Sunday, May 18, 2014


“Dog Kennel Corner”, the sign said. Another said “Lake Benmore Haldon Arm”; always a sucker for a lake, I took the turn. I didn’t know the area and I didn’t have a map, but the road was good and stretched invitingly into the Mackenzie District’s distance (Google Street View:,170.563848,3a,75y,221.31h,84.61t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sMmcNMazOtvnApVAQQHriew!2e0?hl=en)

I drove, for what seemed like a long distance through the rugged Mackenzie. Actually it was about 20km, twisting and turning over one-lane bridges, spanning a variety of creeks, and getting deeper into the tussock covered wilderness. I wasn’t worried, but saw no other vehicles and it did cross my mind that this would be an unfortunate place for my little Suzuki (affectionately known as “Camera Bag”) to break down. Then the tar seal stopped and the gravel began. Perhaps ‘gravel’ is too kind; it was more hard-packed earth with an occasional sprinkling of stone. But hey, I had already come a long way and somewhere down here was a lake. I drove on.

Gradually, kilometre after kilometre, the road got narrower and rougher. I passed the occasional sheep station and stock yards and once saw a farmer in a ute. Somewhere, around the 40 kilometre mark, I really did begin to wonder if I was doing the smart thing, but consoled myself with the thought that Camera Bag’s other nickname was “Mountain Goat”, and pressed on.

50 kilometres and the road was a two wheel-track through the tussock. I was conflicted; by the thought that this might be an incredibly stupid thing to be doing (at my age) and a stubborn determination not to be beaten; either by the landscape or my own fear of the unknown. Determination won.

Finally the track took a sharp turn and a dive down into a large cluster of trees. I had arrived at a beautiful, secluded camp site on the edge of Lake Benmore. The summer campers had long gone and in late autumn the place’s only inhabitants were the golden trees and the multitude of birds that had reclaimed their home.

After the mild anxiety of the drive, the place was heavy with a tangible peacefulness and I stayed a while to soak it in. Strangely, I didn’t take pictures there that day, except as a matter of record – this is where the road ends:

Another of life's little metaphors, perhaps.

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