When the world’s a bit crazy and the future seems uncertain, it can do you good to think about simpler times. Of course, when it comes to days gone by, the only thing better than thinking about them is going to them – it makes for a lovely Sunday drive.
Up a rough driveway above Outram Glen, you’ll find the Taieri Historical Park – home to the Taieri Historical Society and Museum and the Otago Vintage Machinery Club Museum. The name on the sign doesn’t quite prepare you for what you’re about to see as you round the bend in the driveway. Old wooden buildings, a courthouse, a schoolroom, a church, and various sheds and buildings. It’s like driving into a movie set. There is vintage farm equipment everywhere on the grounds, and numerous picnic tables for visitors to sit and enjoy the sights of the park and the peaceful views out over the Taieri.
The Machinery Museum is right at the top of the drive and is jam-packed with tractors, engines, appliances, vehicles and tools, and just about every other sort of machine you can think of from the past 100 or so years. It smells of metal and oil and looks like a grandad’s dream shed. There’s just enough room for you to make your way through each section and try to guess what some of the machines were used for.
The historical society museum displays also reflect the purpose of each of its old buildings. They’re filled with cases of household items, photos, furniture, clothing and other things that would have been commonplace in homes, schoolrooms and courthouses a century ago. Not everything in the museums is labelled, but if you have questions about any of the items, the volunteers that staff the museums are full of information and enthusiasm about them.
This park is a testament to the knowledge, interest and enthusiasm of its societies’ members. If you’re wondering how they’ve managed to preserve and maintain these relics for us to discover and enjoy, each society survives on visitor donations and member subscriptions, so you’ll need to bring gold coins with you for both museums. And, if you’re struck by the importance of a place like this, you could look into joining!
Story by Katie Scott
More info: Taieri Historical Museum