BEGA Valley Shire Mayor Bill Taylor had family stories to tell as he launched the Bega Valley Historical Society’s reprint of WA Bayley’s History of Bega at Candelo Books recently.
He said he noticed the inclusion of the story of the wreck of the SS Bega and had not that rescue been successful he would not have been there.
His great-grandmother, his grandmother and his aunt, then an infant, were travelling to Sydney on the SS Bega when it was wrecked at Bunga, between Tathra and Bermagui.
Because of a strike in Sydney there had been no shipping service for two weeks and the crew on the SS Bega weren’t the usual crew and were not as familiar with the coast.
The ship was laden with passengers, exhibits for the Royal Easter Show and goods that had accumulated over the fortnight.
The passengers were dining when the ship started to list and continued listing so at 10pm that night the captain ordered everyone to take to the boats, women and children first.
The only casualty was a man who died from a heart attack from shock.
Cr Taylor thanked the Bega Valley Historical Society for reprinting this important history and congratulated all involved with the work.
The president of the society, Peter Rogers, said Bayley’s had been reprinted some years ago by Father Gerry Monaghan, but that book had been out of print for some time and Father Gerry had given his blessing to the historical society’s project.
Mr Rogers said WA Bayley had been a public school teacher and was principal of Bega Intermediate High when he researched and wrote his history in the 1940s.
He wrote history books on all the towns where he worked, Mr Rogers said.
Reprinting WA Bayley’s history was a first for the society as he had printed booklets before, but nothing as sizeable as A History of Bega.
Mr Rogers thanked all those who had worked on the reprint, particularly Cheryl Moon, Linda Elliott and Sandra Florance.
He also thanked Candelo Books for having the launch in its premises.