By Murray Dewhurst in New Zealand.
|The Puhoi pub in action while taxidermy look on.|
Welcome to Puhoi, a community about 50 kms north of Auckland. Settled in the mid 1800's by German speaking people from Staab (Stod, Bohemia, apparently now a part of the Czech Republic). They arrived to find a river valley still densely clad in bush rather than the vision of clear productive pasture they thought they had purchased - a common story for early migrants to New Zealand.
|The bright orange pool table.|
My visit there late last year was basically centered around the pub, a legendary hangout for bikie gangs and local characters. We found the locals nice enough, just not totally enamoured with townies out for a break from the city - not in a Deliverance kind of way - more of a bugger the motorway extension is completed kind of way.
|The log dray and 'Puhoi Town Library'|
The pub consists of a couple of very original wooden victorian buildings which also double as a museum of local history, old farming and logging machinery (in the old days enormous Kauri logs were dammed in the river before being released downstream and towed to Auckland for milling), general bar tat, bawdy bar tat, numerous examples of taxidermy (pheasants, deer, marlin etc), old weapons, flags and loads of Czech beer paraphernalia.
|Pub exterior in recovery mode.|
There is more to Puhoi than the pub of course, they have interesting and educational history to discover in cute museums, churches and cemeteries, but I will have to check out another day. I did however get the chance to draw the old log dray - a memorial to kauri logging - and the library. (Despite the library being so tiny, it apparently houses over 4,000 books) These bottom sketches were done early the morning after, accompanied by panadol and strong coffee.
|The adjoining hotel shrouded by grapevine and Manuka tree.|
As I sketched the pub exterior in blissful peace that morning the memory of the night before was replaying in my mind; the game of cricket that ended when we lost all the balls in the river, the animated patrons, the rounds of pizza, the ladies in the hotted up Volvo Amazon about to embark on the Road to Mandalay endurance rally across Asia, the strangely orange pool table and the conversations that took place around it, the seemingly endless quarts of beer, the enormous current All Black who eventually wobbled his way off into the darkness, a person supporting him on each arm, and the ruckus on closing time when bottles and conversations are taken outside to be finished off at great volume. We called it quits when people started running naked down the street.