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This work by Caroline McQuarrie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Lyell, situated on the Buller River in what was then ‘North West Nelson’ (north of the Grey River) was the first gold rush on the West Coast in 1862, however the inaccessibility of the place meant only about 300 people ‘rushed’. While hardy prospectors continued to work Lyell creek, the town really came into its own in 1869 when Antonio Zala discovered gold bearing quartz in Irishman's Creek. The gold locked in quartz reefs was able to be extracted by companies set up to mine the quartz and crush the gold out of it, establishing towns up the valley behind Lyell; with the construction of the 8 Mile dray road, the small settlement of Gibbstown became established part way up the valley. In 1885 the Belfast Hotel moved from Zalatown to Gibbstown, signaling the shift from the more remote town to the more accessible one. In 1896 a school was established, however after the Alpine Mine closed in 1912 the town quickly emptied - the Belfast Hotel moved further down the hill to Lyell. In 1915 the school house was sold which was the end of the town. To reach Gibbstown: Old Dray Road.