Gabriel's Gully

Gabriels Gully Road And Blue Spur Road, Gabriels Gully, Lawrence

  • Gabriel's Gully, looking north west.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Heather Bauchop. Date: 1/06/2008.
  • Dam wall and pipe work at Pollard’s Dam.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Heather Bauchop. Date: 1/06/2008.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 7789 Date Entered 20th February 2009

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Secs 114-116 Blk XVIII Tuapeka East Survey District, (Reserve for Historic Purposes, NZ Gazette 1984, p.2926), Pt Legal Road, Otago Land District, and the archaeological remains thereon.

City/District Council

Clutha District

Region

Otago Region

Legal description

Secs 114-116 Blk XVIII Tuapeka East SD, (Reserve for Historic Purposes, NZ Gazette 1984, p.2926), Pt Legal Road, Otago Land District

Location description

Gabriel's Gully Historic Reserve is located around 4km north of Lawrence with access from Gabriels Gully Road. There is no associated street address.

Summaryopen/close

Gabriel's Gully was the site of the first major gold find in Otago which led to the gold rushes of the early 1860s which transformed the province, making it the wealthiest in New Zealand. Following on the heels of the Californian rushes in the late 1840's, and the Victorian rushes in Australia in the 1850's, miners poured into Otago, beginning at Gabriel's Gully, and over £6,000,000 of gold was produced from the four major fields in five years. Dunedin became the largest city in New Zealand, and the influx of miners pushed the South Island population ahead of the North.

Prospector Gabriel Read (1825-1894) found gold in the gully on 25 May 1861. Read was equipped with a 'tin dish, a butcher's knife and a spade' digging in the creek bed. After working through a metre of gravel Read reached soft slate, and in his well known words 'saw the gold shining like the stars in Orion on a dark frosty night.' This discovery changed the future of Otago.

Hundreds of people left their jobs and flocked to the gold field; 256 ships arrived at Port Chalmers in 1861 carrying hopeful prospectors. There was a 100km walk between Dunedin and the Tuapeka gold fields in often harsh conditions carrying supplies.

Early photographs of Gabriel's Gully show a scattering of tents on the valley floor and the lower slopes of the surrounding hills, with piles of stones from the individual workings like mole hills across the valley floor. The first claims were 24 ft (8m) square, worked with a cradle or pan to separate the gold from the wash dirt. The life of the alluvial gold miner is the stuff of national imagination: their distinctive lifestyle based around chasing the illusive ore, working hard, playing equally hard, with a sense of adventure, shaped the identity of Central Otago.

Gold returns from Lawrence (and this is not just the Gabriel's Gully field) were 171,038 ounces in 1861 and 199,547 ounces in 1862, thereafter dropping away. As a consequence Otago became the wealthiest and most populated province in the country.

By 1863 this was no longer a field for individual miners as more elaborate technology was required to extract the gold. Companies were formed and sluicing and later, blasting, became the dominant method of mining. By 1865 there were 542 miles of water races at the Tuapeka goldfields.

Mining using hydraulic elevating began at Gabriel's Gully in the 1880s enabling old tailings to be reworked with a small labour force. Seven major companies were involved in the 1880s. These ventures were combined into the Blue Spur and Gabriel's Gully Consolidated Company in 1888. This company operated until 1912 when it was finally wound up having won 51,500 oz gold.

In 1911 the jubilee of Gabriel Read's discovery was celebrated with processions and a reunion of the 280 surviving miners from 1861. Over 2500 people attended the festivities.

There was some mining during the Depression years of the 1930s when individual miners returned to the 1860s technology, mining with pick, shovel, pan and cradle. Mining finally ended in that decade, making Gabriel's Gully and the associated Blue Spur the longest operative goldfield in Otago.

In 1975 the New Zealand Forest Service took over management of Gabriel's Gully recognised as 'one of the most significant historic goldfields in New Zealand', and set aside enclaves as historic reserves, the main reserve centring on Gabriel's Gully itself. An archaeological survey was completed in 1979-1980, using mining records, plans and specifications of surviving structures, aerial photographs, a site survey, and oral history.

In the early 1980s the reserves transferred to the Department of Lands and Survey, and became part of the Otago Goldfields Park. Since 1987 the reserve has been administered by the Department of Conservation.

In 2003 the Gabriel's Gully reserve was rededicated by Conservation Minister Chris Carter. In 2007 the Department of Conservation surveyed the area in preparation for a planned upgrade of the track system and interpretation in time for the 150th anniversary 2011. In 2008 the Clutha District Council and the local community at Lawrence are gearing up for the celebration.

Gabriel's Gully is located immediately to the north of the small Clutha District town of Lawrence. The Gully itself is some four kilometres long. The cumulative effect of the mining on the landscape is dramatic. An entire hillside was removed, and over 400 miles of water races cut. More than a dozen reservoirs were made. Many archaeological remains are evident. The original valley floor lies around 50 metres below the present level due to the accumulation of tailings. Gabriel's Gully has a large number of archaeological features relating to the gold mining. These include Pollard's Dam, water races, powder magazines, sluicing faces, mine shafts, remains of stamper batteries, tailing races, tailing piles, and remains associated with hydraulic elevating.

Gabriel's Gully has outstanding archaeological, historical and technological significance as the place where in May 1861 Gabriel Read discovered the first payable goldfield in Otago, starting off a string of discoveries which transformed Dunedin and Otago, and providing insight into the associated mining technologies.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Gabriel's Gully is of outstanding historical significance as the site of the first major gold find in Otago which led to the gold rushes which transformed Dunedin and the province, making it the wealthiest and most populated in New Zealand. Gabriel Read's discovery in May 1861 led to over 10,000 people following the lure of gold to Tuapeka within months of the discovery. This first rush at Gabriel's Gully heralded the rushes throughout Central Otago in the 1860s which transformed the landscape and led to the formation of the settlements in Otago that we know today.

Archaeological Significance or Value:

Gabriel's Gully has archaeological significance representing a number of integrated working systems, reflecting the major technologies used to mine the area. While much of the early workings have been covered by later tailings, the archaeological remains of these systems include penstocks, water races, stamper battery remains, hydraulic sluicing faces, and mine shafts, and provide physical evidence of the extended period of mining which took place at Gabriel's Gully and the surrounding area.

Technological Significance or Value:

Gabriel's Gully has technological significance as a place which illustrates the gold mining technologies used in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The interconnected system of water races, penstocks, stamper batteries, mine shafts provide an understanding of mining technologies. It is also the site where the first hydraulic elevating plant in New Zealand was commissioned in 1861 by J R Perry.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:

Gabriel's Gully was the site of the first major gold find in Otago which led to the gold rushes of the early 1860s which transformed the province, making it the wealthiest in New Zealand. Following on the heels of the Californian rushes in the late 1840's, and the Victorian rushes in Australia in the 1850's, miners poured into Otago, beginning at Gabriel's Gully, and over £6,000,000 of gold was produced from the four major fields in five years. Dunedin became the largest city in New Zealand, and the influx of miners pushed the South Island population ahead of the North.

Gabriel's Gully reflects an important aspect of New Zealand history, the discovery of the first payable goldfield in Otago, a story with national and international significance, which transformed the province, making it the wealthiest and most populated in the country. While gold mining boomed, Dunedin became the mercantile capital of the country, and the small provincial centres such as Alexandra, Queenstown and Cromwell developed, along with the network of small towns scattered throughout the province centred on gold workings.

(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history:

Gabriel's Gully is associated with the first discovery of a payable gold field in Otago in 1861 and as such is outstandingly significant. Gabriel's Gully is also associated with Gabriel Read, the prospector who discovered the goldfield, and after whom the place is named. Reid's discovery made him famous and some-what of a folk hero in his own right.

(c) The potential of the place to provide knowledge of New Zealand history:

Gabriel's Gully has potential to provide knowledge of New Zealand history through both its physical remains, which show the mining technologies and systems required for extracting the gold, and through interpretation which provides insight into life on the early goldfields, and the changes to Gabriel's Gully over the period of mining activity from 1861 until the 1930s.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for the place:

There is a special public association with Gabriel's Gully. The jubilee of the discovery of gold at Gabriel's Gully was celebrated in 1911. The centennial was celebrated in 1961. The upgrading of the interpretation at Gabriel's Gully was completed by the Department of Conservation with the support of the Lawrence community. In 2008 planning is underway for the sesquicentennial in 2011.

(f) The potential of the place for public education:

The walk and interpretation panels detailing the gold mining activities at Gabriel's Gully, and life on the goldfields of Otago already provide for public education.

(h) The symbolic or commemorative value of the place:

The interpretation and plaques around Gabriel's Gully show the commemorative value of the place as the first payable gold field in Otago.

(i) The importance of identifying historic places known to date from early periods of New Zealand settlement:

Gold mining at Gabriel's Gully was part of the first wave of large scale European settlement in this part of Otago. While there has been some pastoral settlement in the 1850s with scattered runholders living an isolated life in their homesteads. The discovery of gold at Gabriel's Gully represents the first wave of settlers and saw towns develop, the first being nearby Lawrence, characteristic of the pattern of settlement that developed in nineteenth century Otago.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape:

Gabriel's Gully is one of a number of goldfields in the Tuapeka area. Overlooking Gabriel's Gully is Blue Spur, another settlement and gold mining site; Monro's Gully is over the hill to the west, and Wetherstons over the hill to the east. Along with Gabriel's Gully, these places form a historical landscape which shows the extent of gold mining in Tuapeka.

Summary of Significance or Values:

This place was assessed against, and found it to qualify under the following criteria: a, b, c, e, f, h, i, and k.

Conclusion:

It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category I historic place.

Gabriel's Gully is outstandingly significant as the place where in May 1861 Gabriel Read discovered the first payable goldfield in Otago, starting off a string of discoveries which transformed Dunedin and Otago, telling an nationally and internationally significant story. Following on the heels of the Californian rushes in the late 1840's, and the Victorian rushes in Australia in the 1850's, miners poured into Otago, beginning at Gabriel's Gully, and over £6,000,000 of gold was produced from the four major fields in five years.

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Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Gabriel's Gully was the site of the first major gold find in Otago which led to the gold rushes of the early 1860s which transformed the province, making it the wealthiest in New Zealand. Following on the heels of the Californian rushes in the late 1840's, and the Victorian rushes in Australia in 1850's, miners poured into Otago, beginning at Gabriel's Gully, and over £6,000,000 of gold was produced from the four major fields in five years, linking Otago with the international story of gold fields migration, and telling the nationally significant story of the importance of gold mining in the nineteenth century. Dunedin became the largest city in New Zealand, and the influx of miners pushed the South Island population ahead of the North.

Prospector Gabriel Read (1825-1894) found gold in the gully on 20 May 1861. A publication commemorating the 125th anniversary of the discovery describes Read (who had mined at both the Californian and Victorian gold fields), equipped with a 'tin dish, a butcher's knife and a spade' digging in the creek bed. After working through a metre of gravel Read reached soft slate, and in his well known words 'saw the gold shining like the stars in Orion on a dark frosty night.' This discovery changed the future of Otago, pouring wealth into the province and making the fortunes of many early families.

That there was gold in Otago was known by Maori and early European settlers. European settlers from north of Dunedin sent samples to Captain Cargill in the early 1850s, and by the mid 1850s there were finds in the gravel of Mataura River in Southland, and by the late 1850s in several other locations throughout Central Otago. The Provincial Government was not anxious to attract the chaos that would follow any gold rush, and ignored these findings. Finally in January 1857, in response to public pressure, £500 was set aside by the Provincial Council as a 'Bonus for the Discovery of a Remunerative Goldfield within the Province of Otago.' Gold had been discovered elsewhere in New Zealand, but as historian John Salmon writes ‘the discovery of Gabriel's Gully stands out as the major event in the establishment of gold mining. The surging influx of amateur and professional prospectors that followed led in turn to other major rushes, until the feverish individual quest for gold became transformed into the capitalist industry that for a half a century provided a large proportion, and for years a major part, of annual New Zealand exports.'

Edward Peters (known as ‘Black Peter'), an Indian from Bombay who had been in California and shifted to New Zealand in 1853, was reportedly the first prospector to find colour at a creek in Glenore, and also at Evans Flat and Gabriel's Gully, but these discoveries were ignored.

Following on the heels of the Californian rushes in 1849, and the Victorian rushes in Australia in 1858, miners poured into Otago, beginning at Gabriel's Gully, and over £6,000,000 of gold was produced from the four major fields in five years. Dunedin became the largest city in New Zealand, and the influx of miners pushed the South Island population ahead of the North.

Gabriel Read was prospecting when he discovered gold on 25 May 1861. Gabriel Read's find led to a flood of prospectors and the area was proclaimed a gold field. On 28 June 1861 the superintendent requested authority to exercise special power which might be granted under the Goldfields Act, and this was granted. As historian Terry Hearn writes ‘[i]t was this discovery which revealed the potential of gold in Otago, and thereby initiated a series of discoveries and rushes which were to transform the economic and social and political life of the province.' In November 1861the Provincial Council awarded Read the £500 reward (and later, in May 1862, after some grumbling, a further £500). Read himself continued prospecting, on the Dunstan field and in the North Island, until returning to his home in Tasmania in late 1862, or early 1863.

Hundreds of people left their jobs and flocked to the gold field: 256 ships arriving at Port Chalmers in 1861 (compared with 69 the previous year) and provincial revenue trebled. There were no maps, no roads, no bridges, and no transport. There was a 100km walk between Dunedin and the Tuapeka gold fields often in harsh conditions, carrying supplies. One traveller described the journey to Gabriel's Gully, eyes stinging with frozen rain: ‘the scenery was wild in the extreme. The eye could take in nothing but hills in every direction, and the whole face of the country through which we had to travel was the same. Narrow gulleys and gorges divided each hill, and as it was impossible to travel in them, we had to ride along each mountain spur crossing from one to the other as best we could.' Miners from Victoria descended on Port Chalmers, and within months the population of Tuapeka was 11,472 people (while Dunedin's was only 5280).

Mr Wheeler, a correspondent from the Melbourne Argus described Gabriel's Gully on his visit in September 1861:

The position of Gabriel's Gully, the principal gold-field of Otago, and containing at least four-fifths of its mining population, is so remarkable that I must describe i.. The precipitous gorges or narrow gullies, to be found everywhere else were not to be seen here, but between two high ranges, called by the natives tamariki, or ‘infant' mountains, was a level flat, extending about three-quarters of a mile in length, and in width a few hundred yards, and through which ran the Tuapeka River- an impetuous but not deep stream, some twenty feet wide.

Early photographs of Gabriel's Gully show a scattering of tents on the valley floor and the lower slopes of the surrounding hills, with piles of stones from the individual workings like mole hills across the valley floor. According to local historian Daphne Lemon, there were three settlements up Gabriel's Gully: at Walshs Gully, halfway up Gabriel's Gully at the foot of Blue Spur ridge, and at the mouth of the gully at the junction of Gabriel's and Wetherston's creeks. These were bustling settlements, described by Charles Money at the height of the rush: ‘Here were canvas and galvanised iron stores, public houses, restaurants, shanties of all descriptions and with every conceivable name scattered around in all directions; while advertisements of nigger minstrels, gold buyers' prices, and placards were flaunting everywhere.'

Other times the sense of isolation was more palpable. Mr Wheeler described the miners' camp at Gabriel's Gully on a quiet evening:

‘From far away at the upper end of the gully, to the deep ravine below me, lights shone through thin canvas tents, but hardly a sound disturbed the serene stillness which prevailed. The burden of a popular negro song, with something about a ‘du da,' proceeded from a tent close at hand, and from the opposite hill came the strains of a performer on the cornet-a-piston, who persisted in trying to render a vast number of melodies.'

The first claims were 24 ft (8m) square, worked with a cradle or pan to separate the gold from the wash dirt. In their book Relics of the Goldfields: Central Otago Tom Field and Erik Olssen describe the way miners established their claims, which they took for their own ‘by driving a peg at each corner and registering possession with the Commissioner... After settling in tents would be erected, bracken gathered for beds, and the party would set to work digging through the clayey soil and gravel to the bedrock, known as the washdirt, in which most of the gold was found. The washdirt was thrown or lifted to the surface and puddled in a tub to separate the clay. Then the puddle washdirt would be shovelled into a sieve set at the head of the cradle, and water was ladled in, the ‘cradle being rocked the while, until all the gold has been washed out.'

The life of the alluvial gold miner is the stuff of national imagination, with the miner's described by Olssen as ‘fiercely independent in lifestyle and in manner blunt, intensely competitive and litigious, quick to fight, and also capable of working together for long periods in relative harmony.' Their distinctive lifestyle based around chasing the illusive ore, working hard, playing equally hard, with a sense of adventure, shaped the identity of Central Otago and contrasted strongly with that of the restrained Presbyterian Scottish image associated with Dunedin.

Gold returns from Lawrence (and this is not just the Gabriel's Gully field) were 171,038 ounces in 1861 and 199,547 ounces in 1862, thereafter dropping away. Mr Wheeler described the boom and bust nature of gold mining which already by October 1861 saw the glitter of gold fading: ‘It has been a good gold-field - first to the few who rushed the place four months ago, and next to those who took heart of grace and arrived here from Victoria when little was believed, and less known, of Otagonian auriferousness. Fortune was fickle to these last, but she grew inconceivable more chary of her favours to the thousands who left Victoria when the rush was at flood. Gabriel's Gully had this advantage, however - it deceived few or none, for but little time and experience was required to prove to new-comers that there was no room for them there...the approach of winter will find Gabriel's Gully deserted, or haunted only by a few parties...' Individual returns were often exaggerated (returns were said to range between £9 and £90 in 1861), but there were a few companies that made fortunes of up to £20,000.

A year after the gold rush at Gabriel's Gully, the effects of the gold rushes could already be seen in the Tuapeka district and more widely in Central Otago. Historian J.H.M. Salmon writes that by this time an official administration had been established, including a small police force; towns had grown up haphazardly, but the promise of more permanent settlements seemed clear, and Otago had become the wealthiest province in the country, and gold miners became an ‘enduring element' in New Zealand society.

By 1863 this was no longer a field for individual miners as more elaborate technology was required to extract the gold. Companies were formed and sluicing and blasting became the dominant method of mining. Focus turned locally to Blue Spur (the large hill to the west of Gabriel's Gully). In March 1865 the local warden reported 32 mining leases, 60 extended claims, 164 residence areas, 70 agricultural leases registered in Gabriel's Gully.

By 1865 there were 542 miles of water races at Tuapeka. Sluicing saw water channelled towards the claim downwards through ever narrowing pipes, finally thrust through a moveable nozzle, the jet from which was directed at the overburden, spilling it down a tail race. Below the overburden was the paydirt which was broken up by sluicing, leaving the heavier gold behind in the ‘Maori Bottom' as the hard rock beneath was known. The tail races were then flooded, and the debris screened for gold, the tailings stacked alongside. Such techniques created distinctive mining landscapes.

By the end of 1863 the boom period was over, and the population dropped away to a couple of thousand individuals, but Otago was changed forever, as fields opened inland at the Dunstan and the Wakatipu.

After the sluicing and the blasting were no longer successful, the area was mined with stamper batteries to crush quartz from the reefs to extract the ore. Quartz mining and hydraulic sluicing developed at Gabriel's Gully in 1879. The gold bearing conglomerate was conveyed in trucks by rail to the stamper battery. The water powered battery crushed the conglomerate which was then washed for gold, and the waste was hauled to the end of the tailings, leading to an accumulation of detritus behind the work face. Nine companies were involved in crushing conglomerate in the late 1870s and 1880s.

Mining using hydraulic elevating began in the 1880s enabling old tailings to be reworked with a small labour force. Seven major companies were involved in the 1880s. These ventures were consolidated into the Blue Spur and Gabriel's Gully Consolidated Company in 1888 (a public company formed in Britain). This company operated until 1912 when it was finally wound up having won 51,500 oz gold.

The Consolidated Company sold its rights and assets at Blue Spur to Gabriel's Gully Sluicing Company in 1912. This locally owned company elevated tailings and blasted conglomerate. The operation was kept going 24 hours a day. This was the last major mining enterprise at Gabriel's Gully.

The jubilee of Gabriel Read's discovery was celebrated in 1911, with processions and a reunion of the 280 still surviving miners from 1861. Over 2500 people attended the festivities. A monument depicting a pick and shovel was erected in the riverbed, marking the location of the original discovery.

There was some mining during the Depression years of the 1930s, when individual miners returned to the 1860s technology, mining with pick, shovel, pan and cradle. Mining finally ended in the 1930s, making Gabriel's Gully and the associated Blue Spur the longest operative goldfield in Otago.

In the 1950s a bulldozer was used to work the tailings for a short period. In 1959 the Ministry of Works operated a road metal pit on the tailings. The rights to the metal pit lapsed in 1977, although extraction continued for a time afterwards. The Tuapeka County Council also used the old elevator holes as a rubbish tip.

The cumulative effect of the mining on the landscape of Gabriel's Gully was dramatic. An entire hillside was removed, and over 400 miles of water races cut. More than a dozen reservoirs were made. Many archaeological remains are evident. Higham and Vincent note, however, that ‘given the intensity of activity in the Gully itself and the removal of all obvious objects of iron for recycling, reconstruction of former activity on the ground is impossible for the casual visitor.'

On the centennial of the discovery of gold at Gabriel's Gully, a small book was published. Author J.R. Munro considered that although the miners who had won the gold were largely forgotten, the wealth that flooded into Otago is remembered and has shaped the province.

The Lawrence Centennial Committee decided to relocate the original pick and shovel monument closer to the road, to make it more obvious for visitors to the site. The combination of a plaque (completed by the Regional Committee of the NZHPT) and the pick and shovel memorial were unveiled and blessed by the NZHPT and the Centennial Committee in 1961. NZHPT Regional Committee Chair Basil Howard visited the site lamenting its condition: ‘[i]f the site is not to remain an eyesore and a discredit to the Trust, action must be taken to save it.' A Council employee arriving during his visit and remarking ‘[T]his grim area...made Dunedin and look at it.' The surrounding broom, long grass, decrepit fence and empty bottles made it a derelict place. Howard looked for solutions, with the creation of a historic reserve being one option.

By 1965 there were discussions with the owners of the land who were pleased to see some recognition for the importance of the site and monument and the poor condition of the memorial. The idea of the reserve expanded to the possibility of including a picnic area and parking adjoining the river, leading to discussions of the possibility of a historic reserve, and a hope that after the site was cleared, the local high school students would take over maintenance of the site around the monument. In 1967 the area around the monument was set apart as a reserve for historic purposes.

The idea of a Goldfields Park was mooted in the early 1970s. Otago Central Member of Parliament J.M. Rose suggested that a dispersed national park concept recognising a range of representative sites and structures would tell the story of gold in Central Otago. Gabriel's Gully, along with other sites, including Naseby and Arrowtown were already recognised as significant. In February 1977 the Otago Regional Committee of the NZHPT wrote to the New Zealand Forest Service recommending that the area of land surrounding Gabriel's Gully be under the control of the Lands and Survey Department, as this was the area that gold ‘was first found in payable quantities, and it is not the focal point of the whole concept of the Otago Goldfields Park.' The Forest Service undertook to try and manage the land in line with the Otago Goldfields Park concept.

In 1975 the New Zealand Forest Service acquired Glendhu Run, and in so doing took over ownership and management of Gabriel's Gully, described as ‘one of the most significant historic goldfields in New Zealand.' The Forest Service recognised the importance of particular areas and resolved to set aside enclaves as historic reserves, the main reserve centring on Gabriel's Gully. An archaeological survey was completed in 1979-1980, using mining records, plans and specifications of surviving structures, aerial photographs, a site survey, and oral history.

Gabriel's Gully Historic Reserve was gazetted in May 1983. That gazettal was revoked in 1984, and a new gazettal applied in June 1984, with the boundaries altered, applying to 58.34ha of land.

In 2003 the Gabriel's Gully reserve was rededicated by Conservation Minister Chris Carter, with attendant celebrations at the reserve. The rededication followed three years of work by the Department of Conservation and the community groups from Lawrence. Weeds were cleared, picnic tables built, research completed and new interpretation panels erected at the reserve. A 90 minute walking track passes 14 information panels, providing a focus for education about the site for school visits and tourists.

In 2006 the Department of Conservation published a technical paper which provided an overview of gold mining sites in New Zealand and their importance in interpreting themes relevant to the development of New Zealand. Otago stories were seen as of national and international significance, linking themes of migration to national as well as international narratives, as the ‘human tsunami' of goldfields immigrants ‘crashed ashore.' Gabriel's Gully tells the first of these stories.

In 2007 the Department of Conservation surveyed the area in preparation for a planned upgrade of the track system and interpretation in time for the 150th anniversary of Gabriel Read's discovery in 2011.

In 2008 the Clutha District Council and the local community at Lawrence are gearing up for the celebration, releasing a logo for the 150th Anniversary in May 2008. Organising committee chair Wayman Roughan considers the event ‘hugely significant' for Lawrence and Otago, and is working with council to put together a programme of events.

Physical Description

Physical Description and Analysis:

Gabriel's Gully is located immediately to the north of the small Clutha District town of Lawrence. The Gully itself is some four kilometres long, with a stream running down the gully. The registration encompasses the historic reserve which is located at the head of the Gully. The valley floor is grassed and undulating; the surrounding steep-sided hills are covered with a mix of grass, scrub and treed areas. The original valley floor lies around 50 metres below the present level due to the accumulation of tailings.

Gabriel's Gully has a large number of archaeological features relating to the gold mining activity in the area, which are not discussed in detail in the registration report. The early alluvial mining remains have been obliterated by later mining. Gabriel's Gully provides an illustration of the surviving mining systems, and a locality to discuss the significance of Read's discovery which led to nearly 70 years of mining in the Gabriel's Gully area. There are a large number of recorded archaeological sites. These include Pollard's Dam, water races, powder magazines, sluicing faces, mine shafts, remains of stamper batteries (including the North of Ireland Battery), tailing races, tailing piles, and remains associated with hydraulic elevating, including an elevator pond.

Archaeologist Jill Hamel writes that much of the ground evidence of earlier workings has been covered by tailings of later workings. She considers that the way in which Gabriel's Gully was worked 'is not easy to discern from present topography.' Hamel notes that around 1900 'about five major penstock races and pipe benches had been cut across this face [Pollans Hill] for the hydraulic elevators in the gully below.' The evidence of hydraulic sluicing is show by the sluice faces on the west side of the gully and by the ponds. Vast quantities of tailings were produced, with at least five elevators having worked the gully.

Also evident at Gabriel's Gully is an adit (an entrance to a mine) leading to over a kilometre of tunnels, with the remains of a battery which processed the material that was brought out of the mine.

The Department of Conservation has installed interpretation panels at various points around a walking track on the hillsides which circles the Gully. The interpretation focuses on using the history of Gabriel's Gully to explain life on the goldfields, and also to identify particular examples of gold mining technology and systems which were used at Gabriel's Gully, some of which archaeological elements remain.

Construction Dates

Other
1861 -
Gold discovered by Gabriel Read (May)

Other
1863 -
Sift from small scale mining to blasting and sluicing

Other
-
Hydraulic Elevating begins

Other
-
Depression mining

Other
1971 -
Historic Reserve revoked, gazetted as a recreation reserve, vested in the Tuapeka County Council.

Other
1983 -
Gazettal as an historic reserve (larger area than previous gazettal)

Other
1984 -
Further gazettal as an historic reserve to be managed as part of the Otago Goldfields Park.

Other
2003 -
Tracks and new interpretation scheme developed at Gabriel's Gully.

Completion Date

9th February 2009

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Information Sources

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Hearn, T. J. 'Read, Thomas Gabriel 1824-1826? - 1894', updated 22 June 2007

URL: http://www.dnzb.govt.nz/

Hocken Library

Hocken Library, University of Otago, Dunedin

The New Zealand Goldfields 1861: A Series of Letters Reprinted from the Melbourne Argus, Victorian New Zealand - A Reprint Series No. 1, 1976.

Olssen, 1984

Erik Olssen, A History of Otago, John McIndoe, Dunedin, 1984

Otago Daily Times

Otago Daily Times

J.R. Munro, Gabriel's Gully Centennial 1961, Dunedin 1961.

Salmon, 1963

J H M Salmon, J.H.M. 'A History of Goldmining in New Zealand', Wellington, 1963

University of Otago

University of Otago

Charles Higham & Brian Vincent, Gabriel's Gully - an archaeological survey, Studies in Prehistoric Anthropology, Volume 14, Department of Anthropology, Dunedin, 1980.

Hamel, 2001

Jill Hamel, The Archaeology of Otago, Department of Conservation, Wellington, 2001

Field, 1976

Tom Field and Erik Olssen, Relics of the Goldfields: Central Otago, John McIndoe, Dunedin, 1976.

Nightingale, 2006

Tony Nightingale, A national interpretation scheme for conservation management of historic goldrush sites, Science for Conservation 262, Science & Technical Publishing, Department of Conservation, Wellington, 2006.

Ross, 1979 (1985)

E.J. Ross, Tuapeka Fields: A Tribute to A Golden Past - Commemorating the 125th Anniversary of the Discovery of Gold at Gabriels Gully, John McIndoe, Dunedin, 1985 [first published 1979 as Daphne Lemon's The Stars in Orion).

Other Information

This place is identified as being included in other heritage listings. The references are: Otago Goldfields Park, Special Place Number 38, under the Otago Conservation Management Strategy (1998). The Conservation Unit number is H44 016 comprising 65.1228 hectares.

A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Otago/Southland Area Office.

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.