Time to move on again and this time it was a fairly short drive, 49km up the road to Alexandra. Our first stop was to find the Miner’s Memorial at Gorge Creek – not an easy task as there was no sign on the side of the road. Luckily we turned into rest area, and there it was, along a pathway almost hidden by trees and bushes. The memorial was erected “In memory of the pioneer gold miners who perished in the Great Snow of 1863”. In July to September 1863 a devastating combination of flood, snowstorm, and blizzard caused heavy loss of life among the mining population of Central Otago. Mining settlements and camps over an area of more than 800 square miles were isolated or engulfed by the snow, and an unknown number of men perished.
Leaving the bountiful fruit growing area of Roxburgh behind, the country was now dry and barren and then we saw huge schist rock formations protruding through the ground.
On the way to Alexandra
We pulled into POP 8804 just in time for lunch and found ourselves somewhere to park up. Our hosts were away for the weekend with their caravan, we were told by the camper left in charge, and he showed us where the very important sign-in book was, the toilet, and the honesty box for our fees. We had decided to stay for three nights and do some exploring from here, leaving the van on site.
All settled in for the next three days
After lunch we drove to Clyde, once the centre of the Dunstan Goldfields. The stone buildings lining the streets date back to the 1860s so it is rather like stepping back in time. The small town was buzzing with tourists who were looking at all the old buildings, and sipping their beer or coffee outside in the sunshine. The Dunstan Hotel must have been the real hub in the town – and a sign on the side wall said the hotel offered “Good Stabling” which must have been very important in those early days.
General Store plus wine and spirits
Dr Morice arrived in 1863 and was so horrified at the frostbite and malnutrition suffered by the miners that he set up a tent hospital in the grounds of his home.
Home of Dr Morice
Old Undertakers business
Not quite as old as the town, but certainly vintage, we spotted this 1959 Clubman Crusader caravan parked in Clyde.
Vintage caravan, we’ve never seen one of these before
Just up the road was the Clyde Dam. With a height of100m, width at base at 70m, width at crest 10m and length at crest 490m it is certainly a massive structure.
And while we were in the area we went to check out the free parking area overlooking the dam. It always seems very popular, and there seemed to be more campers on site than the 12 allowed.