Today, we visit Bomb Bay – not to be confused with Bombay. Curious but I never noticed that bomb has a silent B. You have to pity the poor sod learning English as a second language. How does one explain a silent B? Are there other words in English with a silent B? Tomb and comb, but they have a different O sound. Very confusing.
Leaving our home on the north shore of Auckland, we ride along the coast before heading inland, to the Greenhithe Bridge and across Waitemata Harbor, to Hobsonville Point on Bomb Bay. There are two bridges that cross Waitemata Harbor to central Auckland and Greenhithe is the only one that allows bicycles.
Hobsonville Point is one of the recommended city rides in Auckland covered by the Great Ride Passports. It’s an interesting neighborhood with a colorful past and a burgeoning future. A ride through the neighborhood highlights these divergent aspects of Hobsonville.
First, the history. The First European settlement here was established in 1853. Hobsonville like many of the neighborhoods in Auckland was once far removed from the city. It was an separate town and a trip to Auckland was not easy. A ferry ran from its harbor into Auckland but it was hostage to low tides which made the harbor passage difficult. Instead, the families that lived in Hobsonville needed to be self-reliant.
In 1924, the government established land and seaplane aviation here. In 1929, the Air Force established their airbase on the point. The main harbor still displays the markings of the plane turnaround and the landing ramp for seaplanes.
In 2001, the Air Force gradually moved their operations to a nearby base. To see the history of Hobsonville, including some historic photos, check here.
Recent pressures for new housing for the ever-growing Auckland prompted city planners to develop a planned community on the point. By the time it will be completed, it will encompass 3000 apartments and homes, schools and retail as well as a four kilometer walking-cycling path. Riding around the point, it is impossible to avoid the construction traffic and noise.
Every neighborhood needs a coffee shop. The Catalina Cafe (named after Catalina Bay, which also borders the point) fills this role in Hobsonville, housed in a restored Air Force Administration and Planning building. The grill closes at 2:30. Don’t arrive at 2:31, as we did, if you want something hot off the grill. Fortunately, their delicious selection of sandwiches are available until closing. Other historic buildings in the neighborhood are being re-purposed as shops and restaurants. The historic seaplane hanger, adjacent to the harbor and ferry dock, has been resurrected as the farmer’s market, open Saturday and Sunday mornings. In total, there are 30 heritage buildings that will be restored across the community.
Adding to the enjoyment of a ride or walk through the neighborhood is the public art. Download the Art Explorer Guide as a guide to finding and understanding the art.
Even the play structures at the playground adjacent to the Catalina Cafe are works of art. What I assumed initially was an art installation is, in fact, a climbing structure as well.
The most fascinating part of our visit was exploring Bomb Point, where eight abandoned storage buildings for munitions are spaced around the point. Each building is buffered with an earth berm, some of which are accessible through concrete tunnels.
Many are locked but some are open and provide a backdrop for graffiti art. It’s fascinating to me to consider the time and the artistic talent on display.
I wonder if the redevelopment plans of the area will save this unusual part of Bomb Point’s history? I expect so as the buildings all appear to have recently been re-roofed suggesting that the developers intend to save them. The unanswered question is the future of the graffiti. Will it be saved or painted over?
Another great day, courtesy of my bike.