THE WOOLSHED DIGGINGS
by Alan Williams
The Woolshed diggings were situated 10 Km from Milton (Tokomairiro) on the long road to Tuapeka, an area now known as Glenore (from Edward Musgrave's sub division of 1862). The name 'Woolshed' was coined as a result of miners traveling into the Tuapeka 'helping themselves' to the timber from a Woolshed located on James Smith's property in close proximity to the track to Tuapeka.
Mining was carried out adjacent to, and in the riverbed of the South Branch of the Tokomairiro river (now known as the West Branch) from the south end of the Manuka Gorge along the valley and out onto the North West corner of the Tokomairiro Plain.
Gold Mining commenced at Woolshed in 1861 with the advent of Gabriel Reids discovery at Tuapeka, although gold had been discovered in the area by Edward Peters (Black Peter) in 1858/59. J.T Thomsons foot-note to Alex Garvie's report was published Otago Provincial Gazette in September 1859 and states:
'The best sample of Gold yet brought into town was found in the Tokomairiro River (south branch). This sample indicates a workable Gold field.'
Thus the area was the first workable Gold Field discovered in Otago. The Woolshed Diggings became an Official Gold Field in August 1862, when the Field was incorporated into the extended boundaries of the Tuapeka Field (Gazetted 4th August 1862).
By December 1861 a large number of miners were at work in the area, and businesses were becoming established.
Stores, Hotels and Accommodation Houses
Church, School, Court House & Police Station.
As with other Gold Fields in the Tuapeka area, the main methods used by the miners for working their claims was with pick, pan and shovel, aided by sluice boxes and water wheels. Numerous dams and water races were constructed to give a supply of water to the claims for sluicing. One of the longest water race on the field ran from Falla Burn road to Tulloch road a distance of 2 miles.
The Woolshed was never as rich as Gabriels or other Fields in the Tuapeka but gave a good wage to those who persevered.
In the immediate vicinity of the Woolshed, mining was also being carried out at Adams Flat to the west, Manuak Creek to the North West and on the quartz reefs of Table Hill to the North. These areas also proved worth while to the industrious miner, especially the Table Hill quartz reefs. Very few if any nuggets were found in the Woolshed diggings, but numerous nuggets were retrieved from the Table Hill Manuka Creek area.
1893 saw the commencement of the 'dredging Boom' at the Woolshed, with the first dredge, the 'Glenore' being put to work in November 1893. This was followed over the coming years by 'The Woolshed', 'Riverbank', 'Goldbank', 'Stirling', 'Cameron's Freehold', and 'Bruce'. Dredging continued into the early part of the 1900s.