Thursday, 31 January 2013

Sea Foam at Shellharbour

Recent wild weather has seen thick sea foam blanketed across the Queensland and NSW east coast.

In the 1950's at Bassett Park Camping Ground at Shellharbour, visitors and holidaymakers experienced the same phenomenon after wild storms at sea.

Bassett Park Caravan Park in the 1950s
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries

Bassett Park Caravan Park in the 1950s
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries

Bassett Park Caravan Park in the 1950s
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Nurrewin, Macquarie Pass

'Nurrewin' at the top of Macquarie Pass was built for William Mann Thompson in 1902-1904 from local Yellow Rock sandstone. William was a surveyor and engineer from Sydney. Builders and stonemasons took about two years to build the home. William farmed the property and planted and orchard.

In 1926 the home was sold to Edward Thomas, a Mining Surveyor and bother of Harry Thomas who farmed the adjoining property at Clover Hill. In 1933 Edward sold the home to his nephew, Kenneth Thomas.

In 1969 Nurrewin became the property of the National Parks and Wildlife Service when it was resumed for the Macquarie Pass National Park.

Nurrewin Macquarie Pass
Photograph John Street

Nurrewin Macquarie Pass
Photograph John Street
Nurrewin Yellow Rock sandstone walls
Photograph John Street

Monday, 7 January 2013

The 125th Albion Park Show

The Annual Show is two days of activities at Albion Park Showground that highlights the agricultural, horticultural and industrial activities in our region and provides community entertainment including entertainers, rides and showbags with a carnival and popular highlights such as the Demolition Derby and Fireworks.

 In 1876, ploughing matches were held at Albion Park and in 1887 the staging of a provisional show was held in a paddock on land owned by John Russell in Terry Street. 

A meeting to establish an Agricultural and Horticultural Society was held at Condon’s Commercial Hotel Albion Park on 26 July 1887.  Mr. John Russell gave 8 acres of his land to the newly formed Association for a Showground and the Association purchased a further three acres. 

Many notable breeders of cattle and descendants of pioneer family names were supporters and committee members over the years. Mr. William Mathie was the first president. 

The first show at the new Showground was held on Thursday and Friday 18 and 19 January 1888 with 49 exhibitors in the dairy cattle section. The Albion Park Band was in attendance, and special trains transported patrons from Kiama and Wollongong. The railway was opened through Albion Park Rail in 1887. 

The Albion Park Show is affectionately known as the ‘Biggest Little Show on the Coast’.

Date: 12 - 13 January 2013

Venue: Albion Park Showground, Tongarra Road, Albion Park

4257 5203 or visit

Albion Park Show 1911
Albion Park Show 1911
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries

Betty Martin with her pony 'Silver Rose'

Betty Martin on her pony Silver Rose in 1946
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries

Tongarra Mine

In the 1870s coal seams existed at Tongarra.  In 1893 William Brownlee started mining a coal seam on his property.  The Albion Park butter factory had opened in Calderwood Road and in 1894 and William sold his coal to the creamery for their machinery operations.

William came from Ireland as a settler and farmer. In the late 1850s he purchased 236 acres in the foothills of the escarpment and base of Macquarie Pass. He married Elizabeth Collins in the early 1860s and they had five children; John, Mary, James, Peter and Jane. William built a cottage of local sandstone for the family which still stands on the property today.

By 1893 William had excavated a horizontal tunnel 800 feet above sea level. The tunnel had cut into a seam of the purest and best gas coal which was 22 feet thick. There were another two seams above this; one at 14.5 feet and 4.5 feet respectively. The coal at Tongarra was regarded as being of the best quality and was put on par with Newcastle.

In 1893 when William opened the mine there was every prospect that Lake Illawarra would be developed into a major port to export coal from a mine at Dapto.

William died in 1931. Further development was made to the mine in the early years by Percy Owen, and later Dawson, Gilchrist and De Latorre.

Excellsior Colleries of Thirroul took over mine operations in 1943 and in the 1940s Yuill and Company, under the management of Murray Brownlee. In 1950 William Brownlee’s son, Francis became the manager of the mine on his fathers old property, and at this time the entire mine was operated by Excellsior.

Tongarra Mine was closed in January 1965. Over the years the mine provided steady employment for the men of Albion Park and the surrounding districts.

William Brownlee at the entrance to Tongarra Mine c.1900
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries.

Tongarra Mine workers c.1950
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Sir Charles Kingsford Smith 80th Anniversary

In the early hours of 11 January 1933 before a cheering crowd of more than 1000 people, the Southern Cross prepared for take off at Seven Mile Beach, Gerroa. This was to be the first commercial Trans-Tasman flight.

On board was the crew of three and two passengers: Sir Charles Kingsford Smith (Pilot), Captain PG Taylor (Co-Pilot), Mr John SW Stannage (Wireless Operator), Mr SE Nielson (Secretary, New Plymouth and New Zealand Aero Clubs) and Mr James Percival (Journalist). In addition the plane was carrying 660 gallons of petrol, 30 gallons of oil and the recently released film “Air Mail”.

Prior to the flight the Southern Cross had been guarded by 10 policemen, protection against sightseers and souvenir hunters. The crowd on the beach had gathered throughout the day, picnicking parties of Mums, Dads and children. Meanwhile the crew prepared for the flight  refuelling the plane and making use of the Berry Surf Shed where they collated weather reports and rested. They waited for low tide.

Smithy was awakened at midnight and given a favourable weather report. Farewells were made, the plane taxied up the beach from south to north along a runway illuminated on the port side by car headlights and burning oil drums and starboard by the rolling breakers. Smithy leaned out of the cockpit and called “Cheerio everyone” and received a tremendous reply of “Good Luck! Cheerio!”

“The plane took off splendidly after a run of about half a mile and turned at the end of the beach, sending up several Verey lights. Then she came back right over the surf shed again, with the searchlight on, and after circling made straight out to sea, the only lights visible being those in the cabin” Kiama Independent, January 14, 1933.

The flight was reportedly uneventful with fine weather throughout, however they were blown further south than anticipated causing them to exceed their 13 hour target. The flight took 14 hours and 10 minutes and The Southern Cross was greeted in New Plymouth, New Zealand at 7pm (5pm Sydney time).

Sir Charles Kingsford Smith was born in Queensland in 1897. He is famous nationally and internationally for his many pioneering flights and his war service. He was knighted in 1932 for services to aviation. On the 8th November 1935, he and co-pilot Tommy Pethybridge disappeared over the Andaman Sea while on a flight from India to Singapore. Their bodies were never recovered.

Information courtesy of the Gerringong District Historical Society.

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