Group signposting Point’s past

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JACK.CONROY@nullcluthaleader.co.nz

It might be hard to imagine that Kaka Point was once a bustling port with gold-miners shipping tools and supplies and building what was to become the Port of Otago.

But a group of hard-working Kaka Point community group members are keen to set the record straight.

Marilyn Dunn, Kate Smith-Bingham and Carolynne Stephens have given a popular lookout spot a makeover, to give visitors to their township a sense of how things were before and the surprisingly rich history of the small settlement.

“This used to be Port Molyneux,” Mrs Dunn said.

“Where all the boats would come in and deliver goods and supplies. Then the big flood happened in 1878 and moved the river mouth towards Balclutha.”

To achieve the education of both locals and visitors, the group has put up four information panels and new seating areas to enjoy the spot.

The panels refer to the history of the port and of the schools in the area, and others refer to a varied natural history.

The project had been a long time in the making.

“It’s been in the works for several years. We started properly about a year ago but we’ve been talking about it for much longer. We just want to share the history with people,” Mrs Smith-Bingham said.

It is not the only project the busy team is working on either.

“We’re going to do a ‘millionaire’s corner’,” Mrs Dunn said. “This will give the story behind an area of the town where the wealthy people lived.”

Kaka Point was named by Captain Cook in March 1770 when the Endeavour first visited New Zealand.

Sydney Parkinson, a draftsman aboard the Endeavour, gave an account of the naming.

“.. We had a continuous rolling swell from the South West and we saw the appearance of a harbour which we named Molineux’s Harbour after the Master of our ship.”

By 1863 it was described as a “thriving port”, and in 1870 the Nugget Point lighthouse was erected to protect ships from the treacherous “Nugget” rocks.