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Historic Eden

Eden History

The area was inhabited by the Thawa tribe of the Yuin nation before white settlement. In 1828 a whaling station was set up and continued to operate until the 1930s.
Below is a link to Eden's history

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bermondsey

We are looking for decendants of Bermondsey immigrants

The Bermondsey was the only immigrant ship that left England for the particular destination of Twofold Bay in 1848.  The Eden community Access Centre is currently trying to trace the descendants of the Bermondsey with the view of possibly putting together a book/booklet with each immigrant/families stories.  We are particularly interested in the impact these immigrants and their descendants have had on our local area.

 

Are you a decendant of Bermondsy immigrants?

Our volonteer Angie is currently tracing the descendants of the “Bermondsey” immigrant ship which arrived in Eden December 1848.

Surnames of passengers are as follows:
Alexander, Armour
Berry, Blades, Bransley, Bridges, Buck, Burgess
Cameron, Carlyle, Chalmers, Cheeseman, Coates, Cockran, Corkhill, Cox, Crawford, Crooks, Currie
Davies, Dighton, Dennett, Duff, Dunn,

Eglinton, Etsey
Forbes, Forrest, Frame
Guthrie
Haley, Hall, Hamilton, Hannah, Harrison, Hart, Hayes, Heaven, Hendry, Hewitt, Holmes, Howett, Hudson
Inglis
Jackson, Johnson
Kelly, Knowles
Lane, Laytham, Lodge/Ledge, Lucas, Ludford
McDougal, McEwan, McIntyre, McMann, McPherson, McVean, Miller, Moffitt
Neasmith, Neilson, Newlyn
O’Halloran
Parnell
Rae, Rankin, Rennie, Rogers
Samuels, Sharp, Shelton, Smillie, Spence, Steel, Stewart, Struthers, Summers, Summons
Tame, Thallon, Thompson, Thorn, Tivey,

Ward, Webster, Wilson, Wood

Some other associated surnames we have identified are: Cousemacker, Worland, Cridge, Goldby, Blacka, Gillespie, Wintle, Whiffen, Tyrrell, Green, Whyman, Turk, Hyland, Schuback, Easdown, Motbey, Turnbull, Douch, Witts.

 

If you or someone you know could be descendant from any of the above please contact
Angie Deane on (02) 6496 3970 (Eden Access Centre)

or email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

About the Bermondsey

In 1846 Benjamin Boyd, with others, became interested in a movement  which had for its objective the introduction of a particular class of migrants to the colony of New South Wales. The association was known as the Colonization Society. Meetings were held throughout the English counties, where exhortations to join the different parties which were being formed for migration to New South Wales formed the principal theme of the various speakers. Recruits were found, advertisements appeared in the Home newspapers calling for persons desirous of migrating to the colony, and suggesting that opportunities be provided for disembarkation at ports other than Port Phillip and Port Jackson.


Plymouth and Cornish Advertiser Sep 14, 1848

   

In 1848  an announcement was made concerning the first immigrant ship destined to land her people in Twofold Bay. A notice in the "Government Gazette" of November 15, 1848, from the Colonial Secretary's Office, set out that the ship ''Bermondsey" was to have sailed from Plymouth about the 31st of August, with emigrants, direct for Twofold Bay, and settlers of Monaro district were invited to make arrangements for hiring them at that place and for removing them to their stations.  

 

The same day Sydney newspapers announced that another vessel, the "Simon Taylor," was also to sail from Plymouth direct to Twofold Bay with emigrants.

 

Due to Boyd's bankrupcy activities at Boydtown had ceased prior to the arrival of the "Bermondsey," the buildings and shipping conveniences being under lease to a Sydney firm of commission agents, with local representatives in residence.  Arrangements had been made with this firm for the victualling of the emigrants who were arriving on the "Bermondsey" ; during the period from disembarkation and securing positions the people were housed in the buildings at Boydtown.

Thus, though Benjamin Boyd had promulgated the scheme for the introduction of migrants through the port of Twofold Bay and failed to see the scheme realised, yet the buildings which he had caused to be erected and collectively named after him, actually housed the first shipload disembarked at a port in Australia other than Port Jackson or Port Philip.

 

The "Bermondsey" arrived at Twofold Bay on the 7th of December, 1848. The "Bermondsey's" complement consisted of 184 persons, including children. Of this company 111 labourers, with their families, found employment within the districts of Monaro and Twofold Bay, the remainder seeking employment in Sydney and Port Phillip. Passage money amounted to £11/19/6 per adult. The"Simon Taylor" was struck off the sailing  list for Twofold Bay.

 

Shipping Gazette and Sydney General Trade List  Saturday 16 December 1848

Sydney Morning Herald Mon 25 Dec 1848

 

Source:  'Benjamin Boyd in Australia (1842-1849) : shipping magnate, merchant, banker, pastoralist and station owner, member of the Legislative Council, town planner, whaler' by Wellings, H. P 

 

It's a huge nineteenth century mystery: why did this useless thing get erected?

 

Oh, we know who did it: Ben Boyd paid to have large sandstone blocks hewn from the Sydney hillside, shipped all the way down to Eden and carted by bullock dray through the bush.

 

He had a good-looking tower erected where it stands today, 20 metres tall, solid as a rock – and useless.

 

Ben Boyd was one of Australia's early financial entrepreneurs, a man with gigantic dreams of an empire. He built a financial pyramid scheme that eventually collapsed, as financial empires like those of Scase and Bond have collapsed before.

 

In his prime Benjamin Boyd was king of about two million acres of prime Aussie real estate and dozens of stations, a member of the country's early ruling class, controlling a bank with a million pounds sterling of capital.

 

So why did such a finance-aware man get himself into such a mess with Boyd's Tower? Why did he build such a large and ultimately useless tower, now solid but lonely and forlorn? What was the point and why was it never used?

 

Boyd was a very smart man with noble connections, born to a laird's manor in Scotland. He made his fortune in the English stock market in the early 1800s before becoming interested in the commercial possibilities of this new colony on the other side of the world.

 

He took control of the local shore-based whaling business, which was very profitable at the time, and got elected to parliament; he was one of the country's most powerful men.

 

He decided that one day Australia would need a national capital, which should be at Boydtown, so he started his new city with houses, pub and church.

 

Now we normal folk get building permission and conform with all legislation before embarking on a building; seems sensible, doesn't it? But Boyd spent a fortune building his tower – and only when it was finished did he ask the authorities if it was OK to use it as a lighthouse.

 

They said no, so the tower was used for a while as a whale spotting tower, and then abandoned to rot away in the bush.

 

Some say that it was refused because he only wanted it lit for his own ships, but other records indicate that he actually offered it to the government.

 

Why did Boyd not ask FIRST if it was OK to build a lighthouse? With the large number of wrecks along this coast, why didn't the government want his lighthouse when he offered it to them?

 

After all, a few years later they built one not far away (Green Cape), at taxpayer expense, when they could have had Boyd's Tower for nothing.

 

The law said that a lighthouse on the coast had to be licenced by the government – I guess to stop wreckers showing lights to lure ships onto the rocks to be plundered.

 

But Boyd had had a lighthouse in operation for over two years not far from where the tower is now, without legal complaint, and every ship up and down the south coast must have known about it.

 

So why did Boyd not get permission before building this tower? Why did the government refuse to allow it to be used? You can see it's in a prime spot, and there are lots of shipwrecks along this very coast.
Nobody seems to know; but Detective-Inspector Snodgrass has a theory.

 

Boyd was very powerful, financially and politically, and lots of people didn't like him for it. He was in almost constant conflict with the government; and he wanted Boydtown to be Australia's political and commercial capital.

 

So maybe someone in power informally told him a lighthouse would be a good idea, and he'd be alright when he applied for the licence. Then when it was built, they gleefully broke the promise and denied him permission to use it, so putting down this Pom who was too big for his boots.

 

This seems to be what had already happened when he asked for government offices to be sited at Boydtown – East Boyd was acknowledged by all to be a safer harbor than Eden. While the government agreed on the safety of the harbour, they nevertheless put the offices in Eden rather than in an area owned and controlled by Big Boots Boyd; that'll teach HIM a lesson.

 

One other explanation could be that he built Boyd's Tower before getting permission because he thought no one ever would or could stand up against his wishes.

 

Either way, the tower was only lit twice in the nineteenth century – and once in the twentieth century by some passing yachtsmen who wanted to see if it would have guided anyone as a lighthouse.

 

But even they didn't say and couldn't tell – because they were still on the shore.

 

Should've gone to Cheaper Specs...

 

The 1909 Bushfires

1926 "Red Sunday" Bushfires

The 1952 Bushfires

1980 Bushfire

 

 

1909 BUSHFIRES

SCORCHED, SMASHED, AND BURNED

TELEGRAPH SERVICE INTERRUPTED.

The Telegraph Department is having quite a lively time new all over N.S.W., owing to the abnormal weather conditions. What with bush fires, trees falling across the lines, and earth currents caused by the peculiar nature of the weather, it is a wonder there is any service left to tell the tale. As it is, the department is able to maintain a limited service, but business generally all over the State is all interrupted, and a notice to this effect has been posted at the telegraph office of the General Post Office..Lines of communication is cut off from...Mallacoota and Gabo.The operators are able to work to Eden from Sydney, but the line is unworkable from that on to Eden, owing to the country being on fire. In some parts the linesmen have gone out, but have had to flee from the zone of fire, and have been unable to effect repairs, simply because they cannot get near the centre of the trouble...

Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931) 4 Jan 1909

 

BUSH FIRES
TERROR AND DEVASTATION.
FARMS DESTROYED UTTERLY.
FAMILIES IN PERIL.
MANY HEROIC RESCUES.
EDEN, Tuesday

Owing to the continued dry weather the bush fires, which for some time have been raging within a few miles of Eden, have alarmingly developed in extent and intensity. Stafford's farm at Bellbird Hill was yesterday swept. At about midday the fire came with awful suddenness over the hill on the north in one huge sheet of flame which traveling with fearful rapidity destroyed in the space of a few minutes the dwelling, contents, orchard, fences, barns, and growing crops. The place was left a smouldering ruin. The air was all the morning hazy with smoke, and Mr. Stafford says 10 minutes before there was no sign of the approaching fire. The roar of the oncoming fire was terrible and was plainly heard in Eden. The heat at times was almost suffocating. Mr. Stafford, with his wife and baby, barely effected a timely escape by crossing the main road and following the track easterly to Leonard's Island, on the seacoast.

 

Fire swept through Mr. Hopkins's farm from which Mr. Mark Walker, wife, and four children narrowly escaped by also crossing the main road and following it down the ridge, on which ashes and hot logs were still burning. They were almost suffocated by the smoke and heat, and were discovered later in the day nearly exhausted, the children crying for water. Mrs. Walker saved her baby by imparting moisture with her own tongue to its parched lips. Several other places in peril were last night saved by fires started to meet the approaching flames.

 

The fires swept through the farms of Messrs. Williams, Kelly, Love, and Newlyn, destroying the buildings, fences, and crops, and leaving the grazing paddocks destitute of grass. The losses to farmers in this locality are very serious. The Boyd Town Estate was invaded by a terrible fire which played havoc with the fencing and crops. The fire raged round the church erected by Mr. Ben Boyd, and consumed the shingles of the roof. Mr. Wright's Nullica farm was only just saved by the great exertion of the fire-fighting brigade.

 

Splendid rain set in early this morning, and continued with brief intervals throughout the day. About an inch fell, and it is still raining. The rain has relieved the entire district from distressful conditions.
The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) 6 Jan 1909

 

Bush Fires At Eden.

Sunday, 3rd January, will be a day long remembered by residents of Eden and adjoining districts. The heat was intense, and the town and ocean were enveloped with dense smoke, which made it difficult for one to breathe. Out Bell Bird way, about three miles from town, the fire came along fanned by a heavy gale of wind, and swept the country for about two miles in width. Direct in the course of the fire in this locality were the houses of Messrs. Stafford, Mark Walker, F. Cox, T. Phillips, P. McGovern, and W. Scanes.

 

Mr. Stafford's sons, and Mr. Walker were away from home fishing, distant about three miles. The first knowledge of danger was when Mr. Stafford and wife heard a loud noise like thunder. They immediately rushed out of the house and saw that the fire was coming in a red mass, then distant about half a mile Mrs. Stafford picked up a few articles of clothing and a little child, and Mr. Stafford, in the meantime, ran and drew a dray and sulky out of a shed, then both ran from the house, and across the main road, which passes the house about 100 yards below. The far side of the road had been burnt some few weeks ago, and by making in this direction they knew they would be safe. Mr. and Mrs. Stafford had barely got across to the burnt ground when the fire swept up to their home which was quickly a mass of flames, and in a short space of time nothing remained of the house but the brick chimney.

 

Below the Stafford's, on the roadside, was the residence of Mr. Mark Walker; at this place, only Mrs. Walker and her sister, (aged 12 years), were at home. When they saw the fire coming they started to make to the Stafford's house, along the main road, but the flames, leaping across, prevented them from doing so. Mrs. Walker then turned and ran through a dense jungle on to the burnt ground. As the unfortunate woman struggled along with the little children, the heat and smoke quickly exhausted them, and after traversing about a mile and a half the woman fell exhausted.

 

As the fire was raging in all its fury, Mr. W. T. Hall, who was returning home to Eden, from Bega, came along. Previous to this, Mr. Hall had met Mr. and Mrs. Small, of Pambula, and they informed him that they were going to Eden, but had to return owing to the fire. Mr. Hall then became anxious, knowing that fires were in close to the town, and he proceeded on to try and make his way through, but when within half a mile of the Stafford's residence he discovered a fire coming with great fury towards the road, the smoke and heat being almost unbearable. The flames, a little later, swept across the road and behind the buggy, thus cutting off all chance of returning that way. When Mr. Hall reached the Stafford's, the house was then a mass of flames, and on both sides of the road, flames were roaring, and the trees overhead all alight. Mr. Hall raced his horse along, and several times he was almost smothered with the heat and smoke. A bag half filled with chaff on the back of the buggy caught alight, and was thrown off after racing about a mile.

 

Mr. Hall arrived at the foot of the hill, and found that at the Walker's residence the fire had passed over some time before the one higher up. Here he found Mr. Walker lamenting over his wife and children, already mentioned as being at home alone. Mr. Hall released his horse from the trap, and then endeavored to get along the road through the fire to the residence of Mr. Cox, the nearest neighbour, to see if the woman and children had made that way. Finding that they were not there, he then returned to Walker's, and they then began to look for tracks. A few were found from the house, towards where there had been a dense green jungle, but which now was completely consumed. Grave fears were then entertained for the safety of the woman and children, as it was imagined that they had taken refuge in the green scrub. After searching for a couple of hours, Mr. Hall proceeded to Eden, and informed the police who at once went to the spot, also a large number of the residents of the town.

 

On arrival at the scene, Mrs. Walker had then been found by the husband, and a Mr. W. Johnson, in an unconscious condition, The children seemed little the worse for their adventure, but Mrs. Walker is suffering from shock and exhaustion. Mr. Hall saw the big fire at Wyndham, just four years ago, and says that Sunday was such another day as that which caused so much damage. Reports from Nethercote state that the country there was swept by fire on Sunday, but so far no particulars have been received. The road from Eden to Towamba is reported to be blocked with fallen timber. The residences of all the others herein mentioned were not affected by the fire, owing to the wind changing. At night fires were made to check the original fires progress.
The Bega Budget (NSW : 1905 - 1921) 6 Jan 1909

 

Inter-District Summary

All the bushfires in the Eden district have been extinguished.
The Bega Budget (NSW : 1905 - 1921) 9 Jan 1909

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1926 'Red Sunday'

COUNTRY SWEPT BY FIRE

Devastating Flames Leave Trail of Destruction

Devastating fires— the worst. In the history of New South Wales— swept over the greater part, of the wheat growing portions of the State last week-end, carrying death and destruction, and leaving a trail of desolated homesteads, charred remains of valuable sheep, horses and cattle, and a blackened waste...

Eden's Red Sunday

The country around Eden on the South Coast was swept by a big fire on Sunday and three homes were burnt. Car loads of men went out to fight the fire, but the flames beat them back and the places they went to save were destroyed. In the afternoon the wind changed and the men were compelled to return home to save their own homes and the fire swept right into tho town. Just' outside Eden, Mrs. Stone and an infant escaped just in time, the mother being exhausted when she reached a place of safety.

'EVENTS OF THE DAY' The Farmer and Settler December 17 1926

 

EDEN THREATENED.

TERRIFYING EXPERIENCE

A message from Eden states that the terrifying invasion by fire will be remembered as an occasion comparable with, a similar occurrence on the memorable Black Thursday of 1883, when the existence of the town was similarly threatened by an insweeping bush fire that wrought considerable destruction. Old hands say however that the onrush of Friday's conflagration was the most awful and terrifying in their experience.

 

In the morning bands of fire fighters organised by the forestry officer and shire council endeavoured, but ineffectually, to check the progress of the fire some miles from Eden. In the afternoon an already high north-westerly increased to the velocity of gale, and the fire spread with frightful rapidity at Nullica. Mr. Frank Kelly's house was saved by a narrow margin, but Mr. Havard's home was lost at Saltwater Creek three miles from Eden. Pelsley's homestead and Legge's sawmill were burned but Leggge's house was saved. The fire rapidly advanced on the settlements nearer the town, destroying Messres. Nicholson's and Boller's houses but the home of the Illawarra Company's agent (Mr Downton) was saved after an exhaustive fight.

 

The sweep of fire through the last two miles of forest into the town occupied but a few minutes. From nearby hills was seen a wall of leaping flames irresistibly advancing at frightful speed. It was a magnificent but fearsome sight.

 

Isolated homes on the western side of the town were saved as the result of the defenders fighting, the flames until midnight. The business portion of the town narrowly escaped. The flames crossed a street parallel with the main street, and were only conquered at close quarters in the premises at the rear of the business buildings, the igniting of any one of which would have involved the destruction of all.

 

Some women and children were taken to the sea beach, where they remained till the control of the fire rendered their return home possible. For a time the pilot station was in danger owing to falling fragments of burning leaves and bark. So far as is known the wharf, which several times became ignited, is not seriously damaged.

 

It is stated that the State pine plantations at East Boyd had a narrow escape from a fire which swept about 20 acres before being headed off by the forestry gangs. Several fire-fighters are quite blind today from the effect on their eyes of the acrid bushfire smoke. At one homestead valuable house dogs met a pitiable fate. They were tied up by chains, and burnt to death. By a fire that raged at Kiah on Sunday. Dorren's store and contents were totally destroyed.

 

Centres surrounding reported extensive losses of fencing, grass, and growing wattles. At Kiah River the Roman Catholic Church was destroyed. The Nethercote dairying district was badly swept. Homesteads destroyed include those of Messrs. Caustin, Parker and Barnes. Relief committees are being organised...

 

Fires have been raging from Bega to Eden, particularly at Wolumla and on to Merimbula and at Eden. At Merimbula the fire swept right to the edge of the village.

 

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) 14 Dec 1926

 

N.S.W. FIRES

CHANGE OF WIND SAVES TOWN.

SYDNEY Tuesday.

Residents on the outskirts of Eden are recovering from the trying experiences of "Red Friday". Flames came on the town like waves, and the smoke was so dense that it blotted out the sunlight making it necessary to light lamps in business houses and homes. Shops in the main street caught alight many times from the showers of cinders, but the band of workers succeeded on each occasion in checking the outbreaks.

 

With the fire came a fierce gale, which tore off the balcony of the Bank of New South Wales and lifted it into the middle of the street. A double chimney crashed through the balcony of Great Southern Hotel. Just when it looked as if the town would be wiped out the wind veered to the south-west and the shops were saved.

 

On the outskirts of the town a number of settlers took refuge from the flames on an area of ploughed ground and to prevent women and children from collapsing owing, to the terrific heat, men had to pour water on to them. At one orchard two dogs on a chain in a yard were roasted.

 

At Nethercote, eight miles from Eden many farmes were wiped out. Many of the men who were fighting the fires had their clothing burnt and their arms and hands severely scorched. Timber though which the flames swept contained trees 60 and 70 feet high, and these were burnt bare.

 

Riverine Herald (Echuca, Vic. : Moama, NSW : 1869 - 1954), 15 December 1926

 

COW ROASTED ALIVE

SYDNEY, Monday.

Mr. Lawson and his family had narrow escapes from death when their home in the Eden district caught fire. A cow locked in a shed was roasted alive. All roads leading to Eden are impassable owing to fallen timber.

Daily Advertiser (Wagga Wagga, NSW : 1911 - 1954) 14 Dec 1926

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1952 BUSHFIRES

Heavy bushfire toll in State
SYDNEY, Sunday: Fires flared up again today in the far South Coast, destroying 10 homes in the small township of Wonboyn, about 20 miles south of Eden. Little could be learned of the extent of this fire late tonight, but several other homesteads and properties are believed to be endangered. Thousands of volunteers, smoke-blackened and without sleep for two days, have been separated into brigades and sent out to combat the fresh outbreaks.
Daily Advertiser (Wagga Wagga, NSW : 1911 - 1954) 28 Jan 1952

 

SOUTH COAST DEVASTATED BY RAGING FIRES
Twenty Homes Destroyed In Shire

Fires, which had been burning slowly in many areas over the past few weeks, were whipped up by the hot north-westerly on Friday morning last and became avenging monsters of red flames and choking smoke which hungrily devoured all before it and left in its wake smoldering ruins of houses, blackened trees and bare scorched earth which would bring tears to the eyes of the most hardened observer.

 

Friday, January 25, 1952 will live in the memories of our present generation as the day of the most devastating and destructive fires ever experienced on the Far South Coast Early in the morning a fierce hot north-west wind was in evidence and it soon became apparent that trouble was brewing for the coastal area.

 

At about 11 am, a fire broke out at the back of Ireland-Timms Mill and they were soon fighting desperately to save the mill and homes. Assistance soon arrived from other mills and residents of Eden and the blaze was kept from spreading to the mill buildings. The fire extended along the Princes Highway and fire fighters succeeded in saving the home of Mr. A. D. Smith about a quarter of a mile south of the mill.

 

A wall of fire then swept down from the Nethercote hills and quickly enveloped the property "St. Audries" but miraculously left the home of Mr. J. Burgess standing whilst those of Mr. R. Kebby and Mr. R. Smith also escaped. This fire joined forces with the fire near the sawmill and a change of wind sent it racing towards the Cannery at Cattle Bay.  The fire, driven by the strong wind, jumped over Cattle Bay and set grass alight on Thompson's Point. Within minutes this fire was racing up the hill towards the main portion of the town.

 

Volunteer fire-fighters were quickly on the scene but could not prevent the home of Mr. Tom McCrory from catching and it burst into flames and was consumed in a matter of a few minutes.  Fences and outhouses of the homes along Cocora and Imlay Streets were quickly burned but the homes were saved after a desperate battle. Women and children filled containers of all descriptions with water and carried them to the fire-fighters.

 

Wharf Hill was quickly enveloped in flames and smoke and the fire-fighters were grimly fighting a losing battle up Albert Terrace when the wind suddenly changed again and halted the fire. Grass burnt to within inches of some of the homes on Wharf Hill and even charred flooring under others and water taken from the already low tanks alone saved these homes.

 

The pall of smoke over the township at 3.30 pm was so dense that it turned daylight into darkness and cars were forced to travel at a crawling pace with lights full on.

 

The thanks of fire-fighters is extended to Mrs. J. P. Black and Misses M. Welsh and C. Switzer who were always on hand with liquid refreshments and food.

 

MUCH DAMAGE AT LOCHIEL
Quite early in the morning telephone calls commenced to come into Pambula from Six Mile and Lochiel for help to combat the fires.  Mr. E.C. Hyland immediately placed his taxi at the disposal of those who wished to go and help their friends. On arrival at Six Mile the whole countryside was a raging furnace with the small band of residents fighting desperately to save their homes, which very luckily they did. By this time the news had spread and there was scarcely a male left in Pambula, all having boarded trucks of Messers. John Newlyn, E.C. Hyland and Chas. Macquire, who conveyed them to the fire area. Mr. Jev. Bennett was kept busy with his water truck filling up with water and racing to the scene of the fires.  The Six Mile Bridge had to be abandoned as hopeless but fortunately a load of fighters came in from Wyndham and saved the bridge from destruction by the use of fire hoses.

The Magnet & Voice January 31, 1952

 

DISASTEROUS FIRES RAVAGE THE SOUTH COAST

FOUR LIVES LOST
What is considered to be the greatest bush fire disaster to ever strike the South Coast caused widespread damage and loss of life, right from Eden on the south, to Nowra, on the north on a recent Friday, causing damage that must have reached over a million pounds, in loss of stock. homesteads, farm buildings and fences.

LIVES LOST AT BEGA
But is was around Bega, and the prosperous towns between Bega and the Victorian Border, the disaster 'was at ils worst. From the tablelands to the coast, a distance of 40 miles, The countryside resembled a blackened waste with gaunt chimneys standing out amongst ruins of what had been fine homes, while dead cattle could be seen almost everywhere. Fences and farm buildings had disappeared in a few hours, despite the heroic efforts of volunteer bush fire fighters to stop or divert the onrush of the flames. Bega itself was only saved by the efforts of fire fighters, even its Hospital, about a mile out of town, only being saved by a lucky change in the wind.

And it was here that the spirit of Florence Nightingale, the woman who stands out today as the greatest nurse of all times, became evident in the nurses of Bega Hospital showing that they too are made of the same material as that great woman. Men were fighting the flames in front of the building and putting up a bitter fight, : when word came that the flames were rushing towards the building from the rear. The nursing and domestic staff did not hesitate. They grabbed bags and other material and rushed out to fight the flames and were doing a grand job until the men arrived and took over. Then these fine women went back to reassuring their patients, some of whom had become alarmed at the smoke and flames all around the building. Four lives were lost in the fires in that district. Two were men, and two were the splendid young daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Bert Otton, of Upper Brogo.

The Braidwood Dispatch and Mining Journal (NSW : 1888 - 1954) 8 February 1952

 

COTTAGES BEING ERECTED FOR BUSH FIRE VICTIMS
Nine allocated to District
The Eden Bush Fire Relief committee met last Monday and much progress was reported in regard to arrangements for housing the victims of recent fires.  Mr. Brassington reported that nine new garage type cottages had already been erected at Palestine for Mrs. H. Bobbin. The cottage is 20 ft x 12 ft and was erected in two days by about ten men.

 

Mr. E. Stuckey reported that Eden district had been allocated nine prefabricated temporary homes.  Four, and if possible five, more cottages will be erected on Saturday and Sunday by volunteer gangs of men. These cottages will be for Mr. T. McCrory, Mr. J. De La Mare, Mr. H.L. Veness and Mr. C. Veness. It is hoped to erect the remaining cottages next weekend.  Timber for these cottages is being cut by the local sawmills and each mill has undertaken to cut timber for one cottage at cost.

 

The Committee decided to meet the cost of the flooring for the cottages as no allowance was made for these items by the Central Committee at Bega. Mr. C.S. Goward generously offered to cut the timber free of cost. Letters of thanks are to be forwarded to the Eden Fisherman's Club and Buffalo Lodge in appreciation of their generous contributions to the funds.

 

The President and Secretary reported on the visit by the New South Wales Relief Committee who inspected the area and gave information regarding the part to be played by their organization.
The Magnet & Voice February 7, 1952

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1980 BUSHFIRES

30,000 hectares ravaged near Eden

Help arrived too late to save 30,000 hectares of bushland ravaged by fire on Tuesday night just south of Eden.

 

The fire, believed to have started in a pile of bark involved in a burn-off in May, burnt out about half Timbillica State Forest,

almost all Nadgee State Forest and most of Nadgee Nature Reserve.

 

The co-ordinator of the fire-fighting effort in the Eden region, Mr Dave Ryan, said yesterday he believed that the fire had started in a pile of bark which was set alight in May as part of a clean-up after logging in the area. "There was no rain all winter, and it must have just smouldered away for all those months", he said. Tuesday had brought ideal conditions for the fire to runrampant.

 

"It got up to 44 degrees here on Tues . day", he said. "After the fire was detected, at about 2.50pm, the temperature reached its peak, the humidity was down to 10 per cent, and a strong southerly wind blew up".

 

Evidence of the wind was seen yesterday at the small fishing resort of Wonboyn Lake, on the coastal fringe of the fire zone, where caravans were overturned and a house under construction was flattened. Mr Ryan said the wind had reached about 150 km/h.

 

The fire stopped on the edge of the little town, but bushland around it was charred.

Yesterday afternoon, 100 RAN personnel were flown from HMAS Albatross, Nowra, to Merimbula, the nearest airfield

to the fire.

 

The Navy men moved into the fire zone last night and, under the direction of the NSW Forestry Commission staff, helped clear fire breaks.

 

During its short life, the fire gutted a National Parks and Wildlife Services lodge in the Nadgee Nature Reserve, on the coastal fringe of the fire zone, destroyed about $175,000 worth of earthmoving and logging equipment, burnt out a house on a small property, after the owner was evacuated, and destroyed sheds and fences and brought down power and telephone lines.

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BACK

Early Days 1847-1848

Postmasters Teas & Solomon 1849-1868

The Kebbys 1868-1907 - The age of the Telegraph

The New (Old) Post Office 1901-1971 & the coming of the Telephone

Sources

 

The first record of a postal service in the Eden area is from 1840 when a postal service began once a week between Broulee and Twofold Bay. Dr Imlay undertook the post conveyance to and from Twofold Bay at his own risk, for twelve months gratuitously.1

 

In March 1844 a post office was opened at Boydtown with Mr. Ebenezer Orr appointed  master2.

 

Early Days 1847-1848

In Eden itself the establishment of a new post office was announced by the General Post Office Sydney on 1 January 1847 the Post Master appointed being Mr Ferris.

 

The opening of the post office at Eden 1848 by Frederick Garling (1806-1873)

 

The residents were apparently not very happy with the service they received “The postal department in the townships of Eden and Boyd is shamefully mismanaged, but knowing from experience any representation to the Postmaster General to be in vain, we shall bide our time in the sure and certain hope of one day catching the right sow by the ear, in which event neither exertion nor expense shall be wanting to make such an example as shall effectually put a stop to this system of petty pilfering.” 3

 

On 3 June Bell's Life4 ran the following

EDEN PAMBULA AND MANEROO.

For the satisfaction of those subscribers to this journal in the above townships and district, from whom we have repeatedly received complaints of the non-receipt of their papers, we beg to publish our correspondence...on the subject. We have but one remark to offer on Mr. Ferris's letter, namely, that not a fortnight since, Mr. James Rixon personally informed us that he had received but one newspaper since February last....

SIR,-I received a letter in due course complaining of the non-receipt of "Bell's-Life" to the subscribers in Eden. I beg leave to inform the writer that there is but one subscriber (James Rixon) to that journal in the township of Eden, who receives his paper quite regularly.

For a length of time the papers of subscribers up the country were improperly directed, and consequently went to Boyd, where they lay a considerable time without being sent for, which caused them, to think there was some irregularity at the Eden post-office.

All the subscribers to that journal (but one) live up the country at distances varying from 15 to 70 miles, and opportunities for sending for their papers are few and accidental.- - To oblige those subscribers, I have at their own request forwarded their papers by drays and every other opportunity I could embrace ; some of these may have been lost on the way, but I am not accountable, as it was at their own request I sent them. The only safe plan for the subscribers to procure their papers regularly is to let each one send once a month to the post-office both at Boyd and Eden, where they will be sure to find them or wait until the overland mail is established from Eden to Cooma which is now in contemplation, which I hope will redress the whole grievance of lost and non-delivered newspapers.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant.

EDWARD FERRIS”

BACK

Postmasters Barclay & Solomon 1849-1868

Postmasters Teas & Solomon 1849-1868

Mr George Barclay was registered as post master at Eden on 20 June 1849 with 'plant and office' located on the business premises of Joseph Teas. When Barclay died in December 1864 Tea's application to succeed Barclay was rejected and Mr Solomon Solomon was appointed post master. Solomon's appointment caused some controversy. His application had been supported by the Bench of Magistrates (of which he was member) and a petition signed by a few local residents but after his appointment there was community outcry and a petition for his removal was submitted along with the nomination of Mr Barclay's widow for post mistress. The petition seems to have failed as Solomon was listed amongst the postmasters and licensed vendors of stamps in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 2nd January 866.

 

Contraversy over the mail from Bombala to Eden 1855-56

Mr. Egan spoke to the Legislative Council: The people of Eden and that immediate locality had petitioned the Government that the mail from Bombala to Eden should travel the direct route instead of at present going out of its direct course but the Postmaster-General had thought proper to adopt a different line from that which they conceived was the proper one...not a single application had been made in favour of the route that had been selected for the mail to travel. Instead of the direct line, the mail travelled by the way of Kamaruka,...Every application made by the people of the district was passed over in silence, and it appeared to them that the only course for them to adopt under the circumstances was to petition the House, and to expose the injustice that had been done to the district. The only cause that could be assigned for this was, according to the general belief, that the owners of a stock station at Kamarouka might be accommodated with their letters some few hours earlier. This was the only reason that could possibly be assigned for the Postmaster-General's adoption of the Kamarouka route, besides the fact that the owners of the station supplied the mail carrier with a horse for his conveyance from Kamarouka to Eden; the extra distance travelled by this route was fourteen miles. ... Now it could be proved that the route by Bega was shorter, and presented facilities to travel not possessed by the other; besides, it was the route usually travelled by draymen and others, while the country was much more thickly populated. The people of Bega had also to complain that they were compelled to go all the way to Kamarouka for their letters....The attention of the Postmaster-General was also called to this subject by a Mr. Lloyd, a magistrate residing at Panbula, who condemned the roundabout way travelled by the mail ...That gentleman described the Kamuouka line as scrubby and swampy,and so narrow that people could only travel along the road in single file, while, from the horrible state of disrepair it was in, the mail bag was frequently so wet that it would look as if dragged through a river. Any honourable member who would read the correspondence would feel surprised at the persistancy of the Postmaster-General in continuing a route with so many disadvantages, certainly it was not the way to serve the public, or to economise public expenditure. It should be remembered that very little was expended upon those distant districts; and in this particular locality, extending over 160 miles; the outlay for Police, and petty sessions clerks was only £1600. At the present time Eden was a place of considerable commercial importance, and every way worthy of the consideration of that House, although in the matter referred to its interest and the interest of the inhabitants of its neighbourhood were made subservient to the interest of the proprietors of Kamarouka stock station. To show that Eden was of some importance, he would mention that the foreign exports of Eden for 1853* amounted to £13,208. while in the year 1854 they had increased to £22,148—not estimating exports coastwise. This was the place that was held as of no importance, and as undeserving to have a mail sent to it. There was no doubt, however, but the district would gradually and steadily increase in importance ; it was a large district, with much valuable land, and the least the population might expect would be to have the advantage of a mail to their township.

 

The Postmaster-General replied “For his own part he did not care a straw which road the mail travelled, unless as far as the discharge of his duties as Postmaster-Generel went...The question was whether for the sake of saving fifteen miles, the mail should travel by Kammoruka or Bega, one place being equal in population with the other. Bega, he admitted was at present time one of the most thriving places in the colony, and will soon become a place of considerable importance. Kamarouka was a large station (it mattered not who owned it) and offered some facilities for the transmission of the mail. Now, the mail had for some time past gone by that route; would it, then, be right to discontinue it to save a distance of fifteen miles, or, should the country be put to the expense of establishing a second mail line? - that was the question.

Excerpts from 'LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL' The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) 31 Oct 1855:

*The original article stated 1840 but was this was corrected to 1854 in the Herald on the 1 November

 

Freeman's Journal of the 3rd November reported that Mr Egans motion was assented to without a division but:

To the Editor of the Empire. .

Sir-I beg, to, direct the attention of the public, through the medium of your journal, to that much-vexed question the mail route by way of Kamarooka, which was decided at the late sitting of the Legislative Council, but which decision at the time did not exactly meet the views of the Postmaster-General and a private company, know as the Panbula Pastoral Association, and owners of the squatting station known as Kamarooka. "When Mr. Egan's motion to have the mail run the direct road from Bombala to Eden was carried instead of by way of Kamarooka, we thought the matter was settled, but judge the surprise that we experienced by seeing notices stuck up calling for tenders to convey the mail from Bombala direct to this pet station, Kamarooka, once a week. Verily it seems that the Postmaster-General and this pet company intend to do as they like, let the public suffer what inconvenience it may. In the name of all that is right, if mail is to run why not call for the tenders to convey the mail to the flourishing town of Bega, instead of to Kamarooka to suit the convenience of a few influential private parties to the sacrifice of many? It is high time these things were altered.

From an Inhabitant of the Police District of Eden

The Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1875) 4 Apr 1856

 

But eventually the good folks at Eden and surrounds appear to have won the battle:

From 'CONVEYANCE OF MAILS' Illawarra Mercury 10 Aug 1857:

From and to Bombala, Panbula, and Eden, by "Big Jack's, arriving at Eden at 7 p m. on the second day.

From and to the junction of the Panbula and Kameruka Roads, and Kameruka and Bega, once a week.

 

The Bombala - Eden mail route was not the only cause for discontent from the Eden residents:

I will mention that, owing to some cause which probably, is not quite inexplicable, the inhabitants, of this, place when they have occasion to forward a letter to Eden, or the Bay as it is called, have to send it (per mail), through Bombala, Cooma, Queanbeyan, Goulburn, and Sydney-some five or six hundred miles-whereas the distance, is but thirty miles from here. Truly, this may be termed superfluous nonsense

'BEGA, TWOFOLD BAY.' Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1875) 15 Apr 1857

 

Postal Dis-arrangements. — Loud complaints, and with great justice, are being made at our postal arrangements. Every Monday a mail arrives at our Post Office, from Panbula, via Merrimbula, bringing lettern, &c., from Sydney, Maneroo, and Eden, returning next morning at 7 a.m., which is quite agreeable. Another arrives from Bodalla via Braidwood and Moruya every Wednesday, of course, too late for the Panbula mail which left the day before. Consequently, the letters, etc., are detained in our Post Office till the following week (Tuesday), and should there be any for Eden, they are subject to four more day detention in the Panbula Post Office, (the Sunday following), making a total of ten days detention. I believe, however, it is only requisite for the inhabitants to represent the case in the proper quarter, when no doubt the simple remedy of altering tho day of arrival of the Bodalla mail from Wednesday to Monday, would be immediately applied, which would have the effect of reducing the detention to Eden to four days, and, in the case of Maneroo, the detention would be done away with altogether. Such also would be the case if the return mail from this place on the Tuesday morning to Panbula — (which is only about ten miles from Eden) was to run through the same day, for which there would be abundant time.
"BEGA, TWOFOLD BAY." Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW : 1856 - 1950) 11 Apr 1859

 

From the  "Eden.—We understand that the inhabitants of Eden intend to petition the Postmaster-Greneral to discontinue sending the mails via the Clyde, and to forward them instead by the various steamers calling in at Twofold Bay.

They say that, by such an arrangement, regular and speedy communication with Sydney will be the result; whereas by the Clyde route this is not the case. The Sydney mails are irregular owing to the absurd arrangement of the contractors, being compelled to start at a prescribed hour whether the Clyde steamer has arrived or not. Hence if the steamer is half an hour behind her time, the contractor leaves without the mails, and actually travels 100 miles without them, leaving the inhabitants of Bega, Kamaruka, Merimbula, Panbula, and Eden without their letters until the following mail."

'Local and Several News' The Bega Gazette and Eden District or Southern Coast Advertiser (NSW : 1865 - 1899) 10 Aug 18675

 BACK

The Kebbys Years 1868-1907 - The age of the 'Telepraph

 

The telegraph was a landmark in human history for the first time man could communicate with others over great distances.

 

A telegraph was a device for transmitting and receiving messages over long distances. An electrical telegraph uses electrical current and magnetism to convert the manual typing of codes that represent words, into electrical impulses. These impulses are transmitted over a metallic circuit (overhead wires or underground cables) to a distant location. At the distant location the impulses are converted into magnetic fields that operate a mechanical device to make a sound or to move a visual indicator. The operator at the receiving end converts these sounds or signals into a written message. The code is known as Morse Code.

 

When Samuel Morse sent the first telegraphed message from Baltimore to Washington in 1844 the potential for this new form of communication was immediately recognised all over the world. By 1860, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Tasmania were all connected by telegraph. In 1858 the first telegraph line line in NSW was opened between Sydney and Liverpool. In 1867 the first direct line linking Adelaide and Sydney was opened. Australia was connected  to the rest of the world for the first time in 1872 when a submarine cable was laid between Darwin and England.

 

In 1868 Mr Charles Kebby was appointed Eden Post & Telegraph Station Master & line repairer. Mr Kebby lived in 'Half House', which was also used as the Post Office. The telegraph office was at first temporarily located in the Exchange Hotel but moved shortly after to the 'Crown and Anchor' next to the post office. The telegraph line between Twofold Bay and Bombala via Tantawanglo Mountain was completed in the same year by contractor, Mr. Thomas Fitzpatrick.  Also opened  later the same year were telegraph lines between Eden and Merimubla  and Eden and Bega. 

 

OPENING OF A TELEGRAPH STATION AT TWOFOLD BAY. The electric telegraph having been extended to Twofold Bay, the Superintendent of Telegraphs, Mr. Crackell, has opened a station at Eden for the transmission of messages. The importance of this extension to the shipping interest can hardly be overestimated. Singularly enough, before the line was opened to the public, it was used by Mr. Cracknell to transmit to Sydney the news of the breaking down of the steamship City of Hobart.

The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser 11 June 1868

 

The work on the telegraph line to Bombala had not been without difficulties; one sub-contractor was killed clearing bush for the line and later his mates successfully  sued Thomas Fitpatrick  in the Supreme Court for breach of contract. Riordan and Others V. Fitzpatrick
 

In 1870 the telegraph line was extended from Eden to Gabo Island, the work again being contracted to Thomas Fitzpatric.

As Mr Kebby was often away repairing the telegraph lines his wife Martha was appointed Eden's first postmistress in 1870 with her only remuneration a 10% commission on postage stamps. For this measly sum she had to meet the mail deadline of 4am three times a week and board ships to deliver and receive mail any time between 2am and 8am and again in the evening anywhere up to 9.30pm. In 1875 she began to receive an annual salary of £5. Charles and Martha's son, also named Charles acted as assistant telegraph operator. Mr Kebby held this position  until his death at his residence, the telegraph office, on July 14 1881. 

 

In July 1881 Mr Kebby went to Gabo Island to repair the telegrapgh line.  Subsequently Mr. Kebby proceeded to the house of a settler in the vicinity, where he was taken seriously ill. His son, on being apprised of the fact, went to see his father whom he brought back to Eden, where he died at his home on the 14th July.  Much indignation and anger was directed at Mr Kermode, the lighthouse-keeper at Gabo, by Eden's population as it was believed Mr Kermode had caused Mr. Kebby's death by denying him provisions while he was on the island.

EDEN, MONDAY.
Mr. Charles Kebby, for thirteen years post and telegraph master at Eden, and a highly respected resident, died on Thursday evening, and was buried yesterday. Nearly the whole population of Eden and the surrounding district assembled at the funeral. The deceased was recently ordered to visit Gabo to repair the line connecting the island with the mainland, and while there he was put to great straits, and suffered considerable hardship, owing it is believed to a supply of provisions being refused by the officer in charge of the lighthouse on behalf of the Victorian Government. It is thought that in consequence of this he caught cold from exposure, and erysipelas* set in, which, proved fatal. Much surprise is expressed here at the conduct of the lighthouse-keeper, and several residents intend to report the matter to the Victorian Government. 

The Sydney Morning Herald 19 July 18816

*Erysipelas: aka St Anthony's fire, a skin infection that often follows strep throat. The usual presentation is a bright-red rash on the nose and the cheeks which spreads rapidy. Other syptoms include fever, chills, loss of energy, nausea and vomiting, and swollen, tender lymph nodes. In some cases sepsis can also set in causing death.

 

“A SERIOUS CHARGE EXPLAINED.
"A communication was addressed to Mr. Wilson, the secretary for Ports and Harbors, on the subject [of Mr Kebby's death], by Mr. Kebby, jun. In reply, Mr. Wilson promised to make the fullest inquiry into the matter, and a telegram was sent to the lighthouse-keeper demanding an explanation. The line being down, the message did not reach its destination, and a letter was then written, which, owing to the remoteness of the place, took a long time in being
delivered.

 

A reply has, however, been received, which puts a very different complexion on the affair, and entirely relieves the lighthouse-keeper and the Victorian Government from any imputation of such inhumanity as the former was directly charged with. From authentic information which we have received, the following is given as the correct version of the affair :— Mr. Kebby went to Gabo Island in a boat with five men, amongst whom was a man named Blyth, about the 10th of July. Blyth was a sailor belonging to the schooner Nowra that had gone ashore in the vicinity, and he went to Gabo for the purpose of being placed onboard a passing steamer for Melbourne. The party had tea and beds prepared for them by Mr. Kermode, and were made as comfortable as they always had been on former occasions. The following morning a steamer was seen coming round Cape Howe, and Mr. Kebby, with his boat's crew, hurried away before break fast with Blyth to put him on board They expected to be back in a short time and did not take any provisions with them, though had the lighthouse-keeper anticipated their lengthened absence, he would have offered to provide them with what they wanted.

The boat failed to attract the notice of the steamer, and they had to pull back, after being six or seven hours out. Mr. Kebby then proceeded to the Mr. Delvin's above mentioned, and the remainder of the facts are as narrated, but the statements effectually disproves the charge made against Mr. Kermode, who stigmatises them as a tissue of falsehoods from beginning to end. There is no doubt Mr. Kebby's death was accelerated by exposure in an open boat for so long, but Blyth was the unwitting cause of that, and not Mr. Kermode, who seems to have acted in the hospitable manner that visitors always experienced."

Excerpt from the Riverine Herald on September 3 18817

 

After the death of his father and his mother's resignation as postmistress Charles G. Kebby was appointed postmaster a position he held until 1907 when moved to Sydney where he took up a position with the Sydney GPO.

 BACK

The New (Old) Post Office 1901-1971 and the coming of the Telephone

From 1885 the post office was relocated to premises rented from Thomas Rawlinson at 237 Imlay Street but the building was in a dilapidated state and it was reported that when the wind blew, the building shook. A tender for the erection of new post office on the corner of Imlay and Mitchell Streets was accepted by the Public Works Department on May 28 1888. The contractor named as George Hodgson with S.W. Aspinall as manager.  Work on the building was expected to be finished by November but 'continued dry weather' meant the contractor was not able to continue brick making 'for want of water' and had to purchase bricks. In 1889 the postmaster had to extend the lease of the old post office and it was not until December 1900 that Postmaster Kebby was able to inform Sydney that only the fencing remained outstanding. On the 1st January 1901 the new Eden Post Office opened on the corner of Imlay & Mitchell streets aka 'Confusion Corner'.  In 1889 approval had been given for the provision of an additional bedroom and a bathroom but these additions were not completed until around 1902.

 Eden Post Office 1906

 

After Post-master Kebby's transfer to Sydney in 1907 his post was held by a succession of temporary replacements.

 

It is thought that next year's Federal estimates will provide means to buy motor cars for postal, work, although Acting Postmaster General Mauger says he will have to go cautiously, as reports from London state the cars there are not proving altogether satisfactory.

The Bega Budget 30 March 1907

 

Mr. Ashburv, from Sydney, was a passenger to Eden by yesterday's steamer. We believe this gentleman is to take charge of the Eden Post Office, pending the appointment of a permanent officer. Mr. Kebby, who has been absent from duty for some time, will probably be transferred to Sydney. Mr. Paviur, relieving officer at Eden, returns to Moruya. “

Southern Star (Bega, NSW : 1900 – 1923) 29 May 1907

 

On September 4 1907 Mr. H. Litchfield, previously the postmaster at Robinson, was appointed postmaster at Eden. He held the post until his death in 1915 aged 61.

 eden Post office 1907

 

Over the years the old Eden Post office saw several modifications notably in 1909 when Eden entered a new era. 

 

The first telephone exchanges in Australia were opened in Melbourne and Sydney in 1880 and by 1901, when the six Australian States federated, there were 32,767 telephones in use. Until then each state had built its own telephone services but in 1905 the new parliament of Australia passed the Wireless Telegraphy Act giving control of all wireless to the Postmaster General's department.  In 1907 the Sydney-Melbourne trunk telephone line opened and on  April 14 1909 a new telephone exchange was opened in the Eden Post Office. The telephone exchange was located in the post office lobby attached to the office.  The first subscribers to the new telephone service  were:

Howard M. Store 7    Pike Mrs. S 2 Sheehy L.M. 8
llawarra & South Coast Steam Navigation Company 4   Ramsey T.J.Store 6 Solomon S. Ltd. 1J
Morgan J. 'Observer'     1M   Rogers P.E & A.P. 5 Strickland G.A. 3M
Phillipps Bros. 3Y          

A decline in telegraph traffic saw the final telegram transmission to Bombala in 1966.

 

The new telephone exchange got of to a dramatic start, with bushfires disrupting services as described in the 'Evening News' (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931) on the 4th of January

"TELEGRAPH SERVICE INTERRUPTED.

The Telegraph Department is having quite a lively time new all over N.S.W., owing to the abnormal weather conditions. What with bush fires, trees falling across the lines, and earth currents caused by the peculiar nature of the weather, it is a wonder there is any service left to tell the tale. As it is, the department is able to maintain a limited service, but business generally all over the State is all interrupted, and a notice to this effect has been posted at the telegraph office of the General Post Office..Lines of communication is cut off from...Mallacoota and Gabo.The operators are able to work to Eden from Sydney, but the line is unworkable from that on to Eden, owing to the country being on fire. In some parts the linesmen have gone out, but have had to flee from the zone of fire, and have been unable to effect repairs, simply because they cannot get near the centre of the trouble...

Between Sydney and Melbourne there is also considerable interruption, owing to the earth currents, which are affecting all lines. An earth current means that the current in stead of flowing along the line in the way it would pass under normal conditions gets conducted to or makes contact with the earth at certain points on the route, and thus becomes so weak at its destination that it is not strong enough even to work the relays. Fortunately the department has in most instances provided iron poles through a number of heavily, bushed districts; otherwise in many cases where severe bush fires have occurred the wires would have been all down."

 

It is probably impossible for most of us today to fully appreciate how the telephone changed the lives of isolated bush dwellers.  Poet Henry Lawson was in Mallacoota in 1910 and wrote 'A Song of the Telephone' which was published in the The Worker (Wagga, NSW : 1892 - 1913) on the 10th December 1910

 

MALLACOOTA WEST.
A SONG OF THE TELEPHONE

It is one long ring for Kiah; it is two rings for Green Cape;

It is three for Gabo Island; and, to have it all ship-shape,
One for Eden. Four rings quicken Mallacoota's interest;
And a long ring and a short one gives you Mallacoota West.

Oh, the folk are never lonely that the telephone can reach!
There are three undreamed of places with a telephone at each,
Twixt the bedroom and the kitchen, to be handy night or day,
For the women mostly tend it while the men folk are away.

Stripping wattle-bark, or fishing -sleeper-cutting — any game:
Trading in the little cutters to "the Bay" or Cunninghame,
deep with bags of tan-bark—bags of wattle-bark to tan
Leather to make ladies' shoes or bluchers for a laboring man.

* * *

It was show time up at Eden, and a gala time for all —
Some were in the pubs, and others at a Cinderella Ball —
On the Lakes the fish were barrelled, and the fishermen at rest—
Slumber fell on Mallacoota, and on Mallacoota West.

In the west of Mallacoota, where the night was dark and deep,
In her room behind the office, Mrs. Allan lay asleep
Until wakened by a ringing— someone ringing up in vain:
Eden! — Green Cape! — Eden! — Green Cape! —

and again and yet again.

Someone ringing for a doctor. And a flash came of the days
When they had to ride for doctors on those lonely tree-marked ways
And at last she rose and answered and she must have thought it odd
When a woman's voice in anguish sent the message through

"Thank God!"

Voice of one who seemed with terror to be more dead than alive,
And she said she was at Kiah with a little girl of five;
the folk away in Eden, and the awful bush seemed black,
And the girl who had been with her had gone home and not come back.

She was lonely, she was frightened, she'd been very ill indeed,
And the haunting fear was on her that the bush at night can breed.
She was nearing her confinement, and had thought that she would die,
And the terror grew upon her when she could get no reply.

And she had the little girl dressed, and would send her in her fright
To the nearest lonely neighbour, three bush miles off through the night.
There could be no help till sunrise when the neighbour's wife might come,
Or till later in the forenoon, when her husband would be home.

And so Mrs. Allan held her while the small hours chilled the room —
Tired, hard-working woman standing in her night-dress in the gloom,
Till the other one grew calmer, speaking quiet, even low,
And they talked of other children they had each born years ago.

"Ring again" said Mrs. Allan, "if you feel too much alone.
I will ring again at daybreak." And advised her to lie down.
And the other woman lay down, and she slept till break of day,
Just through talking to a woman more than forty miles away.

***

Women, down in Mallacoota, must be early out of bed,
Milking, cooking, making butter, and they have to bake their bread,
For the fishermen and tourists, and the frequent reverend "guest"—
And their life is one hard routine, down in Mallacoota West.

There's a telephone to Kiah, Green Cape, and the Gabo Light—
But down here in Mallacoota one hears rings at dead of night —
Tis an angel's touch responding to the kindest deeds and best,
Ringing Eden, ringing Gabo — ringing Mallacoota West.

 

HENRY LAWSON. Mallacoota, V., May, 1910.

 

In the early days of the telephone, trunk channels linked different manual trunk exchanges. To make long distance (and in some cases not so long distance calls) It was necessary for a succession of trunk operators to connect the appropriate channels together, one after the other, until the connection was made. As trunk traffic grew the system became increasingly unsuitable. It was a tedi­ous and slow way of making a long distance call, and it was sometimes hard to hear, particularly when sev­eral exchanges were linked.

 

"The telephone line direct from Eden to Towamba [contractor - W. A. Robertson] is now completed, and will shortly be open for business. This line will be a geate advantage, as before it was necessary to ring up through Bega to speak between these places. Your scribe, speaking from experience can tell of the great disadvantage it was, for he was for two hours at one time waiting in Towamba before being connected with Eden."
The Bega Budget 5 August 1911

 

In 1927 a memorandum from a Divisional Engineer stated that upgades to the accomodation for linesmen and mechanics was urgently required.  They were at that time being accomodated in two rooms of the post office's basement but due to financial considerations the alterations were held over  and a follow up letter in 1932 stated that as the Eden site was no longer a mechanic's station "no further action should be taken on this matter".

 

In 1949 a local paper reported that there was an increase in demand for postal services due to an increase in population in the district because of the establishment of the chip mill at East Boyd. Consequently the working conditions at the post office were cramped and in peak times the public areas of the post office were congested.  A new post office site was gazetted in June 1949 on the site on which the present post office is sited but it was not until July 1971 that the new post office was opened and another year before the telephone exchange was moved to the new location. The new exchange was automated and the ladies who had formally operated the exchange were made redundant.

 Eden Post Office 1950

 

The old Post Office building was then rented by the Imlay Shire council for use by the Imlay Emergency Services and later for the library. It was subsequently used for other organisations and is today utilised as the offices of SEWAC [South East Women's and Children's Services]

 BACK

Sources:

Historic Places Survey, Eden New South Wales - Compiled Eden Killer Whale Museum and Historical Society assisted by funds allocated to the Royal Australian Historical Society through the Heritage Office [NSW] 2010 Available for viewing at Eden Library

Wikipedia; History of telegraphy in Australia
The History of Communication Technology 'Telegragh'
australia.gov.au 'The Overland Telegraph'

Vintage Phones 'History of Telephone Exchanges in Australia'

Telstra website - Telecommunications Timeline 1890-1919

 

From TROVE the website of the National Library of Australia:

1 The Australian 13 February 1840 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article36859901

2 Morning Chronicle (Sydney, NSW : 1843 - 1846)Saturday 30 March 1844

3 'A PEEP AT MANEROO, EDEN, AND BOYD' Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer 4 March 1848 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59768174

4 Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer 3 June 1848 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59765041

5 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article110318075

6 'COUNTRY NEWS' http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13490537

7 Riverine Herald (Echuca, Vic.: Moama, NSW : 1869 - 1954)  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article116355738

 

Images:

The opening of the post office at Eden1848 Frederick Garling National Library of Australia http://nla.gov.au/nla.pic-an12692866

Eden Post Offfice 1906 National Archives of Australia Image no. : C4076, HN5039

Eden Post Office  1907 National Archives of Australia Image no. : C4076, HN5040

Eden Post Office 1950  National Archives of Australia Image no. : C4076, HN5041

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Benjamin Boyd

Benjamin Boyd

Ben BoydBenjamin Boyd was a controversial figure in Australian history.  A wealthy London stockbroker he came to Australia in 1842 with grand plans.


In 1840 he had written to Lord John Russell about his plans for "further developing the resource of Australia and its adjacent Islands".  To this purpose he set up the Royal Bank of Australia in London in 1839 with a nominal capital of a million pounds and two hundred thousand pounds raised from the sale of debentures.  With this he set sail to Australia in his schooner the Wanderer.  When the ‘Wanderer’ reached Sydney in July 1842 it followed four steamships crammed with food, wines, plates, furniture, office furniture and whaling and sealing equipment.

 

He soon became one of the largest landholders in Australia with more than 2,000,000 acres (810,000 hectares) in the Monaro and Port Phillip districts and along the Murray River, most of which was used to run sheep.  He also had interests in whaling, shipping, export, banking and finance.  He was elected to the NSW Legislative Assembly.

 

He instigated many grandiose schemes but his financial empire was plagued by shipping losses, the financial depression of the 1840s and labour disputes.  To solve his labour problems he resorted to 'blackbirding' (importing islanders under virtual slave conditions) and later attempted to bring in indentured labour.  Both measures met with stiff opposition from both humanitarians and workers in the colony, who feared for their own working conditions.

 

Financial mismanagement and the overly ambitious nature of his schemes led to him being declared bankrupt and in 1848 he departed Australia in the Wanderer to try to recoup his fortunes in the Californian goldfields where he again met with disappointment.

 

After his failure in the goldfields he set sail again, this time to cruise the Pacific.  In 1851 he disappeared Guidalcanal in the Solomon Islands when he went ashore to hunt ducks.  Despite searches initiated by his creditors his body was never recovered. 

 

By the time of his disappearance Boydtown had become a virtual ghost town, many of it's residents having moved on to Eden.