Bega lagoon lovers quarrel: Kiss or Kisses?

Debate remains over whether the lagoon at the northern entrance to Bega should be called Kiss, Kisses or Kiss' Lagoon.

Debate remains over whether the lagoon at the northern entrance to Bega should be called Kiss, Kisses or Kiss' Lagoon.

BEGA Valley Shire Mayor Bill Taylor believes the lagoon at the northern entrance to Bega should be called Kiss Lagoon, not Kisses Lagoon as it is now.

Actually the council sign says Kiss’ Lagoon, but as geographical names can’t have apostrophes, most people writing about the lagoon spell it as Kisses Lagoon.

Cr Taylor finds that spelling offensive as the lagoon was named for the prominent Kiss family from Bega.

“Kisses” he feels makes it appear it is some sort of lovers’ lagoon.

Jimmy Kiss was one of the first selectors in the Bega district under Sir John Robertson’s 1862 Act.

He took up some 320 acres which he exchanged to RL Tooth, (afterwards Sir Lucas Tooth), of brewery fame for 160 acres of freehold on what was known as the Swamp Paddock at Bega, not Kiss or Kisses Lagoon.

This Mr Kiss has an even greater claim to fame.

When he was 16 years of age, he and his brother were cattle dealing on the Monaro on the country around Coolringdon Station.

It was at Coolringdon Station that the racehorse Carbine was bred.

At that time, Banjo Patterson was shepherding about 30 miles from Coolringdon.

Patterson’s poem, the Man from Snowy River, was written following a rare feat of horsemanship by one of the youths of Coolringdon, Laurie Harnett, who, in reality it was said was none other than Jimmy Kiss.

The horse young Kiss rode was a black, not a white, as in the poem.

The animal answered to the name of Robin.

Jimmy Kiss died in 1921 aged 77.

He had had a butcher shop in Gipps St opposite the Presbyterian Church and kept the Nimmitabel Hotel and the Commercial Hotel in Bega.

The lagoon may have been named after Jimmy, but it could also have been named after David Kiss, who lived on the high ground above the lagoon.

The BDN reported on October 7, 1936, that “David Kiss tried to drain the lagoon by digging through to Mr Martin McCarthy’s land on Bega Street. Years later Mr Joseph Kirkland deepened the drain, but it failed because the level of the lagoon is lower that the Bega River”.

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