From the ed­i­tor


As I write this I’m just back from a whistlestop trip to In­ver­cargill and en­vi­rons and can I just say from the out­set what a plea­sure it was to be there. Fly­ing in and out of Queen­stown, and stay­ing a night ei­ther side in Ar­row­town ob­vi­ously helped. But as I dis­cov­ered when I spent a day in the city it­self, In­ver­cargill now has at­trac­tions of its own to draw – and hold – vis­i­tors. The ob­vi­ous one is ‘ the Truck Mu­seum,’ op­po­site Sta­dium South­land on Tay St. The brain­child and last­ing legacy of lo­cal truck in­dus­try leg­end Bill Richard­son ( and now of­fi­cially called Bill Richard­son Trans­port World) the mu­seum is an ab­so­lute trea­sure-trove of the or­di­nary ( boy­hood friend Brian Tres­sider’s fam­ily farm truck) and the ex­tra­or­di­nary ( the only re­main­ing stream­liner-style 1940 Dodge RX70 petrol tanker left in the world). I first vis­ited the mu­seum when Bill was still alive ( he died in 2015). At that point it was ar­guably In­ver­cargill ( if not New Zealand’s) best kept se­cret. For no bet­ter rea­son than it was not open to the pub­lic (as such) and Bill ac­tively es­chewed pub­lic­ity. While he was only too happy to show com­mu­nity and en­thu­si­ast groups around he made it clear ( in the nicest most diplo­matic way pos­si­ble) that he didn’t want us journos ( flown in by the city’s mar­ket­ing peo­ple to pub­li­cise the re­gion’s unique car cul­ture) writ­ing any­thing about it. His sud­den death, at just 65 years of age, rocked the fam­ily, and it would be fair to say, the close-knit In­ver­cargill busi­ness com­mu­nity, to the core. But af­ter a suit­able pe­riod of mourn­ing, re­flex­ion and plan­ning Bill’s daugh­ter Jo­ce­lyn stepped up to the plate with an am­bi­tious plan to not only main­tain, but ex­pand the mu­seum in hon­our of her fa­ther. The re­sult is a fa­cil­ity – now fronted by a gor­geous Art Deco-style façade – cities 10 times the size of In­ver­cargill ( pop 50,000) would be proud of. Un­der Jo­ce­lyn and hus­band Scott O’Don­nell’s be­nign direc­tion the ‘ truck mu­seum ‘ is now so much more. The name Trans­port World goes some way to de­scribe the changes which have in­cluded the ad­di­tion of vin­tage cars, and a mez­za­nine floor of Wear­able Art gowns. These days, in fact, there is lit­er­ally a sur­prise at ev­ery turn. Be­tween two packed truck ‘gal­leries’ for in­stance, was a line-up of Volk­swa­gen Kom­bie vans. Along­side another was a ‘sort of’ hu­man-size dio­rama chron­i­cling the re­cent re­make of the clas­sic Kiwi movie, Good­bye Pork Pie ( which, mem­o­rably, ended – with a bang – in In­ver­cargill). Then at the western end of the same sec­tion was a Ford ‘show­room’ with a large TV screen, some chairs and some clas­sic Bri­tish Pathe-style mo­tor­sport films from the ‘ 50s, 60s and 70s play­ing in a con­stant loop. Se­ri­ously, I could have stayed there for hours! It’s funny, too. When I posted a mix of pho­tos on my Face­book page, the one which re­ceived the most feed­back was of an old ‘wringer’ washing ma­chine which, along with all sorts of other hum­ble do­mes­tic ap­pli­ances ( like the gor­geous for­est green Mor­ri­son roller lawn mower my Dad cov­eted back in the day) was on dis­play in another mez­za­nine at the back of the cav­ernous build­ing. Buoyed by the re­sponse from the gen­eral and trav­el­ling pub­lic to the re­vamp of ‘ the Truck Mu­seum’ the O’Don­nells have since added a stand­alone mo­tor­cy­cle mu­seum ( Clas­sic Mo­tor­cy­cle Mecca) in a build­ing at the city end of Tay St, as well as New Zealand’s first self- drive excavator/ bull­dozer and skid-steer loader ex­pe­ri­ence, Dig This, on the out­skirts of the city. It still costs an arm and a leg to fly in and out of the city from points north, but now, at least, there is a rea­son ( sev­eral ac­tu­ally) to go and stay at least two or three nights, rather than sim­ply pass through on the way to Fiord­land or Ste­wart Is­land.

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