OUR HISTORY ...
Then & Now – from a working Wharf to a Museum. 155
rich Bega River flats and nearby coastal areas developed in
the 1800's, and the Tathra village established. With poor
roads, no rail and undependable punts to cross the rivers, it
was soon realised that reliable transport was needed. The
valleys produced pigs, beef and skins, butter, cream and
cheese, and wattle bark.
The first unsuccessful attempt at Kianinny Bay, the current
site which allowed a permanent wharf to have some eleven
metres of water below its decking, was chosen. In 1862 the
structure began with the deck. A few years later a cargo shed
was added and the newly-formed Illawarra Steamship Company –
locally known as the Pig & Whistle Line – provided a
regular transport by steamer, beginning a near century
partnership with the district's farmers.
The wharf and buildings continued to be extended after the
turn of the century. The cattle and pig yards were added in
1901, the wharf was again extended in 1903 and the buildings
reconstructed with the present two storey structure in 1907.
At this time a major upgrade took place with the introduction
of spring-loaded buffers to assist in the berthing of larger
vessels in the difficult north-easterly seas to which the
wharf was exposed. This was in conjunction with a mooring buoy
to the north east of the jetty. Between 1907 and 1912 the
wharf underwent major extensions in eight definable
stages including a sub-deck, jib crane, the addition of the
cattle race, loading ramp and passenger shelter. In 1919 the
passenger shelter was replaced by a single storey shed
abutting the two story building.
In 1952, the last passenger steamship, the SS Cobargo,
departed. Two years later, the SS Tathra, the last cargo
steamer left the wharf. During these years the real working
wharf was the lifeblood of the district, providing work for
the locals, an outlet for produce and a port for incoming
goods desperately needed by the burgeoning communities.
In the last century the maritime authorities passed these
wharves back to local councils to manage. The financial burden
was huge; mass deterioration resulted and invariably each fell
into disrepair, a number meeting their end by fire. The now
historic Tathra Wharf was the only such structure
saved, all due to a concerted community effort. Continuing
this effort, in 2006, piers, bearers and the platform were
replaced using the original spotted gum or turpentine timbers,
and the roof was renovated.
Continual work ensures the displays and facilities are
are located in the heart of Tathra... enjoy the unusual and