Gunslingers and a dying cop, lazy builders and a faulty lighthouse, murdered prospectors and a 143 year mystery, a railway junction hotel with no train track - the NSW South Coast has a colourful history of unique anecdotes.
Historian and author Peter Lacey, upon troving through newspaper articles and researching the area, recently released a non-fiction book called 'Extraordinary Histories,' showcasing some of these stories of the NSW coast from Kiama to the Victorian border and surrounds.
From the current ruins of the hazardous Cape St George lighthouse, near Jervis Bay, which was built in 1859 at the wrong location due to a contractor's laziness of travelling four kilometres further for sandstone.
Later it was used as a naval gunnery target when a replacement lighthouse was erected at Point Perpendicular, and residents in the 1980s used the well-cut stones for fencing and barbecues.
Within the history of Bermagui, Mr Lacey captured a story that, even after 143 years, was still fueled in mystery, of intrigue, of multiple questions and missing answers, of possible foul play, murders, and drownings.
The gears of one's imagination turn upon hearing about the unsolved disappearance of five explorers led by geologist named Lamont Young.
The events take amateur sleuths from Australia's only seaside goldfield to a deliberately wrecked wooden boat beaten with stones and found with five bags filled with Lamont's personal effects inside, including clothing, surveyor's papers, and geological specimen bags.
"Geological surveyors came down to Bermagui when they discovered gold at what is now Montreal, and camped at Bermagui, they were sort of looking at going up and down the coast at one stage," Mr Lacey said.
"But the next day they just disappeared and nobody has ever found them, and there are all sorts of theories as to what happened to them."
Another story included Constable Miles O'Grady, who decided it would be better to leave his deathbed fighting typhoid when he heard four armed bushrangers had taken hold of Nerrigundah. So he rose from his armchair with pistol at the ready.
Mr Lacey said he was intrigued by promises made to the people of Bega in the 1880s stating a train line would connect Bega and Eden. As a result Wolumla had a Railway Junction Hotel even though there had never been a train track in sight.
The other promise made was a "Lunatic Asylum" for employment, which also wasn't built.
"Just seeing this hotel in the middle of nowhere called the Railway Junction Hotel, I find interesting and it had a good story behind it," Mr Lacey said.
In a newspaper clipping from 1882, the Bega Gazette and Eden District newspaper posed whether any of the present generation are to see a railway going through Wolumla.
The article said it would depend on the view the government took on the matter, and would require "tact and patience to bleed the authorities".
Mr Lacey said the feedback he had heard regarding the book, which is available at newsagencies, museums, and book stores, had been highly positive.
"We've been bowled over by the success of the book, half of the print run was sold within a week, and we're seriously considering expanding the book and capturing more stories of the South Coast," Mr Lacey said.
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