In the early days of European settlement in the area, a bullock track from Bega to Tathra (via Jellat Jellat) to Merimbula (via Bournda) provided a ‘life line’ to settlers along the Bega River. Merimbula was then the closest major port of call for shipping. The track was needed for transport of goods, produce and passengers from Merimbula to Bega.
Much of the route of this original bullock track probably followed Aboriginal pathways.
Even after Tathra Wharf had been built in the early 1860s and coastal steamers started to call at the wharf, the coastal ‘road’ remained a necessity. Not infrequently, weather conditions prevented steamers from docking at the north-facing Tathra Wharf and so they would bypass this stop and proceed to the south-facing Merimbula Wharf. There would then be a race to transfer goods and passengers along this coastal road to meet the steamer at Merimbula.
Remnants of the original Tathra to Merimbula bullock track remain. Most easily accessible, most visible is the ascent of the track, through a small cutting, from the beach at the southern end of Bournda Lagoon. It provides a stark reminder of the challenges faced by early European settlers and visitors to the area.
This pinch at Bournda Lagoon was one of two major challenges on the Bega to Merimbula road – the other being the crossing of Jellat Jellat Creek.