The township of Batemans Bay has a combination of places of Aboriginal cultural heritage. It is a place full of natural resource, with recreational and employment opportunities. It is and has been a birthplace, a living place, a place to be educated and a place to rest in peace, for generations of Aboriginal families. The traditional links Aboriginal people have to the land and waters remain strong throughout the Batemans Bay area, despite the impact of settlement, segregation policies and the ongoing pressure related to residential and industrial development.
When Tom Davis’s uncle returned from the war in 1945, he was jailed for going into the Bayview Hotel for a beer. ‘….. he was meant to be exempt from that law because he was a soldier, but they jailed him anyway’. The Batemans Bay Picture Theatre owned by Ken Annette during the 1960s. ‘…Aboriginal people were welcome…..there were no problems with colour. …everyone ‘mixed in’ on a Saturday night ..’[Tom Davis 18.12.2005].
In 1960 there were a number of Aboriginal women working in the shops in Batemans Bay. Mary Duroux worked in the kitchen in a café, whilst others worked at Arnott’s haberdashery, in the hospital, in the Italian restaurant and in the fish and chips shop. Generally, the area was not as racist as towns in other areas [Mary Duroux 6.2.2006].
Symalene Nye’s father, Stanley Carriage worked at Perry’s Sawmill all his life [Symalene Nye 15.11.2005]. Tom Davis’s father and grandfather also worked there [Tom Davis18.12.2005].
Patricia Jean Ellis [dec] worked at the restaurant on the Pier [it was called Jamison’s]. She was friends with Rose Simon and would often stay with Muriel Chapman [Trisha Ellis 1.6.2006].
Tom Davis has worked at Mitchell’s sawmill since he was 14 years and 10 months old [he is now 62 and one month]. He is the oldest benchman in the mill. Kevin Simon, Syd Chapman, Joe Chapman, Tom Davis and William Davis Snr all worked at Mitchell’s Sawmill. The mill is now referred to as the ‘top mill’, located south of Batemans Bay along the Princess highway [Tom Davis 18.12.2005].
Georgina Parsons recalls the ‘Bergalia’ boat docking in between Mitchell’s and Perry’s Mills, previously located on the banks of Batemans Bay. The boat came to collect timber to take to Sydney. There was a beach there then where the kids collected pipis and oysters. The area has since been filled in [Georgina Parsons 15.12.2005].
Many Aboriginal people worked at Ted Mitchell’s sawmill in Batemans Bay including Joseph Chapman, Georgina Parson’s father George Parsons, Les’s father Kevin Simon ‘Jiggzy’ Chapman, Syd Chapman, Tom Davis, Terry Parsons and Gregory ‘Megs’ Parsons, Jim and Ray Chapman [Les Simon 15.12.2005].
Terry Parsons worked delivering timber from Mitchell’s Mill ‘all over’. His father, Cyril Parsons was a benchman, working at Mitchell’s sawmill in Batemans Bay, amongst other places [Terry Parsons 18.12.2005].
Joseph Chapman worked in Toby Davis’s Mill, located next to Perry’s Mill. Toby purchased the mill off Mitchell. Joseph Chapman was a frixton driver, who drove the rollers that the logs sit on, they have to set the gauge according to the width of the timber [Les Simon 3.11.2005].
There was an Aboriginal Reserve in the vicinity of Batemans Bay High School. The Aboriginal people did not like living there. Instead they choose to camp close to the road near the caravan park and along Joes Creek [Tom Davis 18.12.2005].
The ‘Burrawang’ Aboriginal fringe camp was situated between the Chapman’s [now Shady Willows Caravan Park] and Stewart’s [corner of Short and High Street] houses. It was surrounded by Burrawangs and was a camp for ‘travelling blacks’, because there was food and water nearby, in Hanging Rock Creek [Tom Davis 18.12.2005].
Percy Davis lived in a shack, clad with tin, bushes and wood, with a dirt floor. He used an old tree for a broom, lived by himself, had no kids, and played the violin [Violet Parsons 6.4.2006].
When in the Batemans Bay area, Percy Davis resided in a tent, which was permanently set up on the outskirts of Batemans Bay, ‘in the bush’. Les Simons and William Davis remember chopping wood for Percy Davis and called him ‘uncle square dancer’. Percy Davis was Tom Davis senior’s cousin. Tom Davis senior was William Davis Jnrs grandfather [Les Simon and William Davis 03.11.2005].
Percy Davis always wore a white shirt and Andy Capp hat. He often stayed at a house in Murray Street, Batemans Bay. He played the violin; Patricia Ellis [Snr] played the harmonica and banjo, whilst Thelma Ellis played the piano accordion [Trisha Ellis 1.6.2006].
Thomas Henry Davis always had lots of visitors. Munns Hammond, a ‘wild blackfella’ who travelled along the coast, would stop a while; Jimmy Little’s father, ‘Coonkus’ also stayed at the Davis’s so did Percy Mumbler. Percy Mumbler could paint and draw really well [Tom Davis 18.12.2005].
Thomas ‘Henry’ Davis was William Davis’s great grandfather [father’s mother’s father]. Percy Davis was Henry’s uncle. In William’s lifetime, this house was occupied by Willy Thomas, Henry had passed away [William Davis 22.5.2006].
Governor Stewart and Christy and Henry Stewart lived up the hill near the hospital [Jennifer Stewart. 9.11.2005].
The Chapman’s House was located where Shady Willows Caravan Park is today [Tom Davis 18.12.2005].
Harry Chapman, Les Simon’s great grandfather [mother’s grandfather] was granted this land in 1912 and built himself a house. Harry lived in the house, with his wife Annie Chapman [nee Bolloway], their son and daughter-in-law, Joseph and Muriel Chapman, until Harry died in 1953. Annie died the following year. Joseph Chapman was a Christian minister. Everyone, including Ossie Cruse and his father Benjamin would drop in on their way past and stay a night or two. Les Simon’s bother Kelvin, was born in a shed in the backyard, his grandfather, Joseph Chapman delivered him. Les also lived in this house, until the age of 6 [3.11.2005 Les Simon].
Jennifer Stewart ‘had’ her four children at/from this house. Jennifer recalls that it was a big house with loads of beds on the verandah that extended around the house. There were always lots of people having fun at Annie’s house [9.11.2005 Jennifer Stewart].
During the 1960s Violet knew this house as Muriel and Joseph ‘Pardy’ Chapman’s House. Violet lived here with her brothers and sisters. Her father would drop in to see the kids on his way past. Les Simon and Violet Parsons have the same grandfather, Joseph Chapman from Turlinjah. He was married to Muriel Chapman [nee button] from Kempsey. Joe’s mother was Annie Bolloway who originally owned this house. They had fruit trees growing here [Violet Parsons 6.4.2006].
Food could always be sourced from the bush around the Batemans Bay slaughter yards, including snot gollions [Devil’s Twine / Dodder / Cassytha spp], native cherries, raspberries, gooseberries, and darhma vine. The Break wall within Batemans Bay is a good place to find bimbullas and oysters. ‘….As kids, we would take the bimbullas home to eat and the oysters we would collect and eat on site [Tom Davis 18.12.2005].
The Mc Leods Creek swamp and wetland area, west of Batemans Bay was used for leisure and resource collection. Kids would play whilst collecting mud crabs and bream. In low tide one could walk through to the west side of the marsh, or swim across the channel in high tide. Uncle Ernie Parsons made spears from the mangroves there. He would catch bream from the creeks with his spear [Les Simon 3.11.2005].
In 1926 Jane Duren wrote a letter to King George V about the racial segregation and lack of educational services for her grandchildren attending Batemans Bay Public School, which was established in 1893 [Doris Moore 14.12.2005].
Symalene Nye attended the old Batemans Bay Public School until the age of 11 at which time she attended the St Josephs Catholic School, Batemans Bay [Symalene Nye 15.11.2005].
Violet has spent most of her life in Batemans Bay, attending Batemans Bay Public School [Violet Parsons 6.4.2006].
Terry Parsons attended St Josephs Catholic School [Terry Parsons 18.12.2005].
Mrs Symalene Nye [nee Carriage] was born at the old Batemans Bay Hospital in 1930 [Symalene Nye 15.11.2005].
Terry ‘Nipper’ Parsons was born in the old hospital, Batemans Bay [Terry Parsons 18.12.2005].
Violet Parsons was born in 1952, in the old Batemans Bay Hospital located in North Street, Batemans Bay. Her father, Robert Parsons was also born in Batemans Bay [Violet Parsons 6.4.2006].
Margaret’s father Albert George ‘Linky’ Stewart and his brothers were born and raised in a house on ‘Stewart’s Corner’, High Street, Batemans Bay [Margaret Harris 9.3.2006].
Georgina Parsons was born in the ‘Batemans Bay bush hospital’ in 1939. Georgina thinks they mean Hanging Rock where her family was living at the time of her birth [Georgina Parsons 14.12.2006].
Violet Parson’s father Robert Parsons is buried at the Batemans Bay Catholic Cemetery [Les Simon 03.11.2005].
The Batemans Bay Protestant Cemetery, was the first cemetery in the Batemans Bay, and is located above Ryans Park, Batemans Bay. Ruth [Chapman] Thomas is buried there as is Georgina’s young brother who died at birth. Georgina’s father carried the 14-pound baby to the cemetery in a box [Georgina Parsons 15.12.2005].
Trisha Ellis’s mother informed her that they had relative buried at the old cemetery on the hill above where McDonald’s is now [Trisha Ellis 1.6.2006].
Excerpt from "Stories About the Eurobodalla by Aboriginal People", 2006. Story Contributed by Martin Ind from Moruya High School.