before her eyes was wild indeed.  Across the waters of Perseverance Inlet could be seen the the high rocks above Monumental Harbour on the opposite side of the roomy port.  Above the little cove loomed bare slopes, surmounted by black basalt peaks, too smooth to hold the snow and reaching like fingers into the cloud-hidden skies. No more gloomy a place than this island fastness could be imagined in the light of the dying day, yet this woman, Miss Marie Armand, in the year of grace 1828 had already spent seven nights and seven days there."


 - Stuff


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