Once Pleasant Point was a thriving railway town, a busy stop on the way to the fabled Mackenzie country, the secret pastures high in the mountains, where the notorious James Mackenzie led his stolen flocks beyond the reach of the long arm of the law.
But now, most of the time, Pleasant Point (so named because it was a pleasant resting point on the hard slog into the highlands) is as still as painted town.
The train no longer runs, the high school has closed, the Post Office has been re-born as Legends Cafe, the doors of St Joseph’s Catholic Church are closed forever after the 2011 earthquake and the streets are quiet.
But come the weekends and the school holidays, Pleasant Point bursts into bustling life again. Still it’s not life as we in the 21st century know it. It’s life in the town’s 19th and 20st century heyday.
The station gleams and sparkles with bells, brass, red-painted fire buckets and quaint old signs. You queue at a small wire grille to buy your ticket, while behind you, the old Fairlie Flyer blows impatient clouds of steam across the platform. You take your place on the green padded seats in your carriage, dump your gear in the mesh luggage racks above and with a clang of bells, a hiss of steam and a toot of the whistle you’re off.
It’s a short run to the end of the line. There you’ll discover another treasure of the old railway world – a jigger. There’s great entertainment pushing and pulling yourselves up and down the line while you wait for the return train to the Point Station.
When you’ve taken the rides, and tried everything that opens and shut on the Fairlie Flyer, there’s was only one last, very special and very fitting way to end your morning in old Pleasant Point – with a Hokey Pokey ice-cream from the Dairy.