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Brief history of Nelligen, Batemans Bay and the Clyde River on the Eurobodalla South Coast, NSW Australia

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Nelligen - South Coast NSW Australia

Nelligen was first surveyed in 1827 by Florence and Hoddle and timber cutters had arrived by the early 1830's. The township of Nelligen was officially gazetted in 1854 and the track across the Clyde Mountain to Braidwood was opened in the same year. Alluvial gold was discovered nearby Nelligen in 1862 although gold had been discovered over the Clyde Mountain at Braidwood earlier in the 1850's.

The gold rush also brought bushrangers with the Clarke brothers being the most notorious in the area. Gold shipments from the Araluen, Nerrigundah and Mogo gold fields required the escort of armed troopers.

After years of robbing coaches, pubs and stores the brothers were finally tracked down and captured after a bloody gun battle. Whilst awaiting transportation to Sydney they were chained to a large gum tree at Nelligen. The remains of this tree still exist. The Clarkes were hanged at Darlinghurst in 1867 having been convicted of the murder of four troopers and numerous other offences.

The capture and execution of the Clarke brothers created a sudden decline in bushranging activities on the South Coast, although Mr Vietch (the Mogo postal manager) was killed in an isolated incident at Jeramadra Creek in 1873.

Until 1841 Broulee (south of Batemans Bay) was a popular port of call for steamers, but this changed with the establishment of Nelligen.

Large steamers (up to 10,000 tons) plied the Clyde River to Nelligen from 1853 to pick up timber, wool and other farm products and to deliver supplies for local farmers, gold miners and timber cutters. A punt service across the Clyde River was begun at Nelligen in 1895 and continued until 1964 when the Nelligen bridge was built.

Although Batemans Bay is by far the largest town on the South Coast's Clyde River this was not always the case, with Nelligen having the first Post Office in 1858 - there was no official Post Office building in Batemans Bay until 1894. It wasn't until the early 1900s that the population of Batemans Bay overtook that of Nelligen.
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Batemans Bay - South Coast NSW Australia

Batemans Bay was named by Captain Cook in 1770 after his superior officer on the Northumberland.

The first Europeans in this South Coast NSW area were the survivors of the Sydney Cove which was shipwrecked nearby in 1797. Only three of the ship wreck survivors lasted the long and arduous journey back to Sydney - a distance of some 280km. This prompted George Bass to visit the area later in 1797. He continued south to Eden and today we have the George Bass Memorial surf boat race which covers his journey from Batemans Bay to Eden on the New South Wales far southcoast of Australia.

The early 1800s saw the arrival of timber cutters and fishermen to the area. Timber and fishing remained a major part of the local Batemans Bay economy until just recently. Oyster farming began in the 1860s and continues to this day, with the Clyde River being a major source of high quality Sydney Rock oysters.

The township of Batemans Bay on the New South Wales South Coast was originally planned in 1859 and although the population was only around 300 at the turn of the century the township has grown considerably. Batemans Bay is now a prime tourist destination and retirement area with a resident population of approx. 13,000.

The Batemans Bay Clyde River ferry crossing was established in 1871 and was replaced by a lifting span bridge in 1956. This Clyde River crossing put Batemans Bay on the map and started to draw trade away from Nelligen and establish Batemans Bay as the main centre on the NSW South Coast.

The Batemans Bay bridge today is the oldest of its type in Australia and is a well recognised landmark on the South Coast of New South Wales.
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Clyde River - South Coast NSW Australia

The Clyde River (Bhundoo to the local Aboriginal people) begins its journey 125km from Batemans Bay in rugged mountain areas to the north. The Clyde River, which is sometimes merely a trickle in the upper reaches, passes through pristine forest areas and National Parks delivering water that is very pure.

As the river nears Batemans Bay it becomes wider and deeper with the last 35km being navigable to larger craft. The Clyde River can be navigated from Shallow Crossing to the Tollgate Islands at the entrance to Batemans Bay.

The Clyde River estuary was a major part of the development of both Batemans Bay and Nelligen, providing transport and pure waters for the development of the Clyde River oyster industry. The Sydney Rock Oyster is generally regarded as the ultimate in oysters and with its clean water the Clyde River produces the best available anywhere - the best of the best.

Although Oyster farming is still important on the Clyde River, its main uses today are recreational, with fishing, water skiing, canoeing, kayaking, jetskis, cruising and houseboats being very popular for locals and tourists alike.
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Bush Ranging Gold Rush History South Coast NSW Australia
Bushrangers NSW
© Old Mogo Town.

More historical information from the NSW Police about Bushrangers
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