Tyers Magic

Before we enjoyed a great lunch at the Helensville Railway Station Cafe, we visited the Helensville Train Museum right next door.
Run by the Helensville Railway Station Trust by volunteers, this is well worth checking out.

Helensville Railway Station with the Museum behind
Helensville Railway Station with the Museum behind

parakaiThere is a gigantic model railway based on Helensville, even replicating well know local buildings and known points. There is even a little orange sign that says, “You are Here” 🙂
The chap that built the model spent 30 years putting it together.

Click on any photo for Hi Res or a Slideshow

Helensville Station. Note the pub in the background
Helensville Station. Note the pub in the background
The Pub over the road
The Pub over the road

After spending an hour or so, checking it all out, one of the volunteers came over and said to me, “come and check this out, I’ll demonstrate it for you”.
There were two red boxes with buttons and bells.
This was The Tyers Tablet system which railways in both Great Britain and New Zealand used up until 1994 on single lines to prevent head on collisions.
It involved a sophisticated coded bell system with switches with electromagnetic locks that allows a small disk, a Tablet, to be released for a train driver when the line is clear. The system was setup between railway stations at each end of a line.

All Packed
All Packed

Given that it was setup in the dark old days of bleeps over the phone lines, it’s a clever system. Helensville Railway Museum is the only one that we know of still in working order and when you think of what it had to do and when it was invented, it’s pretty clever.
If you want more info on this, Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the Tyers Tablet system and here’s a youtube vid of the Helensville setup being explained.


The two volunteers there were only too happy to show me everything at the museum and couldn’t have been more helpful. It’s a must do if you’re in town.
It’s $3.00 each and well worth it.

On Track

Helensville is a neat little town and after spending a nice afternoon in the Hot Pools at Parakai, we took Rafe in for a nosey around.
We’ve been to the Railway Station before we had Rafe and it has a fantastic cafe which is where the original NZ Railways cafe was.

The Railway Station in 1910
The Railway Station in 1910

There is also a antique shop run by a nice lady who once lived in Auckland but escaped to Helensville a long time ago!
The Railway Station is owned by the Helensville Railway Trust and they’ve recently just done up the building including the loos. There is plenty of parking so it’s an easy place to park your Motorhome.

Just a friendly reminder, click on the images for hi res or a slideshow.

It was time for lunch so to the cafe. Still being ultra nice to my front tooth, I had to skip some of the real bready lunches and had a “Train smash” I think it was called which was basically a full breakfast.. Very nice. Fiona had an Angus beef burger.

My "Trainsmash"
My “Trainsmash”
Fiona's Angus Burger
Fiona’s Angus Burger

On the wall is a great photo of the staff at that particular time. Looking at the gear, they’re wearing, I’d say it’s late 1800’s or early 1900’s.

NZR café staff in the early 1900's . The lady in the middle was the manager who recently had her 90th birthday at the Café.
NZR cafĂ© staff in the early 1900’s . The lady in the middle was the manager who recently had her 90th birthday at the CafĂ©.

The woman in the middle was in charge at the time and she recently celebrated her 90th birthday at the Cafe. A great story.
There are some really interesting pictures on the wall, one which looks like it might have been in France where a train jumped out of a wall on a second story. Oops!

After having a look around, we stopped for a look at the shops in the Main Street.

Main Street
Main Street

Some interesting buildings, everywhere you look  you see history.

New at the Spit

We were very lucky to be invited along to the opening of the new Sandspit Marina, hosted by the Sandspit Yacht club. Rob and Helens friend, Bruce who is Commodore of the Yacht club and along with his wife Glenys and their team, they did a great job of hosting several hundred people for drinks and nibbles at the opening.

The scene
The scene

The Marina has taken a few years to come together so it must been pleasing to get it open for all those involved. It also provides 130 berths for those at nearby Kawau Island and Yacht club members for their boats.

While we were there, I bumped into my old Classic Yacht owner friend, Steve who had his boat pulled out on the hard stand at Sandspit.  It was really nice to catch up and good to hear the CYA Classic Register which I started with fellow launchie Alan, is in good hands as Steve has taken this on for this years edition.

The Marina
The Marina

A great do and a nice Marina and great asset for boaties in the region. Well done Bruce and team and thanks for having us at the opening.

Recovery trip

Its not quite what it sounds like. I’ve just had an implant in one of my front teeth  and it’s amazing how groggy and dozy you can feel for days afterwards from all the rocket fuel that’s loaded into your veins. All for a good cause of course 🙂

To keep things simple and because it was wet and rainy, we thought we’d try the Parakai Hot Springs park near Helensville. As it was reasonably close and we thought a nice blob out spot with the pools.

Remember to click on the images for hi red or a slideshow.

A bit wet but nice park environment
A bit wet but nice park environment

The lady at the counter was great fun and after telling me that Fiona was a senior, and we had a good giggle at that, she gave us all the info we needed and we headed off to our parking spot.

Because it has been so wet, they only had 7 concreted parking spots for motor homes but there are a lot more for when it’s dry.

ParakaiIt’s well set up with a big toilet and kitchen block in the middle and some permanent caravans down at the other end. Every second parking spot has a rubbish bin and tap. The bin was emptied every morning. There is also a security man parked in the corner.

A Dethleffs XLI at the end with us next to it.
A Dethleffs XLI at the end with us next to it. Eric and Lyns Hymer second from the right.

After parking, we set off to have a swim. Two big pools, one outdoor which is cooler and a nice hot one indoors.  There were lots of people there swimming and also enjoying food from the on site cafe.

On getting back to Rafe, we met our neighbours Eric and Lyn from Orewa with their C class Hymer and their friends from Warkworth.  You don’t see many of these  Hymers around. Their one came from the UK originally. Nice little van.  I joined them in between rain showers on one of the barbeque tables for a cold one.
On the second night we met neighbours on the other side in their near new Dethleffs XLI. Ian and Lynne have sold their house, bought the van and are fulltiming!  Way to go! They came over to Rafe and we solved the worlds problems for an hour or two, as you do.

Fiona enjoying they heat
Fiona enjoying they heat (Cell ph pic)

I have to say it’s definitely a nice close option for my favourite hot pool park at Miranda.

It’s not quite as flash as Miranda but its clean, tidy and perfectly functional. We didn’t see it at its best as there was rain, thunder and high winds but a very pleasant place to stay.  At $28 a night, I think its pretty good value and power is free for NZMCA members.(included in the $28)

For those interested in Internet Speeds,
The Netspeed speedtest:
Download: 30.03 Mbps
Upload: 9.65 Mbps
Ping: 49 ms
Server: Auckland