Our first job of the morning was to return to the Lumsden Station to make use of the dump station and fill up with fresh water. The coming of the railway in 1876 made Lumsden, and it grew from a single shepherd’s hut to the town it is today. With the closure of the railway line from Invercargill in the 1970s, the station became the destination of the Kingston Flyer as it chugged it’s way from Kingston. This only lasted till 1979 when the Flyer’s journey was shortened, and the track from Lumsden to the Flyer’s new destination of Fairlight was lifted and sold off.
At the station dump station, alongside the old jail and set of stocks
Our route took us down SH94, we bypassed Gore again, (been there, done that), and turned on to SH90 to Tapanui. Tapanui will ever be associated with Tapanui flu, where a number of people displayed debilitating fatigue in the early 1980s. The condition is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), post viral fatigue syndrome (PVS), chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS), and more recently systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID) – very nasty indeed. We were in Tapanui long enough only to purchase some lunch, and eat it while parked up beside the local golf course.
We are always attracted to lovely old historic bridges and the blue painted bridge crossing the Clutha River at Millers Flat was a great structure. Designed by Robert Hay (1847-1928), the bridge is 176.2m long with four steel 4.9m high bowstring arch spans. The piers are concrete-filled cast iron cylinders which are driven down 9m into the riverbed. It certainly is a beauty.
Bridge at Millers Flat
Pinder’s Pond was along this road, and we had heard how popular this free camping site is – so drove in to check it out. It really is a lovely spot, with plenty of parking available as well as toilets, and we saw a couple of blokes busy launching their boats. Although we don’t usually do freedom camping, we would be happy to stay here in the future as there always seems to be plenty of other campers around.
Pinder’s Pond was the last gold mining project of “Gold Baron” John Ewing – in 1863 he started his gold mining career at Gabriel’s Gully, moving on to Roxburgh Gorge and St Bathan's. A series of innovative ideas to modernize gold mining made him a rich man. Pinders Pond was created between 1918-22 moving gravels with hydraulic elevators. But this project swallowed all his money, and Pinder’s Pond was a nightmare, leaving him bankrupt.
We are staying the night at a POP in Roxburgh East, camped amongst fruit trees for the next two nights. Help yourself to fruit, we were told, by the helpful host. The ground was a little uneven, but Stuart helped get us level and secure.
Our host runs Gold Panning trips and has his very own gold claim close by. He told us how he loves interacting with all the locals and tourists who come to try their luck, and how excited they get when they find a few specks of gold in the bottom of their pans.
He also has a small museum on site and we went and watched a short video about gold mining in the area. It seems he caught the gold mining bug from his father, who worked claims here during the depression, taking his young family with him. An interesting place to stay, and we plan to explore the area tomorrow.