7 August 2016 - Sulphur Lake. It’s hard to believe that only three years ago this part of our Government Gardens was a neglected wasteland. Nowadays it’s such a tranquil, picturesque setting, embellished with sculptures by local, national and overseas artists. It’s truly an asset – and, it turns out, one with a story.
It’s not widely known that the entire edge of this lakelet was handcrafted with stone over 100 years ago. When rummaging through library archives I stumbled upon the gardener’s shopping list from 1906: 20 ton of rock, 4 ton of cement, and a labour cost of 20 pounds.
When finally completed it captured the overflow from nearby Rachel Spring (where our Blue Baths water is drawn from) to create Sulphur Lake. It’s actually gazetted as a drain!
But there was something more. Further research revealed that our head gardener of the time, Tom Pearson, had also requested a bridge 25 yards long to cross the centre of the lake. Sadly however, due to financial constraints this wouldn’t happen. Not yet anyway…
There’s something about a bridge. Adds ambience, a sense of place, a symbol of passage and journey. When developing the trail I also had one on the wish list – but, same deal, this would always be too expensive.
Then came a tap on the shoulder: ‘Hey Marc, I think we’ve found you a bridge …’
And there it was, lying in Castlecorp’s yard – hoisted out of Lake Rd a few years ago during the roading improvements. Remember the footbridge that spanned the Utuhina Stream with ‘South Pacific Motel’ written on it? Turns out it was exactly 25 yards long. I couldn’t believe it.
The engineers were impressed during their lengthy appraisal. Magnificent laminated beams still completely sound after all these years. They’re treated with PCP – a chemical banned in the 1980’s, but indeed the only one duly capable of withstanding this geothermal environment.
Without doubt, some things are just meant to be. Tom Pearson, our gardener from over a century ago, will be smiling down on Sulphur Lake right now, for sure.