Saturday, January 10, 2015

Our Day in Devonport

Now that the extended holidays of  Christmas, Boxing Day and New Years are all over, we are back to work in the office.  We have had lots to do and had a very full week filled with many responsibilities of our calling.  So when Saturday rolled around, we were eager to kick up our heels and do a bit of exploring.

We got together with another Senior Mission couple, the Whiddens from Vancouver, BC. 

They were very good company.  Together we had a great time exploring Devonport.

According to Wikipedia:
 is a harbourside suburb of Auckland, New Zealand. It is located on the North Shore, at the southern end of a peninsula that runs southeast from near Lake Pupuke in Takapuna, forming the northern side of the Waitemata Harbour. East of Devonport lies North Head, the northern promontory guarding the mouth of the harbour.

The village of Devonport is built around a prominent hill, Mt. Victoria, which is the remains of one on the eight volcanos in the area.  You can see more about our volcanoes HERE

We didn't take time to go up to the top of Mt. Victoria today, but enjoyed seeing it as a backdrop to the town and will probably take a drive up there the next time we visit.  The views from up top are supposed to be pretty spectacular.

We found Davonport to be a charming area filled with historic buildings, colorful shops, abundant cafes, gardens, and amazing trees.   My favorite tree was a giant Morton Bay Fig  (Ficus macrophylla) that was planted in 1883.

Apparently these mighty trees must be pollinated by one specific kind of wasp  (Pleistodontes froggatti).  There are several different species of fig trees and each one must have it's own special brand of wasp to make it possible for the tree to propagate.  It's a pretty amazing and complex symbiotic relationship which I learned more about over at Figweb

 When I consider how that tiny little wasp about the size of an ant is absolutely necessary for this great and mighty tree to grow I think of the story of Alma, teaching his son Helaman about the importance of the record written on the plates of brass, said:
“By small and simple things are great things brought to pass..."  (Alma 37:6)

We had a lovely lunch at the Stone Oven and we wandered in and out of several shops.


I particularly enjoyed seeing the Flagstaff Gallery.  (I was born in Flagstaff, Arizona so with a name like that, how could I pass it up?)  They had great pieces, friendly staff, and just a really good vibe for discovering both established and up-and-coming New Zealand artists.

I could not agree more with this review posted over at yelp:

"What impressed me the most about Flagstaff was their very innovative wall drawer system at the back of the shop - there were all these massive sheets of fencing that would slide in and out of the wall, and they would all have pieces of artworks displayed on them (each fence belonged to a different artist). I thought it was a very clever use of the limited space in the gallery."

From the gallery website:
Flagstaff Gallery was established in Devonport in 1993 as the first dealer gallery on Auckland's North Shore. Now one of Auckland's leading dealers in contemporary New Zealand fine art, we occupy a spacious gallery that enables us to exhibit art and make it easy for clients to browse.

The gallery at 30 Victoria Road (just up the road from the original gallery) features custom-designed sliding racks which have expanded our display capacity to more than 1000 artworks.

Our aim is to provide a friendly, relaxed environment in which to make a wide variety of quality art accessible to all. Well-established and new artists contribute to our exhibition programme, which includes paintings, sculpture, and hand-worked prints. 

I would heartily recommend this place to anyone who comes to Devonport.  It's definitely worth a look. Some of the pieces on display were totally captivating, capturing the feel of New Zealand in a very powerful way.

There were a lot of cool old historic buildings but one that will bring me back for sure was the old church we saw just as we came into town.   It is St. Franis de Sales Catholic Church. 

According to the church's website, the parish was established in 1904, although there had been a worshiping community here for several years prior to this date.The original church building was a small wooden structure which had been commissioned by Bishop Pompallier in 1866 as a mortuary chapel in Symonds Street, Auckland, and named for one of his patrons, François (de Sales); it was barged across the harbour and erected on the current site in 1893.
 In 1919 a second and larger building, o
f Gothic Revival design, was erected over the old chapel, which was then dismantled and removed through the entrance.

What interested me most was the old cemetery next to the church. 

  I checked on Find-a-Grave and it seems those graves have not been added to that resource.   I would love to take a day to go photograph each grave site and get them added to the website.

There was so much to see and do in Devonport.  We just barely scratched the surface.  I'm sure we will be back other times, as it's just a short drive from where we live. 

All in all we really had a very fun day.

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