The Road to Naseby
Overnight the temperature had dropped to 4 degrees Centigrade at Kyeburn Diggings. After rain for most of the day before, the morning sun made a welcome reappearance.
Just 29 km from Naseby, the settlement of Kyeburn Diggings is where the Danseys Pass Inn is situated. The hotel was built in 1863 and for a time was the centre of all activities in the district. Apparently a stonemason called Happy Bill built the stone building in schist in 1863 and took his payment in beer, a pint for every schist boulder shaped and laid on the thick walls! Remnants of some of the other stone buildings of the settlement are across the road from the inn.
“The gold fields in the Kyeburn area known as the Kyeburn Diggings were well underway before the main discovery of gold at nearby Naseby. The Upper Kyeburn gold fields once boasted hotels, stores, a butcher, a baker and in the 1860’s a school opened. Sadly the only reminder of the Upper Kyeburn settlement is that of the Upper Kyeburn Cemetery and the scars of sluicing and dredging that went on the area. Like many of the early gold mining towns photos are all that remain of what was once a bustling area.” (Visit Central Otago)
It is always sobering to visit old cemeteries, especially those of settler times or in old battlefields. People died very young in those days, and sometimes whole families died within relatively short spaces of time when compared with today’s life expectations. I also find the inscriptions on some of the old gravestones interesting, and sometimes “quaint”.
At the gate of the cemetery at Upper Kyeburn is a tariff board showing service charges for burial which were current in the gold mining era in the late nineteenth century. In those days £1 represented a lot of money.
From the cemetery the road continues to Naseby through farmland and the sluiced banks of the nearby river, with views to the Kakanui Mountains to the right. Rain clouds still hung over the hills, but as the day progressed and we moved further into the Maniatoto Basin it got warmer as the weather improved.
Finally, with just a few kilometres to go the sign pointing to Naseby lead us to an unexpected surprise! More on that in the next post.