Romany Rambler: Travelled 19599Km; 324 Nights Away
We had our Christmas Rally at Brookfield Scout Camp, in the lovely rural setting at Moore's Valley, Wainuiomata. Our small group soon had themselves nicely settled in the large grassy “Orchard” area of the scout camp. The Brookfield Outdoor Education Centre is located on the site of the original 355 acres purchased by John Crowther in 1864 and developed as a farm. His daughter Mary lived all her life on the property and on her death in 1958 bequeathed it to Scouting. Adjoining land has since been purchased so that the Centre now extends over 650 acres. We were kept entertained throughout the weekend by the antics and songs of a multitude of native birds.
A line of tents appeared on the other side of the orchard. Various groups of keas, cubs, scouts, and rangers had arrived for the weekend as well. We watched as the tents were erected, and some of the kids seemed much better at this task than others. At 7 years of age, the keas are the youngest in the scouting movement, and for some of these youngsters, it could well have been their first time away from home. The scout leaders certainly kept the boys and girls busy the whole weekend. Yes, that’s right, girls are now permitted to join the scouting movement.
The different age groups had high jinks on the flying fox, and we could hear squeals of laughter, or was it fear, the whole weekend. Two bright yellow trucks from the Wainuiomata Bush Fire Force arrived, and being rather partial to a man in uniform, I went out to see what was in store for the youngsters. “They will all get wet shortly”, the man in charge whispered to me. He then told the youngsters how the Bush Fire Force was started, and the role they play in fighting rural fires. The Force was formed in 1970 to assist the Fire Brigade with fighting scrub fires, and is required to take command of all vegetation fires to which it is called. It has about 40 volunteer fire-fighters, and is led by the Controller and other officers. It has five light 4WD vehicles, with six portable pumps, and normally rolls with about 2.5 km of hose. Most of their fire-fighting action involves working in the black burnt areas, relay-pumping water up the flanks of fires to reach the head. Helicopters and monsoon buckets can be called in if extra help is required.
The hose started pumping out water, and some of the youngsters had a turn trying to hold on to these heavy hoses. As the portable pumps increased their speed, the hoses bucked dangerously around and must have been very difficult to control.
Lesson over, it was time for fun. The kids couldn’t wait to run under the hose. I decided to beat a hasty retreat, I didn’t want that fireman turning the hose on me!
The local village was having a fair so we drove down to the village to see what was on offer. Robin wasted no time in finding a stall selling cooked sausages and onions wrapped up in a piece of bread. (It was because I had to cool my heels as Jenny was off taking photos for the blog, just like the paparazzi – Robin)
Then we found a stall of Girl Guide leaders selling the “world famous in New Zealand” Girl Guide biscuits. We rather like these, and at $5 for three packets, couldn’t say no to such a bargain. “I know you”, one of the ladies said to us. Turns out her family goes caravanning too, (with the Wainuiomata Caravan club) and we have met up Regional and National at rallies.
After all the fun of the fair, we drove back to the rural delights of Brookfield Camp. Wonder what’s next on the programme? Something to do with chocolate, we think.