Moruya and District Historical Society travels back to 1931.
It is now 1931 when we land at the Government Quarry and Granitetown on the northern bank of the river.
We are surprised at the development which has taken place.
Where there had been bare paddocks was a whole new town but we are told it is about to disappear. Why?
It seems that this place had been built to obtain granite for the pylons of the new Harbour Bridge in Sydney and now the contract had been fulfilled this place was no longer needed.
Dorman Long and Company was the company chosen to build this long awaited and much needed bridge to link both sides of the harbour.
Moruya granite had been used in various buildings and monuments in Sydney and was found to be highly suitable for the pylons.
It was also situated within reasonable travelling distance of Sydney and close to a river for easy transportation.
We meet the quarry manager John Gilmore and his lovely wife. They had come from Scotland with their family at the beginning of the project.
The quarry is coming to an end but the Gilmores have fallen in love with Moruya and have decided to stay on.
A couple of the Italian masons had married local girls and would also stay on. Most however would return to their homelands.
The first sod had been turned in 1924 and within a few months of clearing and levelling the site was in full swing, employing many local men.
Soon stonemasons arrived from Scotland and Italy. The neat little houses set out in rows that we can see were built for families.
The single men lived in bachelors’ quarters.
The Italians had even brought out their own cook. Goodness knows what those Australians might have tried to serve up to them. Probably boiled mutton and potatoes!
Machinery and crushers had arrived from Sydney. Sheds were built for the workshops and machinery.
The fine wharf down by the riverbank has a railway line built to take the stone to waiting ships.
This whole township we are standing in is called appropriately “Granitetown” and grew up with its own school, post office and recreation hall.
Now in 1931 it is about to disappear. We are told some of the houses have already been sold and will be moved into town or onto farms.
Two fisherman – Mr G. Patrech and Bill Lawler – declare that they saw a sea serpent at the mouth of the Clyde River. The creature broke the surface eight feet from their boat and appeared about three times before finally disappearing. The men described it as being 12 feet long and two and a half feet in diameter with a flat head with white jowls and a brown body. Our very own Loch Ness Monster?
This busy noisy place will soon return to peace and tranquility.
(In 2018 there is a memorial to all the Moruya granite quarries in Apex Park, corner of Vulcan and Campbell Streets while the Dorman Long Quarry is particularly remembered in the Quarry Park on North Heads Road.)
We are told the story of how the whole town flocked to the beach at South Heads by motor car, lorry, horse and bike one day last year.
The reason for this sudden exodus was a rumour that there was a sea serpent about to be washed onto the beach.
A sea serpent is a mythological creature resembling a huge snake. The story goes that they leave their cave on bright summer nights to eat lambs and pigs, or venture out to sea to feed on sea nettles, crabs and other marine animals.
On arrival at South Heads though the people were deeply disappointed to find that it was no sea serpent but a huge whale and its calf. The mammals of the deep were cruising up and down quite close to the shore.
Constable Monk and others fired a few shots over them to encourage them into deeper waters. They spouted a farewell and swam out to sea. But while we are there a story comes through from Batemans Bay.
Two fisherman – Mr G. Patrech and Bill Lawler – declare that they saw a sea serpent at the mouth of the Clyde River.
The creature broke the surface eight feet from their boat and appeared about three times before finally disappearing.
The men described it as being 12 feet long and two and a half feet in diameter with a flat head with white jowls and a brown body. Our very own Loch Ness Monster?
In Moruya a new cheese factory has been built on land next to the old factory in Hawdon Street and locals tell us it is a “must see”.
It has been constructed on the most “up-to-date” lines by Mr K.J. Rolfe at a cost of £5500.
We venture up there and are welcomed by Mr Harry Parbery, the manager who has been in that position for 31 years.
We also meet two of Harry’s sons – John and Keith – who work there as apprentice cheese makers. (John would later become manager when his father retired.) Mr R. B. Heffernan (managing director for 22 years) and Mr H.P. Jeffery (secretary for 18 years) also come to greet us.
Directors and staff are all very proud of this factory. It is one of the most modern in the state.
It had been officially opened in June 1930 by Miss Ellen Heffernan, daughter of the managing director.
Also present at the opening were Mr H. J. Bate, M.L.A. and many representative dairymen from other South Coast districts.
We are astonished at how modern the equipment is. With Mr Parbery’s skill and care the factory already has a fine reputation which can only be enhanced by these facilities.
We view the huge new shiny vats and other processing equipment and are shown into the vast cool room where the maturing cheese is kept until ready for sale.
The difference in temperature is amazing. This room has very thick walls to keep the cheese at a constant coolness.
Mr Parbery gets out his little gadget and bores a hole in a cheese, extracting a small piece for us to taste. It is certainly very good cheese.
We are so impressed we ask to buy a whole cheese. As a special favour this is permitted. (These days the cheese factory is a private residence.)
Apparently a “Back to Moruya” week is planned for early 1932. It is a pity we have to leave.