Solscape duo bow out with feast of memories

It was the end of an era for Solscape couple Phil McCabe and Bernadette Gavin last  Monday when they finally handed over the eco retreat they’ve nurtured for almost 17 years to its new owners.

Both activists are now looking forward to “a bit of a break” before Phil – former chair of KASM – sails to Fiji to look at seabed mining in the Pacific, and Bernadette follows up  African connections to continue her work in animal rehabilitation.

The pair marked the occasion a week ago by hosting 100-odd friends and family at their cafe overlooking the Tasman Sea while reliving Solscape’s evolution through a slideshow of cabooses, tipis and earth domes, burgeoning gardens and woofers who’ve come and gone.

It was part family album-part Solscape history, Phil said, because the two had been inextricably linked over the years.

Bernadette’s brother, Dom Gavin, has been at Solscape in a managerial role in latter years.  He is staying on, as is Phil’s daughter Molly.

The couple’s teenage daughter Sequoia – now in her last year at the area school – celebrated her first birthday there.

Also at the event were former owners Peter and Miriam Dixon – now breeding alpacas on the outskirts of Dinsdale – who were responsible for setting up on site some old  train carriages, most of which are still in use today.

Peter reckoned everyone thought he was crazy dragging railcars through town in the early 90s to set up Raglan Wagon Cabins, as the venture was called then, but said he was amazed to find Phil and Bernadette to carry his vision forward.

Solscape is now in the hands of another family who have “lots of connections” to Raglan and intend to work in the same vein, Phil told the Chronicle.

Edith Symes