Valley folk adopting miners' attire for gold celebrations

Cardrona Heritage Trust committee member Tim Scurr and Cardrona Vintage Fair co-ordinator Hil Stapper look over some goldmining relics next to the old butcher's shop where the original Cardrona township once stood, preparing for the village's "150 Years of Gold" celebrations from December 8. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
Cardrona Heritage Trust committee member Tim Scurr and Cardrona Vintage Fair co-ordinator Hil Stapper look over some goldmining relics next to the old butcher's shop where the original Cardrona township once stood, preparing for the village's "150 Years of Gold" celebrations from December 8. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
Dressing up in 1800s attire is becoming quite a habit for Cardrona Valley residents Hil Stapper and Tim Scurr, as they immerse themselves in the promotion of next month's "150 Years of Gold" celebrations in the valley.

In between posing for photo shoots in goldminers' garb, the pair, along with almost every other valley resident, are flat out putting together the two-day event on December 8 and 9.

"Everybody has got a job so there's no escape. It's quite amazing how talents come together in this small village," Ms Stapper said.

Mr Scurr, a committee member of the Cardrona Heritage Trust which is organising the weekend-long celebration, said it was fantastic to see everybody supporting the event to ensure it was a success.

"I think that's what it's all about. The people in the old days, they worked in together a lot," he said.

Gold was discovered in the Cardrona Valley in 1862 and by the following year, the area was home to more than 300 miners.

The total reached 1000 mainly Chinese residents by 1875.

"You might say Cardrona was the centre of the goldfields in the Upper Clutha," he said.

The small village will be a hive of activity again on Saturday December 8, with dog trials, gold-panning, a re-enactment of a period school class, a farrier shoeing horses, musterers and miners' horse races, displays and entertainment in the village square, and other events.

The street will be closed at mid-afternoon for a town procession, which will include a stage coach carrying Queenstown Lakes District Council dignitaries and Cardrona Valley entrepreneur and long-time resident John Lee - "honorary mayor" for the day.

"He's done a lot for Cardrona, and the whole district ... we wouldn't be viable if it hadn't been for him," Mr Scurr said.

A miner's ball/ceilidh will be held at the Lake Wanaka Centre on Saturday night. It was hoped people would come dressed in opulent 1800s finery and dance "till the cows come home", Ms Stapper said.

The long-running annual Cardrona Vintage Fair, co-ordinated by Ms Stapper and Debbie Thompson, takes place on Sunday, December 9 in the gardens of the Cardrona Hotel, featuring stalls, entertainment and a Cardrona rabbit stew.

A book detailing life in Cardrona during the past 150 years - written by Ray O'Callaghan and edited and designed by Cardrona resident Carla Munro - will be launched during the festivities.

lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz