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The Land of Doing Without
The Land of Doing Without

Davey Gunn lived 30 years in Fiordland's rugged Hollyford Valley, where he had one of the most isolated cattle runs in New Zealand. When he moved there in 1926 he left behind his wife and children - and civilisation - for a tough and solitary life he grew to love. Although quiet and modest by nature, Davey became known throughout New Zealand as a back-country hero for his 20-hour journey on foot to raise the alarm after a fatal plane crash at Big Bay in 1936. His efforts saw the four survivors rescued, and the legend of Davey Gunn began. Against the almost insuperable odds of difficult country, isolation, the Depression, the depredations of a burgeoning deer population and the constant threat of losing his short-term leases, Davey wrestled to make a living from his largely wild cattle. He was also keen to open up and share the land he loved, and in the mid-1930s pioneered guided walking and riding trips in the Hollyford and Pyke Valleys. Hollyford Camp, also known to this day as Gunns Camp, is testament to the efforts of this true No. 8 wire man, who did more than any other individual to alert travellers throughout New Zealand and the world to the unparalleled beauty of this part of Fiordland. It is somehow fitting that eventually, on Christmas Day 1955, the land claimed this remarkable man. The Land of Doing Without brings to life the memories of many of Davey's contemporaries, and explores the man behind the legend: his quirks, his fortitude and his legacy.

JULIA BRADSHAW has been researching and writing local history for 16 years. A summer job as a guide on the Hollyford Track in Fiordland ignited Julia's research interests, which include the social history of Fiordland, the West Coast, the South Island's goldfields and early Chinese immigrants to New Zealand. She lives on the West Coast, near Kokatahi, with her partner, Eddie Newman, who shares her passion for exploring New Zealand's remote places. Julia has written three other books: Miners in the Clouds: A hundred years of scheelite mining at Glenorchy (Lakes District Museum, 1997), The Far Downers: The people and history of Haast and Jackson Bay (Otago University Press, 2001), and Arrowtown History and Walks (Otago University Press, 2001). She has worked in museums for the past 12 years and is currently employed by Shantytown, Greymouth, researching stories for the town's planned redevelopment.

Price: $31.00

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