Bulls is one of those towns you seem to drive through on the way to somewhere else, towing a caravan behind you, or travelling back home. Time and time again, we say, we really must stop here one day and have a good look around. Staying for several days at nearby Mt Lees, we finally had the opportunity.
Herd of Bulls? Sign at the south end of town.
The small rural town of Bulls marks the junction of State Highways 1 & 3. Originally known as Daniell’s Bush, Middle Rangitikei, and Clifton, the town was finally named after James Bull, an English settler who established the first general store in the town in 1862. He was a leading light in many enterprises in the settlement, postmaster, storekeeper, timber miller, wagoner, and farmer. James Bull was also a very generous man, and donated land for the local hospital and the Town Hall.
All through the town, there’s signage that capitalizes on Bulls’ unique name. We soon found Consta-bull (Police Station), Forgive-a-bull (Anglican Church) & Cure-a-bull (Medical Centre).
Consta-bull – the Police Station
Finding our way around town
We called in to the Information Centre – Inform-a-bull
We always enjoy looking around local museums. As well as the more usual early settlers items on display, we discovered that motoring legend Chris Amon was a local lad and grew up in nearby Scott’s Ferry, (we never knew that). The only child of wealthy sheep-owner Ngaio Amon, he persuaded his father to buy him an Austin A40 Special, which he entered in some minor local races and hill climbs along with practise on the family farm. He progressed to a 1.5 litre Cooper and then an old 2.5L Maserati 250F, but only began to draw attention when he drove the Cooper-Climax T51 which Bruce McLaren had used to win his maiden Grand Prix.
Information board about local boy Chris Amon
There was also a display about another local hero, the war horse Bess, one of the few who were brought home after spending time overseas during WW1. Originally known as Zelma, the black thoroughbred was presented to the Wellington Mounted Rifles Regiment, and she was allocated to Captain Charles Powles, who renamed her Bess. We spent quite some time last year trying to find the Memorial to Bess – read our earlier blog about it here.
Memorial to Bess
We then had an interesting conversation with a couple from Hawaii, who are holidaying around New Zealand for 6 weeks. Of course, we just had to mention that we had been to Hawaii (twice) so travel stories were swapped, and we gave them some ideas for the rest of their trip. Such as trying local whitebait, oysters and crayfish when they venture down south. Yum – we would like to try them again too.
Our trip around Bulls finished with lunch in one of the many cafes – and then we spotted someone familiar. It was the bus driver from Dalroy Tours who collected us from our “One Day in Taranaki” train trip organized by the Feilding and District Steam Rail Society, to Hawera and back. The bus was waiting for us at Hawera Station and drove us up to Dawson Falls for lunch. (Read our earlier blog about the bus trip here). The driver was amazed that we remembered him, and was rather chuffed too, we thought.
Leaving the delights of Bulls behind us, we headed back to the peace and quiet of Mt Lees Reserve – such a pretty place.