Thursday, 2 February 2012

St Bathans

I have a particular interest in history, not any topic in particular, I just find it fascinating, all of it!  It was Forbes's idea to head over to the Blue Lake and St Bathans while we were in Cromwell.  We had planned an extra day into our trip to have a look around the district, and I had never been here before.  I had no idea it was part of the  Otago Goldfields, and predictably I loved our wee visit - there was land for sale which I was dying to buy to build a holiday home on, of course my idea of a holiday got squashed pretty quickly, since I wanted to research what was there and try to rebuild it, Forbes said he should have known I'd take a simple idea and turn it on its head lol, that and the bank balance would shriek at the idea.  But you know dreams are free!  Its so peaceful there and the scenery is beautiful, sigh.

So, a bit of history.  2834Kg of gold was extracted from this area, which encompassed three mines, one of which was the Kildare Mine and it was this mine that later formed the Blue Lake.  It operated the highest hydraulic lift in the world at that time with two vertical lifts, one 165ft and one 60ft.
By 1864, 1000 people live in Dunstan Creek.  In 1866 the Dunstan Creek was dropped and renamed St Bathans, the original name given by the first surveyor of the district.  In the late 1860's it boasted 15 hotels, a number of gambling and dance halls and many businesses.  Many of the miners came from Ireland, and there were also 50 registered Chinese miners.  Most of the dwellings disappeared after WWII.  The sun-dried brick buildings, like other dwellings in St Bathans suuccumbed to the weather after their roofs were removed for their iron.

I love this photo! does'nt the sky look so dramatic in the background?!  Thats our beloved 1967 Mustang parked in the front by the way.
The Vulcan hotel was originally called the Ballarat Hotel, built in  1882.  Its name was changed after the original Vulcan Hotel further down the street was destroyed by fire.  The shamrock you can see in the middle of the facade is an original relic from the times of the rivalry between the Irish settlers from St Bathans, and the Welsh settlers from Cambrian just down the road.  Their rivalry was known as "The War of the Roses".  Theres also a friendly ghost that is said to have taken up residence in Room1!  In 1967 all 22 residents voted for 10 o'clock closing - it was the only place in NZ which had made a unanimous decision.

On a clear gorgeous sunny day the lake apparently is the loveliest shade of blue - a shame the sun was'nt playing ball that day :(  You can drive right down to the lakes edge and canoe, speed boat etc in the lake.  The colour of the lake is a direct result of the mining that went on.

We did'nt get to see everything and so we're going back.  You can stay in the Policemans cottage, which Im dying to do! and wander through the old cemetaries - theres two, one for Catholics and one for Non-Catholics.  So much history still to discover, we will back next year!

I discovered when we got here that we had left the memory chip for the camera at home so I only had room in the memory for four photos - the rest was taken up by car photos and  there was apparently no way in hell I could delete those lol!  When we left here we went to Alexandra for lunch and found a camera store - you can't go to a car show without taking loads of photos.  How exciting!  Im kidding, really!

Have a good week


  1. That lake looks stunning even with the sun not playing ball, I've never heard of that place. Might have to visit one day too. :)Glad you enjoyed your trip away!

  2. Just letting you know that the shamrock on the Vulcan hotel was infact painted on there by my father when he was re-painting the front for my grandfather (his father in law) He did it to annoy my grandfather. It has nothing to do with irish/welsh rivalry in the old settlers times. My dad was from Ireland. The shamrock is about 50 years old.

    1. Thanks for the info Fiona. The information I posted came from a pamphlet I got during my visit there and is produced by 'Promote Dunstan' Their mistake should probably be pointed out to them!