Otago Daily Times, Rosie Manins. From wasteland to promised land, Central Otago is the focus of a book written by resident and artist Grahame Sydney. Promised Land: From Dunedin to the Dunstan Gold Fields explores the history of Central Otago’s pioneer’s in the 1800s and their experiences attempting to forge a future with gold.
Fellow Central Otago resident and poet Brian turner introduced the book, after which Mr Sydney expressed his hope people would find it a ‘good read’. In a few short months during the 1860s, the number of inhabitants in Central Otago soared from about 40 to 30,000 due to the insatiable appetite for gold and the potential for change, Mr Sydney said. “The rush on the gold field was the only lottery of its day and everyone wanted a ticket because it was the only way a person could change their status. That was the compulsion and the fuel behind the stampede. A landowner could lose everything by selling up and going after gold, and a labourer could win everything and become a landowner for life”.
Mr Sydney said to date, Central Otago had “dished up”13 million ounces of gold and continued to produced the precious metal.