Akaroa bach built by returning POW

BESS MANSON
Last updated 09:15 30/12/2013

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For quiet times or a right old knees up, LEE ROBINSON reckons there's no better place than his family bach in Akaroa.

I still get excited when I head out to our bach in Robinsons Bay. Whether it's going out to spend an afternoon mowing the lawns or a whole weekend I still get that feeling of anticipation. I've always felt like that coming here, ever since I was a kid.

My dad bought five acres of land just 4km out of Akaroa in 1952. He had earlier come back from Austria where he was a prisoner of war for four years during World War II. He paid two hundred quid for the land and built a 600 sq ft bach on it.

It was nothing flash. It was built of Polite (cement board) and timber framing with a clay tile roof on concrete piles with pinex wall linings. There was no insulation and it really was basic. Mice and the odd rat managed to find accommodation in the winter months.

It started out pretty small but we've built on over the years and these days we can sleep about eight people.

As kids, my three sisters, our parents and I spent every school holidays out here and most of the summer.

We'd take out our little 8m dinghy and catch flounder and red cod with our rods and nets. We made a cricket pitch where we would hold family cricket games. The beach is at the bottom of a little walkway from the bach and we swam every day. It was a natural outdoor life.

A lot of dad's mates from the war had baches around here and they all made their own home brew. They used to come over to our place and get "shickered" as my mum used to say. It was lethal stuff.

Later, as a law student, I'd come out here to study for exams. It's a quiet place where you can gather your thoughts. It's a beautiful part of the world here.

We like to gather at The Point - a little deck at the bottom of the property which looks out over the hills and across the harbour. It's a great spot for a glass of something as the sun goes down.

Every Christmas we're here. We put a turkey on the barbecue and on Boxing Day, my birthday, we have a good old knees up.

Once we had our own families we'd all take turns coming here. My parents would always join us. They were coming here well into their 80s. When they died I bought it from my sisters.

It's a very special place for me.

We lost one daughter to leukaemia when she was seven and she is buried in Akaroa.

Our other three daughters love the place as I do.

One of them is getting married here in March. It's a great place to hold such a special ceremony looking out over the water.

There are nine other baches in the immediate vicinity but each one is very private. It doesn't matter if you have a party and make a noise, you're not going to bother anyone.

It's pure irony that we have a bach here. There's no connection to our name but we feel connected to the place as if we discovered it ourselves.

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- The Press

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