B.

100 years of the Cass field station

Behind the scenes

Last weekend the University of Canterbury Biology Department celebrated the 100th anniversary of the field station at Cass with a symposium on Cass followed up with a field trip to the station.

Ellen Heine Biological Station, Cass (c.1935-38) Collection of the Biology Department, University of Canterbury. 

Ellen Heine Biological Station, Cass (c.1935-38) Collection of the Biology Department, University of Canterbury. 

I was delighted to deliver a paper on Rita Angus's painting of Cass and happily sat in on a few of the other papers which I thoroughly enjoyed - an eye-opening introduction for an art historian to the ecology of the Cass region. I was amazed listening to Professor David Norton's paper in particular and learning just how dramatically the area has changed over the past 100 years, facts largely known because of the on-going research in the area over this time. Perhaps most alarming was the invasion of brown top grass which had largely smothered the more sparsely growing tussocks and native herb plants which predominated in the Cass basin when Rita Angus visited there in 1936. 

Rita Angus Mountain Biological Station, Cass (1936) watercolour. Collection University of Canterbury

Rita Angus Mountain Biological Station, Cass (1936) watercolour. Collection University of Canterbury

In the foyer outside the lecture theatre there was also a wonderful selection of photographs of Cass, both historic and contemporary. Ellen Hiene's images particularly interested me as they were taken at around the same time that Rita, Lousie Henderson and Julia Scarvell visited Cass in May 1936.

As part of the 100th anniversary celebrations a new track has been completed at Cass, the Sugarloaf Saddle Track, which I think begins near the field station; a good excuse to make a day of it on your next visit to Cass.

 

Ellen Heine View Towards Cass Railway Station (c.1935-38) Collection of the Biology Department, University of Canterbury.

Ellen Heine View Towards Cass Railway Station (c.1935-38) Collection of the Biology Department, University of Canterbury.

Ellen Heine University of Canterbury Science students wait for the train at the Cass Railway Station (c.1935-38) Collection of the Biology Department, University of Canterbury.

Ellen Heine University of Canterbury Science students wait for the train at the Cass Railway Station (c.1935-38) Collection of the Biology Department, University of Canterbury.

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