Where two next?

Antipodean travelogue through the eyes of two - one textile and one building lover. It'll be hard to differentiate the two!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A curious type of engagement

I have decided to return to Hamilton, not literally though.

Something has been bugging me about Hamilton since we left about a week ago and I have to get it off my chest. It is curious how we can sometimes have something deeply ingrained into our thought process that pre-empts what a place is going to be like before we visit it.

I had what I thought was a very simply and logical thought process. When I heard that Hamilton was the largest inland town I knew it would be adjacent to a large river. Why because of the need for transport and communication, two basic needs for any town to survive. It was no surprise to me that all the major cities and towns i.e. the four biggest were on the coasts as these would have the extra benefit of foreign trading etc.

When I reviewed the map of Hamilton I saw there was quite a large river called the Waikato River running through it. Aha! I thought to myself, “elementary my Dear Watson” I muttered to myself. Once my first predictions were correct I ventured a few more. But first let me return to my home town of Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford for a moment.

Enniscorthy, although considerably smaller than Hamilton, is an inland town on a river so logically the town grew up and was largely dependent upon the river Slaney for a long part of its history. The town is therefore like most Irish inland towns. There is a river and quays at the centre, adjacent to which are the roads followed by usually commercial building which have a direct relationship with the river. Additionally there were grain stores and market places. This relation was symmetrical to both sides of the river unless topographically this was not possible. Bored yet?

Anyway back to Hamilton. So there we were on the way into Hamilton in the car, our destination Victoria Street, one of the main commercial streets in Hamilton which is full of cafes, restaurants and the like. I fancied a nice coffee near the waters edge basking in the UV rays, but when we turned the corner onto the street there was no river. I checked the map and the signage and we were definitely on the correct street so where was it? We parked the car and began to explore what was a typical main street of any town, as the photo below will prove, but it didn’t relate to the river.

I found this fact to be most curious and although we didn’t spend a great length of time in Hamilton it would seem that the urban design evolved differently. On my return to our base I got out my Lonely Planet New Zealand guide book and read a brief history of the town hoping it would provide a clue and it did and I quote “European settlement began in 1864 but the Waikato River was Hamilton’s only transport and communication link with other towns until the railway arrived in 1878.” So there it was the difference between Hamilton and Enniscorthy is a direct result of its history, or on Hamilton’s part, its lack of it relatively speaking. The river was never as important to Hamilton as it was to Enniscorthy and perhaps this explains the different urban evolutions of the towns.

We eventually found the river although it was not entirely obvious at any stage on our walk down Victoria Street that the river was close by. We had to walk down small pedestrian paths to find the river and walkway. Here is a photo of a view along the river and you can see that there is no sign of Hamilton.

Perhaps further down towards the botanical gardens the river shares a better relationship with the town but for me there was a curious lack of engagement with the river apart from the walkway and perhaps therefore a lost opportunity?

Or perhaps if we had walked a few steps further the whole city centre would have opened up to engage the river. Worth another visit I think.


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Boxing Day Wellington

6 tea towels
5 knives
4 saucepans
4 pillows
4 bath towels
4 hand towels
2 duvets
2 duvet cover sets
2 sheet sets
2 frying pans
2 facecloths
2 bath mats
2 beach towels
1 wooden spoon

All with 25-50% off – Boxing Day Sales

Just in case you thought we were having too much fun. Hopefully we won't have to buy too many more new things and we can shop for everything else on http://www.trademe.co.nz


P.S. I called St. Stephens Day, Boxing Day because that is what they call it here.

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