Paradise has a name ... Riverbend


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Saturday, December 25, 2010

River Road

ISBN 978-0-9751016-2-9

In Stuart Magee's delightful book of local history, The Rivers and the Sea, he suggests "You should drive the River Road some day. You might get the odd superficial scratch on your duco. It's probably a bit better suited to 4-wheel drive, though plenty of two-wheelers use it. Keep away if it's wet, mind the cowboys with big bull-bars, but otherwise it is a most interesting drive. You are following a track that has barely changed in 100 years. Give yourself plenty of time and stop to make a cup of tea while you contemplate the broad, gleaming river with the spotted gums and burrawangs reflecting from its banks. It's over 50 feet deep in parts along there.

In the 20 kilometres going up from Nelligen to Drurys Creek we saw not one person and no more than 10 houses. There are, however, a few dirt ramps and log jetties where timber was loaded in days gone by.

Coming back down the river we noted Cockwhy Creek flowing in on the east bank. There is a house at the junction. Some kilometres up the creek the NSW Topographic Map shows a couple of sheds and a pigsty at the end of Joes Nose Road. Who was Joe? What was it with his hooter? Believe me, I'd tell you if I knew.

The 1901 Census of NSW shows that Cockwhy Creek at the time had five households and seventeen inhabitants. Civilization at Cockwhy Creek has waxed and waned.

A bit further down, still 10 kilometres shy of Nelligen, Currowan Creek comes in from the west. They say the water in the creek, which flows down from the Clyde Mountain range, is wonderfully good. If you were set on making great whiskey, they say at Nelligen, Currowan Creek would be your spot. Damn! There, I've opened my mouth again. Next thing you know we'll have Johnny Walker trampin' about the place in his big black boots.

From the river today you will see no sign of human interference at Currowan, though Robin Shaw says I should have caught a glimpse of her roof if I had looked hard enough. Similarly, if you drive the river road you will find nothing but native bush at Currowan Creek.

Bailleries NSW Gazetteer of 1866 records that 'Currowan is a township reserve on the Clyde River, about 6 miles north of Nelligen, and is inhabited by a few settlers who cultivate the rich scrub lands of the neighbourhood.' In its entry under "Nelligen" Bailleries records that 'up the Clyde River, 6 miles distant, is a steam saw mill (Soulby's), a screw bark pressing machine (Street's) and a coach manfactury (Guy's). There is a steamer twice a week to Sydney and a two-horse coach twice a week to Braidwood.' It seems, though one can't be sure, that all of this was taking place at Currowan.

The 1901 Census lists 8 abodes and 65 souls at Currowan. What happened to all this enterprise and where did all the people go? I don't know but, more to the point, I don't know what happened to the very grand plans and hopes that were held for the Town of Currowan when its sub-division was approved and i was proclaimed a town on 20 March 1855. The plan of the townshows 14 named streets and close to 140 blocks of land ranging in size from 1 rood to 38 acres. A rood, or a quarter of an acre, is the conventional size for a suburban building block.

Lot 1 of Section 14, a holding of 3 acres (a touch over a hectare) is shown on the 1967 map as belonging to George Shaw. George was one of eleven children sired by Neil Shaw. George, in turn, had four, one of whom he called Bobbi but christened Robin. She lives on that block today in what was the manager's residence for the Austral Starch Factory.

Nobody knows, well I don't, nor does Robin Shaw or anyone else I've spoken to or read, who it was that envisaged it would be a successful commercial venture to produce starch from the burrawang nut and to do it at this particular spot. Looking at the isolation today, it would seem to have required lateral thinking bordering on dementia.

Nevermind. The notion took root and in 1920 Neil Shaw, who lived on the banks of the Clyde River in Scotland, was recruited by the Austral company and dispatched to establish and manage the factory on the banks of Clyde River, NSW. It was set up on lot 1, section 14.

Historians differ on how long the venture persisted. Gibbney believes it was not beyond 1922: Reynolds suggests it held up until some time in the 1930s. Similarly, there is a range of views on the reasons for its demise. Some of the tales are dark and pick up factors such as mismanagement, drunkenness and sabotage. Robin Shaw's theory is simple. She points out that the regeneration of the burrawang is a chancy and slow process, and suggests they merely ran out of an adequate supply.

Quite part from the fate of the starch factory one wonders why the Town itself never came to be. Most likely it failed because Nelligen succeeded in meeting the commercial communication needs of the day, and there was call for just one such maritime link between Sydney Cove and the southern tablelands of the State.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Passing the thyme in the garden

The flowering tomato plants are still waiting for the little bees to visit them. Should I pollinate them by hand or should I let them bee?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Here's an offer no ex-Banker could leave a loan!

The ANZ Banking Group Retired Officers' Club's monthly Newsletter publishes regular Travel Tips. Here are two more:

Our own little hide-away, "Riverbend Cottage", on the banks of the mighty Clyde River just 8 km upriver from Batemans Bay, is a well-kept secret - and we like to keep it that way!

Guests from the city always enthuse about the air here. It's fresh and composed mainly of oxygen and nitrogen, unlike what they are used to. They fall asleep almost immediately, their bodies exhausted from the lack of carbon monoxide and lead they have come to depend on.

It is very quiet here and very peaceful and you're the only guest. Instead of having to listen to somebody else's snoring or be "entertained" by some ablution noise in the room next door, you may hear the occasional possum wander over your roof at night or be surprised by a little green frog looking at you from under the bathroom door.

All this sensory deprivation may come as a shock to you which is why we suggest in our tongue-in-cheek "Health Warning" that if your chronological (or mental) age is less than 40, you will probably lack the appreciation of being miles away from McDonald's and the sounds of an in(f)ternal combustion engine.

To all others and to those who want to recover their energy and rediscover themselves, please come and stay and stay long, sit quietly, breathe deeply, and listen to the river, to the birds, to YOURSELF!

If you are a member of ANZROC, I offer you a hefty 30% off the weekly rate of $790 - sorry, we only accept week-long bookings - as my personal "thank you" to an ex-employee of a great institution that gave me my start in Australia!

However, please note that we don't take personal cheques and may seek a Bank Opinion before accepting your booking! ☺ ☺

ANZROC members who worked with me at the Alinga Street branch in Canberra City will be accommodated FREE OF CHARGE but, please, form an orderly queue!

Banjar Hills Retreat, Bali

My wife Padma is Indonesian and we regularly visit Indonesia and Bali. We avoid Kuta and we never stay in a 'touristy' hotel. Over the years we have discovered a number of exquisite little places which offer so much more at a fraction of the cost of the usual tourist-places.

The Banjar Hills Retreat is one such place. It is very private with just four bungalows high up in the cool hills overlooking the north coast of Bali and the Java Sea. The price? An unbelievably cheap Rp.250,000, or less than $30 per bungalow (NOT per person!) And if you tell Ibu (Mrs.) Made that Pak Peter and Ibu Padma sent you, or that you stay more than just a few days, she'll give you a discount even off that low price!

If you need more information or advice on how to get to Banjar Hills, please email me.

“The world is a book
and those who do not travel
read only one page.”

St. Augustine

Saturday, November 27, 2010

On the Net without a wire

Wireless internet reception was at first a bit dicky in the Cottage. We've since upgraded to a better BELKIN modem and you now can surf on our Internet as well as off our many beaches!

Saturday, November 20, 2010


It's summertime and I'm sitting by "Riverbend" 's own 'Walden Pond' which is teeming with aquatic life!

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion." (Henry David Thoreau)

Of course, Thoreu's 'Walden' is the work of an utter hypocrite, a man who rhapsodizes about his life of simplicity, a man who convicts his readers for joining the rat race, for owning more than they need, and so forth. And yet Thoreau seems blissfully unaware that his own lifestyle is made possible by that rat race; he’d have nowhere to live if Emerson didn’t let him squat on the land he bought with all that filthy, corrupting money. (Thoreau also had his laundry sent to his mother and ate a chicken dinner with Emerson each week, although these ugly facts are at least not evident in the text.) Complete text of 'Walden'


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wishing you an x-tra quiet Christmas!

An x-tra quiet and peaceful Christmas and a happy New Year from all of us at "Riverbend Cottage"!

        Peter and Padma and Malty and Rover

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sitting by the river without a wire

Riverbend is now a hotspot! We've installed a wireless modem to enable you to email all those "friends" whom you have never meet - and probably wouldn't want to!

Bringing up webpages is still a bit slow and sometimes impossible. The IT department of "Riverbend Cottage" is still tweaking the system so perhaps one day it'll be the full bottle!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Early-morning magic at "Riverbend"

All is quiet as I walk in the early-morning sun, cup of tea in hand, across "Riverbend". Even my friend "Skippy" enjoys this special moment.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ageing - how true!

Do you realise that the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we're kids? If you're less than 10 years old, you're so excited about ageing that you think in fractions.

'How old are you?' 'I'm four and a half!' You're never thirty-six and a half. You're four and a half, going on five! That's the key.

You get into your teens, now they can't hold you back. You jump to the next number, or even a few ahead.

'How old are you?' 'I'm gonna be 16!' You could be 13, but hey, you're gonna be 16! And then the greatest day of your life ..... . You become 21. Even the words sound like a ceremony. YOU BECOME 21. YESSSS!!!

But then you turn 30. Oooohh, what happened there? Makes you sound like bad milk! He TURNED; we had to throw him out. There's no fun now, you're just a sour-dumpling. What's wrong? What's changed?

You BECOME 21, you TURN 30, then you're PUSHING 40. Whoa! Put on the brakes, it's all slipping away. Before you know it, you REACH 50 and your dreams are gone.

But wait!!! You MAKE it to 60. You didn't think you would!

So you BECOME 21, TURN 30, PUSH 40, REACH 50 and MAKE it to 60.

You've built up so much speed that you HIT 70! After that it's a day-by-day thing; you HIT Wednesday!

You get into your 80's and every day is a complete cycle; you HIT lunch; you TURN 4:30 ; you REACH bedtime. And it doesn't end there. Into the 90s, you start going backwards; 'I Was JUST 92.'

Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a little kid again. 'I'm 100 and a half!'

May you all make it to a healthy 100 and a half!!


1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctors worry about them. That is why you pay 'them'

2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.

3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. 'An idle mind is the devil's workshop.' And the devil's name is Alzheimer's.

4. Enjoy the simple things.

5. Laugh often, long and loud.. Laugh until you gasp for breath.

6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is with us our entire life is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.

7. Surround yourself with what you love , whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.

8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county; to a foreign country, but NOT to where the guilt is.

10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.


Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

We have new neighbours!


Richard and Wendy aboard the Seven Seas 37 ketch "Charon" anchored off "Riverbend" yesterday. They are from Hobart and will sail for tropical Queensland in a day or two. The best neighbours to have!


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Winter? What winter?

The South Coast of New South Wales is beautiful at any time of the year. Come and see for yourself!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Foster & Allen

They are coming to the Batemans Bay Soldiers Club on the 2nd of June and we, being Foster & Allen fans from way back, will be there!

Mick Foster and Tony Allen have been performing together for almost 30 years. They first toured Australia in 1983 and this will be their 16th trip down under. These charismatic singers have been performing their unique blend of easy listening and folk music and their popularity is proven with their record sale. Between them they have sold 18 million records, making them one of Ireland's biggest entertainment exports.

They are giving concerts EVERY night during their one-month tour of Australia, going from Ipswich, Nambour, the Gold Coast, Brisbane, and Toowoomba in Queensland, to Ballina, Grafton, Taree, Newcastle, Rooty Hill, Revesby, Wollongong, and Batemans Bay in New South Wales, and Canberra, Wodonga, Bendigo, Shepparton, Ballarat, Horsham, Warrnambool, Geelong, Frankston, Morwell, Melbourne, and Castlemaine in Victoria, before hopping across Bass Strait to Launceston, Burnie, and Hobart, and then on to Adelaide, and Mandurah and Perth in Western Australia. My guess is they'll be sounding pretty croaky by the time they get to Perth!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Your religion is not important

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Round the bend at Riverbend

We are on septic tanks here and our cottage guests' toilet has a sign on the wall which reads:


Well, somebody mustn't have masticated well enough because things were less than 'flush' and I had to do some digging.

The digging is done and the flushing has flushed and all's well that ends up in the septic tank.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Life doesn't get much better than this!

Sitting on my boat lying at anchor in a peaceful cove, with a glass of Jacob's Creek Merlot in my hand and the radio tuned to FM Classical Music - life doesn't get much better than this!

David on Restoration Island, Horst on Uiha Island, Ron Brandt on Packe Island, "German Harry" on Deliverance Island, Tom Neale on Suwarrov: they all had their reasons to shun civilisation but I can enjoy their lifestyle and yet rejoin the "real world" anytime I want by simply driving down the 8 km to the Bay.

I may even sleep aboard "Lady Anne" tonight. With the companionway left half-open, I can watch the stars as the waves gently rock me to sleep. I have all the victuals in the galley: tinned baked beans, tinned braised steak, tinned rice cream pudding, bread, tea, coffee, sugar, and another two bottles of Jacob's Creek!

I drink to that!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Life is a genuinely artificial beach

One more reason to visit Riverbend Cottage: a genuinely artificial beach! Does life get any better than this?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

The "Scruffie" Taxman

Simon, the taxman from Canberra, was back on the river in his beautiful lugsail yawl Stornaway which he built himself from a kit available from Scruffie Marine.

He spent five days on the river, overnighting at anchor off Little Island just downriver from "Riverbend".

Simon, would you like to join the Nelligen Yacht Club? Our membership already includes a Kraut and a Greek, so a taxman would hardly be noticed.

We also talked about The Riddle of the Sands, Simon. Here is the German movie which features a far more traditional boat than the English version.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Our two Finnish guests have finished their stay!

from left to right: Hanna, Rikka and Padma

Good-bye, Hanna and Rikka! We wish you a safe trip home and perhaps we will see you again one day!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Shades of New Guinea

A quiet evening at "Riverbend". The television is off and I pretend I am back in the wilds of New Guinea with just a kerosene lamp and a good book.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What happened?

Can you remember when you were a kid and you'd lie in the grass on your back and watch the clouds scud above you and you'd dream of what you were going to be when you grew up?

Well, what happened?

Monday, February 22, 2010

They're a weird mob

Ihave just bought an extra copy of the movie "They're a Weird Mob" for the Cottage to be watched by our occasional guest from overseas.

The story is based on the bestseller by John O'Grady writing as 'Nino Culotta' and is a social commentary on Australian society in the 1960s — specifically male, working-class society. And it's a commentary on Australian immigration which was then at its peak.

The final message is that immigrants - "New Australians" - should count themselves fortunate and make efforts to assimilate into Australian society, including learning to speak Australian English.

I was one of those "New Australians" who arrived at that time and fell in love with Australia. Yes, I do consider myself fortunate and I did learn to speak Australian English.

And I know you would want to watch another episode in this delightful movie:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What tolerance looks like

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Do not disturb!

Nelligen is one of those places that almost wishes not to be noticed. It invites passersby to take a Sunday afternoon nap with it.

It has a community hall that keeps one eye open just long enough to give tourists a chance to buy a few trinkets.

Trinkets such as a mug from the Sydney 2000 Olympics for just 10 cents. Selling something for 10 cents these days is like saying, "We want you to have this as a gift from us but we don't want you to feel bad about it, so give us a coin you forgot you had."

Nelligen feels like rest. Real rest!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Walk, don't run, Runnyford Road!

For those who want to walk the Runnyford Road through the Mogo State Forest, here are some details:

Start from Nelligen Cemetery at the back of the village. If you think walking 21 km could kill you, this is a good time to choose a suitable plot!

From here it is about 1.7 km to the turn-off on the left side of the road where I usually join Runnyford Road, having crossed from "Riverbend" and climbed uphill a good kilometre-and-a-bit.

Another 2.3 km brings you to a fork in the road. Don't turn right onto Bolaro Mountain Road but follow Runnyford Road downhill.

It's another 4.5 km to the Runnymede property - see picture above. I don't know how long it took you to get here but you are too late - almost 800 years too late! - to meet King John as he signs the Magna Carta (you're on the wrong island anyway).

Walk a further 2.7 km and you come to Runnyford Bridge.

You've done a good 11 km, so stop for a while and take a rest. There's the Buckenbowra River to take a dip in; or say 'hello' to the horses in the paddocks. The beautiful property by the bridge has been restored to its former glory and is inhabitated again.

Once you cross the bridge, you're back on gravel and the following 7.5 km to Waterfall Creek, which is next to another large property, are not all that scenic anymore.

From Waterfall Creek it's another 2.3 km to the Princess Highway which you join about 5 km south of Batemans Bay.

Happy walking!


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Broken doors, broken windows ... broken dreams ?

Looking across the Clyde to "Riverbend"

Across the river from "Riverbend", high up amongst the gumtrees, is an old cottage. It used to be lived in many years ago but nobody lives there now and it is slowly falling to pieces. And yet at one time it must have been the fulfillment of somebody's dreams as evidenced by old flowerbeds and a rusty kiddy's swing outside and a cosy fireplace and bookshelves inside.

I reflect on this impermanence and apparent pointlessness of all human endeavour every time I row across the river and climb up the steep track past the old cottage to walk the Runnyford Road.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Happy Astraya Day!

A day for reflecting on my good fortunes. And to thank God for letting me be here. To thank Him for letting me be an Australian. Sometimes I think that if I am ever fortunate enough to reach Heaven, I will know I am there when I hear Him say, "Howyergoin'mate orright?"

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hanna's Walk

We've had two visiting academics from the Australian National University in Canberra stay with us for a week. They were two charming young ladies, Hanna Kokko from Finland and Hope Klug from the USA - both professors no less! - who arrived on MURRAYS bus and really explored and enjoyed everything Nelligen and the Clyde River had to offer.

Hanna walked the entire length of Runnyford Road which runs from the back of Nelligen to just south of Batemans Bay (see green route on map) by first rowing across the Clyde in front of "Riverbend Cottage" and then climbing to the ridge where it joins up with Runnyford Road (soon to be renamed Hanna's Walk).

Both visited the Moruya Markets with Padma, canoed on the river, and attended Sunday's Country & Western Music performances in the village hall.

We encouraged them to get a taste of Australia by watching Australian movies which they did with Shiralee, Travelling North, and Storm Boy.

Hanna and Hope, you are our favourite guests and we hope you took away some happy memories!


P.S. We have just received this email from Hanna:

Hi Peter and Padma,

We're now back safely in Canberra and have been enthusing to everyone about our stay! It is a nice feeling indeed when opening the door of one's office and it feels like it's been ages since one last did it. Time becomes a very odd concept there, in the best possible way - it flies and at the same time it feels, well, timeless!

I'm pretty sure we'll meet again...

all the best and thanks again for all this



Saturday, January 2, 2010