Roxburgh to Beaumont - Retyrement on 2 Wheels 5 - CycleBlaze

March 4, 2021

Roxburgh to Beaumont

A Jimmy’s pie, a dip in a pond, and a man from Iceland.

Day 9 March 4 Thursday 

Roxburgh to Beaumont 

 A Jimmy’s pie, a dip in a pond, and a man from Iceland. 

We start the Clutha Gold Trail. The day begins with a quick tour of Roxburgh and buy some of the fruit Central Otago is famous for- apricots and peaches. I also indulge in a Jimmy’s pie. Mutton is my filling of choice and all I can say is, I don’t know why I waited so long. A great start to the day!

The best way to beat temptation- give in to it.
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We cycle back across the iron construction bridge and find the trail. It’s a leafy riverside trail, a continuation of the end of yesterday’s really, following a very swiftly flowing green river. 

First major stop is Pinders Pond, an ex quarry pit (over 23 metres deep) now a local swimming hole. The water is calm and clear and of an acceptable temperature. We dive in and try a few strokes. Refreshing.

The bigger splash at Pinders Pond.
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We chat to a woman who asks us how the water is. She tells us she has been on a road trip on her own since October. The trip prompted by the sudden death of her son.  We leave her peacefully paddling in the water.

Millers Flat is our next destination. The trail continues to follow the fast flowing river and the volume of water passing us by at speed looks massive.

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The deep and fast flowing Clutha.
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The stream mysterious glides beneath,Green as a dream and deep as death.’ Granchester. Rupert Brooke.
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Millers Flat is just what it says - a flat area where the branch railway from Roxburgh used to run. The railway closed in 1968 but the town remains and is still flat. It was originally called Maori Ovens Hill, on account of a number of earth ovens found there, but was later changed to honour Walter Miller, an early farmer.  Hard to decide which name is more prosaic really. We meet friends Bob and Mary for lunch here and Bob rides with us to Beaumont.  

Anglican Church Millers Flat.
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Before leaving town we stop to chat to some cycle tourists of our vintage, approximately, from Whangaparoa. They flew to Christchurch and have been cycling since, even carrying a tent. We also spot our jet boat crew as they sail past to the tavern. They are on the road that has the town’s distinctive four-span steel truss bridge over the Clutha. 

Four span iron bridge, Millers Flat.
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Scott AndersonI like that. It’s still the same color it was thirty years ago: https://www.cycleblaze.com/journals/dunedin1991/to-roxburgh/#1720_7fb0f48b475a2cb86467d1f3cf646e4b.
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1 year ago
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From here the river spreads out to a wider bed and rocky islands and stony banks appear. There are more bends and at one spot a collection of native trees, including Ti kouka, cabbage trees an a large totara. The trail itself is a smooth, easy ride.

An ex bridge support.
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Two highlights from this part of the trail are the suspension bridge at Horseshoe Bend and the Lonely Graves. Both are memorable  in their own way. The suspension bridge is another beautiful design and was built after much dissent to enable the children of locals to get to school. It has been restored in recent years. We take the 15 minute walk to the bridge and in its isolation we could be standing there at any time in history. 

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The lonely graves are just slightly further up the road. There are just two. One of a young man whose body was found washed up on the river bank and the other of the man who supposedly buried him. There is some doubt about the latter, but the story is a good one and makes for two epitaphs of some poignancy.

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Somebody’s darling and the man who buried him.
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The road to Beaumont.
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There’s a school group from Gore High School coming in the opposite direction. We are warned by a teacher in front, who has clearly checked the roll, that about 29 kids are coming. They’re mostly a very cheery bunch, greeting us as they approach. One or two stragglers at the end are struggling and look hopeful for a pickup from the school van.

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Beaumont appears shortly and we spy the tavern where we are to stay - apparently it has a history. Later we see some wonderful old photos celebrating this. Before checking in, we cross the river with the push button light for cyclists, and head over with Bob to the large old repurposed  school building our friends have secured on Airbnb. 

The bridge we will cross for the final leg to Lawrence.
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It’s wonderful- an enormous ex classroom full of books about NZ topics of all sorts and interesting pictures and photographs on the walls. There’s still a girls and boys toilet. The only minor drawback is that the swimming pool is dry.

Schoolhouse accommodation.
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In comparison, Beaumont Tavern is on a loser before we even arrive. It’s adequate but.... We meet our hosts and noting a hint of foreign accent I ask the manager if he is German? No. Czech? No. He lets us try a few more countries before telling us that he is from Iceland. In fact, he has the Icelandic build from myths of old- short, broad face, and dark blondish hair. We chat briefly and he tells us how he ended up in Beaumont (partner) and how it’s warmer than Iceland. We don’t get onto discussing  Monsters and Men or Bjork, but the chat thaws things out.

Later Bob picks us up in their car and we dine at the ex school on a tasty meal created by Mary- a vast improvement on some school lunches I’ve had.  When we can wrench ourselves away from the wonderful book collection and company, Bob returns us to our tavern room and our Icelandic host.

Today's ride: 51 km (32 miles)
Total: 336 km (209 miles)

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