Clutha River Cruise…27 April 2016

Alexandra – going on the Clutha River Cruise today departing at 1:00pm.

We were at the Boat Ramp early and watched the boat being launched ready for the trip. It was lucky that we phoned to book the night before as this was the last sailing for the end of the season.

Our River Cruise craft
Our River Cruise craft

We cast off on time, together with two other couples, Laurence our guide/skipper and his teenage daughter who had come along for the ride too.

Setting off on our River Cruise
Setting off on our River Cruise

We headed off past the old stone bridge pylons and cruised slowly downstream taking in the sights – the water so calm and a beautiful greeny/blue colour and the trees lining the banks all lovely in their autumn colourings, making a sharp contrast to the stark grey rocky hillsides.

Cruising towards the Roxburgh Gorge
Cruising towards the Roxburgh Gorge

RC4 River cruiseRC5 Clutha River Cruising

Laurence was very knowledgeable and we learnt heaps about the mining of the river before it was flooded and the lives of hardship the early miners endured. As we cruised along he pointed out the little rock shelters on the hillsides where the miners lived. Most were so well hidden that unless you knew they were there, you would’ve missed them altogether.

Chinese Miners Shelter
Chinese Miners Shelter

RC8 Shelter

 

 

 

 

RC7 Shelter

Three more rock shelters
Three more rock shelters
Would you like to live here through freezing winters
Would you like to live here through freezing winters

The steep rocky walls lining the sides of the gorge were quite awesome – reaching nearly 350m on both sides at one point. There is an old walking trail starting from Alexandra (near the Shaky Bridge) that goes to the mine area at Doctors Point – at times we could see it near the riverbank and other times high on the hillside. In the early days miners would have to trek along this to reach a settlement where they could buy supplies.

Rough country
Rough country
Dog Rock
Dog Rock
Roxburgh River
Roxburgh Gorge

Rugged hillsides

The Roxburgh Gorge Cycle Trail runs alongside the other side of the river. It stops, however, opposite the Doctors Point mining area. The cyclists then have to travel by boat downstream for 12kms to rejoin the southern section of the Trail. Apparently the Landowner of this middle section has not yet given permission for the Trail to be developed on this part. Perhaps he’s in cahoots with the local boat operators..the fee for an adult with bike is $95!!!!

Cycle Trail running alongside river
Cycle Trail running alongside river

We pulled ashore at Doctors Point and had lots of time to roam around the main mining areas.

Approaching Doctors Point
Approaching Doctors Point

This area has some pretty intact house ruins and shelters, large areas of mine tailings, old tunnels, water race channels and sluicing pipes lying around. It was all very interesting.

As we walked around we were walking on and disturbing wild thyme plants which were giving off their beautiful fragrant aroma. The plants were introduced by the Chinese Miners to add flavour to their cooking – they have thrived in the bleak growing conditions and now cover vast areas in the Central Otago goldfields. They must look amazing when they flower in summer.

Ruins on the hill - Doctors Point mine area
Ruins on the hill – Doctors Point mine area
Ruins and tailings
Ruins and tailings
Tailings
Tailings
Old dwelling
Old dwelling
Window view
Window view
House ruins
House ruins
Old water race
Old water race
 Old sluice pipes
Old sluice pipes
Mine entrances
Mine entrances
Mine entrance
Mine entrance
Peering inside a mine
Peering inside a mine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exploring around the ruins
Exploring around the ruins

Tailings

View from ruins

Ruins at Doctors Point
Ruins at Doctors Point

Once we had all finished our exploring we enjoyed a hot drink and muffins on the riverbank before we boarded the boat for the return journey.

Tea Time
Tea Time
 Boat at Doctors Point
Boat at Doctors Point
Leaving Doctors Point
Leaving Doctors Point

There were more dwellings to see hidden among the rocks on our way back up the gorge.

Old Mining shelter on hillside
Old Mining shelter on hillside
Shelter
Shelter
What if there was a big earthquake
What if there was a big earthquake
 Rocks along the river
Rocks along the river

At Butchers Point we could see a larger ruin of the Leaky Lodge Hotel, that probably profited well from the miners spending their earnings on the way back from cashing in their hard earned gold findings.

Ruins of old Hotel
Ruins of old Hotel

We really enjoyed the trip and felt it was money well spent. The Doctors Point area can only be reached by boat (unless you wanted to swim or face a very long 20km return walk from Alexandra) so it was a place that we would not have seen without going on the Cruise. The trip down the river and along the gorge was a serene and the colours and scenery well worth seeing…I would do it all again!

Still waters
Still waters

 

 

 

 

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