The Bermagui area is home to the Yuin Aboriginal people, traditional owners of Wallaga Lake land. Merriman Island, in the centre of Wallaga Lake, and Gulaga (Mt Dromedary) and the area around it, are two of the many sacred sites recorded in the area of important spiritual significance to the Yuin people.
Fifty years after Europeans began to settle the area, in the 1830s, goldrush fever struck and, during the 1880s, a vibrant goldfields township existed just north of Bermagui in an area known as Montreal.
Take a step back in time to the days of 1880 and view the old alluvial diggings in the only goldfield in Australia that reaches the sea.
Montreal also has its own unresolved mystery.
Today the re-growth forest provides beauty, peace and tranquility.
Admission is by guided tour only which can be booked at Bermagui Tourist Information Centre.
The Montreal Gold Rush, Bermagui 1880-1883 by Judi Hearn is a very useful and recommended further reference.
Agriculture & Timber
By the end of the 1800s agriculture and the timber industry were well established in the area. The construction of a bridge over Wallaga Lake in 1894 gave farmers easy access to the coastal steamer which traveled from the Bermagui wharf to Sydney, an effective link to city markets. The wharf, built in 1888, serviced vessels until the 1950s.
By 1900 the dairy industry was growing and a timber mill, established in Bermagui in 1900, providing employment for many workers.
Call at the visitors and information centre in Lamont Street to discover how you can explore Bermagui’s interesting history further while you are staying in the area.
For more information you could also contact the Bermagui Historical Society. (We would like to acknowledge here one of their valuable publications-Heritage Drive from Wallaga Lake Bridge to Bermagui).
In the 1930s Bermagui was ‘put on the map’ internationally as a superb game fishing location, when American author, Zane Grey, came to the area to indulge in his favourite sport. With the edge of the continental shelf closest to the mainland just off Bermagui, the area is a natural deep sea and game fishing ground and Bermagui’s all weather harbour entrance simply adds to its appeal.
The Michael Lerner lookout is a memorial to yet another American who delighted in game fishing in Bermagui in the 1930s.
Big Game Fishing in Bermagui, a history of Bermagui Big Game Anglers’ Club from 1936-1996 tells more of the story-it’s available from Bega Valley Shire Library.