Sitting in the cool quiet of the cob musters quarters is the perfect place to read the book ‘Life on the Muzzle’. The Authoress of the book O Redfern and her husband Guy live in the heart of the complex chain of ranges called the Southern Alps. Their farm station sandwiched between the seaward and outer Kaikoura ranges, its road blocked off under wet conditions by the Clarence River.
Last night around the big kitchen table I was reminded of my childhood when shearing gangs acme to visit our home. Hard working guys and gals line up for tucker and a beer and in no time the yarns start rolling and we all forget the petty troubles of the outside world. We are family. Nola tells how her dress got caught in the workings of a seed driller and the unsympathetic response from her hubby, Guy holds up a toe damaged by a similar incident, we are all in stitches. O calm and serene brings out the apple crumble and real cream, little Arthur watches from the door.
Yesterday I discovered a whole new definition of steep, in our trusty Toyota Fortuna we climbed to () feet to literally look down on the New Zealand falcon that was duelling with an Australasian Harrier. Views to every compass point span from the flats of Kaikoura, the Clarence Reserve and over the mountain range to the Molesworth Station.
Touching down into the Clarence Reserve we face our first river crossing, the Fortuna is fit for purpose and our guide Lance has forded this river more often than we have had hot dinners. But it is thrilling to see water inching up the door of your vehicle and a relief to get to the other side.
Lance, good keen man, right hand man of the Redferns and O’s parents Colin and Tina, knows the Muzzle and the way of life here at depth. He has shown us the good swimming holes with nearby trees to evade the heat of midday, and places of interest with evocative names like the elephant trap, and the diamond mine. This is a rock hounds dream come true. He is also a dab hand at whipping up the bacon and eggs in the morning, a good all-rounder.
It is impossible to describe the remote beauty of the Muzzle, with its great winding river valley and silent watching mountains towering above. It has to be seen and felt to be known. There is nowhere better to experience this splendid isolation that on our last night at the Ravine hut. This is a rough but well provisioned hut that the Redferns and their mustering team use as headquarters for the calf weaning and other musters. Here you can literally hear the floor boards talk of the yarns and debates carried out at night after a physically exhausting day wrangling cattle on horseback. We lie back in our swags and close our eyes to the sound of crickets in the long grass outside.
I can hear the throb of helicopter blades, Guy is returning from work, both Guy and O have piolet licences and own a plane which they use for trips to town, even the new ram gets a ride! I go outside. Arthur is running around in oversized boots with the dogs, his little sister trailing behind. O has beef sizzling on the bar-b-que. This is Life on the Muzzle.