IntroductionLong after its gold mines closed and the last hotel burned down, Lyell retains many reminders of a rich past which can be seen while exploring the surrounding area.
The two walks in the area include a short stroll around the historic Lyell Cemetery and a 2 km walk to the Croesus Battery.
Time: 10 min
Distance: 320 m
Leaving from the campsite, the track passes the former Catholic Church site and enters native beech forest clinging to a steep hillside and leads on to one of the more picturesque goldfield cemeteries. Surviving headstones, some in iron-fenced plots with large trees growing out of them, tell stories of short lives and tragic deaths. Between 30 and 40 people were buried here from 1880 to 1900.
Another ten minutes on you will come to Maori Bar, the site of the first gold strike in 1862. There is a tunnel which later miners drove through solid rock to dewater the creek bed for easier mining.
Cross the creek at the junction to the Old Ghost Road and continue on to the Croesus Battery.
Time: 45 min
Distance: 2 km
From the junction, look out for a reef of "hungry" (non-auriferous) quartz which appears in the track side cutting. From there it is 600 m to a point overlooking the old battery, reached via a track and steps. Also on the creekside site is a berdan dish, which revolved to crush quartz using heavy steel balls, and relics of an unusual turbine which drove all the machinery.
The track begins at the Lyell Conservation campsite near the former Lyell town site, 15 km north east from Inangahua Junction and 35 km south from Murchison on State Highway 6 in the Upper Buller Gorge.
Remain on the main tracks. Decades of prospecting and mining have made the countryside unsafe with deep shafts concealed in the undergrowth. Suitable footwear and clothing is recommended along with insect repellant when lingering at the interpretative panels along the way.
Lyell retains many reminders of a rich past which can be seen while walking up to the Croesus Battery and around the cemetery.
Protect this heritage site and leave artifacts where you find them to allow future generations to experience what life was like for those hardy pioneers.