Lake Roxburgh Dam — Lawrence (2 days, 73km)
Officially opened in October 2013, the Clutha Gold Trail showcases the area’s history of early Maori moa hunters, Chinese gold miners, European pastoral farming, mining and railways.
The trail follows the mighty Clutha Mata-au River as it weaves through trees and traverses the beautiful Beaumont Gorge. It then branches off into farming valleys and some sections of the historic Roxburgh Branch railway line, including the 440m-long Big Hill Tunnel.
Dotted along the trail are four small towns that were established during the gold rushes. They are welcoming places to stop for a meal or overnight.
The trail forms part of an extensive network of Great Rides in the Otago region, linking with the Roxburgh Gorge Trail at the Lake Roxburgh Dam, on to the famous Otago Central Rail Trail at Alexandra.
Gateway to the Goldfields, Lawrence was Otago’s first gold-rush town after Gabriel Read discovered gold, in what became known as Gabriel’s Gully, in May 1861. At the height of the gold fever, Lawrence’s population reached 11,500, twice that of Dunedin’s.
Lawrence is an ideal place to stretch your legs and grab a coffee or have lunch. There is free internet access and a free international phone service at the information centre.
A range of accommodation is available, so spend some time here and get a feel for the town’s history and its role in kickstarting this country’s economy.
MILLERS FLAT’S LONELY GRAVE
Probably that of an 1860s miner, the headboard was provided by local man William Rigney who etched the words “Somebody’s darling lies buried here.” A new headstone, with the same words, was placed in 1903.
Rigney died in 1912 and was buried next to the ‘lonely grave’.