Moruya: North Heads and Garland Town

Cultural heritage values attributed to the North Moruya Heads and Garland Town area combine pre-contact values such as burial sites and ceremonial [bora] grounds through to post contact uses relating to residential, self-determination, recreation, teaching and resource collection themes. Social, cultural and economic links between Moruya North Heads and coastal lands further to the south were more so evident during the 1950s, however, camping, resource collection and the identified living areas continue to be used and highly valued today.

Ernie Brierley worked on building the Moruya Airport. The runway was once further to the north. Bob Davis speaks of Aboriginal dancing rings in the area, as well as spirits in the bush talking. Mussels could be found on the break wall [Beryl Brierley 19.12.2005].

There are four pre-European burials in this area just up from the aerodrome [Trisha Ellis 1.6.2006].

Uncle Louie Duren spoke of a burial site in the Moruya airport area [Maureen Davis 5.5.2006].

Doris Moore remembers seeing bora rings, now covered by the present day run way. As a child she would walk from Garland Town to Moruya North Heads, Bengello Beach and onto Broulee, through the bush and sand dunes in the aerodrome area. They would collect pipis on the beach, cook them and continue walking. If they were lucky they could get a ride back to Garland Town with the fishing truck [Doris Moore 14.12.2005].

There was an Aboriginal camp on the flats adjacent to the airport. There were many walking tracks throughout the area and a lot of Aboriginal camps, especially at Christmas time. The Campbell and Parsons families camped there, as well as families who passed through with seasonal picking and fishing work [Beryl Brierley 19.12.2005].

The Moruya River is not only sacred due to the source of fish, but also due to the connection it provides to the land and the ocean [John Brierley 3.5.2006].

Carol and her family camped at Moruya North Heads with the Brierley family. The two families fished off the Moruya Beach [Carol Larritt 23.1.2006].

Trisha and her mother would often fish, and collect mussels and pipis at Moruya North Head [Trisha Ellis 4.2.2006].

Ted Davis [dec], Doris Moore’s brother worked building up the break wall [in the river] and the bar [at the river mouth], from the Moruya granite quarry [Doris Moore 14.12.2005].

During the 1940s Catherine Josephine Duren and Walter Oswald Brierley owned the house known as ‘Brierley’s Homestead’ on the Moruya River Flats, adjacent to the airport, Garland Town. There is now a boat ramp in the area. At aged 16, Beryl relocated to Moruya from Tilba after meeting her husband to be Ernie Brierley. Ernie Brierley, the son of Catherine and Walter grew up here before moving to the house on the hill above the flats in 1965.

Fishing boats could be pulled up onto the river flats close to the house, for maintenance. The Brierley and Davis families fished along the Moruya River from here. Fresh water could be found under the surface in this area, as the tide rises, the fresh water level rose, making it easier to collect water. The Brierley family would drown the lobsters in fresh water. Walter Brierley handed the fishing business to Ernie, Peter, John and his grandsons

Beryl Brierley recalls large ‘gatherings’ of people at Brierley’s Homestead. Jimmy Little Senior ‘Coonkus’ camped here as he passed through town, and was always singing or dancing, and would paint up and do corroborees; he was a good storyteller and dancer. Ernie’s brother Peter Brierley and his wife Beryl Ashby continued to live in the house when Ernie and Beryl moved to the hill. In 1974 when Peter died, Beryl Ashby continued to live here with 6 young children. The council condemned the house, shifted the family into Moruya and knocked the house down [Beryl Brierley 19.12.2006].

During the 1940s Doris Moore lived on the flatland adjacent to the ‘Brierley’s Homestead’. She lived there with her mother, Elizabeth Jane Brierley [Ernie Brierley’s sister] and father Walter Davis [Wally ‘Jerry’ Davis]. They had a fresh water spring and well. Doris recalls rowing to school, from Garland Town to Newstead [Doris Moore 14.12.2005].

Between 1952 and 1966 Maureen remembers Uncle Peter Brierley and his wife Aunty Beryl Ashby lived with their children at Brierley’s Homestead, on the flat lands closest the airport. It was also the home of Maureen’s great grandparents, Walter Brierley and Catherine Duren and their 5 children Jane, Katherine, Ernie, William and Peter. Maureen remembers having family gatherings at the homestead especially on Christmas Day and the Queens Birthday [Maureen Davis 19.12.2005].

Valerie Andy remembers visiting her sister-in-law Beryl Brierley, Helena and Veronica at Garland Town, Moruya in the 1950s [Valerie Andy 20.12.2005].

In 1942 at the age of 6, Lionel moved to Moruya, to live with the Brierley family, his grandmother’s family. Throughout his childhood, Lionel regularly travelled between Garland Town and Central Tilba, schooling at Newstead, Moruya Heads when in Garland town and at Wallaga Lake when at Central Tilba [Lionel Mongta 2.1.2006].

Roy Davis learnt his mechanic skills from the vehicles at the Garland Town Army Barracks, Garland Town. When the quarry closed down for the second time, Maureen recalls how the new Australians who lived at the barracks moved away from the area. Aboriginal families including the Scotts moved into the barracks [Maureen Davis 19.12.2005].

Tom Davis senior, William’s Uncle, served in World War Two. Standalene Chapman was a ‘wax’ nurse in the army, during World War Two [William Davis / Georgina Parsons 31.5.2006].

During the war, a bus would travel between Moruya township and the Garland Town Army Barracks to transport the air force. The Davis, Brierley and Burches families needed a pass to get home, as the security was tight along North Head Road [Beryl Brierley 19.12.2006].

Doris Moore remembers playing in the bunkers, near the present day Moruya Racecourse. The bunkers were used to store ammunition during the war. From time to time the army doctor would visit the Brierley’s, if kids were sick, for instance [Doris Moore 31.5.2006].

In 1962 Trisha and her family moved to Bali Hai, Garland Town, Moruya. She recalls the Jessop, Payne and Connell family being there at the time. The kids all caught a bus from Garland Town into Moruya to go to school. Her brother Wayne was born at Bali Hai. The Brierley family lived on the hill. The Brierleys were professional fishermen, selling fish for a living, where as Trisha’s Pop Connell caught fish to feed his family [Trisha Ellis 4.2.2006].

Doris’s mother and father, Elizabeth Jane Brierley and Walter ‘Wally’ Davis purchased the ‘house on the Garland Town hill’, allowing the family to move from the flatlands below. Doris’s parents added more and more to the house to make more room for the growing family. Doris lived on the hill in Garland Town until 1954, aged 16, when she moved with her parents to Mantle Hill, Moruya. At that time, Roy Davis, her brother, Maureen Davis’s father, moved into the house with his children. In 1964, after Roy moved to Mantle Hill, Ernie and Beryl Brierley moved into the hill where they continue to reside today [Doris Moore 19.12.2006].

‘……We have lived here, on the hill in Garland town since 1965, when we moved from Brierley’s homestead, on the flat land below…. Elizabeth Jane Davis [nee Brierley, Ernie Brierley’s sister] lived with us…..’ [Beryl Brierley 19.12.2006].

Until the age of 10 Maureen lived at Garland Town, on the hill, presently occupied by Aunty Beryl and Uncle Ernie Brierley. Maureen lived here with her parents and siblings; Ronald, Douglas, Robyn; Lyle; Paul and Colleen. Mandy was the last child born in 1962. For 3 years after moving to Mantle Hill in 1962, six months of each year [over the spring and summer months] Maureen and the family would return to live at Garland Town. In the mid 1960s, Uncle Ernie, Aunty Beryl Brierley [nee Andy] and their family moved to the hill, and are still there today.

Heads. In 1928 Walter Davis worked at the Quarry as a ‘quarryman’, whilst Walter Brierley worked as a ‘Crane Dogman’ [Maureen Davis 19.12.2005]..

Doris’s father Walter ‘Jerry’ Davis worked at the Moruya quarry when it reopened. Doris remembers ‘ferreting’ with Ernie above the quarry and playing around the two submerged boats; one was near the quarry wharf, which has since rusted away, the other one was at the Moruya Weir, it is still there today [Doris Moore 14.12.2005].

The Quarry Wharf opposite the Moruya Granite Quarry was used to load granite going to Sydney. Ernie Brierley also used the Quarry Wharf to unload fish; he also tied up his boat, the ‘Camilla I’ here [Beryl Brierley 19.12.2005].

There is rock art in a cave at Larry’s Mountain. Trisha’s Nan told her of this site [Trisha Ellis 4.2.2006].

As told to Dave by Percy Mumbler and his sister Mavis Mumbler there are ancient walking tracks linking the coast to the mountains. One such track passes through Shallow Crossing, Clyde River, linking Bendethra and Larry’s mountain to the Monga and Araluen areas [Dave Tout 25.1.2006].


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