In 1862, gold was discovered in the South Island, and golddiggers poured in, and within a year, Dunedin, which had previously been a small village, suddenly became the largest town in New Zealand. Along the River Clutha, everyone was panning for gold and shanty towns soon sprang up along the river. Admittedly within a couple of years they had mostly collapsed, but several of these are now celebrating 150 years of the gold rush in which they were founded and suddenly became important.
We followed the River Clutha up into the highlands, and we passed through several of the gold rush towns. The first of these that we came to was Lawrence. Here a carnival or festival was in progress.
Here is the main street of the town seen from one end.
A regular bus service was operating, powered by horse power.
Here the bus is going at a gallop, or at least a steady trot
It may be a small town, but it still has an Athenaeum
And the Athenaeum still has some fine books in it.
Though it is also given over to weaving
It is run by volunteers, many of them dressed for the occasion
There is also a splendid museum
The mail coach also carried parcels and luggage – on top
One of the gold prospectors had just abandoned his tent, his last meal still in the frying pan
The prospectors were not just from the Old World. Chinese prospectors were also brought in, though they were kept in a separate settlement. This has recently been excavated and some of the finds were on display in the museum, including some celadon pottery – I was amazed to find what I considered to be Chinese ‘fine wares’ in a shanty town in New Zealand.
Reluctantly there was no more time left to explore the museum, and we had to hurry on. It was perhaps not so much a museum as a wonderful junk shop, where relics had been left behind and preserved for posterity. But is that not what a real museum should be like?
We hurried on to the next goldrush town, Alexandria.