Big Bare Dam

A different dam in this post to the ferny one I’ve been showing, but it’s also from the gold mining days and it’s still an earth dam. The difference is that this one’s in Central Otago and its inside wall is lined with rocks (the work is done wonderfully as one of the builders, David Stewart, was a stonemason). Oh.. and it’s big, about the size of a football field. Remember when I visited Stewart Town after walking through the Bannockburn Sluicings with its badlands landscape? This big dam is close by, near the stone cottage and fruit orchard at Stewart Town.

In 1868 two miners bought the rights to bring water from Long Gully watershed, high in the Carrick Range. They had the vision to build this dam and hand dig a water race to Menzies Dam.

Menzies Dam

This was a three-sided earth dam with an inner rock lining. I’ve read somewhere that the rocks were needed because of frequent wind (that stirred up the water). The wall was about 2m high. This was a project of miners John Menzies and David Stewart, both Scots. Photos taken 31 Oct 2022.

In this view you can see more of the other wall.

Here I’m standing a short distance from the outdoor toilet and further again to my right is the stone cottage. On the left, I would think this was a water race feeding the dam. If you click on the image to enlarge, then you’ll see the stone wall of the dam (look down the slope, well beyond the poplar tree).

The side of the dam nearest to me, along with the walking track I’m about to walk down. Note the earth bank on the outer side of the dam and how the rock wall lines the face of the dam. The dam is huge! Beyond the walking track is a vineyard. Bannockburn is full of vineyards. This photo was taken by Nigel.

Click to enlarge, cropped to panorama. I took the photo to show the length of the stone wall.

To learn more, click on the photo of the information board..

To see how water was used see my older post from Bannockburn, Stark Difference

Text by Liz, photos by Liz and Nigel; Exploring Colour (2022)

4 thoughts on “Big Bare Dam

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    1. Yes, must’ve been a big job. The gold miners did ‘heaps’ of rock stacking and there’s piles of rock tailings all over the place, they sure worked hard. One place I haven’t yet visited has rock tailings stacked beautifully in a herring-bone pattern but usually they’re just rough piles. Some of the stone cottages are outstanding, they usually turn out to have been built by Scots from various outer islands. Magnificent work.

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