Title of object:
Early cadastral (land allotments) map of Bermagui
Brief description of object:
Large-scale (1:2500) cadastral map of the ‘proposed village of Bermaguee’ dating from January 1867.
Location of object:
Bermagui Museum, Community Centre, Bunga Street, Bermagui.
Accessibility of object:
Bermagui Museum is open to the public 10.00am–2.00pm, Friday and Saturday. Outside these hours visitors can request an appointment to see the collection by contacting Bermagui Historical Society: see the contact details at www.bermaguihistoricalsociety.org.au.
History and provenance of object:
The map is one of a series of cadastral maps held by Bermagui Historical Society showing allotments in Bermagui and their ownership over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This is the earliest of the series. The maps have been donated to the historical society in the past, but the donors are not recorded.
The map shows allotments of urban land in the ‘proposed village of Bermaguee’, that were gazetted (published as available for purchase) by the Crown. The map was created by a surveyor commissioned by the Surveyor-General’s Office. An annotation at the bottom of the map records that it was transmitted to the Surveyor-General’s Office with a letter on 25 January 1867. At the south-west corner of the map the surveyor has noted that a circumferences (magnetic compass) was used for the survey, and that the map’s scale is four chains to one inch.
The map shows 34 allotments of land in three groups, one (12 allotments) on the north side of ‘Bermaguee Inlet’, and two on the south side of the inlet: a group of six on the eastern side of the inlet mouth where Dickinson Oval now is; and another group of 16 to the south of the current fishing harbour, where Bermagui Country Club is now.
The map names a number of streets, of which some are still streets with the same names today, more than 150 years later. In the northern block of allotments, ‘Narrari Street’ is today called ‘Narira Street’, while ‘Coluga Street’ has become Wallaga Lake Road and ‘Cobargo Street’ and ‘Wagonga Street’ were not formed.
The southernmost group of allotments is framed by Carnago Street to the west (which survives today), with Murrah Street running along the south edge of the allotments, and Tuross Street bordering the group on the right. Tuross Street is now the drive into the Bermagui Country Club, while Murrah Street is not formed at this point: the golf course bisects it into Murrah Street and Murrah Street East.
The map records various land sales from 1868 to 1883. Seven of the 34 blocks are noted as owned by William Dugan Tarlinton of Cobargo, while his sons Daniel and Thomas are noted as owning two blocks each. A sketched road in the north-west corner of the map, heading west, is titled ‘to Narrari Brednataura &c’. Brebataura was the name of William Tarlinton’s property at what is now Cobargo. Above the narrow eastern arm of the inlet, William Tarlinton’s rendering plant and stockyard are noted as ‘in ruins’: the plant operated from 1843 to 1855, boiling down cattle for tallow, which Tarlinton shipped to Sydney to be made into candles.
Another feature of the map is that it shows an inlet very different from today’s Bermagui Harbour and Bermagui River, with their embankments. There is no bridge; a large sandbank in the middle of the inlet is noted as ‘covered at high water’; no wharves or jetties are shown; and on both the north and south edges of the inlet the map notes ‘subject to flood’.
Fabric, design, manufacture and condition:
Surveyor-General’s Office and land buyers.
Production / manufacturing date:
The particular significance of this object:
Cadastral maps (that is, maps to record exact location and measurement of blocks of land, and their ownership, for title and rating purposes), are an importance source of historical information. They enable us to understand how a town grew and imagined itself, what businesses arose and who owned land at different times. This map shows us the beginnings of Bermagui as a ‘proposed village’, before the early distinction and competition between ‘Bermagui North’ and ‘Bermagui South’ began, which led to the two parts of the town each having its own post office. The next later cadastral map held by Bermagui Historical Society, dated 1888, shows the two parts as ‘Bermaguee’ and ‘Bermaguee South’.
The map also allows us to imagine the challenges of surveying in the nineteenth century, when surveyors’ only tools were compasses, sextants and trigonometric calculation. It suggests, also, the process by which Australian land became property after colonisation, first claimed by the Crown, surveyed, then parcelled out and sold. Maps like this remind us of how the land was alienated from its traditional owners.
The ruined rendering plan also reminds us of a different aspect of technological change: the reliance on candles, oil lamps and gas lamps to light houses before electric lighting became common in the early twentieth century.
A fourth significance of the map is as an example of the influence of leading settlers, and the advantage they had in being present and in funds when land was first released for sale. A third of the blocks on the map were acquired by the Tarlinton family, who also ran the only business identified by the map (the rendering plant); their property of Bredbatoura gives its name to the road in that direction. All of this suggests that William Tarlinton was a big man in the Bermagui-Cobargo area in the mid-nineteenth century. A street in Cobargo bears his name today.
Related places, items, collections:
Kai and Dave to produce list of other related maps held by BHS
Comparative and associated examples (in collections outside the shire):
Most local history museums will hold early cadastral maps of settlements in their area.
Works depicting/highlighting this object:
Cadastral maps are not much celebrated in literature or art!
Historic photographs of this object:
Geographically associated places / sites:
Associated / linked places / sites / items / people:
William Dugan Tarlinton
Heritage listings (statutory and non-statutory):
Contributors to this ‘library’:
Allan Douch, President of Bermagui Historical Society.
Acknowledgements, Rights and Permissions:
Acknowledgement of Bermagui Historical Society Inc.
References and bibliography:
© Bermagui Historical Society Inc. All rights reserved.
This Bega Shire Hidden Heritage project has been made possible by the NSW Government through its Heritage Near Me program.
Any further information about this object or any associated histories will be GREATLY welcomed and will be added to the above library of information. Please email your contribution to firstname.lastname@example.org