Wednesday 17 February 2016
Photos by Karen M
On Thursday 17 February 18 walkers gathered at Barbara’s home to do an afternoon circuit of Broulee Island. Interestingly, Barbara’s home is on the site of the first courthouse and lockup in Broulee. Barbara read us some of the history of the area and particularly of the island, before we started to see some of the sites for ourselves. Unfortunately there is not much remaining of what was a thriving commercial community in the years between 1830 and 1840.
It was a stunning day for a walk around Broulee Island. Brilliant sunshine with a cool breeze made for a very pleasant temperature. Before we started the circuit we walked up to the lookout near the Surf Club which offers a wonderful panorama of our coastline, then we headed to the beach, walking past the very pretty Shark Bay and to the island.
Barbara pointed out the various items of interest to us, including the possible site of the original hotel on the island and the remains of the rail that carried shell grit for export. A barbecue followed in the late afternoon. All agreed it had been a very scenic and informative walk.
Photos courtesy State Library of Victoria and Moruya Historical Society
Barbara piqued my interest when she showed us a picture of the inn (sketched by John Skinner Prout – see above) perched on top of Broulee Island and talked about its eventual fate, so I did some further research.
The inn was a low shingled weatherboard building built from American redwood by Captain William Oldrey in 1840. Oldrey was a major land speculator in the Broulee area and he leased the building to Bernard McAuley from 1842 to 1844. McAuley named the inn Erin-Go-Bragh, which means Ireland Forever.
Broulee’s function as a port disappeared when the dangerous sand bar at the mouth of the Moruya River was washed out by floods in 1841, enabling coastal shipping to navigate the river as far as Moruya township site. Erin-Go-Bragh was disassembled and moved to Moruya where it was bought by Abraham Emmott and erected in Campbell Street to be used as Emmott’s first Beehive Store (see photo above).
Eventually Emmott built a bigger Beehive Store on the Harris Scarfe site in Moruya’s main street and used the old Erin-Go-Bragh building as his home, naming it Merlyn (photo above). Emmott then built himself a new brick terrace home (currently the Moruya Museum) in 1875. The Erin-Go-Bragh/Merlyn building survived as a home for others (including an early Batemans Bay Bushwalker called Lloyd Donnelly) until 1978 when it was demolished(!!) to make way for the development of the new Shire Offices.
This historic information about Erin-Go-Bragh/Merlyn comes from the EXCELLENT Moruya and District Historical Society Blog at mhsociety.wordpress.com and their accompanying Facebook page.