Jim Kelly of Tathra is researching little-known stories around his area, seeking to answer questions he has about Tathra’s history in a pursuit he calls “an interesting hobby”. This article is about the Fords who lived at Mogareeka.
Noel and Mary Ford bought the “Riverview” Mogareeka property at the mouth of the Bega River from Tom Bauer in about 1946.
In a local paper dated June 20, 1947 it says “Mr NP Ford, manufacturer of the well known Ford Pills is very interested in his drug farm at the mouth of the Bega River. It is ideal for the growing of herbs for the manufacture of drugs. Mr Ford’s house on the property is almost complete.”
They paid Tom Bauer, who had lived there for the last 24 years, five shillings[50cents] per acre for the 75 acre farm.
Noel was a pharmacist in the family pharmacy in Newtown, Sydney which is where he met Mary who was also a pharmacist. His father invented Ford Pills which were a very well-known laxative.
Noel was also an optometrist and opened a practice, bought from John Walker, in Bega located opposite the Kings Theatre on the corner of Carp and Canning Streets.
He later moved to a location in Rixons Arcade.
Mary worked in pharmacies in Carp St of which there were three: Leonards, Bransons and O’Conners. She also worked at the Tathra pharmacy.
They caught the punt at Mogareeka and drove to Bega in a succession of Vauxhall sedans.
On their property on the headland at Mogareeka they built a residence, guesthouse, large garage and a boat shed.
They pumped water from a creek at Moon Bay, but the water was often brackish and undrinkable so they relied on water tanks.
A collapsed cave at the cliffs on the river was a handy garbage dump. They had Moon Bay to swim and relax - their own private beach.
The Fords were keen farmers and Riverview had pigs, black faced Suffolk sheep, pheasants, partridges, peacocks, geese and Clydesdale draught horses.
They grew vegetables and fruit and Noel tried unsuccessfully to grow hops as well as a drug for use in pesticides.
Noel was fascinated with a giant spotted gum tree which grew at the top of their property near where there is still a water tank.
He had three leather bound copies of Cook’s journals and he maintained that the tree was sighted and logged by Captain Cook when he sailed up the coast in the 1700s.
In 1965 it was blown over and Noel had Ollie Hinde cut a section to which he attached a brass plaque on which he noted the details of Cook’s notation.
Mary was a very keen horse rider and was active in the Bega Pony Club, as well as being a local flower judge.
She died on May 15,1984, aged 70 before Noel who died in January 1995. They had no children although he had two children with his first wife.
During the 1990’s Riverview was acquired under the 1973 Coastal Land Protection Scheme and is now part of Mimosa Rocks National Park.
The buildings have been demolished due to white ant infestation but you can still see the trees that were planted and many of the animal enclosures.
Written with thanks to Nancy and Ollie Hinde as well as Norm Austwick.
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