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'World War One: the War Years' local history calendar 2015

World War One: the War Years local history calendar 2015

The 2015 local history calendar was launched today by Mayor Michael
Britten at Bega library. The theme of the calendar is ‘World War One: the War Years’.

The 2015 calendar is very special and no doubt will resonate with many people as we head into the centenary of the Gallipoli landings and the ANZAC experience. Over the next three to four years Australia will commemorate various World War One milestones, marking 100 years since Australia’s involvement in World War One. Nearly 200 men from our region lost their lives in World War One and this 2015 calendar contributes towards creating a record of our region’s past during those tumultuous World War One years.

Towns and villages throughout Australia focused on raising money to support the war effort through subscriptions to government war loans.

One of the photographs in the calendar shows the Bega Honour Flag awarded in recognition of the town’s contribution to the Seventh War Loan in 1918. Bega doubled its quota of 10,000 pounds and was awarded the coveted distinction of adding three bars and a star to their flag which can be seen in the photograph. H.M Blomfield was Mayor of Bega during the war years and instrumental in raising funds. In recognition of his patriotic drive his name was inscribed onto the flag.

Finding suitable photographs for this year’s calendar was challenging and would not have been possible without the support of the Bega Valley Historical Society and the Eden Killer Whale Museum.

The calendar is available for purchase at Eden, Merimbula, Bega and Bermagui libraries at a cost of $8.80.

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Pambula Soldiers' Memorial, photo taken 2011

The official opening of the Pambula Soldiers’ Memorial took place in February 1936 and was reported in the Bega District News of 13 Feb. 1936.  The Memorial is made of Bega granite and was produced by Zeigler and Sons of Bega.  It had a chain fence and flagpole which were donated by Dr. Wing and Dr. Naomi Wing.  The opening involved many in the community with “A procession of returned soldiers, including some from Bega, Candelo and Eden, Boy Scouts and school children, marched from the School of Arts to the Memorial, headed by the Pambula Band.” (BDN 13 Feb. 1936)

Many speeches were made including one by Mr Walter Godfrey who spoke on behalf of the returned men.  He made particular mention of the “late Mrs Haywood” who had taken an “active part in all the welcomes to returned men and in organising for this memorial which had been her life’s ambition.” (BDN 13 Feb. 1936)

A list of names on the Memorial can be found at www.warmemorialsnsw.asn.au

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It appears that the first Post Office established in the Valley was at Eden in 1847.  Although there was possibly an earlier one opened at Boydtown in 1844.

The opening of a Post Office often marked a township as having a viable status and locations of Post Offices could be hotly contested. Post Offices and the mail were, after all, the only link with the outside world.

Residents would petition the Post Master General requesting the establishment of a Post Office for their town with explanations as to why an office was required. These records of petitions and correspondence provide invaluable insight into the prevailing social conditions. Petitioners signed their name, often giving their address and occupation so these records can prove to be another source of family history information. As part of the petition a likely candidate for the position of postmaster was offered with supporting information. These candidates were often the local schoolteacher or owner of the general store.

Especially in the early establishment of an office,

The Bega Library has a set of local Post Office histories. These were produced by the Historical Officer of Australia Post in the 1970s and are based on primary records such as petitions and correpondence.  Histories are available for the Post Offices at Eden, Bega, Lower Towamba, Quaama, Candelo, Tathra Road, Kameruka, Bemboka, and Tanja.

The histories also include some information on the establishment of local Telegraph Offices and Telephone Exchanges.

Picture Australia includes historic photographs of many local post offices http://www.pictureaustralia.org/index.html

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You can read wonderful descriptions of land for sale in the NSW Government Gazettes from the 19th Century.  The Bega Library has an index to the gazettes on cd-rom.

The 1850 gazette notes several town lots of land for sale in Eden and ‘Panbula’  including price per acre, typically £8.

In the 1844 NSW Government Gazette, reference is made to a land purchase by James Boyd of Lot 2, Eden; an area of 2 roods. The land deed was dated 29 February 1844 (a leap year!).

Government gazettes provide a huge range of information of value to local and family historians. The first gazettes were produced whenNSW was still a penal colony so early notices make interesting reading. Other notices relate to employment within the colonial administration and of course land notices are prevalent. Other information included in the gazettes relate to bankruptcy, licencing and intestacy notices.

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Four Chinese names are listed in the Eden District section of the Yewen’s Directory of the Landholders of NSW, 1900. (This cd-rom is in the Bega Library.)

There is a Thomas Ah Kin, postal address Merimbula Post Office, who was a maize grower.  In addition, there is Charlie Ah Lum, Mr. Ah Yap (no first name given) and Jimmie Ching Pong, all of the address Pambula Post Office.

 Mr Ah Lum is listed as growing “other crops” in a “Chinese Garden”.  Mr Ah Yap grew maize and potatoes as well as “other crops” and Mr Ching Pong grew oats and “other crops”. 

Chinese involvement in market gardening in the Bega Valley was at its height between 1891 and 1901. Indeed, in 1901 about 67% of market gardeners were Chinese. (Golden threads : the Chinese in Regional NSW 1850-1950 by Janis Wilton, 2004.)

Interested? View Lee Chittick’s video of Kevin Tetley talking about the history of Chinese settlement in our valley.

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