Bega Pioneers Museum

WD Burton's Surveyor's Sighting Tube

The Story

When the Brown Mountain Road from Bega to Cooma was completed in 1889 it was (quite justifiably) considered a masterpiece of road engineering. Much of the credit for the construction belongs to William Daniel Burton who surveyed the route and was awarded the contract to construct the most challenging section of the road up Brown Mountain between Colombo/Lyttleton (now Bemboka) and Nimmitabel.

Burton’s surveyor’s sighting tube remains a legacy of his role in constructing this road and of his personal contribution.

The Brown Mountain Road basically followed a track used by a weekly pack-horse mail service that had operated from 1867 between Cooma and the coast via Nimmitabel. Gangs of men, using pick and shovel, were employed on the road-making and they camped in tents on the roadside. It took them from just January 1887 to July 1887 to complete the Colombo-Nimmitabel section of road up the mountain, ultimately enabling a coach to travel from Bega to Cooma in 18 hours.


This work is licensed to South Coast History Society Inc. and individual contributors concerned under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. You may copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format; remix, transform or build upon the material; BUT you must give appropriate credit and provide a link to this license and indicate if changes have been made; you must not use the material for commercial purposes and, if you remix, transform or build upon this material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as this original.

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 about associated histories will be GREATLY welcomed and will be added to the above library of information. Please email your contribution to


87 Bega St, Bega, NSW, 2550.