Things to do in Oamaru – historic precinct

14/01/2015

When the farm consultant bringing a group of Australian farmers to North Otago was discussing the proposed itinerary it included a look at irrigation infrastructure.

I suggested that some of the party might like an alternative.

I was right.

The whole party had been to whisky tasting on Monday night  and four of the women were keen to return to discover more of the charms of Oamaru’s historic precinct.

We parked by Oamaru Steam and Rail’s Harbourside Station and walked the few metres to admire the train outside Steampunk HQ.

Our next stop was the Grainstore Gallery:

The Grainstore Gallery is quite unlike any other you will find anywhere. A simply astonishing array of original artworks amidst a unique and magnificent ambience. Most of the works are created on site by owner and artist in residence, Donna Demente. Her work is famous throughout NZ for its mysterious richness and eerie presence, focussing on the glances and gazes of her portrait subjects (some masked) which loom large like illuminated echoes of the Renaissance, Romantic and Religious iconography of yesteryear.

There is also plenty of ephemera and minutiae to enable you to take home a small souvenir of your experience of this majestic interior. . .

 From there we walked to the end of Harbour Street, admiring Ian Anderson’s Oamaru stone carvings en route  and popped into Housekeepers Design for retail therapy and coffee before meandering back up Harbour Street.

Lavish Soap, home of the goat milks and flaxseed ointment which I swear by to counter eczema,  was our next stop before a long browse and several purchases at Lazy Cat Pottery Art and Café.

We were too early for Birdlands Wine and Scotts Breweing and Oasis, resisted the lure of the Harbour Street Bakery and Adventure Books but were waylaid by Presence.

An hour simply wasn’t long enough – we had to miss Slightly Foxed, the Woolstore Complex,  the inside of Steampunk HQ and several other attractions including the newly opened Galley café and the steampunk playground.

Victorian Oamaru is a good place to start when looking at what to see and do in and near the historic precinct.

 Events include the regular Sunday Farmers Market, the Oamaru Harbour Regatta on Waitangi Day, February 6th; the Harbour Street Jazz Festival from Friday March 20th to Sunday 22nd and the annual Victorian Heritage Celebrations in November.

P.S.

This is part of a series of posts of things to see and do in Oamaru and the wider  Waitaki hinterland.

You’re welcome to add your thoughts on the area or your own part of the country/world.

 


Two talented women

30/04/2010

One of North Otago’s talented women, restauranter Fleur Sullivan, was captured in a sylised portrait by another, Donna Demente.

The painting was joint runner up in the biennial Adam Portraiture Award.

image of contestant 


Steampunk

22/11/2009

Imagine a world were men are men, women are gorgeous and guns are shiny and desirable  . . .a glimpse of the future as imagined by a late Victorian explorer and adventurer.

This explanation of the work of artist Greg Broadmore, from Weta Workshop, greets visitors to the Steampunk exhibition at Oamaru’s Forrester Gallery.

Steampunk is tomorrow as it used to be. The punk is a rebellion against the present day preference for plastic and the disposable way of life.

For many it is a search for where society might have gone had it taken the wrong turn at the end of the Victorian era, an alternative Victorian future.

The exhibition includes a selection of work from Broadmore’s fictional universe’ of Dr Grordbort’s exhibition which will be touring China later this year and works from other artists who are part of the Victorian League of imagineers.

Works include a time machine by Chris Meder;   Teapot a young a very cheeky kakapo made almost entirely from parts from an old Welger bailer;  Helen Jensen’s dirigible and Donna Demente’s St Lucy Tomorrow.

Outside the gallery is Dugal and Meg Armor’s portable marshmallow toaster:

Donald Patterson’s steam tractor:

And:

The ODT has a photo of Ian Clark and his steam powered beer tankard which is also part of the exhibition.


Another march for democracy

21/11/2009

While assorted groups marched for democracy in Auckland, people were marching in Oamaru for a similar cause:

They were part of the street parade in the Victorian Heritage Celebrations.

Waitaki Mayor, Alec Fmailton, Mayoress Heather, the Queen of Victorian Oamaru and celebration committee chair, Sally Hope travelled by horse drawn carriage:

Also on parade, though not necessarily in support of votes for women were foot soldiers of Alf’s Imperial Army:

Emergency services were represented with an ambulance . . .

. . . a fire engine  . . .

. . . and a policeman:

There was steam power . . .

. . . and pedal power:

And if Donna Demente’s car was a few decades ahead of the Victorian era, what it lacked in historical authenticity was more than compensated for by its artistry:


Playing tourists at home

20/09/2009

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to give the partners of conference attendees a taste of North Otago, the caller told me.

It’s not often I get to play tourists at home so I was happy to accept the challenge to occupy 10 people for three hours. The difficulty wasn’t what to show them but what to leave out.

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We started in Oamaru’s historic precinct where attractions include Lavish Soap,  the New Zealand Malt Whisky Company, and the Grainstore Gallery.

Donna Demente is one of the artists whose work is available in the gallery. She’d parked her car downstairs:

car

Our second stop was Parkside Garden a two acre testament to the creativity and energy of Linda Wilson and Bob Wilson, of Parkside Quarry where Oamaru stone comes from.

A 15 minute drive from the downlands to the Waitaki Valley took us to Riverstone Kitchen  .  Fortified by a sumptuous afternoon tea we then partook of a little retail therapy in the adjoining gift shop:

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Inside the Opera House

20/02/2009

The motif for the Oamaru Opera House is a mask, created by Donna Demente:

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