The Mad Hatter Rides Again

In a far off time a young boy aged 7 years moved to Reefton. And there his journey on the search for gold began. So share with me that epic journey as the Hatter takes you along on his ride. The thrills, The fun, and even the bad bits. There were plenty of all. This is gunna take plenty of time. But at the moment, “Time” I have plenty off. Lets just say at the moment I am dancing in a field of daffodils, now there is a bloody good clue for the Detectives out there. The first installment will begin before you know it. And there will be many Chapters to follow. Humour is not unknown to me, for those of you who have followed me in the past, exaggeration is my best friend, but I never tell lie’s nor bend the truth. If I write fiction, it is termed as such. This my friends is a true story, so follow my journey and come along with me. I promise you an epic tale. So good you could pin it to a donkey and never know the difference. Yep “The Hatter” is back.

Cheers “The Hatter” aka well just plain ole Trev


Welcome back Hatter.

hi Trev, did you live in Westport think I bought a 4 inch pump and motor off your mate and picked it up at your place ?

Yep Webby, that’s me.As I recall you came down from Tadmor way. Never found the grizzly, must be somewhere on the bottom of the buller.


turned it into a pretty good 4 inch dredge , but sold it moved up to a 5 , you know how gold fever is, and wished I still had it. hope you still catching a few rig and having a good xmas cheers Webby

Hi Trev, You have never truly been gone, but you have got to go (somewhere) in order to come back.:joy:

Look forward to your yarns mate. Dont let the truth get in the way of a good story…:wink:

Merry Christmas.

JW :cowboy_hat_face:

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Well my introduction to gold all happened way back around 1954.My dad was a Policeman in Christchurch and he was posted to Reefton to take the position of Sergeant. So the old Model A ford was loaded up and off the city kid went to the wop wops. No more Saturday mornings going down the square to the weekly comic swap, then a visit to the flicks. No more trying to colonize Avon Cockabullys in the gutters in a street called Shewsbury St, where we lived. which used to run of Moorhouse Avenue. In those days the gutters used to have running water. No more of the worlds biggest backyard, Hagley Park. And no more of the grumpy ole prick next door that would never throw our balls back. No more rudies with the girl who lived just down the road. It was all behind me. We were off to the frontier, unchartered territory. Reefton “The Town of Lights”. It was a booming little town in those days. Had four Constables along with Dad as the Sergeant. The Waiuta gold mine had only closed down a few years earlier. All the State Coalmines were running. Burkes Creek, Garveys Creek to name a few. Many private coal mines also dotted about. There were more pubs than coal mines tho. The timber mill workers and coal miners were a thirsty lot. It was six o-clock closing in those days. Not that, that worried the Reefton Publicans, and also those at smaller settlements like Mai Mai, Marawhiti,Ikamatua, Cronadun,Maruia Springs. etc. It was accepted practice that the Publicans knew they had to be knocked off doing after hours at least once a year. And they accepted that. A raid meant Dad and his keystone cops sneaking out just after dark, usually in the Elliot Ness Model A, complete with running boards but no machine guns. Two cops snuck around the back of the unsuspecting targets hotel, Dad and the other three went to the front door. Now the cops knew about the three rings on the doorbell, meant a very dry customer seeking entrance to the hallowed premises. And one ring meant, a, guest seeking overnight accommodation, or those bloody coppers. Sportingly the coppers out front would ring the doorbell once. This usually resulted in chaos inside, as glasses were raised and the last of the amber fluid disposed of down thirsty throats. Then there was a rush for the back door and every hiding place at the rear of the hotel including old stables from the stage coach days would become a place of concealment. Of course as it was a raid, into the welcoming arms of the two coppers at he back would they all run. Got ya the cry would echo around the back of the pub. The coppers triumphant in their endeavours.

The unlucky detainee’s would be shepherded back into the bar, names taken and in a week or two would be off to the Reefton Magistrates Court. Fined their Four Pound and ten shilling and be free again to continue their chequered past lifetime of drinking the amber fluid. Either Monteiths, brewed locally or flash beer from over the hill. Of course when it wasn’t a raid, but if it was just a visit. Those poor drinkers often had to find shelter when they ran out the back, as the cops having a somewhat distorted sense of humour liked to do visits on cold wet Reefton Nights. So instead of running into the welcoming arms of two or three Constables, it was out into the cold and the wet. On their return after the visit was over, whiskey sales would go up. Yep the Publicans liked those winter visits. A visit usually only consisted of two Constables, who would ring the front doorbell once, all the customers would of course do the west coast dance as usual glasses up contents drained, fags snuffed out in the ashtrays, the publican wanted as little evidence left as possible. Which was really a wasted exercise. As I will explain. Publican would wait until his customers had either migrated outdoor at the rear of the boozer, or ran upstairs and hidden his in closets, shower rooms etc. On answering the front door, there stood the two coppers. Evening George, just a visit to make sure you aren’t trading. Why of course not Constables, I learn’t my lesson after that last raid. Cost me ten pound and ten shillings plus court costs. Come inside to see for yourselves. On entering the bar, there lined up along the bar would be a rather large number of empty glasses, beer froth still clinging to the top, ashtrays were full with the odd wisp of smoke still curling ceiling ward, a smoke haze thicker than a London fog filled the bar. Meanwhile in the corner either a large open or pot belly roared away in full flight. See Constables beamed the Publican, not a soul here. Sure is plenty of smoke in here George remarked one of the Constables. Yep its that dammed pot belly always blowing its lid off. See you are a bit behind with the cleaning George remarked the other Constable, referring of course to the row of recently drained 8 ounce beer glasses. (That’s why 8 ounce glasses were the standard fare, two good gulps and all gone). Yep the cleaning lady is of sick Constable. The Missus doesn’t want a thing to do with them. Suppose I will have to do them myself later after I have completed my other chores. Sometimes I wonder why I am in this game. Care for a lemondade or dry ginger ale Constables. Na George, we will be okay. Got a few more of the locals to do tonight. Mite even take run out country. This was all part of the game, the Constables knowing that as soon as they left, George would be on the phone and the early warning system would be activated. Within five minutes every pub for fifty miles around would be emptied and shut for the night. That way the wives at least got to see their husbands once in a while. And it suited everybody. One pub called Dawsons which was right opposite the Police Station and Sergeants house. (For those who know Reefton the two story house on Broadway} was the Sergeants House and where I lived. Still standing today. In those days the Police Station was situated at the back of the house. Where the present Police Station is now, used to be the old deserted stage coach stables when I l ived there. Place was full of old marble bottles, intact ones. Till we broke them to add to our marble collection. Those clear ones were very valued marbles indeed. Worth three cats eyes or two bombers at least. Of course I didn’t need to win to many games, after all I had an endless supply of marbles in the stables.(Eay ya hearts out you bottle collectors}. Bloody hell I haven’t even mentioned gold yet, oh that’s right the local brewery monteiths, used to brew and bottle " Montieths Golden Pale Ale", there ya go, you gold hunters you. Wasn’t a bad drop either.

To be continued. Trev aka “The Hatter”


I lived down the road at Totada Flat. I have many stories from there but maybe another day…they include Police raids at the Heather Bell Hotel.

@kiwigold Trev mate, you need to get yourself a typewriter, a bottle of inspiration, and get these down. I’m up to paying an outlandish price for these in print. Sound so familiar to the tales I heard as I grew up on the smugglers coast of the UK.

Keep 'em coming.


Love it Trev, keep it coming

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look forward to the rest of the installments :slight_smile: . very few people possess the skills to tell their story in a way like you do hatter its a gift and I take great pleasure in reading it, your style makes it very easy to visualize the events as the story unfolds.

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great story . reminds me of my younger days living in greymouth and working at the mow.

Just lovely wish the world still operated like that not this PC crap always looking over your shoulder!!

“A Spy in our Midst” Well as I mentioned earlier Dawsons Hotel was sited directly opposite the Police Station. A Grand Old Two story building dating back to the days of the early reefing. What stories she could tell of those early days. Gold Gold Gold at Murray Creek, the rumours flew. Reefers locate untold wealth in new vein. Script being traded on the street and in the salon. Fortunes lost and won. At the bat of an eyelid. The towns new fangled electric street lights, creating a hazy glow as they become shrouded in the fog of a winters evening. Fancy dudes strutting Broadway like cocks on display. The ladies of the night beckoning them to indulge in a bit of reefing on their own account in a darkened alley. Anxious to separate them and their money in a few reckless moments of abandonment. and lust. Ah yes those were the days alright. And now 1956 the old Lady looking somewhat dishevelled and run down from her earlier days of glory. No longer having the finest dining room for many miles around, the cocks and gentlemen had been replaced, with hardworking miners. Miners of another sort. Those that sought the black gold. Their fingers ingrained with years of coal dust. Their weathered faces. Time alas waits for no-one. But nefarious means of making money still existed from those strutting cocks of earlier days. And into a web of intrigue and excitement did I descend. Now I did have some, well may we say, legitimate ways of making money in those days. “Bob a Job” but the proceeds from that never lined my pockets, going instead to Akela, the Head Cub Mistress. Yes at that early age I had a “Mistress”. Then there was selling racebooks for the two meetings held yearly. And of course my little venture into precious stones, when I tried to sell diamonds to the Chinese Green Grocer, I"m afraid he wasn’t taken in by my car windscreen fragments. They did look the part tho.

This money making venture was also a little hit and miss. Now the Proprietor of Dawsons Hotel, was a Jim Cooper. And his son Pat was in my class at school, and his younger brother in a class below us. We used to call Pat, “Hammer Head Cooper” named after the shark species or a common hammer. Hammerhead had this most unusual head shape, it went out at the back and forward in the front. So Hammerhead he became. Didn’t seem to worry him, and he wore his name with pride. The pub was a great place for kids to play, old stables out the back, plus, some old large ovens that were used to bake bread. And of course the cellars, where the beer kegs were stored. Plus being two storied, it had fire escapes with these small balconies. One of which used to face the Police Station. We often took to sitting on that balcony. And dreaming of ways to make money. And then fate played us a winning hand. One fine summer evening about 7.00pm, we saw a bit of activity over at the Police Station.And next minute out marched Dad and four Constables. Obviously off on a Pub Raid. Downstairs we all ran, and into the Bar. Dad Dad cried Hammerhead, “The Cops are coming”. Ole Mr Cooper shut up shop instantly, and no success for the cops there. Obviously Mr Cooper thought more of this, and pretty soon we were on his pay roll. One shilling each for a successful warning. We only did weekends, so the hour’s were pretty good. And Dad wondered why he could never catch Dawsons in the weekends. Many years later, when I had joined the flock of blue myself, I told the ole man about my first job. I must admit he took it pretty well. Well it could have been worse than “You little Prick” maybe he admired my young entrepreneurial skills. One other thing always puzzled me about those young days. The Police Cells were the original cells from the old days. Complete with ample graffiti. One always had us puzzled, it read. "I got three months for stealing a French Letter. We could never quite figure out why anybody would want to steal a french letter, they would have to have been able to speak French, and why steal a letter anyway. Much conversation took part around that, but none at my school could come up with an explanation.

And as usual gold has slipped my mind again. Now where shall I begin. One Sunday, Dad said come on kids we are going out for a gold pan. Grab the frying pans.

(My thanks for the positive feedback. Where my story telling skills came from, if you could call them that are just there. Whilst I have in mind a subject or plot, that would merely only be one line. I write as if I am there, and actually I am. I live the part.

Cheers Trev aka “The Hatter”


If you ever write a book Trev I’ll definitely buy it. Loving the stories.

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Off In Search of Gold.

Into the Model A me and my two brothers scampered. Eager to make our fortunes in the golden rivers of Reefton. More particularly The Inangahua, it was of to where Rainy Creek entered the Inangahua, it was a bit of a picnic spot so Mum was coming to with some goodies to scoff, and our togs. As a swim was included in our adventurous day, planned ahead. We were indeed a famous five, Mum Dad and the three kids. I was the middle brother. Big brother was the best position in those days, he got all the new clothes. Me I got some new and some big brother hand downs, but poor younger brother well he almost lived in our hand me downs.

Money was quite tight in those days. Mutton was a regular meal. Cheese came in a big round hard circular shape and hung in the Grocery shop. It was bought by the slice, hard as concrete and tasted like crap. Rich people could buy Chesdale, boy that was yum yum. Whenever we could lay our hands on some.

We duly arrived at The Rainy Creek picnic area. out I clambered with my frying pan and garden shovel, right where is the gold. I asked Dad. I was the only one that wanted to get into this gold game right away. The other brothers preferring to have a swim or pester Mum as to what was in the picnic hamper, hoping to score maybe, my slice of chesdale cheese whilst my back was turned.

I don’t think we actually had a gold pan, and even Dad probably had a frying pan. Well Dad says you dig into the gravel and put it into the pan, then swish it around like this and go like this kinda backwards and forwards and eventually all you are left with is gold, if there is any there. Frig that’s sounds pretty easy to me I thought, I will be rich in no time. Chocolate, and chesdale cheese and ice creams for ever, Yay.

After my instructions, right off to dig some gravel. Well I soon learnt digging river boulders and gravel aint no easy task. And after the garden spade bounced off the boulder for the third time
I decided to look for easier ground . Spotting a sand bank, I thought Ha Ha, now that is for me. The spade slid into it. like a hot knife into butter, oh the ease. And in a matter of seconds, my frying pan was full. Off to the rivers edge I scampered, and it was then down onto my haunches and time to start this panning thing. Slosh slosh slosh went the water, round and round, round and round , back and forward, back and forward and out over the lip of the frying pan it did go, carrying the sand with it. The oil/fat slick slowly floated off down river, I think Mum had cleaned the pan out, maybe not. But the slick added to the fun.

Well before I knew it, I had colour showing. And I was only half way through. Frig frig frig, Im gunna be rich I reckoned. It was gold and sparkled in the sun, that was enough for me. On I panned until all I had was gold, lots of gold. It was everywhere. Told you this gold game was easy eh. Over I scampered to Dad, look Dad, look at all my gold. Mica son, only mica, worth nothing. It be fools gold son. That’s why it is called that, it fools the new chums like you. But Dad I aren’t a fool I got a B in arithmetic at school the other day. And Betty Smith in the seat in front of me in class likes me. Its just a matter of keeping trying son Dad said, and the gold will come to you. I notice it didn’t come to him that day either, but thought best not to mention that eh.

One never forgets his first attempt at panning. I was six years of age then.

More to come.

Cheers Trev aka “The Hatter”