Until recently, New Zealand's spectacular Clutha River was threatened by four hydro dams proposed by Contact Energy, at Tuapeka Mouth, Beaumont, Queensberry and Luggate. This website remains active as a reminder that our New Zealand rivers are still not safe from commercial exploitation.

Save The Beaumont Gorge

Lower Beaumont Gorge and Millennium TrailLower Beaumont Gorge and Millennium Trail

The secluded beauty of the Beaumont Gorge is one of the region's hidden treasures. The 9 km Beaumont Millennium Track runs from Beaumont, where SH8 joins the Clutha River, towards Millers Flat. It was formed on the old Clarksville-Roxburgh railway line which was pulled up in 1968. The Clutha Gold Trail Trust is developing a Roxburgh to Lawrence cycling and walking trail that includes this part of the river.

Beaumont Gorge at Talla Burn, photo Dr Barrie J WillsBeaumont Gorge at Talla Burn, photo Dr Barrie J Wills

Lower Beaumont GorgeLower Beaumont Gorge

The remote character of the Beaumont Gorge provides a pleasant environment for recreation, and for tourists getting "off the beaten track." School groups and clubs use this section of the river for kayak training.

Beaumont Gorge and TrailBeaumont Gorge and Trail

Horseshoe BendHorseshoe Bend (Footbridge left, Lonely Graves upper right)

Horseshoe Bend Footbridge, photo courtesy Borealnz, FlickrHorseshoe Bend Footbridge, photo courtesy Borealnz, Flickr

Crossing Horseshoe Bend Bridge, photo Dr Barrie J WillsCrossing Horseshoe Bend Bridge, photo Dr Barrie J Wills

The Horseshoe Bend Bridge walkway is 8 kms south of Miller's Flat. The bridge was built in 1913 to get sheep and school pupils across the Clutha. It was designed by John Edie (Jnr.), the Tuapeka County Engineer, and is a 70.2m span suspension bridge, with 9.3m high timber towers. It has been fully restored by the local community, providing walking and cycle access, from the main highway, to the gorge and the historic Lonely Graves, one of the most important sites on the entire Clutha River.

Lonely Graves Historic Reserve, threatened by dams?Lonely Graves Historic Reserve, threatened by dams?

In a peaceful location, 8 kms downriver from Miller's Flat in the Beaumont Gorge, the Lonely Graves are a poignant reminder of the harsh reality of the gold-rush. During the winter of 1865, according to folklore, William Rigney, a gold-miner, found the body of a handsome young man washed up beside the river at the Horseshoe Bend Diggings with a shivering dog beside the body. He buried the man nearby and on a wooden headboard he burned "Somebody's Darling Lies Buried Here". A marble headstone was erected in 1903 by the residents of the district with the assistance of a public subscription. The original headboard was encased in glass against the headstone.

Rigney died in 1912 and was buried there with a similar headstone that reads 'Here Lies the Body of William Rigney, The Man Who Buried "Somebody's Darling".' Historians now believe that Rigney's association with "Somebody's Darling" began some time after the young man was buried, when Rigney constructed a manuka fence to protect the grave, and made the headboard. He subsequently cared for the grave faithfully until he himself died. Some researchers believe that "Somebody's Darling" was Charles Alms, a Nevis Valley butcher or farm-hand, but no proof exists. Legend records that Rigney also cared for the dog, until it died years later, when he buried it beside its former master.

Upper Beaumont Gorge, Island Block below Miller's FlatUpper Beaumont Gorge, Island Block below Miller's Flat

Either of the two proposed dams, at Tuapeka Mouth or Beaumont, would destroy this area, taking away not only farmland, orchards and homes, but the very heritage and identity of the local people, who have been living with the threat of dams for several decades. The cemetery at Beaumont would be inundated by a Tuapeka dam, which would also make the Miller's Flat Cemetery unusable because of groundwater problems, as would a dam at Beaumont.


About This Site

'Save The Clutha' supports the 'Option 5 Campaign' launched by the Clutha River Forum, an alliance of river and conservation groups opposed to further "Think Big" dams on the Clutha River.

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