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William Mathew Hodgkins 1839-1898
Sketch for Gold Escort on the Rock and Pillar, Otago
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Sketch for Gold Escort on the Rock and Pillar, Otago 1864
watercolour on paper

signed lower right
inscribed with title and dated 1864 in the artist's hand lower left

Image Size: 405 x 620mm (15.9 x 24.4in)
Stock Number: 90797

Price category over $50,000

The Rock and Pillar Range of high hills is located in the Maniatoto, an area of inland Otago, and persistent and highly unusual cloud formations associated with this range are found only in one or two places in the world. Called the 'Taieri Pet' by locals, these clouds are formed by high north-westerly winds forced upward over the range.

In the 1860s, the gold rush meant that NZ's South Island had most of the European population and wealth, and one of the most notable claims was Gabriel's Gully, close to Lawrence. Named after Gabriel Read, an Australian prospector who had hunted gold in both California and Victoria, Australia, found gold in a creek bed at Gabriel's Gully on 20 May 1861, and by Christmas, 14,000 prospectors were on these fields. The region's population swelled by nearly 400 per cent between 1861 and 1864, The number of miners reached its maximum of 18,000 in February 1864.

The 1861 discovery of gold in Gabriel's Gully prompted a gold rush and saw many Australian gold-diggers heading for the port of Dunedin. Among these was the Cobb & Co coach proprietor Charles Cole, who had been running a service from Smythe's Creek in Ballarat, and on 4 October 1861 landed in Dunedin with one 'Concord' coach, 5 wagons, a buggy and 54 horses.

One week after landing, his first "Cobb & Co Telegraph Line of Coaches" left the Provincial Hotel, Dunedin for the Police Commissioner's Camp at Gabriel's Gully. Changing stations for the horses had already been arranged at the Reliance Hotel, Otokia atTokomairiro, Round Hill and Waitahuna.

In February 1862, the Hoyts came to New Zealand landing their coach and horses at Bluff. and they moved to Dunedin when they found there was no direct route to reach the gold diggings from Bluff. They linked up in partnership with Cole, trading as Cole, Hoyt & Co.

The first Cobb and Co, coach left the Provincial hotel in Stafford St. 1862, bound for the Dunstan Goldfields. The Mounted Gold Escort was a group of armed and mounted men formed to get the gold safely to Dunedin.

From July 12th 1861—March 7th 1862 about 1.5 million Pounds worth of gold arrived and was safely locked up.

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