Leaving Gore, we came across this interesting sight with 3 wool bales that must have fallen off the back of the truck. One of them had spilled the whole load over the road with these people trying to clear the road by using their feet to try to shuffle the wool to the ditch. I don’t know what the bales are worth, but I would imagine that the truck driver would have some explaining to do when he got to his destination.
We drove East from Clutha heading towards Rae’s Junction then turning down towards Lawrence. As we drove past Beaumont, we came across the Clutha Gold Trail a cycle trail that offers some spectacular scenery as it winds its way through the country. Parking can be an issue when you drive a 9-metre Motorhome, but we found a perfect spot right next to an entry point for the cycle ride. Out with the bikes on a glorious sunny day.
Right next to where we chose to start the ride the notice attached to the side of the bridge certainly caught my attention as we crossed with some trepidation, but I am here writing this so obviously we made it across safely.
The trail hugs the road for the first few kilometres. It’s a reasonably comfortable ride mostly level as it follows the path, as there was little traffic on the road you are not being disturbed by huge trucks thundering past every few seconds. Quite serene really. We were also lucky enough to even see a few Lupins in flower much later than usual. Sarah grabbed a few seed pods to take home with us.
Sarah and I love getting out and about on our bikes. Still, neither us could be described as super fit with both of us knowing our limits when it comes to distance travelled so when we reached the tunnel at around the 8km mark we decided to ride through its 440-metre length and then return back to the Motorhome. The tunnel was dug by hand to accommodate the railway line bring in supplies to the miners. The signage board at the tunnel state that before it became the rail trail locals used the tunnel as a short cut between Lawrence and Beaumont either by cycle or walking.
A pleasant surprise on the other side of the tunnel was this comfort stop, although it brings your own loo paper.
Along the way, there are several information boards that give the history of the area, the people etc. most interesting reading. Getting back to the Motorhome we checked the directory to find somewhere reasonably close to spend the night.
The hidden gem of Gabriels Gully (#8887) is a DOC camp located about 3.5kms out of Lawrence. Although not wholly hidden with 8 campers there for the night it is a gem of a place with the lake forming a perfect mirror to reflect the trees and flax bushes surrounding the lake. It is just a stunning place; however there are not a lot of level spots, and I managed to break one of the rear mouldings on our Motorhome trying to maneuver into the perfect spot, nothing major but very disappointed with myself.
Once we had the van dented and settled it was back on the bikes for a short ride into the town of Lawrence. As we reached the outskirts of the village to came across this small display of historical mining equipment. The post people are a humerus rendition of some of the town’s forefathers/mothers with these dotted at odd places around the town.
Like a lot of towns we have visited in the South, Island Lawrence is steeped in history with historical buildings everywhere. It would have been a very grand town in its heyday. I also counted five churches all within easy walking distance of each other as you can see from the photos they are very noble obviously built with the money extracted from the pockets of the gold miners.
Before we left the town we rode past this statue to a miner whose name is not displayed, but maybe it’s Gabriel himself but whoever he is standing guard of the toilets would not be my choice of a memorial. Further up the road, the spade shows the place where Gabriel found the first nugget of gold sparking the Otago gold rush. Then when you get to the camp, you can fossick for yourself to find the enormous nugget the miners missed. We didn’t try this, but I am sure many do.
As we arrived back at the camp, we could see several horses being ridden into the farm next door. We found out later that they have been part of a seven-day trial ride covering around 250kms with just the 3kms left to travel across the farms into Lawrence to the finish with a bit of a Ho down that night to celebrate the finish of the ride.
When we arrived at the camp, we found the caravan belonging to Jim and Julie (sitting on the right next to the caravan) who had been parked next to us at the A&P Showgrounds in Gore although they had left the day before us. Jim had popped over to say hello asking us to join them to join us for drinks which we did an enjoyable hour or so as we discussed the pleasures of camping and spending two months living in a box according to friends of Julies. Also joining us was Malcolm who had been following his wife while she did the 7-day trek with some of her friends, he was to collect her after 8.30 when things where meant to be quieting down.
Two interesting facts about Jim and Julie. First that they used to run a flag-making company with Jim’s being the person who put the flagpole on the Auckland Harbour Bridge and then having the honour of being the first person to raise the flag on the bridge.
Second that Julie and Jim have the above book that contains walks around the country, ranging in length from a leisurely stroll too much more challenging. To use Jim’s words, they are slowly knocking the bastards off. With the walks, they have completed ticked and highlighted in the book, making it look slightly worn. Jim said that they have to be careful not to make it an obsession as it tends to dominate what they do in each town.
Also in the campground, we met a couple from Gore that we had stopped and chatted to while on the bike ride. They had ridden the full distance from Lawrence to Beaumont and back again putting us to shame.
The scenery at the camp really is spectacular we could have easily spent a few days here and may return to do so, sooner rather than later. But for now, we are working our way towards the Otago Rail Trail.
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