Great weather helped to set up a wonderful field weekend in Roxburgh.
31 Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust members met at the Commercial Hotel for morning tea and a very interesting talk by the publican John Kerr about the settling of Otago and the building of his hotel. While most of the Otago Gold-rush towns date back to the early 1880’s Roxburgh goes back a good 20years earlier than that! The reason for that was talked about more at our third stop…
After a very satisfying morning tea we filled up vehicles and drove off in a convoy to Pinders Pond to meet with Stephen Jeffrey of the Roxburgh Community Board and descendants of the pond’s namesake David and Helen Pinder as well as David’s sister Margaret Kitto (nee Pinder). A short ceremony was had to officially ‘unveil’ the two new interpretation panels the Trust had erected at the pond. Thanks were made all around from John Douglas who started the ball rolling about 7 years ago to Mike Floate and Bruce McMillan for further researching the text and photos for the panels and finally to Jocelyn Cook who is the new official and very well respected designer of the trusts panels.
Our third point of interest was on Loop Road at the house of John Crawford. After much comment on the exotic breed of chickens he had running around his yard we got down to the real business of the explanation for the largest stone ruins in NZ – the Teviot Woolshed. John lives about 100m from the woolshed and recently published a book all about it so, not surprisingly, he was a wonderful speaker and put a lot of greatly embellished myths about the actual size of the woolshed to rest. For an excellent article on the woolshed click here. http://www.grownups.co.nz/read/travel/explore_new_zealand/the-teviot-woolshed
Now our group headed out to the Horseshoe Bend (Teviot River) dam, power house and wind turbines for our ‘picnic in the hills’. It was quite windy on top which was very much appreciated as it blew away the dust from between the cars in convoy. Luckily our spot down in the valley was lovely and sheltered for a very pleasant lunch. David Hamilton gave an overview of the John Ewing dam’s and water races used for his gold mining operations and how they had subsequently been used for electricity generation and irrigation purposes. For David’s excellent presentation that he delivered to a conference last year click here. http://www.ipenz.org.nz/heritage/conference/presenters/hamilton.htm
The day continued with a drive back closer to Roxburgh and a walk around the holding pond above ‘the George’ power house then on to the actual power house itself. Built on what could only be described in 1924 as a ‘precipice’. For more history on the power scheme click here. http://www.pioneergen.co.nz/History.asp
The last walk of the day was into the Teviot River Gorge and the very impressive siphon which transports water down the south side of the gorge then up and over to the orchards further north of the Teviot.
We topped off the day with an excellent meal and camaraderie at the Lake Roxburgh Lodge. Thanks very much to Kim and Phil who looked after us so well just like they did 7 years ago at our previous field weekend to Roxburgh.
Many of us stayed at the Teviot Motels (many thanks to Christine – a wonderful hostess) and all were invited to a ‘help yourself’ continental breakfast in the ‘house lounge’ provided by the trust. This ensured we were all together and on time for our first appointment of the day with Stu and Ngaire Edgecumbe at their gold panning tourist activity. Stu very generously attributes his new business to our previous field weekend (7 yrs ago)where, such was the feedback to Stu’s tour of an as yet undefined collection of tailings, that the seed was planted for him to create it into a commercial venture. Being able to consistently find gold in your pan after having just dug a shovel full of gravel out of the bank at your feet feels very authentic!
After a quick morning tea (fresh scones and all) we drove over the Roxburgh Dam and up to Gorge Creek for a walk and talk by Ed Dwyer. The rain just held out until we had had time to hear the history of the area and visit the red cross on the white rock you can see from the road (the only surviving headstone of about 8-9 miners who were buried here). We also got to inspect a great example of a miners hut built under a very accommodating slab of rock.
The weekend finished in glorious style with the new proprietors of the Shingle Creek Tavern absolutely outdoing themselves by providing us with a lunch surely fit for kings! Thanks very much to Ange and her helper at the Shingle Creek Pub.
All in all a great weekend enjoyed by all. Feel free to leave your own comments below.
Special thanks have to go to David Hamilton, Ed Dwyer, Jason Rooney, Grant Botting and John Crawford for their help in making the weekend such a success.