|The Big Cheese
Bodalla (including Eurobodalla, Nerrigundah and Tuross
Tiny settlement notable for the 'Big Cheese' at the
northern end of the town
'Bodalla' (the name is possibly a corruption of 'boat
alley') is a dairying and timber town 42 m above sea level
and 329 km south of Sydney via the Princes Highway.
It is thought to have been originally inhabited by the
Dhurga Aborigines. George Bass was the first European in the
district when he anchored a mile south of Tuross Heads at
Marka Point in 1797. He circumnavigated Tuross Lake
searching for fresh water but found none.
After moving sheep into his squatter's run at Bergalia
John Hawdon transferred his cattle south from Bergalia to
Bodalla and commenced dairying in 1834. Alexander
Weatherhead and his family moved to the site to manage the
enterprise. Weatherhead's wife had a son in 1837, the first
white child to be born in the area.
Until 1848 land in the area was only available in the
form of pastoral leases. That year it became available for
purchase and by 1856 most of the area had been subdivided
into 32 dairy farms. In 1857 T.S. Mort purchased property at
nearby Comerang and built a mansion there, designed by noted
architect Edmund Blacket. It became known as the 'home
A man called Parkinson had laid out a village c.1850-51,
to the west of present-day Bodalla, which had to be moved
later when the road was realigned. Mort, who had made a
fortune as an innovative auctioneer, wool-broker, pastoral
financier and land speculator, saw potential in the village.
He rebuilt the village to stand as a model of land usage and
as an ideal integrated rural settlement occupied by tenant
farmers. He had the beef cattle removed, set up cheese and
butter-manufacturing equipment and milking sheds, drained
the swamps, cleared the land, had imported grasses sown,
erected fences and personally chose the tenants.
The experiment did not work and in the early 1870s full
control returned to Mort who, this time, divided the
property into three farms, used hired, specialized labour,
upgraded the facilities and implemented new methods of dairy
management, stock breeding and cheese production, involving
the mixing of milk from the different breeds and farms. The
effort was rewarded with higher quality produce if not
Mort died at Bodalla in 1878 and his tombstone and vault,
also designed by Blacket, lies in Bodalla cemetery on the
road from Bodalla to Eurobodalla.
After Mort's death the family formed the Bodalla Co., to
run the property. They sold off the subdivided farms in 1923
and the village properties in 1926.
Things to see:
|All Saints Anglican
All Saints Anglican Church
Thomas Mort died before he could realise his plan to build a
church for the Bodalla community, services being held behind
the Bodalla Arms Hotel (1875). Thus his family built All
Saints Anglican Church as a memorial to Mort and his first
wife Theresa. His second wife laid the foundation stone in
1880. It was designed, again by Edmund Blacket in Gothic
Revival style and bears a memorial tablet. The minister was
Rev. W.H. Walsh, Blacket's earliest patron, who came to
Bodalla to retire and served as virtual private chaplain to
the Mort family. The church was built of grey granite
quarried on the estate. It features a large tower and spire
at the south-west corner, a large rose window at the west
end, oak woodwork and furnishings and a pipe organ from
England. Although Blacket planned the interior of the
Bodalla tower, with its elaborately tiled floor and
stained-glass windows ordered from England, he died in 1883
and Cyril Blacket erected the tower in 1901 making a dubious
departure from Edmund's plans for the exterior.
St Edmunds and Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic
Laidley Mort, the son of T.S. Mort's first marriage had
another church built in 1886 for his Catholic wife, Mary.
She named the church St Edmunds and Our Lady of the
Assumption Catholic Church. Having received her education at
Bruges in Belgium she is said to have asked the architect,
John Horbury Hunt, to base his design on Bruges Cathedral.
St Edmunds is a small timber structure but, typically,
has a forceful, brooding presence, an unusual asymmetrical,
somewhat baroque design and plenty of character.
The Big Cheese
As you enter Bodalla from the north you will find, on your
left, The Big Cheese, a tourist complex offering cheese and
honey sales, a modest luncheon, a gift shop and an ice-cream
parlour. Be warned: the cheese is not cheap.
Bodalla Public School
If you take the Eurobodalla Road out of town you will find,
near the first bend, Bodalla Public School where the old
school (1877) is the current residence of the headmaster.
James Badgery was the first to establish a station in the
Eurobodalla district in the late 1830s. The township was
developed after the Land Act of 1861 opened the area to free
selection, becoming the site of the first public school in
the district (1864). One of the largest selectors was poet,
literary critic and political commentator Charles Harpur who
moved to Euroma near the Tuross River in 1866.
The Nerrigundah Mountain Road heads west out of Eurobodalla
and leads to Nerrigundah. It becomes unsealed after about 6
km. After the strike at Mt Dromedary in 1860 prospectors
found gold at Gulph Creek precipitating a rush at
Nerrigundah in 1861. Amenities, and dredges, began to appear
and the town was surveyed in 1867. At its height the site
was alleged to have 2000 inhabitants, including many
Chinese, who had, at their disposal, five hotels and several
shops, including one for the Chinese residents, as well as a
police station and courthouse. However, the population began
to dwindle with the gold at the end of the century.
Sawmilling saw a faint revival of the village in the 1950s
but little remains today.
The large monument in town is associated with the Clarke
bushranging gang. On Sunday, April 8, 1866 the gang took
over a hut beside Deep Creek, just south of Nerrigundah, and
held up the passers by. Among them was Moruyah storekeeper,
John Emmott, who was riding home with his dealings. The gang
shot his horse from under him, robbed him of the small
fortune in his possession, shot him in the thigh and hit him
on the head with a pistol.
Not satisfied with their gains and perhaps fueled by the
ease of their pickings five of the gang rode into
Nerrigundah and held up the diggers at the hotel. Two more
entered Pollock's Store, now a museum with local
information. The owner, one of the main gold purchasers, was
forced to furnish the key to his safe. However, while the
gang were herding more of victims into the hotel Mrs Pollock
snatched the safe key from Thomas Clarke and threw it across
the street, where one of her children clinched it between
his toes and walked off with it. A candlelight search in the
gloam by Clarke proved fruitless.
Trooper Miles O'Grady and another trooper entered the
hotel just as two of the gang were threatening to kill local
butcher, Robert Drew, who had thrown a roll of notes over
their heads behind the bar. O'Grady fired at the two men,
narrowly missing Patrick O'Connell but killing William
Fletcher, a young jockey and son of a prosperous Batemans
Bay farmer, who had only joined the gang the previous day.
O'Grady was then shot through the heart in the return fire
from William Clarke. The gang then fled town, picked up the
other gang members from their base on Deep Creek and
Sergeant Hitch, the officer in charge of the Nerrigundah
police returned from Moruya and organised a twelve-man
posse. They ambushed the gang at Eucumbene River but no-one
was captured, the only victim being a pack horse laden with
goods from the store. They were officially declared outlaws
the following month.
On the 100th anniversary of O'Grady's death in 1966 the
Wild Colonial Days Society issued a commemorative brochure
and re-enacted the event before a crowd of 3000,
significantly more people than the town had ever held, even
in its heyday.
The monument in town is in honour of O'Grady who was
buried in Moruya cemetery. However, it is incorrect that he
fought the gang single-handedly as the monument claims.
Fletcher's grave, which was allegedly wrapped in bark, was
laid and can still be found outside of the Nerrigundah
cemetery, about 25 metres from the back right-hand corner.
The cemetery itself is behind a grove of wattle trees a
hundred metres beyond the monument and slightly to its
Other Attractions in the area
6 km north of Bodalla and 100 metres off the highway (just
look for the sign) are Trunketabella Gardens and Nursery.
The gardens contain extensive rose, native and exotic
gardens, nurseries, and fern and orchid houses, fifteen
acres of rainforest and bush walks, abundant birdlife,
morning and afternoon teas, and picnic and barbeque areas.
They are open seven days a week and charge a small entry fee
(02 4473 5262).
The Oasis Camel farm offers camel treks, particularly
overnighters. The service is by appointment only (02 4473
8493, or 018-330393). Billabong Park Riding offers horse and
pony rides through bush and beach of varying duration and
caters to various levels of competency. For visitors
information phone Narooma on 02 4476 2881.
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