Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Fishing in Shellharbour

Shark catch, Shellharbour. 1900-1910


Pulling in the fishing net, Shellharbour
Local fishermen on a Shellharbour beach. Nets were hauled in,
loaded in a basket with ice and sent to Sydney markets on the train. c1910

Fish catch at Shellharbour c1910

Fishing at Little Lake - c1950
All Images are Copyright Shellharbour Image Library

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Debutantes of Shellharbour

Many young ladies officially entered the social scene at the Albion Park Show Annual Ball. Local ladies associated with the Show Society were given the honour of officiating as Matron of Honour.

 Debutantes, Albion Park c1920



Albion Park debutantes in the 1950s

Debutante Valerie Steele in the early 1950s

Val Steele, a long time resident of Shellharbour, married Bernard 'Spud' Costello in 1956. This photo was taken at the Debutante's Ball held in Lake South Public Hall in the early 1950s.

Debutante Joan O'Gorman

Dawn Farmer & Des Stubbs
Images courtesy Shellharbour Images


Monday, 20 June 2016



US 'Cities Service Boston' aground on the rocks at Bass Point
The United States tanker 'Cities Service Boston' ran aground at Bass Point, Shellharbour on the 16th May 1943. Despite the very rough seas, soldiers from the 6th Aust M.G. BN AIF rescued the entire crew of 62 Americans, with the tragic loss of four Australian soldiers. They were Sgt W F Allen, Pte G W Pitt, Pte R J Snell and  Pte B H Symons. A memorial dedicated to their bravery on the 8th September 1968 stands on the northern side of Bass Point.

The wooden steamer 'Kiltobranks' wrecked at Shellharbour 1924

Built in NSW in 1908, the 'Kiltobranks' was a wooden steamer, 272 tons gross, 148 tons net, length 133.7 ft, beam 28 ft, depth 8.8 ft. Fully loaded with blue metal, 'Kiltobranks' ran aground on south Shellharbour Beach on 21st February, 1924. She was endeavouring to reach a swinging buoy used for berthing during a north-easterly wind when she went aground.

The ship 'Troy D' grounded at Bass Point 1995

The bulk carrier 'Troy D' was scheduled to pick up a load of blue metal from the Pioneer Quarry at Bass Point. The ship approached the jetty from the port side facing the quarry, overshot the jetty and grounded on rocks to the west. The crew were able to winch the carrier off the rocks the next day, after a fishing trawler towed the anchor out to sea. Fortunately the sea was calm and the ship only suffered minor damage to the rudder. It had to be towed back to Sydney.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Cars in the Redex Trial at Macquarie Pass
The Redex Round Australia Car Reliability Trials were popular
in the 1950s.

John Stubbs (left) watching competitors in the Redex Round
Australia Car Reliability Trials on Macquarie Pass. The driver
of the front car was Jack Davey.
Images from the Shellharbour Image Library

Monday, 30 May 2016


Hector Fraser's home at Tongarra
Hector Fraser (on horse) with two workmen. The horse -drawn 'slide' was used to haul produce and milk. The house was destroyed in a bushfire in 1909.

                                               Allen Bros. Store and Post Office, Shellharbour
Walter Allen established a general store and residence in 1868. He operated the Post Office adjacent to the store until his death in 1876. Mrs. Charlotte Allen and members of the family continued the business for many years as Allen Bros. Clothing and other goods were often ordered by catalogue through the Post Office, and arrived by boat, train or mail. Members of the Thomas and James Families are seated in the wagon.

                                                     Trotting race at Albion Park Show 1957
Albion Park A.H.& I. Association was formed on 9th September, 1887 at a meeting in the Carrington Hall, Albion Park. John Russell donated eight acres of land for a showground. The Association purchased another three acres from Russell to enlarge the ground to eleven acres. The first show was held in January 1888.

Driving a horse and cart to deliver milk from Clover Hill, Macquarie Pass
Images courtesy Tongarra Museum


Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Campsite on the park reserve at Shellharbour Harbour. Boer War memorial in the background

Elliot's Camp Ground, Warilla

Sunbathers at Bassett Park caravan park in the 1950s
Courtesy Shellharbour Images

Monday, 21 March 2016

Timbs Town

Gabriel Timbs arrived in Australia as a young boy in 1839. He and his parents travelled on board the Formosa and on their arrival went to work for Henry Osborne at his Marshall Mount Estate.

Another well known family, the Thomas’ were also working for the Osborne’s during this time.

When Gabriel was a young man he married Eliza Fogarty and they had 8 children before Eliza’s death in 1862. Gabriel remarried Ellen O’Gorman and they had another 13 children, making Gabriel the father of 21 children.

In 1860 at the sale of the Terry’s Meadows (Albion Park) Estate land sale, Gabriel bought several lots in the township and set about building shops; a butcher, blacksmith, shoemaker, dressmaker and general store.

The Kiama Independent 9 December 1879 reported ‘the  spirited enterprise of our Mr. Timbs must not pass unnoticed and no man has spent more money or energy in advancing the welfare of this neighbourhood’. One reporter said the town should be called Timbs’ Town.

Gabriel also built the famous Albion Park Hotel, a two storied building with 12 large rooms for guests and verandahs. James Condon became the proprietor of Gabriel’s new ’Albion Park Hotel’, though Gabriel always pronounced it ‘Otel. Many years later the O’Gorman family ran the hotel.

Gabriel was generous to the local community and gave land to for a Catholic Church, Convent and Presbytery. He served as an Alderman on Shellharbour Municipal Council from 1876-1883.

Gabriel died at his ‘Rosetta Hill’ home at Mount Terry in 1901, when he was 77 years old. He bequeathed his entire estate to his wife Ellen.

Crossroads and Albion Park facing west c.1890.
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Library.

Gabriel Timbs Senior.
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries.

Monday, 14 March 2016

The Settler's Arms Fire

Robert Martin was born c.1830 and arrived in Australia from Ireland in  1838. He worked as a digger on the Victorian goldfields before marrying Lily Ann Cochrane in 1853. In 1856 he was granted a publicans license for the Settler’s Arms at Shellharbour.

The ‘Settlers Arms Inn’ was a meeting place for many  significant events during the early development of the Village, most notably it was the meeting place for the petition of 210 persons signatories for the formation of Shellharbour as a    Municipality.  Mr. Robert Martin was one of the first Aldermen on Council 1859-1864. 
In 1864, Mr. Henry Parkes, MP for Kiama, on his campaign visit to Shellharbour, addressed the schoolchildren of the National School from the verandah of the Settlers Arms Inn.

Sadly Robert’s eldest daughter Isabella, drowned in a well while getting water for the family in July 1868. All efforts to resuscitate her failed after many townsfolk came to her aid.

The following year, Robert’s wife Lily Ann died, leaving six surviving children of the original eleven born. In 1872 Robert married Rebecca Clinton.

Misfortune struck the Martin family once again, when around 3 o’clock in the morning of  8 April 1872, The Settlers Arms Inn and dwelling house of Robert Martin were destroyed by fire. 

The townsfolk evacuated all the family and an enquiry into the origin of the fire was held at the Steam Packet Inn four days later.  The District Coroner, Mr. H. Connell could find no evidence how the fire started.

The site of the Settlers Arms Inn was left vacant until Mr. Henry Mood, builder and coachbuilder of Shellharbour built his New Royal Hotel.  Subsequent owners and licensees had occupied The New Royal until it was purchased by Mrs. Henrietta Bush.  It suffered the same fate as The Settlers Arms Inn, destroyed by fire in 1931. 

The Settlers Arms Hotel Addison Street, Shellharbour Village c.1860.
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Calderwood Road, Albion Park. Postcard dated 22 December 1908.

North Macquarie  Road, Calderwood, Albion Park
The buggy was built by L. R. Mood and Sons, coachbuilders of Albion Park.
All information from Shellharbour Images
Tongarra Sawmill and staff accommodation

Tongarra Sawmill 1948

                                                Construction of Tongarra Sawmill 1946
Images available from Shellharbour Images

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

The Thomas Family

Sarah and William Thomas were typical examples of early settlers whose hard work and persistence built the foundations of the community in Shellharbour.

Sarah and William had three children William, John and Clorinda, by the time they migrated to Australia. This in itself was an adventurous step – a strange unknown continent with a small town called Sydney, which was the only real outpost that was at all familiar.

They arrived at Wollongong Harbour in 1838 on a steamer nicknamed ’Puffing Billy’ and were immediately engaged by Henry Osborne at Marshall Mount. The Thomas’ occupied the gardener’s cottage. Many years later, the Thomas’ daughter Clorinda (Cloe) recalled the time when they landed at the harbour. She remembered the place where the convicts were housed a little back from the landing spot. As there was no wharf, their possessions had to be carried from the boat to dry land. Clorinda recalled it was very cold and one of the sailors carried her ashore. Dan, the bullock driver met them and drove them up Crown Street which was at that time just a dirt track.

William Thomas was employed as a carpenter and built the cedar staircase in Marshall Mount House and planted and English Oak on the farm, which is still there today. Sarah was engaged with the house duties for the Osborne’s.

Sarah and William later moved to Log Bridge Farm at Yallah where their other seven children were born.

In the early years Sarah would have worked alongside her husband on the farm, tended her children as well as the normal house duties, which would have included making her own butter, grinding flour, washing by hand and making the family clothes.

Unlike so many others at the time who lasted only two or three years in the country, William and Sarah tackled the fear of the bush, the unknown, worked with the land and made it their home until their death. A patchwork cot quilt made by Sarah Thomas c.1840 on her voyage to Australia is part of the Tongarra Museum collection.

The Thomas family remained in Shellharbour and continued to prosper. John Thomas, who arrived with his parents in 1838, married Maria Haslam and they lived at Shellharbour Village owning a store, and later a Butchering business. John served briefly as an Alderman and was a member of the first Albion Park Show Committee, he was one of the founders of the Allowie Temperance Lodge, Church of England Shellharbour where he occupied the position of Church Warden. His greatest work is considered to be his work with the Co-operative Shipping Co. where he assisted with the formation and was a shareholder and director when the company commenced operation in 1856.

Another son, Henry (Harry) coomenced farming at Clover Hill Macquarie Pass in 1894. He married Mary James, daughter of pioneers William and Elizabeth James of Shellharbour in 1896 and most of Mary and Harry's children were born at Clover Hill. In 1912 they moved to St Ives at Dunmore, leaving their son Kenneth to carry on the farming until the property was sold to Ben Turner in 1950.
The museum has six handmade wax cows made by Maria Thomas at Shellharbour, and a working Victoria Automatic Sock Knitting Machine, used by Mary Thomas at Clover Hill to make socks for the soldiers in World War One.

The museum also holds Sarah Thomas' silk tartan skirt, a cot quilt made by Sarah, a brooch and a lock of her hair.

The Thomas family remains in Shellharbour and continues to be actively involved in their community. Tongarra Museum is lucky enough to have a source of some authority on this family, Maurece Kelly, working as a volunteer.

The Thomas children and their father Harry at Clover Hill farm, Macquarie Pass c.1907.
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries.

Wax cows handmade by Maria Thomas at Clover Hill, c.1900.
Tongarra Museum collection.

Cot quilt handmade by Sarah Thomas c.1838
Tongarra Museum collection.

Monday, 1 February 2016


The following recollections are taken from Albion Park Saga, by local identity Bert Weston for the Tongarra Heritage Society.

‘Few people, if any had seen an aeroplane at Albion Park until ex-Flying Corps pilot Bob Potts of Sydney arrived for the 1920 Albion Park Show, offering 'joyrides' at $2 a head for four minutes aloft.

Using a DH6 wartime biplane powered with 90hp RAF motor giving it a top speed of 75 mhp, it was nicknamed the 'Clutching Hand' in flying circles and reputedly went  backwards if headed into a stiff breeze.

Bob operated out of Ned Sawtell's paddock under no safety conditions, which would give a modern pilot the cold sweats, and gave ‘Parkites’ their first experience in being airborne. Some were thrilled, some landed in a state of near collapse, but all survived.

Sometime later Lieutenant Barkell landed an Avro in Stapleton's paddock and bent the axle on a hidden stump. Typical of aviation in those days, he dismantled the undercarriage, put the damaged axle on his shoulder and humped it to Moods smithy shop to be heated and straightened’.

‘Albion Park Saga’, Bert Weston, The Tongarra Heritage Society, 1996.

Albion Park Showground 1972.
Shellharbour Images, Shellharbour City Libraries.

Monday, 18 January 2016

A Tale of Two Brothers

Warwick Douglas Thomas was born at Shellharbour 9 September 1912. His brother Noel Francis Thomas was born 16 November 1915.

After enlisting in the Army in 1939 and 1940 respectively the Thomas brothers served their country in the Middle East and both arrived home to Australia safely, however both met with accidents and were tragically killed shortly after their return home.

The Thomas brothers were raised at ‘St Ives’ dairy farm at Dunmore. Warwick, the third brother of ten children was keenly interested in farming and land management. He was also a Sunday School teacher, good at tennis, and loved swimming, horses and his motor bike. Warwick was engaged to Grace Campbell from Mascot in 1943 when a terrible accident occurred. It seems Warwick left a train while it was moving near Goulburn Station, and stunned himself. He crawled onto the railway line and was hit by an oncoming train. He died instantly.

Noel Thomas was a Surveyor and was away from home a great deal of the time. He had been promoted to Lieutenant in 1942 and served with the first Australian Railway Company. An         article appearing in the Australian Surveyor booklet stated ‘Lieutenant NF Thomas who died of injuries accidentally received in Northern Territory 17 April 1944 was born at Shellharbour, NSW...In 1940 he enlisted in the AIF and went to the Middle East where he won his commission in the field. He returned to Australia early in 1943 and was transferred to railway construction work’.

Noel Thomas was one of the original members of the railway unit during the construction of the Beirut to Tripoli line. The tragedy of his death was a severe blow to the whole unit for there was no one in the unit more popular than Lieutenant Thomas. He had been driving his platoon in a dust storm in the Northern Territory at the time and came into a collision with another army vehicle. Sadly, he too died from his injuries.

‘They Served Their Country and Then’ by Joyce Bailey (Joyce Whatman)
Warwick Thomas
Joyce Whatman collection.

Noel Thomas
Joyce Thomas collection.