On the 28th of August, the Year 8 cohort set off to find some. The boys, staff and parents headed to Queenstown to round off our five week study on the history of the Central Otago Gold Rush and the development of this area, through to modern day ventures that bring wealth to the region.
It was a warm and cloudy September morning. The air was buzzing with anticipation. 45 Year 8 boys arrive outside John McGlashan College with their bags, sleeping bags, and pillows ready to depart for Queenstown as part of a four-day camp.
We were ecstatic! Lined up outside the cloisters there was plenty of chatting, yelling, and excited buzz. As the large bus waited at the bus stop. Mr. Duncan, Mrs. Veitch, and the parent helpers stood outside the Link, frantically packing pieces of baking and other vital equipment into a trailer hooked to a van. Once we were packed, a roll was called, and we were off on our way!
The first three hours passed by quickly, the bus only stopping once for a toilet break in Lawrence. Certainly, a worthy spot as this is where the gold rush, the theme for our camp, started over 150 years ago. Unfortunately, the bus could not get into Gabriel’s Gully for a look, but a statue of Gabriel Read outside the toilets and various examples of old mining equipment displayed in the small town was reminder enough of the rich history of the region.
We arrived at Lake Dunstan for lunch where we spent time stone skimming, climbing and telling tall tales. Once back on the bus, we had another half hour drive until we reached the mining centre at Kawerau Gorge. There we received a quick pep talk on the history of the gold rush and the current value of gold from the expert on site. We then split up into two groups (Gilray and Balmac as one group, and Ross and Burns as another). One group went off on a walk to a reconstructed Chinatown and to visit other points of interest. The other group went gold panning. After both groups had finished their activity, we swapped over. The group that was gold panning also saw a battery, one of only three still running in the country, that crushes rocks with gold in them.
From there, we all hopped in the bus and drove to camp. We arrived at camp at about 5:10, learned who we were to room with, set up our beds, and then enjoyed various games activities for around for an hour and fifty minutes. Then it was dinner (burgers and sausages). Delicious! After dessert, we did our ‘homework’. This consisted of a few short tasks based on our exploits earlier in the day After that, we got ready for a game or two of Spotlight. This was a lot of people's highlight and had many desperate to remain uncaught for the whole camp.
When we had finished, we went to bed, read for a bit, before it was lights out and we all went to sleep. Well, most of us did!
The next day, was a 7:30 am start. Just enough time for a shower before a hearty breakfast, of toast and cereal. Then we packed our day packs and got on the bus, set for a full day at the Arrowtown Museum.
At the museum we lined up to hear the quick game plan before again, being split up into two groups. One group went into the museum, and the other group went to the remains of an old Chinatown. The museum was amazing, with life-sized replicas of people in the workshop, in banks, and of course mining. It even has one of these replicas sitting on the toilet! (The toilet dummy had a speaker somewhere that said "Oi! Can’t you see that I’m busy?" whenever somebody enters the room!)
The Chinatown was also very interesting, despite the fact that most of the houses were not there anymore. It was certainly an eye opener to see how the Chinese of yesteryear lived so long ago.
After the museum and the visit to the Chinatown, we went out and bought lunch from a shop or café of our choice. After we had all eaten, we split up into our two groups that once more. This time one of the groups went and looked at an old prison whilst the other went gold panning. As previously, the groups swapped over after a bit.
The prison trip was awesome, with some of us asking to be locked in the cells. We got our wish! After visiting the Gaol, we walked down to an old church and then part of an old school.
The panning in the Arrow River saw plenty of gold fever. Most found ‘colour’ in their pan which caused much pride and excitement for those that were successful. Some found as many seven or eights specks by the end of the session. To finish the bus dropped us all a few kilometres away from camp and we walked the rest of the distance there lakeside. Once home, we mucked around until dinner (which was roast), before following the same routine we had the day before.
The following day, we got up at the same time as yesterday, had showers, and then had breakfast (toast and cereal, same as yesterday), before making our lunches for the busy day ahead. Around 11:00 am the bus dropped us off on the far side of Lake Wakatipu, about an hour away from Queenstown. We then walked into Queenstown marveling at the amazing scenery and jaw-dropping architecture around us. We eventually into the botanic gardens where we had lunch and a play in the skate bowl. Then we all headed off (in the bus) back to Arrowtown. There we got into some four wheel drives and headed off up the river to Macetown.
The road was bumpy and we crossed the Arrow river several times in our 4 wheel drive. In short, it was Fun! When we reached Macetown where we had afternoon tea (Hot milo and a couple of biscuits). There was time too to explore the old ghost town and some nearby old batteries before heading back. By the time we returned we had risen 350 and dropped metres and crossed the river close to fifty times.
Tea was a delicious shepherd’s pie. Then it was homework and a bumper round of spotlight to round off the day. Most slept very well that night!
Our final day saw bunkroom prizes handed out after breakfast and a thorough clean up of rooms and amenities. With bleary eyes from sleep deprivation, we boarded the bus to Gibbston Valley wineries. There they explained the process of making wine and showed off their ‘cool’ man-made wine cave. From here it was lunch at Pioneer Park, Alexandra and back to expectant parents. A great four days for sure!
The Year Eight’s would like to thank all the parent helpers for their mighty efforts at camp. To Mrs. Meder, Mrs. Cuthill, Mrs. Seaton, Mrs. Jones, and Mr. Diaz-Rainey, you were immense with all your hard work and help. Thank you also to Tyler Wilden who helped out too and was excellent value for the two days he was there. To Mrs. Veitch, Mr. Mountain, Mr. Beck, and Mr. Duncan a huge well done for organising the camp and running it so well! We appreciate your efforts!