|The lake in Bega's Glebe
Bega (including Jellat Jellat, Brogo and Mimosa Rocks
Major centre on the NSW far south coast famous for its
rich dairy country as well as the beautiful coastline to the
east of the township.
Bega, 428 km south of Sydney via the Princes Highway, is a
dairying town with a population of 4202 situated in the
heart of a rich and fertile valley where the Bega and Brogo
Rivers and the Princes and Snowy Mountains Highways meet.
The heavily forested Brogo Ranges lie to the west of the
river flats which stretch eastwards to the sea.
It is believed that the area was occupied by the
Dyirringany Aborigines before white settlement. George Bass
was the first European to explore the region after the
survivors of the Sydney Cove walked through the area in
1797. Late that year Bass entered the Bega River at its
ocean outlet and sailed upstream as far as Jellat Jellat.
Squatters fleeing drought around Braidwood moved into the
Bega Valley in the late 1820s. The Imlay Brothers took up
vast holdings the following decade with Peter Imlay
establishing the 'Biggah' run in 1839.
The spelling of the town had settled into its modern form
by the late 1840s when cattle, sheep, corn, fruit and
vegetables were all apparently flourishing in the district.
The town was laid out and gazetted in 1851 to the north of
the present site but repeated flooding saw its removal to
higher ground south of the river. There it developed along
Auckland St expanding into Carp St.
|The Bega River between
Candelo and Bega
The state of the roads around Bega were atrocious at this
time. Alexander Whitehead wrote of them in an account of a
trip from Bega to Wyndham:
I saw men mending some of the worst places by putting
bushes in the holes and then covering them over with earth,
so that it looked better until a heavy load came along ...
There was a nasty hole on the south side of where Frog's
Hollow bridge is now, when I got there the hole was filled
up, not with bushes, but with a dead bullock, a worker I
suppose, it appeared to fill the hole nicely.
This state of affairs, together with the lack of a rail
service and the difficulty of getting to and from the port
at Merimbula, meant that the Sydney markets were difficult
to access. The opening of the wharf at Tathra (1862) changed
this. The 1860s also saw the valley opened up to independent
farmers. As a consequence of both developments dairying, and
especially the cheese-making for which the town is now
noted, grew rapidly in the next twenty years.
|St Patricks Presbytery
The introduction of advanced cheese making processes at
the Tooth family's Kameruka Estate was critical to the
development of the industry in the valley. James Manning,
manager of the Twofold Bay Pastoral Association, moved to 'Wanagabra'
near Bega in 1864 after selling Kameruka. He was responsible
for encouraging the German immigrants, whose ancestors now
live in the Bega Valley, to work at the Kameruka estate. He
introduced American cheese-making methods, commenced maize
cultivation in the district, grew vineyards and, after
pressing for the implementation of a telegraph line from
Bega to Sydney, sent the first message in 1868.
Bega became a municipality in 1883 and, two years later,
it was the first town in New South Wales to open a municipal
Things to see:
Bega Cheese Heritage Centre
Given the history of the town an obvious starting point is
the Bega Cheese Heritage Centre (1900). As you enter Bega
from the north via the Princes Highway take a left into
Bridge Street before the Bega River bridge then your first
right into Lagoon Street. This restored original factory
features displays of old cheese-making techniques and has an
art gallery. It is open for inspections, cheese tasting and
sales from 9.00 am - 5.00 pm every day.
Yarranung, with its homestead and outbuildings dating from
1851 when flooding forced its removal to higher ground, is
located over the hill behind the cheese factory. It is now
Nearby is the Grevillea Winery, open daily for wine tasting
and a meal in The Bails, a conversion of the 1860s 'Kirby'
milking bails with slab walls and bark roof.
|Bega Family Museum
Bega Family Museum
If you enter the town centre from the north you will find,
near the intersection with Bega St, the Bega Family Museum
(open 10.30 am - 4.00 pm on weekdays and, during the school
holidays, 10.00 - noon on Saturdays, but only on Tuesdays
and Fridays from June to August). It is housed in the former
Family Hotel (c.1867) and contains memorabilia from the
town's past, including furniture, crockery, silverware,
wedding dresses, ball gowns, early farm machinery, glass
plate negatives and many photographs. The building houses a
cafe, store, gallery and visitor's information centre.
Opposite the museum is St John's Anglican Church (1874)
built of brick with stone trimmings upon the site of an
earlier church dating from 1857 and designed by Edmund
Blacket, noted for his work at the University of Sydney. The
roof of the church is of slate with grey box roofing timbers
cut on Mumbulla Mountain in Biamanga National Park to the
north. 18 brass plates commemorate the names of the local
men killed in World War I, three at Lone Pine. Blacket also
designed 'Littleton House' for Thomas Rowlinson in Bega St
|St Johns Anglican Church
Further along Auckland St is Bega Primary School
(1880s-1890s) and the former CBC Bank at the end of the
The Court House (1881) at the corner of Carp and Gipps
St, was designed by James Barnet, Colonial Architect from
1865 to 1890. It is a plain building of rendered brick with
verandah, timber posts and an attractive, decorative iron
railing. Opposite is Rosevear Jeweller's (c.1899) which has
an elaborate and delightful Victorian shopfront consisting
of two curved shop windows with oak panelling on either side
of a central door with a fanlight overhead and a chequered
marble floor at the entrance. Also of some interest here is
the former Bank of NSW residence beside the Westpac Bank.
At the intersection with Upper St and Gipps Street is St
Andrew's, the Presbyterian Church (1870) and, across the
road, is the Uniting Church, formerly the Wesleyan Chapel
(c.1868 with a porch dating from 1891). At the top of the
hill is St Patrick's Catholic Church and Presbytery (1882,
extended in 1952) and, behind it, St Joseph's Convent
In the Bega area
1. Jellat Jellat
Jellat Jellat is located 7 km out of town on the Snowy
Mountains Highway. The'Jellat Jellat' homestead is a very
substantial two-storey, vernacular timber house built by the
Gowing family in 1876. It has a verandah around the exterior
of the house with cast-iron balustrades on both floors,
cedar-panelled doors, an impressive cedar stair and finely
detailed plasterwork. Adjacent the house are some
outbuildings made of timber and stone. The former school of
the village is now the Department of Education's Bournda
Field Studies Centre (see entry on Tathra for Bournda National Park).
2. Bega Valley Lookouts
Two kilometres north of the town, before the intersection of
the Snowy Mountains and Princes Highways, is the Bega Valley
Lookout. The Dr George Lookout lies 8 km to the north-east.
3. Biamanga National Park
Biamanga National Park is 15 km north along the Princes
Highway. It contains Mumbulla Mountain, an initiation site
for young Aboriginal men, and Mumbulla Creek Waterfall and
lagoon which was used by Aborigines to wash off ceremonial
ochre. With its beautiful rock pools it is now used as a
swimming spot and picnic area.
4. Brogo Dam
Further north of Biamanga National Park is Warrigal Range
Road, a gravel track of some 12 km that goes to Brogo Dam
(signposted at the highway), a beautiful dam which has
picnic and barbecue facilities, a boat-launching ramp and
toilets. Also suitable for canoeing, it is stocked with
freshwater bass and surrounded by impressive scenery and a
variety of plant and animal life.
5. Brogo Rotolactor
Further north along the Highway is Brogo Pass and the bridge
over the Brogo River which was first erected in 1885. The 'Broga'
run, established in 1848, covered 6400 acres. 22 km north of
Bega, on your left, is Baldwins Lane which leads to Brogo
Rotolactor (signposted from the highway) where it is
possible watch cows being milked with the latest technology.
The Rotolactor is open from 2.00 pm - 5.00 pm daily on
school and public holidays but only on Mondays and
Wednesdays otherwise. Milking is at 3 p.m. and there is no
|The beautiful coast to
the east of Bega
6. Mimosa Rocks National Park
Leave Bega on the Tarraganda Road for Bermagui and the road
crosses a timber truss bridge that was built in 1894. On the
other side is Tarraganda, a portion of the property owned by
the Imlays in the 1830s. Beyond this point is a gravel road
to Dr George Mountain where there is a memorial to George
Imlay who shot himself there in 1847 believing that he had
contracted a terminal illness.
Just east of the mountain and north of Tathra is
picturesque Mimosa Rocks National Park which stretches north
for 17 km along another rewarding strip of coastal beaches,
caves, cliffs, rocky coves, massive offshore rock stacks,
headlands, lagoons, coastal lakes and a heavily wooded
hinterland, including patches of rainforest.
The park supports a rich and diverse range of birdlife,
including honeyeaters, lorikeets, wrens, thornbills, ducks,
cormorants, great egrets, sea eagles, goshawks, crested
terns, silver gulls, pied oystercatchers, hooded plovers,
topknot pigeons and brown cuckoo-doves.
There are also sugar gliders, ring-tailed possums,
brushtail possums, bandicoots, wallabies and some echidnas
and goannas. Snorkelling, surfing, rock and beach fishing,
swimming and bushwalking, coastal birdwatching and foreshore
fossicking can all be successfully pursued.
Visitor facilities are excellent . Take the well-graded
Tathra-Tanja Road north from Tathra and follow it through
Tanja and along to Wapengo. It is 5 km from Wapengo to the
beach. Camping areas with picnic facilities can be found at
Middle, Gillards and Aragunnu Beaches and at Picnic Point
but they are not suitable for caravans and you must bring
your own water. Picnic facilities also exist at Bithery
Inlet, Moon Bay and Nelson Bay. Intending campers must
contact the regional office at Merimbula (02 6495 4130).
The Aragunnu site is outstanding. It is one of the most
interesting and well presenting Aboriginal sites on the
Australian coast. National Parks have constructed a series
of boardwalks which take the visitor past a huge and ancient
midden, beside a freshwater creek and to a point where there
are excellent views across a rocky beach to Mimosa Rocks.
Just north at Mimosa Rocks and Bunga Heads are a number
of rocky coves ideal for snorkelling and rock fishing.
Shipwrecks, notably the Mimosa in 1863, have occurred on the
rocks. In 1908 the Bega sprang a leak and sank somewhere
between Tathra and Bermagui.
Heading south, the approach to the Picnic Point site
along Wapengo Lake Road and through banksia and stringybark
forest is impressive. Middle Beach is popular with surfers.
The camping site is a short walk from the car park and a
walking track leads to Middle Lagoon. Nelson Lagoon is
beautiful in the spring with its birdlife and blooming
wattles. Moon Bay, 250 m from the car park at the south of
the park, near Tathra, is particularly popular with surfers.
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