History snippets

SHORT of time? This page provides some snippets of Tomerong’s history focusing mainly on the village sites and buildings. If you need to find out more then go to the topics listed at left or the More Information page.



The Traveller’s Rest Hotel was situated on the north-eastern corner of the Shoalhaven to Ulladulla Road (Hawken) and the South Huskisson Road (Pine Forest). It was established in 1857 by John Parnell. Parnell ran the business for approximately 30 years. When it fell into disrepair, a new building was constructed on the site in 1897. This new hotel was known as the ‘Commercial Hotel’ and was operated by Thomas Mooney for the next 7 years. The license was transferred to John Nowland about 1905 who ran the hotel until 1909. The final licensee was Frederick Dowdall, a former traveller for the Castlemaine Brewery. He and his wife continued to operate the hotel until it was finally closed on 3 June 1911. The old hotel building is thought to have been removed in the 1930s, the cellars filled in and a house erected on the site.


Public School

James McLeod Robertson operated a private school at Tomerong in the early 1860s. The same school commenced as a Non-vested National school in 1862 and was situated on the eastern side of the Shoalhaven to Ulladulla Road (now Hawken Road). The school building was constructed on the portion owned by James Barham and Robertson was the first teacher appointed. Only one month later Robertson fell from his horse and subsequently died of his injuries. He was replaced by Matthew Craig who had a colourful 12 years at Tomerong before being dismissed in 1875. The first schoolroom was constructed from sawn slabs with a shingle roof; this building was replaced in 1885. Over the years many alterations were effected on the schoolroom, which remained in use until 1978. Demountable buildings were used from that time until 1995 when two steel-framed brick buildings were constructed consisting of four classrooms. The school celebrated its centenary (1962), and its 125th anniversary (1987) and will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2012. It has the distinction of being one of only a handful of Shoalhaven schools, that is still operating after such a lengthy period of time.

Two teacher residences were constructed at Tomerong Public School prior to the erection of the existing building. The first was described in 1873 as a ‘mere hut’ and the second was a three-roomed cottage constructed in 1876. The existing residence was built in 1893 by William Braithwaite for the sum of £637 17s 11d. Thomas and Mary Langlands and nine of their children were the first occupants and remained there until Thomas died in 1903. Apart from a small extension to the back of the dwelling and the enclosure of the northern veranda, the building has retained its original design. Teaching staff continued to reside there until 1992 when it was converted into the administration office.


Post Office

A Post Office was first established at Tomerong in 1862 under the charge of James McLeod Robertson. Following his untimely death several months later, John Parnell, the hotel proprietor became Postmaster. The Post Office was located in a small building situated a short distance from the Traveller’s Rest Hotel. Subsequent premises were situated at the Public School (1865-1875), (1906) and at the corner store (1885-1906). The telegraph line was extended to Ulladulla in 1875 and in 1886, the Post Office received telephone communications with Nowra. When Florence Wood was appointed as Postmistress in 1906, she had the current premises constructed just north of the school where she remained as Postmistress for the next 19 years. Some of the later Postmasters/mistress’ have included Arthur Jacques, Hannah Aspinall, William Costello, William Bennett-Caten, Douglas Grenenger, Terence Fowler and Lurleen Newman

In 1992 the Post Office was relocated to the Tomerong store/service station but returned to the present site four years later.


General Store & Service Station

The Tomerong General Store was established about 1882 by Milton store-keepers Daniel Watts and Son with Daniel’s son, Frederick, its first proprietor. In 1885 the Post Office was relocated from near the Traveller’s Rest Hotel to the store and Frederick was appointed as the Postmaster. In 1892 Frederick’s niece Matilda Miller commenced working at the store as an assistant. She later purchased the business from Frederick prior to her marriage to William Lackersteen. The business became known as ‘W Lackersteen’s Pioneer Store’ and was conducted by the couple for about 8 years. Around 1909 the store premises underwent redevelopment and in 1910 the business had been taken over by Woodhill & Co. under the charge of Joseph Canavan. James and Charles Watt purchased the business in 1915 and after the war, James’ sons Horace and Edward purchased it. Petrol bowsers were installed in 1926 and 1929. In 1939 the store was sold to the Scott family and following them, changed hands in quick succession, first to a Mr Lovatt, then Mr Davis and in 1947 to Ron and Jean Morton. Ken and Natalie Parnell purchased the petrol supply part of the business in 1952 and established the service station to the north of the store. In 1954 Bill Simpkin and family became the store proprietors until his son Henton took over in 1966. Proprietors to follow included the Chambers, Riley and Anderson family’s. In 1979 Bill and Audrey Anderson purchased the service station, combining the two businesses once again. Bill and Audrey remained in the business for 10 years before selling it to Jeff Nasr. In 1985 the front portion of the old store was removed. The old store premises were later removed and the store was then operated from the residence situated to the north of the old store building. In 1991, Gail and Peter Dawson took over the business and the Post Office was also conducted from the premises following Gail’s appointment as Postmistress 1992. When the Dawson family relocated their business and the Post Office in 1996 the service station/shop continued to run intermittently until the premises were gutted by fire in April 2000, the remains of the building were removed 6 months later.


Union Church

The original Church Hall was opened on 20 September 1877 on the current site of the Sunday School Hall. The building was used as a Church and a meeting house and its dual purpose led to a very public dispute several years later. On 1 November 1887, the current Church was opened and became known as the Tomerong Union Church. Regular services were conducted for well over 100 years by visiting ministers from the Presbyterian, Methodist and Anglican Churches and also by the Salvation Army. The old Church Hall was removed in 1931 and was replaced by a new Sunday School hall. The eastern wing was added to the building in 1959 to accommodate an increase in the number of children attending. As well as Sunday School, the building was also used for Red Cross meetings, Women’s Church Committee meetings and in later years, church services. The Sunday School continued to operate until the early 1980’s when it closed due to dwindling numbers. In the years to follow the ageing congregation continued to decline and in 1987 the Church Committee was dissolved. Regular services eventually ceased in the early 1990’s and in the years to follow the buildings were used only rarely for christenings and weddings. Without a congregation, the buildings fell into disrepair. In 2001 the Friends of Tomerong Union Church Inc. was formed to restore the buildings and since then major restoration work has brought them back to their former glory.


School of Arts

A School of Arts was first suggested for Tomerong in 1876 but it took 50 years before the idea finally became a reality. During the intervening period community groups, such as the Literary & Debating Society, made use of the Church Hall (the original Church building). The current Tomerong School of Arts was constructed by James Muller and voluntary labour at a cost of approximately £300. The official opening of the building occurred on 15 October 1926 and a concert was held to mark the occasion at which distinguished guests included Federal, State and Local Government representatives. The supper room or kitchen was added in the late 1930s and the cloak rooms at the front of the hall were opened in 1946. The fortnightly dances were a popular form of entertainment in the early years but were eclipsed by the village’s own Concert Party which was active in the early 1950’s and travelled to perform at places like Braidwood, Milton and Nerriga. The Hall has seen service as a Doctor’s Surgery, a military post for two years during WWII, a temporary school, a library and a movie theatre, as well as the meeting rooms and entertainment hall for the community and its institutions. In more recent times it has been used for Pre-School and Playgroup, as well as aerobic, tae kwon do, yoga and belly dancing classes and is the venue for A Capella and Jazz nights reflecting its original purpose as a ‘School of Arts’. Now over eight years old, it remains one of only two halls in the Shoalhaven that is still owned and operated by the residents.Although many improvements have been made over the years, the building retains its own unique character and provides a link with Tomerong’s saw milling heritage.


Bush Fire Brigade (Rural Fire Service)

Following extensive bush fires throughout southern Australia in 1939 and the consequent destruction of the village of Yalwal, a Bush Fire Brigade was formed at Tomerong but does not appear to have been active. The establishment of a Tomerong Brigade was encouraged by the Bush Fire Emergency Committee in 1942 but was not supported by the local Clyde Council as a brigade had already been formed at Huskisson. The intervention of WWII meant it was February 1947 before the brigade was reformed. In the early years fire fighting equipment was housed at the Clyde Shire Council office, at the home of Bill Lackersteen (Bundor) and later at the properties of Charles Watt and Harold Parnell. The Brigade folded after 1956, but was reformed 10 years later. The first substantial shed was constructed on the Grange Road, but as the Brigade acquired more equipment and larger vehicles the need for better premises was paramount. A site south of the School of Arts was selected in 1986 on the unformed part of Church Street, between the Princes Hwy and Jervis St. The building was constructed using mostly voluntary labour and was opened on 15 June 1991.


Clyde Shire Council

The Clyde Shire Council was formed in March 1906 and was the first form of local government for the area. The Shire covered a vast area from Falls Creek to the Clyde River (excluding Ulladulla) and Tomerong was chosen as the headquarters for the new shire. Council meetings were held at the Church Hall until the Chambers were constructed in 1908. Councillor Cyril Blacket designed the building which was constructed by Fred Moore for £133. Later, a tool and blacksmith’s shed was constructed. Wood chopping and tennis tournaments were conducted on the Shire grounds in the 1930s. Local Shire Presidents included Cyril Blacket, James Watt II, William Watt and Horace Watt.The Shire’s two Clerks were William Lackersteen (1907-1942) and James Seberry (1942-1948). In 1948 the Shire was amalgamated with other Shires and Municipalities into the Shoalhaven Shire. The building was demolished after 1963.


‘Bundor’ - Clerk’s Residence

‘Bundor’ is located north of the Post Office. This and the Engineer’s house were built in 1909 by Edward Kennedy for the Clyde Council for £225 each. The Shire Clerk, William Lackersteen, and his family were the first to reside at ‘Bundor’ paying a weekly rental of 10s, before purchasing the property in 1913. Subsequent owners, the Bryce family, constructed a tennis court in 1953 where competition tennis was played for a number of years. Although extensions have been carried out at the rear of the home, the front portion remains unaltered. The beautiful gardens surrounding ‘Bundor’ were, for several years, the venue for the very popular Garden Parties held as fundraising functions by the Women’s Church Committee.


Engineer’s Residence

The Engineer’s and Clerk’s residence ‘Bundor’ were both constructed in 1909 for the Clyde Shire Council. This was the home of the Clyde Shire’s second Engineer, William Chisholm and his wife for many years. This was also the home of the Herbert family for a number of years.


Pine Forest Road

This was the first major road link to Jervis Bay for the settlers at Tomerong. Tenders were called for its construction in 1861. Originally known as the South Huskisson Road, it ran from the junction with the Shoalhaven to Ulladulla Road (Hawken Road) along present day Parnell Road to the jetty at South Huskisson (Vincentia) and was a means of transporting goods to market by steamer. In 1881 tenders were called for forming and metalling the road from Tomerong to Currambene Creek, (Huskisson).



The General Cemetery at Tomerong was gazetted in 1890and was situated on the western side of the road to Huskisson 2km from the village. Prior to this time burials occurred in the private cemetery on the Parnell property from as early as 1861.This is the resting place of Mary Pearson d.1861 aged 17mths, William Wood d.1867 aged 14 months, William Pearson d.1867, Robert Lamb d.1881 (fell from a cart), Matthew Craig d.1889 (the School’s second teacher) and Isabella Lane d. 1889.This could also be the burial site of the original owner of this land, John Parnell, his wife Harriett and their grand daughter Isabella Ruby (daughter of James and Isabella Parnell).



What is thought to have been the first bakery at Tomerong was commenced by William Willis in 1912. Bakers to follow included the Evelyn, Nelson, McGregor, Cole, Black, Wigginsand Tarry families. Snow and Dulcie Schutz purchased the business in 1954 and continued to operated it until the early 1960s. Ken Smith and family were the last to operate the bakery before it ceased operations in 1967. The old bakehouse buildings were removed about 1981.



Slaughtering licenses were granted to Tomerong residents as early as 1868. A butchering business was established in the village in 1913 by Enoch Heath and in the 1920s John O’Brien was conducting a butchery. However, the butchers shop was erected in the 1930s on the property of Bert Parnell. After several requests from Jim Tyrell, Bert had the premises erected to enable Jim to conduct his business in the village, however, the venture did not last long with Jim declaring that ‘they were all vegetarians in Tomerong’.


Cricket Pitch

The original cricket pitch at Tomerong was situated on the Parnell property on the eastern side of the Shoalhaven to Ulladulla Road and was used by the local teams for many years. The first cricket club was formed at Tomerong in 1883 and from that time, Tomerong had a strong presence in Shoalhaven District Cricket. Undoubtedly Tomerong’s finest achievement in the sport was winning the First Grade Grand Final in 1933-34 and 1934-35.A new cricket pitch was established at South Tomerong in 1953 on the eastern side of the Princes Highway.


Bryce, Barham & Ison Sawmill

This mill was on the site of the horse racing track popular from 1860-80 and at the turn of the century. Joe Barham, Bill Bryce and Reg Ison purchased this mill from Charlie McGuire around 1945 when it was located in the State Forest. Originally powered by a McDonald diesel tractor, electricity was used on moving to the village about 1951. John Walsh later entered the business and other locals to work there included Jim and Henry Suffolk, Ken Rolfe and Ken Barham. The mill closed down around 1971.


Boat Building Yard

A timber boat building yard was established by Jack Kemp on the northern side of Tomerong Street in about 1948. Jack was a shipwright who learned the trade from his father whilst living at Sans Souci. Jack constructed a weatherboard shed which ran from north to south between present day William Bryce Road and Tomerong Street. He constructed a small room at one end of the shed that he used as living quarters for himself. He later made alterations to the shed, turning it into a small cottage and built another slightly larger shed south of the original building. Jack was commissioned to build all types of boats including speedboats, fishing boats, trawlers, and weekend cruisers as well as the trailers to transport them. The business continued to operate for about 20 years with Jack constructing his last boat around 1969. The original shed was demolished and removed in late 2000.


Creamery Co.

The Tomerong Creamery Company was established in 1895. It was situated opposite the turn off to St Georges Basin (Grange Road) on the old highway on land formerly know as Mison’s. The bypass now bisects this site, running parallel to the Grange Road. A 250 gallon Russian separator, driven by a 6hp engine was used at the site which separated the cream from the milk which was supplied from all the local farms. Its operation was short lived and it closed down in February 1902.


South Tomerong Saw Mills

The old highway at south Tomerong (now Kells Road) was the site of a number of sawmills over the years. The earliest one was established by the McGuire family around 1910. It burnt down in 1939 after which the family commenced another mill at Sassafras. The Sassafras mill was later sold to Manning Davis and the McGuire family re-established a mill on the site of the original mill at Tomerong in 1947.

Manning Davis relocated his mill from Lake Conjola to south Tomerong in 1939, shortly after the McGuire’s had moved to Sassafras. It was situated to the north of the old McGuire mill on the old highway. Manning later went into partnership with his son Tommy who continued to operate the business after Manning retired in 1953.

In 1945 Alan Watt established a sawmill south of Manning Davis’ mill using an old Buick engine to power the saw bench. Alf Jones continued to operate the mill for a while following Alan’s death in 1956. It was then leased to Athol Goodsell for a time, but was later sold to Alf Jones.

In 1957 Toby Davis and John Herbert joined forces and established a mill next to and south of Tommy Davis’ mill at south Tomerong. The partnership continued for a number of years before John Herbert sold his share in 1973 to commence a quarry and earthmoving business east of the village.



Top of Page

Public School

School Residence

General Store

Union Church

School of Arts

Rural Fire Station

Clyde Shire Chambers

‘Bundor’ Shire Clerk’s Residence

Big Dipper

(Pine Forest Road)



Butcher’s Shop

Tomerong Cricket Team about 1931.

Bryce, Barham and Ison Mill

Boat Building Yard

McGuire’s Mill