Thursday, 12 June 2014

Old Cromwell Town & Lowburn Colours

The construction of the Clyde Dam and filling of Lake Dunstan in the 1980s brought major changes to Cromwell. Two narrow gorges with their wild rivers, many acres of orchards & Cromwell’s original commercial centre were all drowned by the new Lake Dunstan.

The old town centre & historic bridge were not forgotten though, many of the original buildings were deconstructed & rebuilt further up the road to form part of a historic precinct at the end of Melmore Terrace and overlooking the Lake Dunstan. Other buildings already at the high end of the terrace were restored.

Resited- Jolly’s Grain Store- built pre 1880

Resited- London House- (Belfast Store) built 1880

I wonder how many children have clambered over Toby & his cart.

The Masonic Lodge was built in 1901 & still stands on it’s original site which was once the top end of Melmore Terrace.

Lake Dunstan, the Kawarau River arm, looking towards Bannockburn & the Carrick Range which we crossed over when we drove the Nevis.

Cromwell was once known as “The Junction” being that the Clutha & Kawarau Rivers met here in two deep & rugged gorges. As it turned out, an ideal site for a hydro lake to form behind the Clyde Dam which is many kilometres downstream.

And the historic bridge? A bridge that crossed the Clutha River & one I can’t add to my Clutha River Bridges because it’s 11 metres under water! It’s beneath the clear water in the top right photo below. There is a urban myth that there’s still a Mkl Zephyr parked on it. The new Cromwell Bridge can be seen at the back of the top left photo below.

Most of the buildings in the old town & surrounding area were demolished to make way for the new lake, others like the facade from the old Athenaeum in the bottom right photo were left as they were & filled in with soil. This gives a good indication of how far Melmore Terrace of the old town has been buried, only the top half of the building is exposed. Some of the stone work from the old school also remains (centre photo).

Where once the wild Kawarau River flowed there’s now a calm & beautiful recreation lake with the vineyards of Bannockburn reaching up the dry & rocky hills behind.

Cromwell has many orchards along with the vineyards, these Y shaped apricot trees provided me with some good colour along with plenty of leading lines.

You may remember that we stayed at Lowburn on the shores of Lake Dunstan twice while in the area. The autumn colours were showing on our first visit but by the time we returned three weeks later the yellow of the poplars had intensified to a deep rich gold and looked stunning against the blue skies.

On some mornings the fog rolled in early and then lifted, once the sun came up, to reveal these golden poplars & willows across the other side of the lake.

There was also a row of poplars along the back fence of a paddock over the road from the camp site that always looked fabulous backlit in the late afternoon sun.

And even more stunning from the sunny side. I loved the decreasing height of the trees as they moved up the hill.

Just along the road from the campsite and up a side road is the (new) settlement of Lowburn, you’ll remember from my "Collecting Water” blog that there’s a spring beside the hall that we use, this is the small pond, complete with white ducks, near the hall with “Sugarloaf” behind.

The dam construction affected Lowburn too, much of the original Lowburn flat was inundated by the creation of Lake Dunstan. The church and hall were relocated to this higher site, but the old bridge, the camping ground and the hotel are forever under Lake Dunstan.

1 comment:

  1. Stunning photos, as always! Still very much enjoying your blogs. T& L


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