Re­turn to Old Dunstan trail

Central Otago Mirror - - CLASSIFIEDS -

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?

Trail­blazer:

Photo: SUP­PLIED

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