End Of The Road
Screened June 16, 2007.
'End of the Road'
The Coromandel Peninsula's pohutukawa-shaded beaches make it an idyllic summer destination - but for the Lourie family, who live at its northernmost tip, farming in this iconic landscape is anything but a holiday.
In 1988 Jim and Sue Lourie made the trip up the narrow gravel road to look at a farm for lease at Fletcher Bay, two and a half hours' drive north of Thames. The land had recently been transferred to the newly-formed Department of Conservation .
The 800 hectare block offered them the chance to achieve their dream of running a farm of their own. They couldn't afford to buy land, so taking on the lease of the steep, drought-prone property seemed like the next best thing.
But those who knew the Fletcher Bay farm and its reputation for long dry summers didn't give the new couple much of chance.
Nearly twenty years on, they've proved the nay-sayers wrong. They still hold the lease and two of the three sons they raised on the farm now help out with the workload.
But the Louries haven't had it easy. In their early days, summer droughts created a harsh environment for their stock, meaning Jim had to draw heavily on his years of experience as a stockman to get through. And when it finally did rain, it would often cut their power and telephone links for days on end.
Sue had three boys aged under five to look after, but was a long way from the support of friends and family. Although she had little farm experience, in their early years she was also Jim's only helper around the farm.
And as her sons grew to school age, she was also thrust into the unfamiliar role of being their correspondence school teacher.
Every summer the family's isolation would be shattered by hordes of holidaymakers who invaded the motor camps at Fletcher Bay and nearby Port Jackson.
Although they enjoyed the company, Jim Lourie found the campers' lack of stock sense frustrating. Many a time gates left open would result in hours of needless extra mustering.
These days the Louries are a lot more at ease with their summer visitors and many of the campers have become firm friends.
This episode of Country Calendar joins the family at Fletcher
Bay for their summer season and stays on for one of the highlights
on the local rural calendar, the Colville cattle sale.