Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lawrence and Gabriel's Gully

Recently there was a weekend celebration held at Gabriels Gully and the organisers were absolutely amazed at the interest they encountered. Crowds of people. I only found about it when travelling through Balcutha on Monday the 21st and finding the town virtually closed. Everyone was at Lawrence for the celebrations.

However I was able to visit Balcutha again on Tuesday and stopped at the South Otago Museum. The part-time curator, Gary Ross was back from his duties at the celebrations, full of enthusiasm as usual. He said he'd made many contacts who had gold mining information in their families. The subject of Otago Gold Mining is still to be fully researched and any private information will be safe with Gary.

Later on in the week we encountered more comments from people about Lawrence. One was that Lawrence could be another Arrowtown - a fine tourist attraction. It's not there yet but the townspeople are enthusiastic about the idea, even to arguing over who gets what history going.

The date Gabriel Read walked from Evans Flat over a spur into a back valley and followed a creek, dug a hole with a butchers knife and struck gold was the 20th May 1861. Besides the gold he picked up, he won an award for £1000 offered by the Otago Provincial Council for finding a payable gold field.

In the short time I was visiting with Gary Ross, he managed to tell me some amazing stories, I wish I'd had more time to spend with him.


  1. This is so interesting. My great grandfather George Henry Boniface is listed as one of the first 6000 miners at Tuapeka, as Lawrence was called then. His half brother William Parsons was with him nut there are more than one of this name listed. I have been to the wee museum in Lawrence several times.
    Unfortuanately I don't know how to find out more for either my great grandfather or his brother.

  2. I have the opposite problem Marilyn, my great grandfather said in the Cyclopedia of NZ that he was one of the first at Gabriel's Gully, but he's not listed as being there at all. And all around the SI where I visited there was very little mentioned of him. Oh well! I'll keep digging.

  3. It certainly is hard at times. I suspect that my great grandfather married around that time and maybe walked away from the marriage. I am clutching at straws here but he changed his surname to Parsons later married, had two children, walked away from that marriage and then married bigamously. I am trying to find the reason for his name change as well as more about his time on the goldfields.