Kameruka Capers

Now that we have been living here for almost a full year, I thought a blog post on our adoptive village was well overdue and because so much of Candelo’s history is also tied up with the nearby Kameruka Estate, I shall be describing both villages. Because this post is so long, I have divided into 2 sections. I shall describe Kameruka first, since it has the older history, as well as the fact that we have just celebrated the Kameruka Hall Centenary last weekend. The Candelo post will conclude our first year in our lovely new home.

Candelo is situated 446 km south of Sydney via the Princes Highway; 495 km via Canberra and Queanbeyan; 587 km from Melbourne and 24 km south west of Bega. Kameruka lies 3 km to the north of Candelo on the Candelo-Bega Road. Both villages are situated on the pretty Candelo Creek, which was home to the Yuin- speaking Aboriginal people for over 20,000 years. The name ‘Kameruka’ is Yuin for ‘Wait until I return’. Contrary to urban myth, Candelo was not named after the habit of placing a candle in the window, but probably took the name from Candelo House, Peter Imlay’s house a few kilometres downstream, which was named after the Italian town Candelo and was built in 1834, long before the development of our village. Here are some photos of our creek:BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-03 15.53.44BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-11-10 11.06.45BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-11-10 11.07.12European settlement of the area began with the Imlay Brothers in the 1830s. George (1794-1846), Peter (1797-1881) and Alexander (1800-1847) were born in Aberdeen to Alexander Imlay, a farmer and merchant, and his wife Agnes. All three men arrived in Australia between December 1829 and 1833 as part of the medical corps for the army and navy.

In 1832, Alexander toured the South Coast of NSW and selected a 1280 acre holding at Breadalbane Plains. The following year, Peter called in at Twofold Bay, where he was attracted by its potential for shore-based whaling and stock raising. He built his home there and was joined by George in 1835, while Alexander became responsible for the brothers’ land holdings in Van Diemens Land (now Tasmania). By 1837, the Imlay Brothers were one of the six leading producers of whale products. They had huge pastoral holdings and shipped live cattle and sheep and salted beef between their port at Twofold Bay and Hobart Town, Tasmania.

Despite the fact that they owned 3885 square kilometres of the colony’s best land, the economic depression of the 1840s and misfortune led to foreclosure by the Walker Brothers, Sydney merchants, who took over most of their land, including the 200,000 acre cattle run, on which Kameruka was situated, in 1844.

The Walkers built a four-roomed Georgian homestead on Kameruka and kept a pack of hounds to chase native dingoes. The first horses to be taken to New Zealand came from Kameruka Estate during this time. They sold the property in 1852 to the Twofold Bay Pastoral Association, which was comprised of 7 businessmen, including Thomas Sutcliffe Mort, the Manning Brothers, and 2 Tooth brothers of Tooth KB Lager Brewery fame in Sydney ( KB stood for Kent’s Best- their original family home). After numerous changes in management, the association appointed a manager, James Manning, who oversaw the estate from 1852-1860. He introduced cheese-making in 1854 and encouraged the migration of German settlers, who were heavily involved in the early production of cheese, to the area.

The estate developed dramatically over the next 10 years. The Twofold Bay Pastoral Association was disbanded in 1860 and in 1861 and the passing of the Robertson Land Act had major implications for the estate. This act gave free settlers the right to purchase the land they occupied and  dramatically reduced the size of Kameruka, as well as resulting in the growth of the new township of Candelo, which serviced not only local farmers, but also acted as a stopover for goods cartage to and from the Monaro Tablelands.

In 1861, James Manning bought Kameruka in its own right, but within 12 months, he had sold the property to Frederick Tooth, the wealthy owner of the Sydney brewery, who died 2 years later, the property then passing into the hands of his nephew Robert Lucas-Tooth in 1864. See : http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/tooth-sir-robert-lucas-lucas–4732BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-12-03 16.52.20Robert was the driving force behind the development of Kameruka into one of the oldest and finest dairy studs in Australia.  Using the best genetics from the 1880s to current times, Kameruka won the Royal Sydney Show’s Supreme Champion Dairy Cow of all breeds in 1981, 1983 and 1992.BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-12-03 15.27.02BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-12-03 15.26.55Robert appointed a manager, Henry Wren, in 1864, as well as adding extra rooms to Kameruka Homestead. He planted an avenue of oak trees leading to the main homestead, as well as conifers from Spain and Italy and other European trees amongst the native eucalypts, in the style of an English parkland, around his future village and the oriental lake. Here are some photos of the homestead and its position on the creek:BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-12-03 15.54.56BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-12-03 18.17.20BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-04-30 16.07.10BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-12-03 15.34.18Robert had a vision for a self-contained community modeled on the English agricultural estates and built an empire based on dairying, cheese-making and soft fruit orchards. He built 30 houses for employees from Britain, Europe and America; shops (4th photo below) including a butcher, blacksmith, carpenter, estate office (5th photo) and a village store; a clock tower; a church; a school and recreational facilities including a golf course, cricket oval and village hall (3rd photo). There were multiple share-farmed dairies, all named after villages in Kent, and 3 cheese factories, as well as a home dairy with the oldest Jersey Cattle Stud in Australia.BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 11.05.21BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-04-30 16.06.30BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-04-10 16.47.43BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-12-03 15.58.46BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-12-03 15.54.02BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-04-30 07.53.01BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-04-30 07.43.13BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-04-30 15.40.29Holy Trinity Church was built in 1869 on land donated to the Anglican Church by Robert Lucas-Tooth. It was designed by Edmund Blacket (a first cousin of the great-grandfather of my husband, Ross), who was a well-known colonial architect in Sydney and who designed a huge number of churches for the Anglican Church throughout New South Wales. There is even one of his churches in Geelong, Christ Church, 1843, the oldest Anglican Church in Victoria. He also designed St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney and the Quadrangle and Great Hall at the University of Sydney. For more information, see : http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/blacket-edmund-thomas-3005.

BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-19 12.28.48BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 13.30.00BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 13.42.04BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 13.35.41BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 13.24.35BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-04-30 07.51.12BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 13.27.55BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-04-10 17.01.51BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 13.33.39BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 13.28.59BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 13.33.04The Tooths and Thomas Mort were great patrons of Edmund Blacket, so it was not surprising that Edmund was asked to design the Holy Trinity Church at Kameruka for a sum of 19 Pounds and 10 shillings. It was built by Charles Galli of Wolumna, with voluntary estate labour, for the sum of 560 pounds and the bricks were made on the property. Originally, the church was built with a shingle roof. It was reroofed in 1908. Blacket also designed the pews, the communion rail, the low box pulpit and the stone font. The church was consecrated on the 24th February, 1872. It is a lovely old building with memorial plates to the Lucas-Tooth family inside and would have been well-used during the two World Wars. Today, it is is generally used for weddings, baptisms and funerals. There is one annual service in Spring- this year, it was on Sunday, 11th October, when over 120 people attended.BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 13.38.54BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 13.39.44BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-04-10 16.57.20BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 13.39.15BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-04-30 16.02.07BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-04-30 16.03.45BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-04-30 16.03.24BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-04-30 16.03.05BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-04-30 16.03.08BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 13.39.31BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 13.24.22BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 13.29.24The church is in a commanding position on the hill overlooking the estate and the aptly-named Lord’s View Cricket Oval. It was the venue for the 1888 cricket match between the touring English XI and 22 local players from the South Coast. Needless to say, England won! In 1988, a cricket match between international players and Candelo-Kameruka locals was held to commemorate the match held one century earlier.BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 11.00.12BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 11.00.18BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 11.08.45BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 11.07.40And we have even been to a cricket match there just after we arrived. Held in honour of Jane McGrath and in support of breast cancer, all the players wore pink. Until then, I did not realize how little pink there was in my wardrobe! I quickly made a pink ribbon flower brooch for the day!!! While we did not stay for the whole match, Ross was very impressed that I lasted a whole morning. He is a cricket tragic from way back, having cut his teeth on annual visits with his dad to the Gabba (Brisbane Cricket Ground)- and this was ‘proper cricket’- none of this newfangled fancy dress three-day cricket for ‘short attention spans’!!!

BlogKameruka40%Reszd2015-02-21 11.36.34BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 12.13.07BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 11.06.08BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 11.39.01BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 12.41.38BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-12-03 15.46.34BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 11.32.45There was even an adorable little white terrier from Tasmania with a pink ribbon collar, rug and water bowl.BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 11.42.13BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 11.26.49BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 11.59.48The Candelo-Kameruka Golf Course was designed by Laurie Auchterlonie, a Scot, who was the US Open Champion in 1902 and built by another Scot, a Mr. Banks, in 1913. It was a nine hole links design with sand greens and was Australia’s oldest original layout. It was also Australia’s first genuine resort course for wealthy tourists, staying at Kameruka Estate Hostel. Most of the holes commemorate battle sites in World War One. It was revived by local farmers in 1932, who formed a golf club, but unfortunately, it is no longer accessible to locals and it is no longer maintained (see photos).BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-12-03 18.15.40BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-12-03 18.16.06BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-12-03 15.26.19 - CopyBlogKameruka40%Reszd2015-12-03 15.25.19This is a photo of an old photo of the Kameruka Hostel. It was built in the style of Brighton Pavilion for wealthy guests in 1915, but also served as a hospital during the First World War. Unfortunately, it was demolished during the Second World War, as it was no longer used and building supplies were short, so the Marseilles tiles were used to renew the homestead roof and the bricks reused to build silos.BlogKameruka20%ReszdIMG_0596The Clock Tower were built in 1911. Jim Tang built the latter as the start of a stable complex, which was never completed because of the Great War (World War I). It has an English mechanism, 3 bells and is wound up by a large crank handle once a week to chime on the quarter hour. It still chimes today.BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 13.25.54BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 13.26.13Here are some more lovely buildings on the estate.BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-12-03 15.55.31BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-02-21 13.26.48Robert Lucas-Tooth had 3 sons, but unfortunately, they were all killed along with many of the estate workers during World War I.  His first two sons Selwyn and Douglas were killed in action in 1914 within a month of each other. Robert himself died in 1915 after his return to England, then his youngest son, Archibald Leonard, who inherited the baronetcy, died of pneumonia on active service in France in 1918. The property was left in trust to Leonard’s youngest daughter Christine, who went on to marry Derick Foster and live in England.The Tooth family are buried in the cemetery behind the church and there is a War Memorial, listing all the names of the Kameruka Estate men who died during both World Wars, on the little road into the church.BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-04-30 16.04.29BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-04-30 16.04.58After World War I, cheese production expanded, with 14 dairies in operation. Little much changed between the two World Wars,  250 tonnes of cheese being produced annually from the estate factories. Industrial problems during the 1950s led to diversification into wool production in 1952 and the addition of a beef herd. In 1971, the last cheese factory at Kameruka closed and the brand name ‘Kameruka’ was sold to the Bega Co-operative Society.

In 1975, Christine’s son, Francis (Frank) Foster, returned to live at Kameruka  and manage the estate until 2007. Unfortunately, Frank and his wife Odile had no children, so in 2007, after 30 years of running the property and over 150 years of ownership by the one family, they put the 1300 hectare property on the market for $9 Million dollars. The whole estate, including the Merino flock, was bought by Giles Pritchard Gordon, a shipping magnate from UK with his own fleet of oil tankers! He also was an amazing character and a real power house! See : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/finance-obituaries/8870891/Giles-Pritchard-Gordon.html. He planned a major staged development program, renovated the house, extended and upgraded the Lord’s View Cricket Oval and introduced 480 Angus cattle and 2750 Merino wethers, bred on historic Tubbo Station in the Riverina, which he also owned.BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-04-30 15.45.02Unfortunately, Giles died in 2011 and his wife Lou and 4 daughters have managed the business from England and have hired out Kameruka Homestead for luxury tourism. See : https://www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/10674092 . They decided to sell Kameruka at the end of last year, along with another nearby property, the estate now totalling 1452 hectares and worth $ 11-12 Million dollars. I would love to see the old homestead one day!

This year was the centenary of the community hall, which was built in 1915. This lovely old building has hosted many community picnics and dances and even had an opening high in the wall for the projection of movies, which were in their infancy at that stage (3rd photo). The 4th photo shows the view that the projectionist had back to the main stage. The afternoon started with a Light Horse parade and speeches, followed by local musician, Mike Martin, singing Eric Bogle’s famous and haunting song ‘The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ and the Kameruka Concert Band (though really it was the Candelo Beginners’ Orchestra!), then a great wheelbarrow race. We missed the tug-of-war, as all the contestants were still playing  cricket! Kameruka and Wyndham teams were vying for The Myrtle Mountain Cup. The day finished with a bush dance, a fitting send-off for the hall’s Centenary celebrations!BlogKameruka40%Reszd2015-12-05 08.03.44BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-12-03 16.25.33BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-12-03 16.52.50BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-12-03 17.30.56BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-12-03 15.33.20BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-12-03 16.00.07BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-12-03 16.07.03BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-12-03 16.04.02BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-12-03 15.35.42BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-12-03 18.07.25BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-12-03 18.11.04BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-12-03 15.43.48BlogKameruka20%Reszd2015-12-03 16.30.21

6 thoughts on “Kameruka Capers

  1. Darling that was so interesting and I am so glad you are there, that area suits you both down to a T. It is perfect for you both. Loved the photos. Lots of love Mum

    Sent from my iPad



    1. So glad that you enjoyed it. It is such an interesting area historically and we are so lucky to have so many old buildings still intact. You should enjoy the Candelo photos too at the end of the month. xxx


  2. Thank you for a glimpse behind the gate of Kameruka, and a look into the history. We drive past regularly and I have always been curious. The Candelo area is the most beautiful area. Actually, shhh about that, because I don’t really want the world to find us.


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