Home' Greymouth Star : April 18th 2015 Contents Saturday
6 - Saturday, April 18, 2015
Ian Tibbles stops the car
on the hill just past Eight
Mile Creek, on Maori
Creek Road, long past
Shantytown. He points
through a gap in the trees,
to an exposed cli beneath
" ere's Clifton," he says.
In 1873, everyone from Clifton
decamped en masse to nearby
Dunganville, leaving only the
cemetery in a town that once boasted
a warden's court, dance house,
four hotels, church and butchery.
Access today is by Brick Road and
it is believed the cemetery 'may' still
remain --- though modern miners
have reworked the area.
Ian Tibbles' ties to the area are
strong. Put simply, his grandfather
Frederick Joseph Tibbles lived at
Dunganville and his uncle Fred was
the last resident.
Ian's earliest memories of the place
are being driven there on a two-
wheel track, with grass up the middle.
It only became gravel when the
loggers moved in later. Further along
the road, the forestry block opens up
to pasture --- the site of Dunganville
town. A gap in the trees is all that is
left now of those pioneer days.
ree hungry dredges have
worked the land, obliterating most
landmarks. It is as if the town never
Ian and wife Barbara have spent
a quarter of a century researching
their family tree, and the history of
Ian has maps he pieced together
with the help of his late father
Gordon (Con) showing the old
Chinese workings. Con also helped
put together a picture of the inside
layout of the New River Hotel, with
its parlour, billiard room and about
" ey still had the pool table when
I was a kid," Ian says.
Before the Lands and Sur vey o ce
in Hokitika closed, the Tibbles
managed to get an 1875 map of the
township. Although it's changed a
bit, the current main road was once
Duncan Street. e others were
Carter, Russell, North, Guinness and
Generations of Tibbles owned a fair
bit of the town at one time or other.
Uncle Fred, in later years a racehorse
clerk and familiar sight on West
Coast race days, was a run holder and
had lots of land where he ran cattle.
His grandfather was a goldminer
turned bushman, who also had the
hotel for a while.
An Englishman, he arrived in New
Zealand aboard the Gothenburg
from Australia, looking for gold. He
shows up in Dunganville in 1875, in
mining licence records.
Back then, the place was known as
Maori Creek, and Ian says even in his
parents' day it was still known as that.
It was renamed after Peter Dungan,
an o cial, in 1875. As well as the
usual goldrush town businesses,
it also had a school and Catholic
In 1884, James Gi ord was
murdered in a dispute over religion,
the culprit apprehended because,
in his panic to ee, he grabbed the
victim's hat rather than his own.
e culprit was the last person to
be hanged at the old Hokitika Gaol
on the hill. e scene of the murder
is about where the public road ends
In 1910, Ogilvies sawmill at
Gladstone logged the valley and
used to be a train right to the site.
Ian points out where Mrs Schaef 's
cutting was --- video exists of it
today, when Ogilvies mill sta came
up for a picnic.
Electricity did reach the valley from
the Arnold River hydro scheme.
e lines were brought over for an
electric dredge, but they never made
it the last 100m or so to the Tibbles
Ian brings more than historical fact
to this story.
He actually remembers the decaying
remains of Dunganville in its dying
days, and the stories passed down by
He remembers the bones of the
old pub, and the original
"In 1886 was the great re, it
was a Sunday at 3.20am in Mr
McKechnie's billiard room. It burned
down half the town. My grandfather
would never leave ashes in the re
when he went to bed, as a result. He
would scoop the remains of the re
up and put them outside."
When Ian was a teenager, his dad
took him up for a big day out, to
explore where he had lived as a child.
"We worked up the New River,
goldpanning, where the swingbridge
was. He showed me where his father
found a couple of ounces of gold
behind a rock. It fed them for a week
during the Depression," Ian says.
We drive on to Woods Creek, now
a popular walking track. Current
mining operations loom large on the
left, a huge, deep pit glimpsed over
"During the Depression, when
there wasn't enough water for
sluicing, when it rained at night they
would come up here with a hurricane
" ey walked along the grassy
track in the rain in the dark with a
hurricane lamp, at 3am and went
mining," he repeats, barely believing
Con Tibbles lived on rice during
the Depression, and wood pigeons.
"He hated rice forever after," Ian
" e family would get koura,
crawlies, they would go to the old
dams and empty the water. en we
would go back to Paroa and cook
them up in kerosene tins over the
Ian Tibbles is one of the few people alive with ties to Dunganville, a town that is no more. Once a bustling goldrush
town, the population left, one by one, until a solitary resident was left --- a Tibbles --- and then the entire site was
dredged and re-mined almost beyond recognition. Ian gave LAURA MILLS a tour of old Dunganville. He talks
about the great re, gold nuggets, and a murder most horrid.
once was Dunga
e site of Dunganville, with an 1891 photo showing the New River Hotel at left.
e site of the Tibbles family homestead.
Many years ago, there was a 30m-deep mine shaft here. It is currently being mined again, this time by open-cast
e old gold town of Clifton, on th
believed to remain --- somewhere.
Ian and Barbara Tibbles in front of rolling paddocks that mark the site of
the once famous gold town, Dunganville.
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