Colourful character: The late Alan 'Hammy' Hamilton lived at Arrow Junction's Doonholme farm for the last 76 years


One of Queenstown’s greatest characters — a veteran farmer, adventurer and storyteller — died this week, aged 91.

A much-loved, lifelong local, Alan ‘Hammy’ Hamilton grew up on a dairy farm straddling much of central Queenstown, and delivered billy cans of fresh milk and cream before going to school — the subject of one of his six books, The Adventures of the Milk Cart Kid.

After an education at a tiny Queenstown Primary, then Oamaru’s Waitaki Boys’, he joined
his parents in 1946 at their second farm, Doonholme, at Arrow Junction, which they’d
bought for £300, then took it over when they moved back to town.

Alan married his ‘‘partner in crime/farm advisor’’, Dot, in 1953, and they had four daughters, Susan, Janice, Lyn and Ann — Dot predeceased him in 2016.

Off the farm, he shore sheep in the area for 25 years, gold-fossicked here and in Western Australia and hunted extensively, which in turn inspired his first three books.

In 1954, he and a mate established a popular ice rink at Arrowtown’s Wilcox Green to liven up the town in winter — the subject of Alan’s last book, in 2017.

Two life highlights were doing a blade-shearing demo for the late Queen Mother in Queenstown’s Earnslaw Park, in 1966, then goldpanning for the Queen and Prince Philip in Horne Creek in 1970 — ‘‘not the most likely spot to find gold, so I made sure I brought my own’’.

In ’78, Alan became a pioneer deer farmer, buying his first animals at Sir Tim Wallis’ second deer sale in Wanaka — you guessed it, he also wrote a book on his farm years.

Ironically, he once told Mountain Scene “I can’t write for shit”, and never took a book home during his school days.

However, he confessed writing was “the best medicine I had”.

Daughter Lyn Hamilton says: ‘‘Dad was a born storyteller and naturally entertaining even when he was just being himself — people gravitated to him.’’

At the end of his Doonholme book he expresses the wish that when he looks down on it from heaven, it’ll still be a farm.

‘‘I’d like to think all the rabbits have disappeared and gone to heaven, too.’’

Alan’s funeral’s this coming Monday at Moonlight Country at 1pm.