Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Thames (NZ): Diggers' Camp at Shortland Town

Diggers' Camp - Shortland Town
'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-856'

Thanks to fellow researcher (Dick) for his recent emails over several early Thames photographs and their location.

One such photo discussed was the 'Diggers' Camp' at Shortland Town. (photo right) A classic early view of the goldfield and the realities of life at the Thames. In early reports, the goldfield is often referred to as the Karaka Goldfield, for this is where the action was, and where many looked for gold. While quite substantial houses were built on the flat areas of the towns of Graham and Shortland, it was the area at the base of the Karaka (Una) Hill that saw many men pitch their tents or build their raupo huts.

Thames Star 16 Sept 1885
Warden James Mackay, assisted in establishing the accommodation area, known as Block 27. Principally it was from Augustus Street in the west, Karaka Road to the north and Hape Creek in the south.

Theophilus Cooper wrote 7 December 1867, that the Diggers' Camp was on a flat above the town, that the night was glorious with the l houses in Shortland Town glistening in the moonlight - while everywhere he looked around the hills little lights could be seen, indicating miner's scattered all over the hills.

By the end of 1868, this 'tent city' had been in the most part replaced by small miners' cottages, many of which would be added onto as money allowed. (photo below)

Late 1868 - View toward the Karaka (Una Hill), from the corner of Sandes and Richmond Street
Source: J Vedder-Price Collection
Thanks to 'Google Street Maps', the comparison of past and present is possible. Residential properties now fill the old Diggers' Camp, the Karaka (Una) Hill is covered in bush, the miners and their hunt for gold just a memory around the old gold town. (photo below)