IN MY HUMBLE OPINION,
one can’t seriously visit Coromandel without climbing aboard the Driving Creek Railway. Thebrain child of Barry
Brickell, who thankfully quit teaching in favour of pottery, initially the track was laid as a means of sourcing clay for his artistic endeavours.
Theride itself powered by Brickell’s s hand built, diesel, twenty horse power r locomotives is amazing. Thismust have been my tenth visit to Driving Creek and I’m yet to be disappointed. It would have to be the best sixty minute, value for money attraction
to be found anywhere in Godzone.
Thedrivers provided humorous yet informative running commentaries explaining local history and identifying native fauna as we progressed to the Eyefull Tower platform, 173 metres above sea level. The observation deck offers magnificent panoramic views of rugged mountain
tops and coastline. Throughout the journey, quirky sculptures pop up, brick tunnels are passed through and retaining walls made from literally thousands of wine bottles are admired. I bet they had some fun preparing those building materials; conservation at its best! Thelittle stop en route affectionately named Ravington, has been perhaps unsurprisingly the venue of many a raucous shindig over the years.
It turns out the driver of our locomotive Paul, was a former policeman. Once a CID detective in Rotorua, he later transferred
to the Coromandel station. While there were still many things he enjoyed about policing, Paul admits the job gradually took its toll. He grew tired of rolling around on the ground with drunks twice his size.
He was increasingly being summoned at unsociable hours to the most remote parts of his beat in the middle of the
night for trivial matters. Having to continually don the uniform and drive vast distances on windy metal made him reconsider his options.
Driving Creek tunnel. Above Driving Creek HQ.