Issue 6 April 2003
The Path Goes In..
Much has been accomplished on the Mill Stream Walkway (previously known as Eastern Stream) over the past months.
The metalled track was completed over the winter months and we felt pleased to be able to use the expertise of Alan Berntsen and workmate Bob who are experienced DoC track construction workers. The route, which utilises some old water diversion channels, provides an attractive walk amidst ferns and trees, and includes a diversion down to a particularly scenic bend in the stream.
Over more recent months an array of fencing has been established to help define the perimeter of the walkway, to keep livestock out, and to allow further riparian plantings. Kissing gates at either end of the walk are expected to go in shortly.
After considerable effort to secure two resource consents and one building consent, it was a delight to see two sturdy bridges installed by Dan Bustard and crew early in this new year. The lower stream bridge, near Clarke Street, also serves as a viewing platform to the cascading waters as they flow through the canyon carved out over many years.
A new pathway is formed on the eastern side, connecting the two bridges, and will be the gateway to the Union Hill Heritage Walkway in due course. Preliminaries are under way for this proposed walkway.
The upstream bridge opens onto the picturesque cabbage tree patch which may host picnic tables in the future. This bridge, in order to meet Environment Waikato resource consent requirements, carries a warning of danger in extreme flood events.
Further plantings for several areas of the walkway are envisaged over time, and a maintenance plan has been devised.
The signage is yet to be determined, but will be the final step prior to an official opening of this walkway.
Our Chairman, Charlie Cooper, comments "They say, good things take time, and this track has indeed taken some years to realise. It is, however, a little beauty spot and is paving the way for many more walks in the Waihi District in the future."
History Interpretation by E Lens
On an early map of Waihi, Eastern Stream was known as Mill Stream. The stream was dammed near the present Bowling Club, then channeled and flumed to the Waihi Battery (or Waihi Mill) on Union Hill. The remaining water (if any) and surface runoff further down the valley, was caught in diversion channels, to keep the water out of three large impoundments which the Waihi Gold Mining Co. had established to save their tailings. The upper part of our walkway makes use of one of these diversion channels, and the walkway between the bridges crosses over the lower tailings embankment. Where the stream runs now is largely hand cut (our lower bridge gives an impressive view into a deep cutting), sometime since the closure of the Waihi Mill in 1912. The cabbage tree patch, upstream from the upper bridge, is deeply underlain by old tailings (fine quartz sand).
Between 1899 and 1902, ore was transported from the Union new No.1 shaft via tramway to the Silverton Battery (which was then renamed the Union Battery) on the Ohinemuri River (by joining with the Silverton tramway at a point now in the Heritage Walkway). Our walkway follows this formation between Clarke St and the lower bridge.
The remains of two power pylons can be seen beside our walkway. These pylons were erected about 1913 to bring electricity from the WGMCo. Hora Hora hydro-electric plant on the Waikato River to the mine on Martha Hill. There were 469 of these towers, carrying three solid copper wires of 10mm thick. They went out of service about 1970.
Our sponsors, in particular Trust Waikato and Lotteries Environment and Heritage, whose support has been pivotal in the creation of the walkway. To DoC for supporting the vision to reality. Our construction people, for tracks, fences, plantings, etc, and thanks to all the people who are already walking the track may there be many more over time.
Committee contact details:
Chairperson: Charlie Cooper Ph: (07) 863 7699
Secretaries: Owen Morgan Ph: (07) 863 8540
Annette Bowater Ph: (07) 863 8863
Treasurer: John Vinson Ph: (07) 863 9021
Co-ordinator: Eric Lens Ph: (07) 863 7084
Address for correspondence: Waihi Walkways PO Box 241 Waihi
Waihi District Walkways Inc. PO Box 241 Waihi New Zealand
Send e- mail to: Waihi Walkways