It is quite a while since our time machine last visited Moruya. It is now 1886 and time for our next visit. There is now a bridge, which opened in 1876. It’s built of wood and now, 10 years later, it is rather shaky.
Locals tell us there was quite a celebration when Moruya got its first bridge. There was an opening ceremony, regatta on the river, athletics sports day and grand ball at night.
The Parramatta Brigade Band played and there was a procession of school children and adults marching along to the bugle band. All the shops were closed and the bridge was decorated with arches, flags and streamers.
Mrs Clarke, wife of the local Member of Parliament, broke a bottle of champagne over the handrail. Hotel hosts, Harkus, Staunton, Mears and Coman supplied liquid refreshments before the banquet at the Adelaide Hotel.
The Criterion Hotel has been newly rebuilt by Mr Harkus and opened just this year. We have heard other travellers loudly praising the excellent accommodation which it affords so decide to stay here. It is erected on the same spot as the old building on a two-acre block at the north end of the Moruya Bridge.
It has a frontage with the bar to the main road and balconies, each more than 100 feet in length. We stand on the top balcony and admire the view over the beautiful Moruya River.
As sunset approaches the view up the river towards the mountains is spectacular. There are more than 400 feet of verandahs and balconies and the building contains more than 40 rooms, all of which are large and lofty with 12-foot high ceilings.
The back balcony contains a tank capable of holding 6000 gallons of water. We are amazed at the size of the kitchen where the conveniences for cooking are excellent. The bar is fitted up equal to any we have seen in Sydney. The wines and spirits are of the finest quality. The cheerful nature of the landlady and her daughters make our stay a particularly pleasant one.
Next day we cross the bridge into Vulcan Street where we find the Bank of New South Wales with residence, built about three years ago with granite from the Louttit quarry on the south bank of the river. (Building still there but now a café and dress shop.)
Previously the Bank of NSW had operated in leased premises. We are told the new building was designed by Benjamin Backhouse of Backhouse and Lough and the contractor was Mr Kershaw. The cost was £2500. It is an attractive building with picket fence and gardens.
The new Court House, on the corner of Vulcan and Page Streets, has been completed. By 1865 the old courthouse had become very dilapidated. Some repairs were done but by 1879 with the expansion of the gold diggings it was recognised that extra measures were needed. The building was designed by the Colonial Architect, James Barnet. It was to be completed in eight months but took a while longer as the old building had to be demolished before work could commence. It is indeed a fine addition to the main street.
A public hall has been built in Page Street between the Wesleyan Church and the Church of England. It is called the Mechanics Institute and is an unusual building designed by local architect Reginald Barlow who was inspired by 13th century Gothic architecture.
A public hall has been built in Page Street between the Wesleyan Church and the Church of England. It is called the Mechanics Institute. It is an unusual building designed by local architect Reginald Barlow, who was apparently inspired by 13th century Gothic Architecture.
It is made of common brick with a shingle roof which is steeply pitched with a jerkin head form at front under which is a massive brick arch.
We were speaking to the Reverend Spencer who tells us he hopes to soon replace the little wooden Church of England church-cum-school house with a better building. The Catholic Church has a nunnery in the course of construction.
Locals are ashamed of their decrepit post office but there are plans for a new one. We visit some of the good stores which can be found in Vulcan and Queen Streets, including Emmotts.
We purchase a copy of the Moruya Examiner which is reporting on matters of local interest.
We wonder if our visit will make the next edition.
The I.S.N. Co. now has a wharf and storage building just below the southern end of the bridge. However, the sandbar is still causing problems at the entrance to the river and only the smallest steamer can come up the river and then only at high tide. Some 45,0000 pounds has been spent depositing granite to form a breakwater but it has not achieved much.
There is a feeling of sadness in the town. One of its first settlers, Mrs Hawdon has just died. Her husband John predeceased her about five years ago.
Time to return to our time machine.