Queenstown had only just been given its name and gold only just discovered in the Wakatipu Basin three years earlier when Darryl Gilbert's Great Grandfather, Jock Adamson, was born in the shanty of a town it was, during 1865. By the time Jock was 20, he had shifted to the West Coast, becoming the mailman on the route between Ross and Gillespies Beach near Fox Glacier. He carried both mail and passengers on a spring wagon and packhorse, negotiating the rough early tracks, unbridged rivers and sea beaches to take civilisation into some of the most remote communities in South Westland. The trip was hazardous, with a horse once being lost over a bluff and on another occasion mailbags were swept out to sea. Eventually he upgraded to a stagecoach and a team of horses once the track was improved, with reports of him breaking into song while riding along.
Todays road trips around the South Island are not comparable. But with his Great Grandfather in mind and of course in considerably more comfort, Darryl today traverses the highways and gravel roads and walking tracks of the place he loves, led by curiosity and wonderment.
"The South Island, has been my home nearly all my life. It is the place I know best and it holds the beginnings of my history. When I travel to photograph, I see in the landscape the memories that it holds, the time that has passed and the changes that have taken place. I sense the footprints of the early Polynesians as they clambered along the coastlines and sheltered in coastal caves. I sense the dreams of the early pioneers in the remnants of old jetties, the toil of those that built the irrigation structures and the joy of the early explorers finding their way into the wilderness. I also sense the ongoing journey of the large rock sitting on the coastline being lashed by the ocean."
Some of the places Darryl has lived in the South Island include Christchurch, Hari Hari in South Westland, Twizel in the Mackenzie Basin, Cromwell in Central Otago, Blenheim in Marlbough, Marihau on the boundary of the beautiful Abel Tasman National Park and more recently has been spending time in Arrowtown located in the Wakatipu Basin.