One of North Otago’s best-loved historic attractions will be showing off this summer.
Clarks Mill will have three special “operating days”, when its machinery will be cranked up and working from noon to 4pm, on the last Sunday in January, February, and March.
“Visitors love to see the mill running and so we are going to be open for longer and run the machinery more often on those last Sundays,” property manager Anne Sutherland said.
Just north of Maheno alongside State Highway 1, the four-storey Oamaru stone mill began producing flour in 1867 and closed in 1976. It was bought by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, now Heritage New Zealand, the following year.
The machinery was restored to full working order by a group of local volunteers. Of the 13 flour mills that once processed the district’s wheat, it was the only remaining one with its machinery intact, Ms Sutherland said.
A year ago, its 150th anniversary was marked with a weekend of activities.
This year’s events are on a smaller scale.
“We want to share some lesser-known stories about the mill as well.”
It produced oatmeal until about 1907. The oat kiln, where a fire was used to dry the oats and kill the germ so the oats would keep for longer, was still visible.
For those of Scottish descent who settled in the area, porridge would have been an important part of their diet, Ms Sutherland said.
“With this in mind, the operating day on January 28 will have a Scottish theme.”
Games and activities would hark back to Scotland, horse and carriage rides would be on offer, music would be playing in the old social club Smokey Joe’s, tea and scones would be served in the original Miller’s House, and the North Otago Vintage Machinery Club would demonstrate its farm machinery.
“So, why not don your tartan and come on down to Clarks Mill,” Ms Sutherland said.