Childhood home still standing

One of Bendigo's oldest former residents, Bill Reid, whose father was one of the first gold-miners in the area, inspects the house where he lived for the first two years of his life. Photo by Sarah Marquet.
One of Bendigo's oldest former residents, Bill Reid, whose father was one of the first gold-miners in the area, inspects the house where he lived for the first two years of his life. Photo by Sarah Marquet.
Almost 150 years ago, Andy Reid, armed with pick, shovel, hammer and explosives, worked at Bendigo digging for gold.

He had arrived in the area, just north of Cromwell, in 1887 after gold was discovered by Thomas Logan and Jack Garrett in 1862.

About 1900, he built a small cottage and eight children were raised in it.

The cottage still stands.

The second youngest of those children, Bill, who is now 88 and living in Alexandra, was one of about 100 people who turned out over the weekend to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the discovery of gold.

He said he was only 2 when his family moved away from the area about 1926 and because of his young age, he remembered little of the town as it was, except the primitive boarding house next to his family's cottage.

"They had no doors, only curtains [in place of doors] and they had to wash outside."

Although he had been back to the area occasionally over the years, he said he "just had to come back" for the 150th anniversary.

The weekend, organised by the Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust and Department of Conservation, began with an informal run over the 14km kanuka trail on Saturday morning.

For Hayden Johnston, a keen runner and owner of a neighbouring vineyard, it was the first time he had done the trail.

At one point he had to stop and take in the "amazing" view across Lake Dunstan to the Southern Alps.

At the hillside function, the recent relocation of the Bendigo Gold Light Co's dredge bucket ladder and restoration work done on the old bakehouse, operated by Mr Reid's Aunty Jean, were formally recognised.

The Cromwell Scout group provided girdle scones, made in the ruins of the bakehouse throughout the day and a pot luck lunch and talk about stone-wall building by stonemason Keith Hinds followed.

The festivities concluded on Sunday with a picnic in the vines, wine-tasting and a winery tour.


sarah.marquet@odt.co.nz