Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Shellharbour Rock Pools

The driftway at Shellharbour Villlage has always been used in the summer months for recreation purposes, and in the 1880s people began to push for the construction of rock baths. The community did not like ‘the evils of the day’, described as ‘men and youths bathing in a state of nature on the open sea beach’. It was suggested they ‘compel every bather to use a proper bathing costume similar to those in many European countries’.

In 1894, the Shellharbour Progress Association chose a site for rock baths between the jetty and the former cemetery, at the Shellharbour foreshore.

Regulations allowed ladies to bathe for 2 hours in the morning, and from 3-5 pm. Men bathed before 7 am and after 5 pm. The sexes would alternate in the baths by the use of a system of flags.

Bathing became the order of the day and they were soon taxed to their capacity in the summer months. Rock baths attracted tourists and the beautification of the foreshore by the planting of trees drew attention.

On Arbor Day in 1895, the Shellharbour community united to plant the Norfolk Island pine trees that adorn the harbour today. The trees thrived and were cared for by the progress association.

Visitors became more frequent and a tourist handbook issued by the Illawarra Steam Navigation Company in 1905 said ‘of all the delightfully secluded spots on this patch of coast none has become more popular than among visitors than the pretty little township of Shellharbour, standing on a gentle rise overlooking the sea’.

Head down to Shellharbour Village over the Christmas break! It’s a beautiful spot.

Information – Bayley, W, 1959. Green Meadows, Shellharbour Municipal Council.
Gwen Allen at the rock pools, Shellharbour Village c.1920
Tongarra Museum collection

Kaleen Allen and friend at the rock pools, Shellharbour Village c.1920
Tongarra Museum collection

Kaleen Allen at the rock pools, Shellharbour Village c.1920
Tongarra Museum collection

Children at the Bass Point rock pools
Shellharbour Images, Shellharbour City Libraries

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Oil at Mount Terry

During mid to late 1962, a drill site was located about 100 metres to the west of Jamberoo Road at the foot of Mount Terry. The operator was Farmout Drillers.  The stakeholders included Farmout Drillers, Consolidated Oil and Woodside.

The site was designated as "Stockyard Mountain No.1”, as it was attempting to intercept a formation which rises to create that landmark.  The rig was about 180 ft high with a dam on the southern side to hold water used for drilling.

At the time, Bob Grey had a part time news-camera job with WIN TV and stories from the site were a regular feature on the local news.  Bob found the site supervisor, a geologist, to be a relaxed and friendly chap who was happy to explain the working of the operation at any time.

The operation struck gas although obviously not in sufficient quantities.  One piece of their equipment was known as the electric log. Its purpose was to monitor the amount of gas coming to the surface in the returning drill mud. In normal operation, there was a more or less constant stream of small bubbles which registered as a slight wave on the recorder.

One morning Bob noticed that the previous night's recording showed the wave suddenly increasing until it appeared to go off the paper. When he mentioned this he was asked not to tell anyone about it.  About a week later the operation was  cancelled and the rig left.

He suspected the sudden cessation was necessary because the gas was not potentially commercial but still interesting enough for the operator not to want to share the information with others.

If the drilling had continued, they would have been obliged to send a core sample to the federal government who were partially funding oil exploration at that time. The information would then have been public knowledge.

Information gratefully provided by Bob Grey.

Drilling for oil at Mount Terry 1960s
Donated by Bob Grey

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Shellharbour aerials

We have some great aerial photographs in our collection. These ones are from 1948 – 1964 and show just how much Shellharbour City has changed in such a short time.

To view more aerials in our collection go to the Shellharbour Images link  below

Killalea (The Farm) and lagoon 1948
Shellharbour Images, Shellharbour Libraries
Lake Entrance and Warilla Beach 1948
Shellharbour Images, Shellharbour Libraries
Tongarra Road to Shellharbour Village 1956
Shellharbour Images, Shellharbour Libraries
Barrack Point 1948
Shellharbour Images, Shellharbour Libraries
Mount Warrigal 1958
Shellharbour Images, Shellharbour Libraries

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

ESA Bank & Clive 'Killer' Caldwell

The English, Scottish and Australian Bank opened 12th June 1884 on the main road at Albion Park.

In the early 1900’s the bank was managed by Mr. Caldwell who lived in the adjoining residence with his family. During the years of the First World War, Mr. Caldwell’s young son Clive Robertson Caldwell would ride his tricycle on the footpath outside the bank. Clive attended the local Albion Park Public School.

In World War II, Clive became Australia’s top RAAF Ace Fighter Pilot, and was known as Clive ‘Killer’ Caldwell – a nickname he always hated.

In 1939 he enlisted with the RAAF and as he exceeded the age limit for recruitment; convinced a pharmacist friend to alter the details on his birth certificate.

In 1941 he was posted to 250 Squadron in the Middle East, flying ‘Tomahawks’. In 1944 he was promoted to group Captain and commanded No 80 Squadron of ‘Spitfires’ at Darwin, Morotai and the Philippines.

Clive developed a training technique known as shadow shooting, in which he fired at the shadow of his own aircraft on the desert surface. Using this method, Wing Commander Caldwell downed at least 29 enemy aircraft in over 300 operational sorties and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) , Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and Bar for outstanding bravery. Clive was the highest scoring P-40 pilot from any air force.

ESA Bank at Albion Park
Shellharbour Images, Shellharbour City Libraries

ESA Bank at Albion Park
Shellharbour Images, Shellharbour City Libraries

Picnic at Albion Park c.1914. Clive Caldwell sitting on his father's knee - second row.
Shellharbour Images, Shellharbour Libraries
Clive Caldwell
Australian War Memorial collection

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Harris' Garage at Albion Park

William G Harris ran a motor for hire business from the Post Office premises at Albion Park; using a ‘Hupmobile’ he purchased c.1918. His father had arrived in Albion Park in 1913 as Post Master.

William eventually purchased two blocks of land across the road from the Post Office (Tongarra Road) and built a garage to house the car in 1923. He began doing repair work on other cars and selling petrol.

In the 1940’s William’s sons, Jack and Claude served their apprenticeships as motor mechanics, each going to Wollongong Tech from 1945-1950.

The Harris Family also operated a bus transport system for many years, and this included transporting Tongarra Coal Mine workers to and from the mine, and operating the daily Tongarra mail run.

In 2013, WG Harris and Sons Pty Ltd celebrated 90 years of continual service to the town of Albion Park, at the original site and still from the original building.

W.G. Harris in a 1923 Hudson passenger car, Macquarie Pass
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries

Harris' Garage at Albion Park
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries

Monday, 11 November 2013

Remembrance Day

The Warilla RSL Sub-Branch invites you to attend the Remembrance Day Service at The War Memorial in Caroline Chisholm Park, Shellharbour Village on the 11th of November 2013. Service commencing at 10.45am

Date: 11 November 2013
Venue: The War Memorial in Caroline Chisholm Park, Addison Street, Shellharbour Village

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Edwin Klein

 Mr. Edwin Klein was an unusual man. He was self educated having had only three years of schooling during his life and he became a self-made millionaire.

Klein worked as a shop assistant and carpenter before buying land around Shellharbour where he worked as a builder. He believed everyone should own a home and built houses as cheaply as possible, at times advancing the deposit as an interest free loan enabling the client to get a bank loan.

Klein’s building apprentice and local identity Russell East recalled Klein's unorthodox approach - hammering in screws to save time and laying a thin layer of concrete in bathrooms over formwork floors reinforced with wire from old bedding.

On one occasion, Russell jumped from one section of the floor of a new building to another and went straight through it. Mr. Klein told him sternly that he was never to jump on the floors as he may go through them.

Klein also made his own house paint out of animal fat and lime. This was cheaper than buying it from the store.

During his years at Shellharbour, Edwin Klein lived in a corrugated iron shack, only building a house for himself shortly before he left the Village.

In 1957, Klein purchased the historic Governor’s residence Hillview at Sutton Forest for 3000 ounds. Hillview was built in the 1850s and owned for a time by Sir Henry Parkes who bought the property as a country residence for early State Governors.

Hillview had 51 rooms however Klein chose to live in the small cottage next to the main house. Klein attempted to turn the estate into a home for the elderly however, this soon failed with residents tiring of his many and various rules, including his regulations on snoring.

Klein was a keen gardener and worked on landscaping Hillview from sunrise to well past sunset, sometimes working by the light of torch. Klein largely left the historic house alone and on his death, cupboards were found stocked with utensils, glass wear and china bearing the Governors crest.

Monday, 28 October 2013


Windradene is a rare example of Victorian period, Georgian architecture in Shellharbour Village. The home was built on a part of Walter Allen’s estate c.1871.

Walter Allen was an important pioneer of the area. He and his family lived in a residence next door to Windradene and also operated a store and post office in the town. Reputedly Windradene was built as a holiday house and leased out to visitors and tourists.

After Walter’s death in 1876, his wife Charlotte and son Edward carried on operating the store and post office in Addison Street, Shellharbour Village.  In 1891 the Allen estate was sold at auction, shortly after Charlotte’s death.

The Norfolk Pine to the rear of Windradene dates to Arbor Day 1895, when pioneers planted pines along the Shellharbour foreshore and village to beautify the area.

Windradene, Addison Street, Shellharbour Village c.2003

Monday, 21 October 2013

Green Valleys

Green Valleys’ is an old weatherboard cottage with cedar foundations and turpentine posts. The site of the house was originally part of Henry Osborne's Estate, Marshall Mount.

The house is reputed to be the oldest in the district; said to have been by convicts who were later found hanging on a nearby tree, however, no evidence of this has ever been found.

The farm and residence was leased by Archie Graham until 1920, when George and Maryanne Fleet purchased the property.


Monday, 14 October 2013


Kiama builder Ettinghausen built ‘Killarney’, for Archibald Fuller, son of prominent land owner George Laurence Fuller, of Dunmore. It is a lovely Victorian farmhouse that now lies beside The Links Golfcourse at Shell Cove. 

George Laurence Fuller was born in Dunmore, Ireland in 1832. He arrived in Sydney with his parents and siblings in 1839 and eventually settled in the Illawarra in 1858 when he bought the Post Office Store at Gerringong. He married Sarah Cunningham Miller on the 20th April 1859 and purchased a new store in Kiama.

In 1865 he purchased 2560 acres, part of the Peterborough Estate on the Minnamurra River, and built 'Dunmore House'. By 1880, he had acquired other portions of the Estate and owned about 9000 acres. He started the blue metal industry on his property at Bass Point in 1880 and made a huge contribution to the development of Shellharbour Municipality.

Killarney at Shell Cove

'Killarney', Archie Fuller's house, Dunmore
Killarney in the 1980s with no surrounding development
Shellharbour Images, Shellharbour City Libraries

'Killarney', Archie Fuller's house, Dunmore

Killarney in the 1980s
Shellharbour Images, Shellharbour City Libraries

Friday, 4 October 2013


‘Aronda’ is a fine example of late Victorian architecture in the Shellharbour area. Originally part of D’Arcy Wentworth grants, the house was built c.1890 on land owned by George Laurence Fuller and reputedly by Fuller. The property passed to Miss Edith Fuller when her father died in 1917, where she lived c1920-1922.

Ellen Arnold purchased this and the adjoining property c.1923-25, where she conducted a boarding establishment from the adjacent wooden building. Ellen Arnold and her sisters continued to live at Aronda. Upon his retirement, George Cubitt Arnold (Ellen’s Arnold’s father, local baker, bacon curer, formerly of ‘Beau Vista’, Shellharbour married Mary Ann) moved in with his daughter until his death in 1926.

Ellen’s nephew, John Thomas James (son of Rachel James (nee Arnold) and Thomas James) inherited the property upon the death of Ellen in 1964.

Aronda, Shellharbour c.2003
Aronda, Shellharbour Images
Shellharbour City Libraries
Aronda, Shellharbour Images
Shellharbour City Libraries

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Tulkeroo & Butter Factory at Albion Park

We receive many questions from the local community wanting to know more about the old buildings in Shellharbour, so we aim to include more information in our posts on some of the most recognised historic buildings in the area. This week we feature 'Tulkeroo'.

‘Tulkeroo’ homestead was built as a manager's residence for the first Albion Park Butter Factory. John Fraser was the first manager and the factory opened c.1885 as a cooperative effort by local farmers.

All that remains of the original butter factory, next to the homestead, is a small wooden structure used as a garage. A meeting was held in regards to the establishment of a Butter Factory at Bendon’s Hotel in Albion Park on July 31st 1884 with Mayor Armstrong in the chair. A six-acre site beside the Macquarie River near the crossing to North Macquarie and Calderwood was secured for 300 pounds and 425 shares were taken up.  The Albion Park Dairy Factory began operations on Tuesday, November 10, 1885.

The building was designed and erected by DL Waugh, and had six cream separators driven by a 16-horsepower steam engine. It was central to suppliers in Albion Park, Calderwwod, Marshall Mount and South Dapto.

World War One memorabilia

Warilla Library recently hosted a 'Scan and Share' day to collect local World War One memorabilia and stories that will be included in the upcoming 'Illawarra Remembers' website.

The website will include histories and artefacts that tell the stories of the Illawarra World War One soldiers and the friends and families they left behind.

We received copies of some wonderful treasures including this card send from Jim Jenkins to his mother.

If you have any World War One memorabilia of stories of ancestors from the Shellharbour area we would love to hear from you.

Please contact Tongarra Museum - (02) 4256 6698, or email records@shellharbour.nsw.gov.au

Monday, 16 September 2013

Congratulations OAM's

Shellharbour City Libraries and Museum congratulates our fantastic Museum Volunteers, Kevin and Dot Gillis who have recently been awarded the Order of Australia Medal.

Great work at Killalea State Park

Killalea State Park has been involved in some great projects over the past couple of months.

The park has recently relocated a Scarred Tree of great importance to the local Aboriginal community from a quarry site at Dunmore, to the entrance of Killalea State Park. This project was a joint effort by Killalea State Park, Boral Quarry, The Illawarra Aboriginal Lands Council and NPWS. More work is still to be done to ensure protection of the tree but it has been a great effort so far to ensure this significant part of local history is preserved for future generations. Well done to all.

Killalea State Park have also been working with Illawarra Youth Landcare to maintain the land around the park and connect young people with the environment. This short documentary captures the stories of young volunteers who give thier time to contribute to environmental restoration in the Illawarra. Great job guys!


Thursday, 22 August 2013

History Week Bus Tour

Join us on a guided tour of Shellharbour City's most significant historic sites on Wednesday 11 September 2013. We stop off at the Old Minnamurra Schoolhouse at Dunmore.

Bookings are essential - please ring Warilla Library on (02) 4297 2522.
Cost - $7 per person.

Illawarra Remembers Scan and Share Day

Illawarra Remembers Scan and Share Day

To commemorate the centenary of WWI Wollongong City Libraries will develop an online resource 'Illawarra Remembers 1914-1918 which will include information telling the stories of Illawarra's brave men and women who went to war.

Shellharbour Libraries needs your help. Please share your stories and treasures from your family's history during this period. Brign along your photographs , documents, stories and memorabilia to Warilla Library 10 September so we can scan them for future use on 'Illawarra Remembers'.

See details below

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Crews Garage

Frank Crew originally worked as an engineer at Minnamurra Quarry. When he left that position the Crew's and their five children Frank (Jim), Charles (Chilla), George, Kathleen and Grace moved to Shellharbour where, after a time Frank decided to start his own business.

In the 1920s he leased a garage (corner of Mary and Addison Streets) from Ted Thomas. Frank Crew operated the garage and mechanical business, while his wife drove Ford cars carrying passengers to and from town, the railway station and Lake Illawarra and she also delivered bread, mail etc.

In those early years petrol for the garage was bought in four gallon tins which were packed in a wooden case. A hand operated pump was eventually installed before two pumps were placed at the footpath.

The family lived at 'Roseneath' in Mary Street near the Methodist Church, and as well as running the garage, Frank also operated a bus run that took passengers to and from Shellharbour Station and Lake Illawarra. The buses also took workers to and from the blue metal quarries.

Later, Frank's sold his business to his brother Alf who then leased the garage.

The family lived for a time at Avondale before moving back to Shellharbour. Mrs Crew opened a refreshments shop in the town and they lived at the old Police station 'Woodbine'. Mrs Crew was one of the first female motor car drivers in the area.

Crews Garage, Shellharbour Village 1926
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries

Alf and Flo Crew with their daughter Gladys At 'Roseneath' c.1930s
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries

Buick car outside 'Roseneath' c.1930s
Shellharbour Images, Shellharbour City Libraries

Frank Crew and family in their Buick car c.1930s
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries

Collette's Cafe, Shellharbour. This cafe was operated by Mrs Frank Crew as a refreshment room in 1936.
Shellharbour Images Shellhharbour City Libraries

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Augustus Milton East

Augustus (Gus) Milton East was born in 1893, the son of Alfred and Katie East of Shellharbour. During WWI he joined the 18th Battalion AIF to serve overseas. He was killed in action in France on the 19th May 1918 aged 25yrs.

Tongarra Museum holds a collection of significant items relating to Gus and the legacy he left behind includes war diaries, letters, mementos from overseas and a souvenir 'wartime' scarf bought for his sister Marjorie. These precious objects describe Augustus' experience at war and the way in which his family dealt with his death.

What is particularly of note is the concern from Augustus for his family in Australia while he was fighting at war. His thoughts were always with his family and home, even as he was experiences the horrors of war.

One of the letters Gus wrote was to the James girls of Dunmore (see previous post).

These items were treasured by his family after his death and are now treasured by the museum and local community. They were donated to the museum by Gus' niece.

Augustus Milton East 1893-1918
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries

Glasses worn by Augustus Milton East during World War One
Tongarra Museum collection

Augustus Milton East's war diary
Tongarra Museum collection


Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Local Government Week 2013

Shellharbour City Council staff turned on a show for hundreds of school children to celebrate Local Government Week and get a taste for some of the tasks Council is involved in. The event was held at Blackbutt Reserve. Tongarra Museum held mock archaeological digs for the kids and they loved it!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

New photos

This week our museum received some great photographic donations.

The first is a photograph of the house at 100 Tongarra Road, Albion Park. This home was originally owned by John Russell and also used as a Court of Petty Sessions before a courthouse was established at Albion Park. The home was later purchased by the Wilson family who operated a blacksmiths for many years.

The second group of photos are of the Schwarz kids at their home town Oak Flats and playing at Lake Illawarra in the 1960s.

Thanks Mr Wilson and Mr Schwarz for the photos.

100 Tongarra Road, Albion Park
Courtesy Mr Wilson

Schwarz children at Lake Illawarra near the Boulevard, Oak Flats
Courtesy Mr Schwarz

Schwarz kids at Oak Flats.
The hill in the background is where Mitre 10 is now on the Princes Highway Albion Park Rail
Courtesy Mr Schwarz.