This study is not the first to find that Cullendulla Creek is a highly significant cultural area to the Aboriginal community. The following oral accounts provide a snap shot of how important this area is, in terms of it’s use as a teaching place, camping place, natural resource collection place, and meeting place.
Archaeological investigations reveal that this area has been utilised for thousands of years. The extensive exposed scattering of shell middens is evidence of this.
The creek extends north, away from the ocean into a mangrove, swampland ecosystem, and south into a sheltered part of Batemans Bay, between Surfside and Square Head / Long Beach.
Taken from “Stories About the Eurobodalla by Aboriginal People”. View the full study
During the 1940s Symalene Nye regularly visited Cullendulla Creek with her father, specifically for a ‘good feed of oysters’ [Symalene Nye 15.11.2005].
In the 1960s Les Simon recalls camping here with his great grandfather Harry Chapman. The Chapman and Davis extended families, including Percy Davis and Herbert Chapman and their friends camped here in school holidays and on weekends being ‘fed by the ocean and the creek’. Families continue to gather here in school holidays and on weekends to fish, socialise and teach children about the land and water. Black fish, bream and flathead are caught on a fishing line, or in the past using a twinned reed line. Blue swimmers are speared; whilst mud oysters, lobsters, mud crabs, bimbulas, muttonfish and mussels are caught by hand at low tide. Sharks and stingrays often get trapped up the creek in low tide; the sharks are eaten. Generally whilst the adults are fishing, the children are collecting oysters, muttonfish and bimbullas [3.11.2005 Les Simons and William Davis].
The main camping site in this area stretches around the western shores of Cullendulla Creek. The Carriage, Chapman, Mc Leod and Stewart families utilised the Cullendulla Creek area, along with other families passing through. Georgina was told that her father camped here as a child, with his mother and father. Reg McLeod, Georgina’s father’s brother, leased land along Cullendulla Creek. He made a lookout using driftwood, so he could spot fish coming around the headland in the creek. We ate and sold the fish we caught.
Presently, only small, young bimbullas can be found. This is the result of over fishing in concentrated areas. Georgina was taught to leave the smaller shells for a few years. This is one of the best places along the coast to find bimbullas. Bimbullas and cunjevoi can be found throughout the area and are good, healthy foods. Oysters and mussels can be found in the mangroves on either side of the creek. The smaller oysters have been introduced, the large flat ones have always been found in Cullendulla Creek. Prawns are caught in the creek headwaters. Shellfish continue to be prepared and eaten in the location traditionally used to eat and prepare shellfish and other seafood; a shell midden marks the spot on the western side of the rocky point protruding into Surfside Beach [Georgina Parsons 15.12.2005].
Terry Parsons recalls fishing, from either side of Cullendulla Creek, with his father Cyril Parsons. They would find bimbullas through the sand with their feet; ‘….Cullendulla is the main fishing place..’ [Terry Parsons 18.12.2005].
Violet and her family regularly camped at Cullendulla Creek in Christmas holidays. They would fish, swim, and collect Oysters. The main camping area was on the west side of the creek. It was easy to walk across the creek to access the eastern side of the creek. There was no real need to go too far up the creek into the mangroves, as plenty of food was collected in the headwater area. We would however, walk up the creek in low tide to collect mud crabs, take them back to camp to eat them [Violet Parsons 6.4.2006].
Trisha Ellis recalls collecting bimbullas at Surfside, near Cullendulla Creek with her mother, Patricia Ellis [Trisha Ellis 4.2.2006].
Excerpt from "Stories About the Eurobodalla by Aboriginal People", 2006. Story Contributed by Martin Ind from Moruya High School.