Not far from Greymouth is the little mining village of Blackball, famous for its hotel called the “Blackball Hilton”.
Blackball is a fascinating place with quite a history. It still has a large working coalmine, the Rua mine, so my walk along the main street was interrupted quite a few times by large trucks roaring past.
It was a bitterly cold, grey day. I thought my images of Blackball actually look much better in monochrome so I’ll switch to B&W for most of them.
Some of the cottages along the main street were of the classical New Zealand design (note the satellite dish):
While I was taking these, this young kid rode past on his bike:
We exchanged a few words. “Are you looking forward to going back to school next week?” I queried (it was school holidays at the time). “Yes, whoopee!” was the reply. ” Really?” Then came the punchline, really impressive from a 9 or 10 year-old: “you really don’t understand sarcasm do you!” I had to admit that I didn’t, just then. I think he’ll go a long way.
Blackball is a real working man’s town.
Next door to the Blackball Hilton there was a really interesting exhibition. Blackball was for a long time the heart of radical unionism and socialism in New Zealand. The workers included people such as Bob Semple, who became Minister of Works when the Labour party came into government in 1935. The current Federation of Labour has its origins around here.
A couple of repainted shipping containers with a canopy stretched between them displayed posters explaining a lot of this history. Fascinating stuff!
(I couldn’t show that in B&W, could I?)
Here are some extracts: