Visitors given taste of boomtown heritage

Golden weather graced the town of Lawrence for Heritage Weekend as visitors from as far away as Queenstown and Dunedin arrived to mine some local history.

The Gabriel’s Gully gold strike of 1861 turned Lawrence into a boomtown and doubled Dunedin’s population.

At the weekend, visitors were able to view vintage engineering and try their hand at panning for gold.

After helping connect a 1910 Burrell steam tractor to a patent mechanical feed cutter, David Cunningham said it was important to understand how people in the past did not know what we know now.

"There were so many horses, a farmer used a third of his land growing feed just for them. That was one problem steam solved. The coal trains running up until the ’60s — that was real pollution.

"Petrol and diesel solved that and now we’re moving on from those.

"Of course mistakes were made, but so was all the progress," Mr Cunningham said.

Tractor drivers Geoff Henderson (left) and Stuart McCraw steer a vintage tractor through Lawrence...
Tractor drivers Geoff Henderson (left) and Stuart McCraw steer a vintage tractor through Lawrence during Heritage Weekend. PHOTOS: NICK BROOK
Tuapeka Goldfields Museum Manager Jess Weichler said Heritage Weekend had been wonderful with "lots of people coming from all over".

"Some are just popping in, but some are also here to explore their own history and it’s really awesome to meet descendants of people who founded this town. It’s super important to look backwards in order to look forwards," Ms Weichler said.

Outdoor markets, live music, trade demonstrations, arts and crafts added plenty of variety, with a timber sports team headed by Brad Pako.

"Our sport’s 100% sustainable and it came into being out of the way the old-school pioneers had to manage timber. Nowadays, one guy in a computerised machine will do the heavy work of 20 guys and horses in a fraction of the time," the 375mm underhand world champion axeman said.

Gordon Duthie, of the Tuapeka Vintage Club, proudly showed visitors the club’s collection, including horse ploughs and classic tractors.

The event was a busy family-friendly day.


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