Early in the last century Linda, terminus of the railway line from Kelly's Basin to Mt Lyell, was a major town and Gaffney's Royal Hotel was but one of several serving its inhabitants, the majority of whom were employed at the North Lyell Mine at the time of the 1912 tragedy. Last drinks were finally called in 1952, and the burnt-out concrete shell of the old hotel has been a landmark for travellers on the Lyell Highway ever since. This weekend it is enhanced by Peter Waller’s installation, The Drink.
Do not imagine he has re-opened the bar; he has merely installed some new beams to support slender vertical steel rods hanging over the flooded floor of the old dining room. Reflections of two storeys of raw concrete walls and the sky above change constantly as breezes stir the surface of the water, clouds drift across and rain drips from the suspended rods to form a pattern of ripples. The west coast is infamous for its weather, and here it is harnessed in the service of a deceptively simple and endlessly fascinating work of art. Photographs cannot do it justice, but I’ve tried.
|The Drink - installation by Peter Waller in the ruins of the Royal Hotel|
This is the Linda Valley seen from the Iron Blow Lookout above Gormanston: these days a scant half dozen buildings remain. The old hotel is just visible, and can be made out as a grey block by the road in the lower left of this photograph.