Five Mile Fred 40 years on

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When Queenstown tourism first boomed in the early ’80s, Five Mile Fred was on hand with his wry observations in a regular Mountain Scene column. He was the alter ego of Jim Childerstone, who launched a collection of Five Mile Fred’s musings this week. Philip Chandler reports.

From 1979 till ’81, Mountain Scene published the colourful pontifications from “up on the diggings” of Five Mile Fred.

He’s the alter ego of “one-time Arrowtown digger”, semi-retired forester and ex-journalist Jim Childerstone.

Now 84 and residing in North Otago, he’s self-published a collection of his ramblings under the title, Of Gold Dust, Nuggets & Bulldust

Five Mile Fred was a simple guy who had a healthy disrespect for authority and queried what was going on locally and nationally, often pricking the National Party government of the time, championed in Queenstown by Cabinet Minister and MP Warren ‘Super’ Cooper.

In his foreword, Childerstone writes that Five Mile Fred “came out with some observations which could be embarrassing, if not legally actionable”.

“I was unable to control him, or some of his down-to-earth rantings.

“But it presents a picture of contemporary history of those times – the early ’80s explosion into the tourism boom.

“It heralded the early days when the suits moved into town, much to the derision of the folk up on the diggings …”

Childerstone says he was persuaded to publish the collection by Arrow Junction farmer/historian Alan ‘Hammy’ Hamilton.

He also wrote columns for The Christchurch Star but couldn’t recover them – “they got munted by the earthquake”.

 

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scoop@scene.co.nz

Bulldust is available at Arrowtown’s Lakes District Museum and Queenstown’s Bound bookshop, $25.