Relics from the goldmining days are commonly on display in Otago and I never get tired of seeing them. The Otago Gold Rush began near Lawrence when Gabriel Read discovered gold at what came to be called Gabriel’s Gully, in May 1861.
In Lawrence on Saturday I found a fine sluice gun or monitor on display. These were used to direct high-pressure water at hillsides and river banks in order to wash material down to where it could be processed in order to retrieve any gold that might be present.
Of course this was enormously destructive! The Otago landscapes subjected to sluicing were forever altered and today it’s really obvious where sluicing took place. I believe massive quantities of sediment entered the Otago river systems at this time due to sluicing.
Sluice gun or monitor
- Photo of a sluice gun in action at Blue Spur near Lawrence in the 1880s. You can see the sluice gun directing water under high-pressure at a hillside and the water running back down until it eventually reaches a sluice box.
- Video clip of a sluice gun in action – you need to scroll down to the heading ‘Methods used to find gold in the gold rushes of the 1800s’ (about half way down the web page) via this link: Goldrush Online
Text and photos by Liz; Exploring Colour (2019)