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One of the first recorded visits by non-Aboriginals to the Eurobodalla was by the Captain James Cook and the Endeavour on 22 Apr 1770. On that day Cook named Mt Dromedary and Batemans Bay. In 1797, 15 sailors from the Sydney Cove walked through the Eurobodalla having been shipwrecked at Point Hicks on 9 Feb of that year. Only 3 survived the journey back to Sydney.
On 14 Dec 1797 George Bass visited Durras in his whaleboat and sailed in to Tuross Lake 3 days later. In 1808 The Fly sheltered in Batemans Bay and cedar getters are recorded in the area in 1821. On 29 Nov 1821 Alexander Berry visited Batemans Bay in the Snapper.
Early in 1828 HS Badgery and Henry Burnell arrived in the Araluen Valley and in the same year Surveyor Robert Hoddle followed the Moruya River to its’ mouth. In June 1828 Surveyor Thomas Florance surveyed the coast from Batemans Bay to Moruya adopting Aboriginal names for Broulee, Tomakin, Candlagan Creek and Moruya.
BG Raye was the first to take up a grant on the northern side of the Moruya River although it was Irish tailor, Francis Flanagan, who was the first to actually settle at Shannon View in 1829. John Hawdon settled at Kiora in 1831 and a village grew in the area. He had previously squatted at Bergalia in 1830 but as it was then outside the Limits of Location, he could not get a title to that area. William Morris squatted at Gundary in 1835.
The Moruya Town Centre was surveyed in 1850 and gazetted in 1851 with land sales commencing in 1852. Gold was discovered at Araluen in 1851 and Mogo in 1858 as well as Nerrigundah in 1861. Joseph and Flett Louttit from the Orkney Islands established a granite quarry on the southern bank of the Moruya River in the late 1850’s, providing building materials for the Bank of NSW in Martin Place in 1868, General Post Office in Martin Place in 1872 and the base of the Captain Cook statue in Hyde Park.
The Moruya or Government Quarry opened on the northern bank of the river in 1876 and from 1925 to 1932 over 250 stonemasons produced 18,000 cubic metres of cut granite in 173,000 blocks for the pylons of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney cenotaph and many other structures. A town of over 70 homes called Granite Town grew up beside the quarry.
The first bridge was constructed at Moruya in 1876 with new ones in 1900 and 1945 and the current one in 1966. The Moruya Aerodrome was used as an advanced operational base during World War II with a trawler attacked offshore by the Japanese in 1942 and the SS Robert J Walker torpedoed by the German submarine U862 in 25 Dec 1944 with 2 killed and 67 survivors.
The Eurobodalla Shire Council was established in 1906 and is based in Moruya which had a population of 3,856 on the night of the 2011 Census. Of these, 310 or 8% were Indigenous. Moruya also houses a hospital, the regional TAFE campus and the Southern Phone Company. Notable Australians born in Moruya include Bill Woods, Channel Ten newsreader, Josh Cunningham, lead guitarist from the Waifs and Michael Weyman, Australian rugby league footballer.
Information sourced from Behind Broulee – William A Bayley (1978), Moruya : A Short History – Stuart Magee (2006), Wikipedia and www.censusdata.abs.gov.au .
THE HISTORY OF MORUYA GRANITE
There were four Granite Quarries in Moruya – Louttits, Government, Zieglers and McCredies Quarries. One of the early projects for Moruya Granite was to construct training walls to ensure a navigable channel at the mouth of the Moruya River. When the training walls were under construction, the local Pilot Station Controller, Captain Ross noticed that the granite was similar in quality to granite in Aberdeen, Scotland. He sent samples to the Colonial Architect in Sydney, Mr James Barnet, on the schooner “Woodpecker”. Soon after, Moruya granite became well known for its quality and colour. As a result, it was selected for the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
In 1881 Sydney firm Loveridge and Hudson brought this lathe from England to be used for turning granite columns. Described as a rare piece of Victorian machinery which was used for nearly a century, this stonemason’s lathe demonstrates changes in technology and in the taste for public buildings. It is associated with many significant public buildings in Sydney of the late Victorian period. It is rare for its size, demonstrating aspects of the late 19th century toolmaking technology. It was used to turn the granite columns for Custom House in Alfred Street Circular Quay, as well as other stone types in Sydney buildings, including the Queen Victoria Building Sydney and the Equitable Life Assurance Society building in George Street Sydney.
Government Quarry was opened in 1876 for river works. Located on the northern bank of the Moruya River, but its claim to fame was providing the granite for the piers and pylons of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and The Cenotaph Stone.
From its original inhabitants, the Bugelli-Manji tribe, to bushrangers, the Gold Rush and beyond, Moruya has a rich history filled with the colour and romance typical of Australia's early days.