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Welcome to the website of

The Clyde River and Batemans Bay Historical Society

(Accredited under the National Standards for Australian Museums and Galleries)

Batemans Bay Heritage Museum

The Batemans Bay Heritage Museum (previously known as the Old Courthouse Museum) was opened in 1985 when a new courthouse was built in Batemans Bay. It took ten years for the building, built in 1905, to be moved to its present position at Museum Place. At that time, the Department of Education offered Nelligen's former one-room schoolhouse and the two buildings were joined together.

The Clyde River and Batemans Bay Historical Society

The Clyde River and Batemans Bay Historical Society is an incorporated volunteer organisation, formed on 25 July 1977. The Society, through the Museum, is the storehouse of our community's history. The Society is recognised as a key community cultural resource and visitor attraction through development, maintenance and promotion of the Batemans Bay Heritage Museum and its Collections.

The Batemans Bay Courthouse, circa 1906

Construction of the Bay Bridge in 1956, with the first tower almost completed - looking south

Brief history of Batemans Bay

  • 1770 - Lieutenant James Cook, Master of the H.M. Bark Endeavour, named Batemans Bay.
  • In November 1821, Lieutenant Robert Johnston, Master of the schooner Snapper, named the Clyde River. He gave his ship's name to the small island at the Bay's mouth.
  • In January 1822, Lieutenant Johnston returned with Alexander Berry and explorer Hamilton Hume, later reporting favourably on the area for settlement and timber gathering.
  • Johnston and Berry's reports, and the opportunity to acquire land, led to European settlement of Batemans Bay during the 1830s.
  • In November 1827, Robert Hoddle surveyed the south coast and named the Tollgate and Tollhouse islands, now known as the Tollgates.
  • In November 1828, the NSW census showed two men, Brian Gordon and David Paton, were residing at Batemans Bay.
  • In 1841, a land sale was held along the foreshore of Batemans Bay, the proposed township being named St. Vincent after the county. This name failed to capture support and it remained Batemans Bay.
  • In the 1850s, gold was discovered at Araluen, Braidwood, Mogo, Nelligen and many other locations throughout the area. Timber gatherers, oyster farmers and fisherman established operations. The increase in population led to the establishment of Batemans Bay.
  • During the 1860s, Nelligen was the major town and port in the region.
  • During the 1870s, hand powered punt services were established across the Clyde River at Nelligen and Batemans Bay.
  • In 1915 a new motor powered punt commenced services across the Clyde River at Batemans Bay.
  • By the early 1930s the population of Batemans Bay had grown to 450.
  • By the 1940s the town boasted a picture theatre, a number of general stores, and a hospital, and plans had commenced to construct a bridge across the Clyde River.
  • The Batemans Bay bridge across the Clyde River opened in 1956, and the bridge at Nelligen in 1964.
  • As the timber-related and fishing industries became less viable in the Bay, tourism and retirement service industries became the major economic focus.