The South Coast has a rich heritage, both from its Aboriginal ancestry and as a site for large-scale gold rush activities and cargo shipping in the mid-1800s.
There are so many remarkable places to explore on the coast that it’s easy to miss the historical aspect. But if you have a moment to go back in time, why not start with the Moruya Heritage Walk?
Kicking off on the Princes Highway, the walk spans several streets in the centre of Moruya. As you walk along you can almost see the horses pulling carriages, the young newsies selling papers on the main street, and people hurrying about during Australia’s big gold rush of the 1850s.
Here are just a few of the many incredible sights you’ll see on your journey…
Vivian Cottage and Prospect on Campbell Street
The first leg of the Moruya Heritage Walk will take you down Campbell Street which is named after William Campbell, an early settler in the area.
There are several heritage buildings on the street, including Vivian Cottage – a small timber house that was once the home of blacksmith, Peter Orlando Williams. Williams was an avid reader with great knowledge of English literature, including Shakespeare.
Prospect, at number 58, was once the site of the town’s first newspaper: the Examiner.
Mechanics Institute and Police Sergeant Residence on Page Street
The next leg of your journey will take you down Page Street, which features several heritage homes and commercial sites. The street was named by a surveyor at the time (presumably as a tribute to someone he knew).
Number 13 was once the “Mechanics Institute”, which was built in 1880 and used as a place for social gatherings. Now a community hall, the building also featured a library and penny bank (somewhere people could go to deposit small amounts into a savings account).
A little further down is the police sergeant residence, built in 1880 as the meeting place for law enforcers who kept order on the gold fields. This building is still used by the local police force.
Number 39 and the Club House Hotel on Queen Street
As you journey onto Queen Street, number 39 is a beautiful example of early architecture. It was once a home and shop owned by one of the area’s first carpenters, Edward Walter. Walter was also an undertaker according to a historical notebook belonging to his son, Thomas Edward Walter, which is held at the Moruya and District Historical Society Museum on Campbell Street.
The former Club House Hotel at number 43 was once the “Kilkenny’s Club House Hotel”, named after a popular Irish ale. It was also equipped with stables, but was rebuilt in its current form in 1915.
The Adelaide Hotel, Bank of NSW and Department Store on Vulcan Street
The final leg of your journey will take you down Vulcan Street, named after a premises owned by blacksmith James Gee.
The Adelaide Hotel on Vulcan Street is the oldest hotel still operating in Moruya, and dates back to 1865. While it has been rebuilt many times, the name has never changed.
Now a café and shops, the Bank of NSW was once located at number 59 and was built in 1883 as the local bank and manager’s home. At the time, it cost £2500 to build which was a lot of money in those days.
Number 64 was the site of the town’s main commercial activity. Founded in 1862, it was first known as Emmott’s Beehive Store before becoming Fosseys, then Grace Brothers, J.B. Youngs, Allens, and now Harris Scarfe.
Other heritage sites on this street include an old cinema and dance hall, a sundial donated by a local stonemason in 1867, a courthouse, plus many more. To learn more about all the historical sites on the Moruya Heritage Walk, visit the Moruya and District Historical Society.
Still hungry for history?
When you’ve finished the Moruya Heritage Walk, head over the bridge to the Moruya Quarry on the northern bank of the river. Granite from this quarry was shipped to Sydney and used to build Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons, as well as many other Sydney buildings.
You can also journey up to Memorial Park which overlooks the Moruya River and is the site of a historic graveyard where 20 burials took place from 1858.
If you’re still hungry for history after exploring Moruya, go north up to Nelligen – a beautiful riverside village with several heritage buildings dating back to the late 1800s.
For more information on historical sites on the South Coast, visit Explore Eurobodalla.