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An Alternative Route from Bodalla to Cooma

We couldn’t go past the beautiful All Saints Church at Bodalla.

Quoted from the Eurobodalla Coast Tourism Website

This historic church, one of the most splendidly apportioned in rural New South Wales, is delightfully set atop a hill on the outskirts of the small town of Bodalla. Fine views of the coastal hinterland may be taken in from the tower. The church has a fascinating history, long in association with the Mort family.
The following extract from a small publication about the church and its history elaborates:
“In 1857, after a two year holiday in England Thomas Sutcliffe Mort found his tract of land (13,000 acres) at Bodalla still unsold, so he decided to take it up himself .
The story of Mort is well-known and is told briefly on the memorial tablet in All Saints’ Church:
‘Born in England at Bolton, Lancashire in 1816, T.S. Mort came to this country in 1837, a pioneer of Australian dairying, through the creation of the Bodalla Estate, of engineering and shipbuilding at Balmain, and of the wool industry and other enterprises, he devoted the last fifteen years of his life to the invention of a process of freezing and exporting Australian meat to supply the need of England. A colonist and a citizen of keen foresight and unselfish service, the soul of honour, a faithful and generous churchman, a neighbour of unfailing kindness to rich and poor alike, his simplicity of nature and largeness of heart gained for him the friendship and love of men of all classes. He died on 9th May, 1878, of illness contracted in ministering to the needs of one of his workmen, and was laid to rest in the cemetery of the Bodalla Estate he so dearly loved.’
The architect chosen was Edmund T. Blacket, architect of the cathedrals of St Andrew’s, Sydney and St Saviour’s, Goulburn. Though the original design was his it is unlikely that Blacket ever saw the site of All Saints’ (chosen by T.S. Mort) for he was not only very busy, but also ill at that time, so it was his son, Cyril, who carried it through its first stage (i.e. Chancel, Vestry, Organ Recess and the first two bays of the Nave). The builder chosen was Joseph Zeigler of Moruya under Blacket’s supervision. The granite of which it is built was quarried on the Estate. The entrance door, with its intricate hand wrought iron hinges and straps and the stone font Within, were designed by E.T. Blacket himself A parclose screen divides the extension from the earlier part of the Nave, so that accommodation of small congregations is compact.
The foundation stone was laid by Thomas Mort’s widow, Marianne (second wife) on 18th March, 1880. The service was conducted by John Selwyn, 2nd Bishop of Melanesia, who later married Mort’s elder daughter, Annie, to whose memory the window in the Baptistry is dedicated. The building was finished in 1901. Still lacking the intended spire, it was consecrated by Archbishop Saumarez-Smith on the Feast of All Saints, the following year.
All the woodwork is of oak. The stained glass windows, the Chancel tiles, the unusual reredos of marble mosaic, as well as the pipe organ, were brought from England. On the Chancel arch are Thomas Mort’s last words: THINE EYES SHALL SEE THE KING IN HIS BEAUTY and beyond it the stained glass windows of the Transfiguration light up the Sanctuary. This East window was the gift of the people of Bodalla in memory of T.S. Mort and his wife Theresa Shepheard.
The beautiful hand embroidered furnishings were the work of their daughters, the original festal altar frontal being made from Theresa Mort’s wedding dress, while her wedding ring is incorporated in the stem of the silver gilt chalice. The oak light standards in the Chancel were turned from trees grown on Ernest Mort’s property in Surrey and are a memorial to their youngest son, the Reverend Emest Mort.
The building cost £13,000 to erect. There are many tablets on the walls in memory of the members of the Mort family and various worshippers of the past.”

All Saints Church – Bodalla

For an alternative road trip to that of taking the Highway, we turned off just out of Bodalla towards Nerrigundah via Eurobodalla. The road is all dirt, but for an ordinary car this is no problem until you get to Belowra, from here you require a 4WD to Numeralla. We cross the Tuross River near Eurobodalla.

A stop at Nerrigundah is a must!
Little did we know of the history surrounding this area!
A Plaque sits beside the monument dedicated to Constable Miles O’Grady and reads as follows:

Blood for Gold

“In 1861, gold was discovered at Gulph Creek and Nerrigundah became the centre of activity. Returns from the Gulph were good and gold buyers plied the fields regularly.

On the morning of April 9, 1866, Thomas Clarke and his gang of bushrangers appeared at Deep Creek near the Gulph Goldfields and spent the day robbing passing travellers. At Nerrigundah, Constable Patrick Smythe was on duty alone as one sergeant was absent and Constable Miles O’Grady was seriously ill with ‘Colonial Fever’ (probably Cholera). When Clarke learned of the situation, he led his gang into the town and held up Wallis’s Hotel and Pollock’s Store.
O’Grady dragged himself out of his sick bed to help deal with the crisis. William Fletcher, a new recruit to the gang, was shot dead by O’Grady. In the ensuing gun battle, O’Grady was shot in the side and killed.
The monument in the centre of town commemorates O’Grady’s bravery.

Mr Pollock, one of the main gold buyers in Nerrigundah, was forced to hand over the key to his safe to one of the Clarke gang.
The story goes that Mrs Pollock managed to snatch the safe key from Thomas Clarke and throw it across the street, leaving Clarke searching the street by candlelight.”

After having our picnic lunch at Nerrigundah, we drove on to Belowra which is in the Wadbilliga National Park and also borders on the Deua National Park. We cross Sitters Ditch Bridge just before getting to Belowra.

Around Belowra is farming land and care should be taken for stray cattle on the road. The countryside is very mountainous and lovely and green.

From Belowra we continued on over the Belowra Bridge. Painted on a tree is
Jim’s Corner with an upside-down Slippery When Wet Sign and further on

The road becomes very steep and narrow with sheer drops and a few washouts to manoeuvre – I can see why 4WD’s are recommended!

We turn left at Badja Forest Road, past Guinea Creek and on to Numeralla. From here its back on to bitumen and an easy 20kms drive to Cooma.

It took a little longer than we had anticipated via this alternative route, but the scenery and the drive was well worth it! It’s part of the adventure of seeing our beautiful country!!

Bodalla to Cooma – Country New South Wales, Australia.

An Alternative Route from Bodalla to Cooma

Marilyn Harris

BATHURST, Australia

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