Feb 01 1980

Bannockburn: Background notes.

Settlement of Bannockburn had its beginnings when the discovery of Hartley and Reilly in 1862 of rich gold deposits in the Cromwell Gorge brought hordes of alluvial miners to the area. These miners were soon to pge out claims along the Bannockburn Creek. Its tributaries and neighbouring streams most of which proved to be extremely profitable.

Further prospecting revealed the presence of gold bearing reefs higher up the slopes of the Carrick Range where considerable quartz mining continued for several years up to the 1900s. At the foot of the range there are clay terraces where rich seams and patches of alluvial gold was found.

To recover the gold,, suicing operations were carried out by various parties for many years – the spectacular cliffs of yellow clay flanking the scenes of these operations provide ample evidence of the extent of these workings.

The approach to Bannockburn leads over the bridge which spans the Kawarau river. Looking downstream several hundred metres is the site of the first of two punts that operated as early as 1867, one being owned by J Richards and the other by James Stewart who built a hotel on the site. The first toll bridge was built by James Stewart who built a hotel on the site. The first toll bridge was built in 1874 and was washed away by the big flood in 1878. The following year the second bridge was built and soon lapsed into bad repair; it was mysteriously burnt in 1896. The third bridge was built in 1897 and used until 1969 when the fourth bridge was built. The fifth bridge is required because of the formation of Lake Dunstan.

The first road leading off to the left known as Cairnmuir road, leads to Shepherd and Bannockburn creeks where several coal mines operated as well as considerable gold mining activities. Further up the road is Cairnmuir Homestead and beyond that, Cornish Point which is now an apricot orchard. Bannockburn Creek is a popular picnic place.

Felton Road leads off the right from the bridge, on the left of the road is Templars Hill which supplies gravel and clay for roading. Further on the road is Mount Difficulty station. Continuing up the main road from the bridge to the top of the hill (Bridge Hill) on the left is Slaughterhouse Hill, the right is the Bannockburn Hotel, the last of a number of hotels that thrived in the area in the 1800.

Th next road to the right leads to Doctors Flat as it was formerly known. There is a store, bowling green, tennis court and camping ground which are all still in use today. Hall Road leads off to the right at the top of the hill. On the left is the present hall.

Back on the main road, continue to Schoolhouse Road, leading off to the right. Follow up  leading past the school (now used for camping school parties). Coming to crossroads, you can continue to the right which leads to the walking track to Carrick Town and Quartzville, or right, which leads to Adams Gully (Jocelyn Road) also known as Toms Gully years ago.

Here can be seen evidence of coal mining for the next kilometre. There were seven mines which operated at various times until the 1950-1960 period. The last of these mines was in Adams Gully, which had some rich pockets of gold in it further up.

Back on the main road, approximately a kilometre further on the left is the original homestead and woolshed ¬†of the Kawarau Station now reduced in size. It used to cover an area from Clude to the Kawarau Falls on Lake Wakatipu. Crossing over Shepherds Creek, on the left is a homestead and woolshed. The buildings are constructed from stones that were once used as”brakes” for wagoners descending the Nevis Hill. The road caontinues on to Happy Valley. Hawkesburn Sttion on onto Clude (takes about 3/4 hour). Navis Valley – raods lead off to the right which is best travelled in summer.

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  1. Taieri Recreational Tramping Club » Camp: Bannockburn

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