Return to Old Dunstan trail
The late evening atmosphere in the camp at Rocklands Station was simply humming; anticipation palpable as people and horses settled down for the night. I was fortunate in having a real bed in the 140-year-old shearer’s cottage where I spent half the night watching mice run back and forth in the naked bulb - lit hallway from the 1inch gap under the door. It was November 1991 and the very first Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust Cavalcade - The Dunstan Trail - was about to start the very next day. What an adventure! Nothing like this had ever happened before. There was no blueprint. The words Extreme Events and Safety Management, hadn’t been invented yet. We were about to re-enact the spectacle of 200 plus people per day who forged their way over the Old Dunstan Trail in 1862 when the gold rush to the Dunstan Diggings began. We expected around 50 people and horses but the romantic appeal and prospect of being part of such a special and nostalgic event saw 220 people, 240 horses, a gold coach. buggies, gigs, packhorses and wagons take part. It was huge, exciting and raw. Raw because the Dunstan Trail was rarely used other than by farmers. Recreational SUV’s hadn’t hit the market and we were in high and inhospitable
Roberta Laraman on Jinglebob. Roberta was the Cavalcade Coordinator and secretary of the OGHT from 19932010. country where you were lucky to see a fence for three days. Horizontal ice on the first day (nine with official hypothermia, 50 with symptoms), strong winds, sleeping rough and in our clothes, including boots and great coats, and finally dust and heat as we rode proudly into Cromwell for the opening of Old Cromwell Town. It was humbling to see hundreds of people lining the gorge to watch us ride from Clyde to Cromwell on the south bank. The wagons came by the main road. This event is now in it’s 22 year with trails having been to most towns of Otago and Northern Southland, with the attraction to Cavalcaders is strong as ever. I wonder what the Old Timers would think if they only knew?