I was down at the Cardrona for a photo shoot a few years ago. When it opened in 1863 it was a gold miners pub and after the gold was gone, the pub continued serving the local farming community. The long serving publican, Jimmy Patterson, would regulate how much his patrons could drink – one drink for those heading up the road over the treacherous Crown Range, and two for others heading down the road to Wanaka. None for the women. Jimmy died in 1961, aged 91, and the hotel was closed. It sat empty for years, slowly deteriorating until a local bought it in the 90’s and did it up. After the shoot, we drove up the road a bit to visit my wife’s uncles in Clyde – Bill and Alan. They are Southern men of few words, can put you in your place with a raised eyebrow, or will end a half finished story with a chuckle leaving you to finish the story yourself. Masters of the understatement. In fact, an entire story could be a chuckle, they’ll all understand and have a wee chuckle themselves. We told them about our week at the Cardrona shooting and it was followed by a bit of a pause. Eventually Bill piped up and said ‘Oh yip’. Another pause (pauses are normal though, nothing’s urgent in this part of the country), and then he added ‘The Cardrona aye? Hear it’s changed a bit since I was up there last in … awe … 1943’.
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