Cambrians is a creative community in the heart of Central Otago’s Goldfields Heritage Trail.
Situated in the foothills of the Dunstan Mountains, Cambrians is approximately 35 minutes drive from Alexandra. The journey showcases spectacular, uninterrupted views of the Dunstan, St Bathans and Hawkdun ranges.
Originally known as Welshmans Gully during the Otago gold rush, the township was later renamed Cambrians, which originates from the Latin name for Wales. It's hotel bore the name Welsh Harp and, as these names suggest, the settlement was inhabited by Welsh miners from 1862. A rivalry known locally as The War of the Roses was ongoing between the Welsh Protestants in Cambrians and their Irish Catholic counterparts in nearby St Bathans.
Coal was also mined at Cambrians, but it was the sluice mining that left its mark on the surrounding hills with nearby diggings somewhat obscured with broom. Several quaint cottages including Cambrian Cottage, a refurbished early 1900s mud brick home line the left-hand side of the road. These are privately owned dwellings and should be respected.
The school, built in 1873, was at some stage transported south to Becks. Now back in its original place alongside its grand bell, it has a wealth of information inside and is open to visitors.
Sculptures and artistic expressions adorn the tidy main street, expressing the creativeness of the Cambrians community.
Cambrians Forest rest area is the best turn-around spot to head back to the road. The fascinating historic gold mining township of St Bathans is left onto Loop Road or you can head back to SH85 and go northeast towards Wedderburn.
Cambrians is a true and fascinating example of what Central Otago’s dry climatic extremes have helped to preserve.