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The Top of the Bay Steps, Caroline Bay, Timaru

 No. 16. A shady retreat. A Muir and Moodie Postcard 1907.

F.G.R. postcard No. 1254.     Mailed in 6th Nov. 1910.

Rustic Steps photographed by Wm. Ferrier 3/09. Mailed in the latter half of 1909. Effie's message reads:
 "I am sending you a P.C. of the steps at the Bay. I hope you will like it.
The weather is getting much cooler here now but it is still warm enough.
The cliffs at the Bay are nearly all covered with ice plant & it is so pretty when flowering.
You can see a little of it in this picture."

Gibson's Steps

Ferrier photo  3/09

The Terrace, Caroline Bay, Timaru 1907

Otago Witness, March 1906, Page 79
Hazel Eyes spent part of her holidays at Timaru, and had a happy time with her little cousins. We went to Caroline Bay, were in the swinging boats, and on the merry-go-round.

Caroline Bay, looking North. 1907

Otago Witness, 1 February 1900, Page 61
Dear Dot, We have whooping cough, so we are staying in Timaru for change of air. We don't like it very much, because we haven't our ponies with us. We go in the sea every day to paddle. We have buckets and spades to dig holes with. There are hundreds of children on the beach, but I haven't seen any badges. I wear mine on my best hat. Thank you for putting my composition about a boy in the paper. My godfather saw it, and sent me five shillings, to do what I like with. This is how I spent it: A measuring tape, a pineapple, a ruler, a lead pencil and pen, a knife, some lolly billiard balls. We are going to stay in Timaru two weeks longer. I wish daddy would come. We live next to the lighthouse, and we see all the ships come in to "the harbour. Yours truly, FAIRLIE GILLINGHAM. [That was real good of your godfather, Fairlie, and it was well applied. DOT.]

New Zealand Herald, 25 January 1904, Page 6
The clay cliffs overlooking Caroline Bay, at Timaru, are being pulled down, and an esplanade is being formed. Blasting powder is used to demolish the cliffs, but great care has to be exercised, owing to the close proximity of the railway line.

Caroline Bay Tea Kiosk, 1908. Arthur A. Ware, photographer.

Right above the Beach, between which & the cliff are lawns & pavilions and seats etc.
Also the railway lines runs between. A good place for a quiet rest.

Frank Duncan Postcard. Caroline Bay, 1929

The Irish Times Saturday, March 7, 1931
My Dear Granny,
    On Christmas Eve the main street of Timaru, which is about five miles from Washdyke, was crowded with people, and crackers were being let off in every direction.
    On New Year's Eve Caroline bay was like fairyland, with its beautiful coloured lights. There were hundreds of people who stayed on the bay to see the old year out and the new year in. AT twelve o'clock the band started to play "Auld Lang Syne," and an enormous bonfire was lit on the sands. We did not stop till twelve o'clock, but we could see the fire from where we live in Washdyke.
    On New Year's Day some friends and my mother and I went down to the beach which is about a quarter of a mile from our place. there is a lagoon to cross before you get there, so my father drove us in the horse and cart. there was only a foot of water in the lagoon so we arrived at the beach safely. My father went home and then came back for us later on. Billy and I paddled in the sea first of all. Of course, we could not paddle in very far, as the beach has a sloping side, and the further we went the deeper it got. After we had finished paddling we went and gathered sticks off the beach to boil the kettle. We lit the fire, and it went splendidly, although there was a little breeze blowing off the sea. The kettle boiled in about five minutes, and the tea was not a bit smoked.
    After our afternoon tea Billy and I gathered some seaweed and put it on the fire. it went bang! bang! bang! just like the fireworks at Christmas and new Year.
    We went for a walk along the beach, and while were were taking a rest we saw my father coming, so we had to hurry back to our camping place and get our things.. We arrived home with our cheeks, neck and arms sunburnt.
I am your loving grandchild,
Rita Peebles.



There was a foot bridge across the railway lines at the top of the Bay.
This photo is taken from the footbridge.

Otago Witness, 11 February 1903, Page 71
Dear Dot, We got six weeks' holiday from school, and I went to a number of places during that time. I went to the Sunday school and school picnics. The S.S. picnic was pretty stale, but the school one was not bad, only it was raining all the morning. There were races for the children, and I won one and sixpence. There was a dance at night, and I stayed for it, and got home at 3 o'clock in the morning, being very tired. I went to the New Year's sports in Timaru, and they were pretty good. Lord and Lady Ranfurly were there, and they got their photos taken. There were two spills the first day, but one picked himself up and walked away, but the other one had to be helped up, and he was all bleeding. Bill Martin was there with his ten-horse motor bike. The tyres were three inches wide, and the spokes thick as a nail. He went three rounds the first day, and ten rounds the second day. He did a mile in one minute and 38 seconds. Nearly all the crack riders were there, and I enjoyed seeing them riding very much. I went away the second day of the sports for a holiday to Albury, and I had a grand time up there, and was very sorry when I had to come home. Coming down in the train it was awful, as there was such a crush. However, we got back all right, and I went down to the harbour and went on the s.s. Papanui, and had a good look through her. She was taking in frozen mutton for the Home Country, and she was expected to reach therein the middle of February. Then we went down to Caroline Bay, and had a look at the donkeys there, and they did look such creatures. There has been a great quantity of rain up here lately, and the crops are very heavy, and some of them are down. I can ride a bike now. A new dairy factory has been built up here, and there is a good supply of milk going to it. Will any D.L.F. please exchange autos with me. If they address them to "Charlie, care, of Mrs Drinnan, St. Andrews," they will reach me all right. Yours truly, CHARLIE.

Timaru Herald, 28 January 1886, Page 3
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMARU HERALD, Sir, While bathing this morning at the Landing Service before 7 a.m., I, together with several other bathers, was very much surprised at one of the employees of the Government informing us that if found bathing there again we would be arrested. If my memory serves me rightly a case came before the Resident Magistrate of this town some time ago, when it was distinctly stated that the public were at liberty to bathe at the Landing Service up till 7 a.m. I would also like to inform the person who informed us that, although chief of the police, he is at best only an employee of the Government, and not lord and master of all he surveys, as his manner would lead one to think. I will feel obliged if you will inform me if I am correct in stating case the Police v. Scoringe as above, which should at once set the question at rest. I am, &c, Bather. Timaru, 27th January, 1886.
[Our report of the case referred to contains no such ruling. It merely says that it was " the first case of the kind brought before the Bench, who dismissed it, and cautioned defendant not to offend again." Ed. T.HJ]

Ashburton Guardian, 15 January 1917, Page 8
Another sensation was caused at Caroline Bay on Saturday afternoon. Mr Malcolm Orton, of the Kennels, Timaru, was in bathing, when he suddenly turned face downwards in the water. Two bathers who were close at hand went to his rescue. When he was taken out of the water he was quite unconscious, and many of the crowd which had gathered by this time believed him, to be dead. Luckily a soldier who belongs to the Ambulance Corps was handy, and with the aid of other Ambulance men brought the unfortunate bather, back to consciousness after working hard on him for quite an hour. He was afterwards taken to a private hospital for further treatment. [died in 1921 at age 50]

Timaru Herald March 16, 2010  [1940s]
A thirteen-year-old boy, Des O'Rourke, shaved thirty-three seconds off D J Shanahan's record to win the Speechly Mile harbour race last evening and gained fastest time from a field of seven starters. The event, started from the fishermen's wharf, was watched by several hundred people. For Mr O'Rourke training for the harbour races comprised swimming the length of Caroline Bay six times each evening. Before the big race his mother would cook him a steak for lunch and his father would prepare a drink of raw eggs and milk. Mr O'Rourke, a member of the South End Swimming Club, held every South Canterbury freestyle record from 25 yards to three miles. Swimmers had the luxury of three pools to choose from, West End where the bowling club green is now; Waimataitai, in White Street, and Century. All were cold water and 33 1/3rd yards long.

Timaru Herald, Oct 2, 2004
Training is important to most sports but octogenarian Gerald O'Rourke is hoping once will be enough in his build-up to the South Island Masters Games. Gerald is hoping to strike gold again in the pool but admits it may not be easy -- not because of his training regime but because they have increased the distance 17-odd metres. The 86-year-old has won the 33-and-a-third metre freestyle events at the past two Timaru games but the shortest distance available now is 50m. Cheering him on will be his wife Elizabeth but she will also have to put in a bigger effort. As a boy, Gerald learnt to swim in the Opihi River after his dad chucked him in.
"There were no flash costumes -- it was sink or swim." The retired taxidermist does, however, remember the thrill of wearing the council-issued bathing costumes down on Caroline Bay during the summers of the 1920s.
Swimming became a passion and he excelled -- winning the Speechley Mile -- a semi-open water race in Timaru Harbour in 1941. Gerald admits he still enjoys swimming and would like to join the masters swimming but he no longer drives and Pleasant Point -- where he lives -- has only an open-air pool. Swimming is also a bit of a family affair for the O'Rourkes with his sons Lance and Nevin also having competed at the Masters Games in the past. Gerald's favourite swimming story is, however, about his brother who fell overboard while they were fishing together. "I hadn't realised he had gone over and he was chasing the boat. Fortunately when I got back he was still swimming." To keep fit these days Gerald still likes to do a bit of hunting. "I shot a couple of deer three weeks ago." But the self-taught taxidermist has given away mounting them.

Otago Witness, 20 September 1905, Page 90

By Kenneth Young.

When gaily in childhood I romped on thy sands,
I little then thought of far-away lands;
But, longing, I think, when now far away,
Of thy loved, cool beach, dear Caroline Bay.

Chorus :
Zealandia! I love thee! My childhood's dear home!
Zealandia! I'll love thee wherever I roam
Under Afric's hot sun or Australia's fierce glare !
Zealandia! I love thee, and long to be there.

'Tis absence that brings right home to the heart
The loved things from which I so lightly did part.
How I long, how I long, out here far away,
For a dip in thy waters, dear Caroline Bay.

Zealandia! Thy orchards, thy green-covered fields,
Thy birds, and thy flowers, and the plenty all yields,
I think of them all, out here far away.
And longing to see thee, dear Caroline Bay.

Zealandia! I'm waiting to see thee once more ;
I'm living in hope for a pleasure in store.
Too long have I strayed from thee far away-
Zealandia, my loved one, and Caroline Bay.

I'm longing to hear thy ocean's loud roar;
I'm longing to see thy wave-dashed shore.
I see them in dreams, now far, far away
Thy memory sands, dear Caroline Bay.

I'm waiting in patience for when the good day
That's coming will take me, no longer to stay.
Though age should have withered, though dull pass the day
Never mind, I'll be near thee, dear Caroline Bay.

These lines were written after hearing a letter read from a South Canterbury native, resident for some years in South Africa, in which was expressed the passionate longing for the day of return to New Zealand and "dear old Caroline Bay."

Timaru Herald, 11 February 1899, Page 3 MAGISTERIAL.
Timaru Friday, February 10th. (Before C. A. Wray, Esq., S.M.) INDECENT BATHING. Three youths charged with bathing in Caroline Bay without wearing decent bathing dresses, at 5.30 p.m. on January 30th, pleaded guilty. Mr Perry, instructed by the Borough Council, appeared to prosecute on behalf of the police. Mr Perry stated the case for the prosecution. The defendants were charged with bathing at the North Mole without having proper bathing dresses on. As a matter of fact they had a certain amount of dress on, but the evidence would show that it was not sufficient for purposes of decency. The dress they had would be described, and he would ask His Worship to any that it was not a sufficient dress. Some bathing dresses were quite decent, but these were not. The informations were laid under section 311 of the Police Offences Act, because the Borough bylaw did not apply to the North Mole, where the defendants were bathing. His Worship said it was a pity that the Act did not give a definition of a sufficient bathing dress. Mr Perry said a constable would show that at Sumner bathers must wear a dress reaching from the neck to the knees. The defendants were wearing a very small piece of covering indeed. His Worship said he hardly thought it necessary to insist upon such a dress as was said to be used at Sumner. Something less than that would be decent. Mr Perry pointed out that the Act demanded the use of decent dress only between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p. m; there was nothing to prevent bathing without dresses between 8 p.m. and 8a.m, but the defendants were bathing at halfpast 5p m. while women were passing near. He did not suggest that there had been any indecency at all, beyond bathing at that hour and in insufficient dress. His Worship said it was a pity that there was no definition of bathing dress; he was hardly prepared to say what was n proper bathing dress. Mr Perry said the dress the defendants wore would be described, and His Worship could say whether or not it was sufficient. Constable Whatman described the place where defendants were bathing, on the North Mole, And the dress they were wearing. The latter was a mere fig leaf in front, 5 to 7 inches wide, and a mere band, an inch or an inch and a half wide behind. He considered them very inadequately clad. Ladies were passing not far away. There had been many complaints about that sort of thing. Witness had been at Sumner, and they had to be clad from neck to knee there did not know under what regulation, but knew it was the practice. Constable Christie, who saw the defendants, said that Constable Whatman's description of their dress as correct. He had been stationed at Sumner, where there was a good deal of bathing, and the costume reached from neck to knees. They would not allow people to bathe there without. His Worship Who would stop them? Witness The police, under a Sumner by-law did not know what the by-law was, Mr Perry quoted the Timaru bathing by-law, which says that people shall not bathe dressed in such a way as to offend public decency." His Worship That is rather vague. Mr Perry said it was and the informations were laid under the Act because the by-law was limited in its application to the space, between the old baths and Whales Creek. His Worship said it seemed to be extremely desirable that the local authorities should frame a by-law that would meet the matter fairly. They had a regulation requiring a decent dress to be worn, but it should state what the dress must be. At present it could only be got at by a description of the covering actually worn, and his opinion whether it was sufficient or not. He had no hesitation in saying that the covering described could hardly be called a covering at all certainly it was not a sufficient dress to be worn in a public place where ladies were passing whose modesty might be offended by such exposure as was described. As this was the first case, he supposed it was brought with a view of bringing the matter before the eyes of the public, to let them see that they must at least conform to the ordinary laws of decency in this matter. It was quite time that this was done, and he hoped that the local authorities would take the matter in hand and fix upon some inexpensive kind of dress which it would be necessary for people to wear when bathing at all times- at all events at times when people were likely to be passing. He would impose a fine of 1s in each case.

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