Just off the scenic road through the Catlins, there is a dummy holding a Curios sign, pointing to a big green caravan that looks like it could belong to the Weasleys. This was my favorite stop in the Catlins, the Lost Gypsy Caravan. We first heard of this eccentric treasure from a DVD called South.
There are other signs that catch the eye, each hand painted or stamped in the way that everything seems handmade here. Want to know what happens when you push the temptation button? I'm not telling. Let's just say its position, visible from the cafe, lends itself to providing entertainment for coffee drinkers.
The building is surrounded by eye catching sculptures like the one below.
The Lost Gypsy himself, artist Blair Somerville, has created hundreds, maybe thousands, of simple machines and mechanical toys from discarded and upcycled materials. Bangs, burps, whistles and flashes erupt from inside the caravan as explorers poke and wind various implements.
|A miniature train circles the walls, closing circuits as it passes.|
|Wanted: Seven volunteers for Papatowai version|
The caravan is not large, but one can spend a lot of time looking at the details, with humorous sculptures and signs amidst the machines.
Outside the caravan, a coffee shop provides wifi to desperate travelers. We took advantage of it, as we lost cell phone reception through the entire Catlins and needed to contact our host in Invercargill.
I loved the mosaic work around the coffee shop, and it inspired me for a future backyard creation. Among the recycled glass bottles in the wall I spotted jaw bones, gears and old electrical insulators.
Read more about Blair here.