Bengello Greek and Bengello Beach

The Bengello Creek and Bengello Beach area is interconnected with the areas of social-ecological value to the north and south. The Creek itself holds spiritual significance as well as providing foods and natural resources for the families who have lived there. The area continues to be used today in much the same way as it has over the past century and beyond.

In January 1962 when Carol Larritt and her family were camping at Bengello Creek Carol Larritt Jnr was born in Moruya. They camped there to be close to seasonal work [at Bodalla] and family. The Holmes and Cruse families were also camped at Bengello at the time. They had army tents set up, 10 people living in each. The fresh water Bengello Creek ran into the beach there. They caught huge goannas and collected ‘food relief’ from the police station. Fishing was good, pipis, muttonfish, oysters, lobsters and other fish. They would walk into Moruya via the Aerodrome with food vouchers for food supplies like flour to make damper, potatoes, fairy margarine and sunshine milk powder. They would have curried pipis and rice, muttonfish rissoles, boiled battered or fried, boiled lobster and oyster patties [Carol Larritt 23.1.2006].

Beryl Brierley recalls Casey Brierley, Bill Holmes and their family living on Bengello Creek, located between Broulee and the Moruya Airport. The Campbell family also camped there, as there was plenty of good bushfood and seafood in the area [Beryl Brierley 19.12.2005].

The Bengello Creek has spiritual value and there are midden grounds throughout the area. John sees middens as sacred sites in that they are and were places to meet with family to eat shellfish. ‘…..Going to places with family to fish and have lunch is part of our culture….’. John knows of spirits in the Bengello Creek area. They were living along the Bengello Creek in order to access the fresh water from the creek, from the beach right up to the horse farm, west of George Bass Drive [John Brierley 3.5.2006].

Ernie Brierley’s sister Cassie Holmes and her husband William ‘Bill’ Holmes, son William ‘Gu’ Holmes Jnr, and daughter-in-law Esme Glover lived on Bengello Creek throughout the 1950s. They had a vehicle and often drove into town. Maureen recalls the area as being a good source of many bush tucker plants [Maureen Davis 5.5.2006].

During the 1970s Georgina and her brothers went to Bengello Creek to spear eels. They made their own spears, as taught to them by their father [Georgina Parsons 6.6.2006].

When living at Garland Town, Trisha and her mother and grandmother would fish between the aerodrome and Broulee, along Bengello Beach collecting oysters and pipis [Trisha Ellis 4.2.2006].

John Brierley knows Bengello Beach, to the north of the Moruya River, as ‘Moruya Beach’. The Brierley family have always collected pipis from the Moruya Beach, the women and children collecting pipis whilst the men went fishing. There is good fishing on this beach in mullet season when the community come together to pull in the nets. This was the way it was. Now if people help pull in the nets, they might get fined [John Brierley 3.5.2006].

The road to Broulee once ran along Bengello Beach. We would go to the beach to collect pipis, always eating them on the beach, leaving our shells there. Some times we would sleep there, or walk home before dark. Black and white families camped there. Good access to the river too [Marg Harris 9.3.2006].

During the 1950s, after doing chores on a Saturday, Maureen and her brothers and sisters would go to Moruya Beach [Bengello Beach], and walk along to Broulee. At this time, the coastal road ran along the beach. Later, this road was washed away in a big sea. Maureen recalls days on the beach with her mother, Beryl Brierley and all the kids, waiting to help the men as they brought in the fishing nets. The kids would clean out the seaweed caught within the net and help put the fish into baskets. They would take fish home to feed the family, sell fish on the beach to passers by or put the fish on the back of the truck to be taken away, presumably to a market or shop. If there were no truck, they would row the fish back to Brierley’s ramp, on the Moruya River at Brierley’s Homestead near the airport. They had a griller rack permanently located in the sand dunes, not far from where the airport wind sock was originally located. They would cook up their catch here [Maureen Davis 5.5.2006].

The area between North Moruya Heads and Broulee are places used for collecting bush resources William remembers the time when the army sought his family’s advice on traditional Aboriginal survival techniques. Ernie Brierley and others showed them traditional skills through using the bush in the Bengello Creek area. William was shown family burial sites in the area between Broulee and the Moruya Airport [William Davis Jnr 22.5.2006].

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.