Blue Duck Station The land, the rivers and the people Nicola McCloy Bateman Books Hardback RRP $70.00 Reviewed by Poppa Mike

Definitely a coffee table item with a wonderful back country photograph taken on the mountain tops above the clouds—the farmer with his dog. Along with the shining blue title, everything draws you to look inside this book. Then you meet the topographical map and wonder where this book is going to take you. Inland, on a winding road from Owhango. Of course everyone knows where that is. Do you?

A young man, a WW1 survivor has just won a ballot block and is making his way up the Whanganui River on the riverboat to start his new life. As author Nicola McCloy so perfectly puts it, “This is his new home and it’s time to get to work.”

As the reader will soon discover, the book is not just a story of hard work but is a wonderfully researched history of both Māori and European, of survival, expansion as neighbouring blocks are added, failures and successes, and of the large network of family and associates with close links to the land and its beauty.

The startling photography and historical visuals that add to every page are works of art in themselves, empowering the reader to immerse themselves in the beauty of the region, the isolation, the challenging landscape, the diverse flora and fauna, historic reminders such as an old brick chimney alone in the bush, and more recent developments to secure the station’s future: beekeeping, pest control, adventure tourism including jet boating, kayaking, horse trekking, hunting, eco-cottages and the Blue Duck Cafe. Something for everyone, everywhere you look and on every page in the book.

As you reach the last few pages, you finally get to meet the author—not a flashy show off photo but a very sincere acknowledgement page recognising the wonderful people and setting of the story she has been privileged to convey, as if she is an integral part of everything—in love with the every aspect.

The first thing I did when I finished reading was go to GOOGLE EARTH to search for BLUE DUCK STATION and sure enough, up it came. It allowed me some virtual exploration, then a road trip to the nearest shop (a long trip needed) followed by a boat trip to Whanganui (even longer). Now I have added Blue Duck Station to my “TO DO” list.

My sincere congratulations to all involved in such a wonderful location and book.

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