Road's history recorded

DVD project committee members (from left) Brian Bayley, of Speargrass Flat,  Annette Thomson,...
DVD project committee members (from left) Brian Bayley, of Speargrass Flat, Annette Thomson, Elaine Kirkland, Geoffrey Thomson, Reta Thomson and Leslie Van Gelder, all of Glenorchy, and David Beck, of Invercargill, proudly present The Glenorchy Road: A Dream Come True in the township after the public launch yesterday. Photo by James Beech.
A new appreciation for the feat of DIY New Zealand civil engineering and the determination of a tiny community will be gained by watching the new documentary The Glenorchy Road: A Dream Come True, which was launched to applause in the township yesterday.

Introduced by project committee members Geoffrey Thomson and Leslie Van Gelder, about 80 residents settled down in the Glenorchy Lodge for the premiere of the entertaining hour-long documentary on DVD, which tells the tale of how the highway came into being, against all odds.

The lifeline was prompted by the realisation the steamship Earnslaw was not going to service Glenorchy forever, so Tommy Thomson and Laurie Smith are credited for campaigning for the construction of the road in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

The modest unsung heroes who carved the original rugged unsealed track from the village towards Queenstown are also given their dues on camera.

Darrell's Bluff is named for road builder Darrell McGregor who recalls how he used 17 cases of gelignite in one blast to clear the road corridor.

Glenorchy residents gathered to watch the spectacle, only to see an eruption of debris and beech trees so massive it triggered a tidal wave which rocked the passing Earnslaw.

The documentary reveals how the self-reliant community raised funds to pay for the road when money ran out. Raffle prizes were won, then handed back so they could be raffled and won again.

The DVD costs $25 a copy for this weekend only, as part of the 150th anniversary of settlement at the head of the lake.

The retail price increases to $30 afterwards.

All proceeds go towards the Glenorchy Heritage Group Inc.


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