The Rees - True South

The Great Sheep Drive

sheepdrive1-small.jpgWith the homestead building under way at Queenstown, Rees could start his great sheep drive.

His young shepherd Alfred Duncan thought he knew a short cut. He would jump the sheep across what was almost a natural bridge across the thundering water of the Kawarau Gorge. But the sheep baulked at the jump.

So WG and Duncan decided to try rafting the sheep to the other side of the gorge instead. WG swam a rope across the river to haul the raft back and forth.

On the first crossing, the raft overturned, trapping Duncan beneath it. A swimmer sent to free him also became trapped.

WG saw that the only chance of a rescue lay in cutting the rope on one side of the gorge and to let the raft swing to the other. It worked – but the idea of rafting the flock over the wild Kawarau obviously would not.

There was no alternative now but to back track for miles and then take the long northern trail that WG and Von Tunzelmann had blazed over the Crown Range. So much for short cuts.

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