At the time of 22nd February 2011 earthquake, Chris and I were literally in our 2nd week of living on Lowes Road in Rolleston. We both were in Christchurch at 12.51pm that day (and after being told by him to stay put at my parents’ house in Bishopdale) Chris headed home from work, envisioning our tropical fish and frog tanks to be smashed across the floor and who knew what else. As we now know, Rolleston held up well that day – Chris later telling me that the house gave the appearance that nothing big had happened that day although he had had ceiling tiles fall and smash all around him just an hour earlier.
So this meant that none of Rolleston’s iconic landmarks suffered either.
I had always noticed the huge Blue Gum at the corner of Lowes and Goulds Roads; my brother and his family had lived off Lowes Road for 20 old years. Your eyes never really reach the top of this huge giant as you sweep past, caught up in the fast traffic fury of a roundabout. Being the only gum of its size in close proximity, it stands proudly for all to see – but it wasn’t until Rolleston’s 150th Anniversary that some almost forgotten history about this heritage gem resurfaced for us to learn about.
The intersection of these roads were once known as “Cream Can Corner”. Twice a week, during the 1940’s, empty cans were left on a purpose built wooden platform, under the Blue Gum for the collection of the Tai Tapu Diary. The cans were left by two farming families – James and Margaret Brosnaham & John and Ngaire Foster (nee Lowes) – who farmed the surrounding land. In fact, the Brosnaham family were still working their land right up to the 1980’s. This land (tree included), were purchased by the Selwyn District Council in 2008.
This particular Blue Gum is now even more special as the earthquakes of 2010/2011 were not the first disaster it survived. It was one of a great number of Blue Gums once, but huge fires had ripped through Rolleston during the 1930’s and 1940’s taking down, not only those Blue Gums, but plantations of Pine trees. Unbelievably, these fires were usually fought by local farmers and residents with nothing more than wet sacks.
Well, this corner is in no danger of being forgotten again as its history is now marked and a storyboard now tells all. Awesome stuff.
*photos taken by Chris Bulovic*