Across the Kawarau River from Cromwell on the road to Nevis Valley, the small historic mining town of Bannockburn offers a fascinating journey into the past.Bannockburn was a successful mining settlement that managed to avoid becoming a ghost town once the gold was gone. Buildings from the early times remain today, including a beautiful hotel, a post office, Stewart's store and a number of family homes. Adjacent to the town is the Bannockburn Sluicing Historic Reserve, which is managed by the Department of Conservation. The reserve offers a chance to explore an intriguing landscape created from 1865 to 1910 by fortune seekers in search of gold. Discover evidence of water races, dams, tunnels and shafts, as well as crumbling mud-brick and stone buildings in the old orchards at Stewart Town.From the reserve, a four-hour return walkway heads uphill behind Stewart Town to a farm access track in the gully, up a steep spur and eventually to the conservation area boundary. You can enjoy dramatic rock bluff landscapes and views of the Clutha Valley, Lake Dunstan and Pisa Range. The walkway passes over Kawerau and Mount Difficulty farming stations, so is closed for lambing from 1 October to 30 November.To the north of the town, the Bannockburn Creek area was once an extensive coal mining area which supplied coal for use on gold dredges working the Kawarau and Clutha Rivers.