Westport and Denniston Plateau

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August 18th 2016
Published: August 18th 2016
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Westport is north of Greymouth along a major scenic road route. Named as one of the best scenic drives in the world, the road hugs the coast, wild seas pound the cliffs and palm trees weather the wild windy conditions.
Westport is a large town on the coast, set on the mouth of the Buller River. The Westport township was set up initially due to the discovery of gold and then coal was discovered. Today little active mining remains, industry is centred around fishing and tourism. The lighthouse at the mouth of the river to the sea has many plaques commemorating lives lost at sea. A couple of brave surfers enjoyed a great swell in the cold winter waters. Go and visit the Coaltown museum in the information centre on Palmerston St, which is the main street which is a long line up the centre of the town.
88 years of mining on the Denniston plateau gathered 12.6 million tonnes from 3 major mines. At any time around approximately 1100 men were working up there, with whole towns set up, including brass bands, cricket teams, and all the trimmings of a normal town. To get to the remains of the Denniston mine and historic information centre travel north towards Granity, which is around 10kms, turn right as per the signage, and follow the very windy road up to the top of the plateau. Tight bends for 7kms, but the view from the top looks overlooks the incline of the Denniston mine down to the sea. The incline is 1,670 metres long and it descend 580 metres, with the steepest section being 1:13. An igneous system was set with brakes using water pistons to control the lowering speed, wagons loaded to 7 tonnes, and the descending wagons pulled the ascending wagons up using gravity rather than any generated power. At its fastest the wagons reached speeds of up to 55kms a hour. The old mine site has been brilliantly set up with information plaques and walkways; the remains of machinery, brickworks, ovens, and the incline beautifully set up to look like it is ready to take a load of coal down to the coast, makes it a must see site. We had a peaceful picnic at the top, overlooking the incline and out to the coast. A must see spot if you are interested in history or even just for the view

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