Broulee: Lookout, Beach and Island

The Broulee Beach and Broulee Island area has a similar complex of cultural heritage values to Barlings Beach immediately to the north. Here we see a number of sheltered camping places combined with an array of easily accessible natural resources from the ocean and nearby landscape.

In the 1940s Doris camped with her family, including her grandfather Walter Oswald Brierley in the sand dunes at Broulee Beach. Her grandfather had a fishing trawler and worked out of Moruya. Doris recalls having Christmas dinner at Broulee Beach, under the Broulee Lookout; near the present day surf club, with her great grandmother [her mother’s mother’s mother] Jane Duren [nee Piety], her sister Jean and brother-in-law Jack Squires [Doris Moore 14.12.2005].

John Brierley sees the waterways as sacred. Broulee Beach, being the primary place of significance for him and his family. The access tracks that John used to get into Broulee Beach, decades ago, have all been covered by the changing sand dunes and vegetation. In his lifetime, John has seen two ‘easterly gales’, strong enough to wash past the location of the present day beach front houses, at Broulee Beach. One strong swell from an easterly gale reached beyond the Broulee Beach Surf Club [John Brierley 3.5.2006].

The Brierley family were the main ones fishing at Broulee [and the Nye’s at Barlings]. We all fished with rowboats and nets [Leonard Nye 15.11.2005].

Ernie Brierley and his family camped at Broulee Beach, or ‘Little Beach’, Candalagan, whilst the Nye family camped at Barlings Beach. Keith’s father and Ernie Brierley communicated by way of smoke signalling: as the fish swam past Broulee Ernie would send up smoke to inform Mr Nye of their presence [Keith Nye 1.3.2006].

Cunjevoi Soup was made by Aunty Lizzie Davis (Andy). She collected the cunjevoi around the rocks in surrounding areas of Broulee, Bingi, Congo and other local areas [Maureen Davis 8.6.2006].

The Broulee Lookout has regularly been used throughout the 19th century, and most likely before that, as a look out to spot schools of fish and warn swimmer of approaching sharks. Walter Brierley used the lookout in the early 1900s and was used later by his son Ernie Brierley in the mid 1900s to direct boats at south Broulee Beach or ‘Shark Bay’ to the location of fish etc. The site was also used as a holiday camping place, particularly boxing days during the mid 1950s by the Holmes, Squires, Brierley and Davis families. Children could swim in south Broulee Beach, whilst being watched by adults from the lookout. This lookout continues to be used today by many koori people including John Brierley, Ernie Brierley’s eldest son [Beryl Brierley and Doris Moore 19.12.2005].

John Brierley has used the Broulee Lookout to spot fish since he was a child, working with his father. The location of Broulee lookout, today, is slightly east of the lookout used 50 years ago. This change was caused by a land slip. The lookout is used in the first instance, before the days fishing begins, as a point of information. It is used to spot fish, assess the weather, assess the seas, communicate with fishermen on the beach, and to meet other fishermen also at the site. From Broulee Lookout, one can see all the way to Binge [officially known as Mullumburra] [John Brierley 3.5.2006].

Maureen remembers having family gatherings on Boxing Day at Broulee Lookout. The family would spend the day at the beach swimming and playing on the beach with her cousins. [Maureen Davis 8.6.2006].

Beryl Brierley remembers how in the mid 1940s Broulee Island was not joined to the mainland. In the 1960s Beryl and her family lived on Broulee Island and caught lobsters, muttonfish and other fish. Fresh water can be collected running off the hill on the island. Aggressive bees nest on the island, providing fresh honey. There is an Aboriginal person buried on top of the hill on Broulee Island. There are also certain places on the island that Aboriginal Lore forbids people to go [Beryl Brierley 19.12.2005].

In 1955 John Brierley and his parents lived on Broulee Island. John went to Moruya Public School from Broulee Island, each day. They lived in a house on the northern side of Broulee Island amongst the trees. The family lived on fish caught by Ernie Brierley. John sees Broulee Island as part of his family’s traditional area [John Brierley 3.5.2006].

In the 1940s when Doris Moore camped with her family in the sand dunes at Broulee Beach, Broulee Island was separated from the mainland. Once when on Broulee Island, the seas were so rough that Doris refused to return home in the boat; she caught a ride in a truck instead [Doris Moore 14.12.2005].

There is a good view of Broulee Island from Melville Point. Walter Brierley lived at Broulee Island for a while [Leonard Nye 13.11.2005].

In 1971, six of Ursula Rose Connell’s seven children had babies. The day after five of the babies were christened, the family gathered for a picnic at Broulee; ‘… we were all fishing and the tide came in and cut off Broulee Island …Shirley and Cheryl were meant to wait to be carried through the gap. Pop was on his way to get them, when they got washed out into Shark Bay…my sister Lillian was washed out trying to rescue them. That is when mum fainted. There were babies everywhere. David appeared after diving for fish and taught Cheryl how to float. Shirley was flown to Canberra Hospital ….Terry and Red were also hospitalised with exhaustion…..I don’t think we had lunch that day….’ [Margaret Carriage 31.5.2006].

The Ellis and Connell families often had picnics and fished around Broulee Island. On one occasion David Nye rescued Trisha’s sister Shirley and cousin Cheryl from drowning when they tried to return to the mainland from Broulee Island. Trisha’s mother, Patricia Jean Ellis [nee Connell], named the people buried on Broulee Island and said that they were relatives [Trisha Ellis 4.2.2006].

Broulee Island / Lookout / Beach
Broulee Island / Lookout / Beach

Taken from “Stories About the Eurobodalla by Aboriginal People”. View the full study

Excerpt from "Stories About the Eurobodalla by Aboriginal People", 2006. Story Contributed by Martin Ind from Moruya High School.