BOGGED DOWN on the GY ROAD Gallery

Historic Photo of the Month

January 2018

Bogged on the Glenorchy Road, October 1963

Few photos tell a story of a place as well as this one does! Taken in 1963 en route to a rugby game (presumably with the Lakeside Rugby team) it shows Bob Swan as the driver (not looking too happy), Bryan (BC) Douglas, Blair Sheehy (partially obscured), Ken Hood, Eon Lewis, Trevor Jones, and Des Wrigley. Huge thanks to Paul Hansen who recently found a copy of the photo with everyone named out in a hut on the islands and passed it on to the Museum Group for posterity.

At this time of year when we all feel a bit like we’re taking our lives into our hands every time we drive down the road, it’s good to remember that the road has certainly evolved over the last 56 years since it opened on November 13, 1962 at the Glenorchy Centennial Celebrations. Back then you might have encountered the road looking more like this and it would have been pretty hard for campervans to be passing you on the wrong side!

The road’s history from early requests to the turning of the first sod in 1956 to its completion in 1962, sealing in 1997, and the addition of passing bays in recent memory (which have contributed to lowering blood pressure across the district, no doubt) plus some of the dramas associated with floods washing out the road and the occasional boulder falling from the bluffs at Rat Point and closing the road, are all just part of the story. If you haven’t seen the film we put together for the 150th called The Glenorchy Road: A Dream Come True, you can pick up a copy either at Mrs Woolly’s or ask any of the Museum Committee. When we created the film all of the main people involved in the road were still alive and there are some good interviews with some great storytellers. Darrell McGregor’s story of blowing up what has become known as Darrell’s Bluff is fantastic as, 50 years later, he was still just filled with laughter that he could get away with blowing away the whole hillside just as the T.S.S. Earnslaw was coming around the corner so that they got the maximum view of the explosion! (In this month’s photos we’ve included a photo from Darrell and Shirley’s collection of the blast. It’s the only photo we know of the event, but if any of you have others hiding in your collection, please let us know!).

As we think about the start of this new year, and the thousands of visitors making their way up the lake this summer, we can give pause and think of the first people who sealed the fate for the rest of us and paved the way into the district. As Ivan Smith explained in the film, “We were only thinking of a road out. It never occurred to us that we were letting everyone else in!”

Stay safe out there on the road this year and Happy New Year from the Museum Group.

This month’s photos include:

  • Norrie Groves turning the first sod in 1956
  • Joe Crawford taking the first stock truck up the road 1963
  • Blowing up Darrell’s Bluff
  • Michael Smith taking the first drive up the length of the whole road
  • The Bailey Bridge that replaced the bit of the road that disappeared at Rat Point just before the road opening

There are also a couple of newspaper articles from 1997 when the road was first sealed and Glenorchy School children road their bikes from Queenstown to Glenorchy. Click on the links below and you’ll see some familiar faces!

Article 1

Article 2