A Great weekend in South Otago!
Many thanks to Bill Cowan and the Tuapeka Mouth community who came together to host a field trip of 27 Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust Members. The day started with a wonderful morning tea in the hall thanks to Elma Thompson and the local ladies, and a great display of local history very nicely presented around the walls.
Then it was out for a walk in the BEAUTIFUL sunshine (earlier reports were for steady rain so the good weather was a well received bonus) along the picturesque banks of the Tuapeka River to have a look at the ‘James Liffel horizontal turbine’ – 200 hp made in the USA about 1906 lifted water from the Tuapeka up to the mining area around where the township is. Thanks very much to Geoff Thompson, the local land owner, who not only had to clear away some rather large willow branches that came down the day before but also cut a hole in his deer fence to allow us access!
There was also a fine horizontal mine – come sludge tunnel to inspect and as an added bonus they had arranged a miner showing us the old and the new ways of prospecting!
Twas such a lovely day we wandered on down to the confluence of the Tuapeka and the Clutha the site of the wharf where the old paddle steamers used to come up the Clutha to. Also the area of a significant timber mill in those early days.
After a picnic lunch in the Hall, further reading of the local histories and a visit to the old School building (with many old photos and displays) it was off up the road to the cemetery where we were met by octogenarian Chris Skinner to tell us a few stories.
The weather was holding fine so we carried on up to an old dam – a ‘good, honest’ hill climb was involved but well worth the effort.
The Tuapeka Mouth part of the day finished with a punt ride over the Clutha then a drive down to Balclutha for dinner at the Rose Bank Lodge and a wonderful presentation by Gary Ross (from the South Otago Museum) all about Port Molyneux – setting us up for the next day.
Sunday dawned bright and clear once again for a 9am start at the South Otago Museum to see some relics from ships wrecked around the Molyneux Bay area. Then it was a drive out to Port Molyneux itself and some wonderful Devonshire Tea thanks very much to Katy Button (local land owner) before heading down to the site of the original port now in the middle of grazing and wetland countryside. A bit of trudging arround amongst the willows did indeed present us with some posts still with bolts attached that are the pillars of the old wharf!
The Port Molyneux cemetery was next on the list then into Kaka point to see the original Port Molyneux Church which had been relocated to Kaka Point but is on its way back to its original location! A casual lunch at ‘The Point Cafe’ rounded the weekend off nicely. Thanks very much to all those who came along and to all those who help make it such a fun and interesting weekend!
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