Carefree Cribsummers

Carefree Cribsummers 695 1096 The Flyer Magazine

Carefree cribsummers

End of an era

The first of the 139 Lakeview Holiday Park holiday cabins will be demolished from October this year to make way for a new affordable apartment development. The rest will remain for a while as short to medium-term accommodation, potentially for up to three to five years, as part of what will be a phased development. However, the majority will go by next spring.

The 300 or so residents who are currently living there are being assisted into new accommodation through various agencies, or finding their own alternatives. Once completed, the new development will potentially include worker accommodation and affordable co-living apartments for up to 1500 people.

The Flyer’s Sue Fea recalls fond holiday memories staying at her family’s Queenstown Camping Ground crib…

It’s the end of an era – some 65 years since the first quaint holiday ‘cribs’ were built by Southland and Otago families in the former Queenstown Camping Ground. From October this year many of them will be demolished.

The Boyd family in front of the crib during the 1960's, front, Heather, Sue, Ian, with Margaret and Doug rear.

The Boyd family in front of the crib during the 1960’s. Front, left to right, Heather, Sue, Ian, with Margaret and Doug rear.

The cribs, on what is now the Lakeview Holiday Park site, are being removed to make way for much-needed new affordable worker accommodation and apartments. Their use-by date in what is now the Lakeview Holiday Park may have passed, but for our family, and many others, the treasured memories of our little blue holiday crib at 88 Armour Avenue will always live on. One room has been added on, but it still sits under the tall pines where it was moved to in recent years.
Endless late 60’s and early 70’s summers were spent here playing at ‘Happyland’, the camp playground – no need for a parent to come and keep you safe in those days. I can still smell the sweet aroma inside my five cent mixtures – little white bags packed with my favourite lollies from the camp store.

As we got older these became hard earned.

We’d lie in our bunks peeking out of the curtains in the early morning, ensuring that all of the drunks and New Year revellers were safely sprawled inside their large canvas tents across the way. After breakfast we’d strike – skirting quietly around the outside of all of the tents with our sacks, gathering the large, empty brown beer bottles which Dad then had to help us stack along the back wall of our crib. Our parents were not big drinkers, but it didn’t look good!

My older cousin, Maree, would often be at the helm organising our crews. Dad then helped us load our sacks of bottles onto the trailer for transport to Buckham’s Brewery, the old stone, soft drink cordial brewery and malthouse. It was recycling 60’s-style, as we handed over the glass bottles at Buckham’s in return for monetary reward. I was much younger than the others, so it was post-decimal currency (1967) by the time I was of bottle gang worthy age. My older brother, Ian, recalls a penny being paid for a beer bottle and ‘threepence’ for a clear ‘fizzy’ bottle. His went into the Southland Building Society while mine went straight to the camp store!

Early mornings were spent at the big CSSM (Children’s Special Service Mission), a large Christian crusade tent set up in the Happyland playground with heaps of fun activities, young leaders and music.
My older sister, Heather, and I still recall the fresh smell of the pine and eucalyptus trees, and the sound of bellbirds singing, as we arrived up from Invercargill full of excitement.

Every year I’d meet up with my holiday crib ‘bestie’ from two doors along, Janie Maslin, for another summer of adventures. Oddly enough we’d find it fascinating to play in the neighbouring cemetery among the old 100-year-old, iron-gated graves with their tall, marble headstones, imagining what life had been like for the names engraved.

Maree recalls that at one time there was a man living in a tree house in one of the pine trees just above the cemetery, which he accessed via a rope and a trap door.

Walking up Bob’s Peak (Skyline Hill) in the searing heat via the old dirt road with the sandwiches Mum had packed us kids always meant a free ride down in the colourful bubble-shaped gondolas.

New Year’s Day was always a special midday celebration meal when Mum cranked up the coal range in the crib during peak summer for a good Southland roast and new potatoes to see in the New Year. Every other day we’d be collected from Happyland in the car, once Mum and Dad had packed the day’s picnic, usually headed for Lake Hayes, the One Mile lakefront or Whitechapel.

We will always be immensely grateful to our dad, Doug Boyd, for the countless hours he put into building the crib in Invercargill during his supposed ‘time off’, and, of course, to our grandparents, Bill and Agnes Barnsdale, for funding it. It was transported up to Queenstown on a truck. As we got older Dad added a concrete pad and an awning was provided for the overflow of friends and extras.

During their uni days, Heather and Maree stayed on in the crib all summer working at nearby Trans Hotel, now Rydges Queenstown. My parents would head home and I got to stay on for another fortnight with my auntie and uncle each summer, spending five weeks in my
favourite paradise.

So the Lakeview redevelopment may signal the beginning of a new chapter in central Queenstown’s story, but for many of us it’s the end of a very special era.