...Betty Renfree, Charlie Raisbeck and Judy White are holidaying with their children and their grandchildren in Bermagui. This year is the 60th Summer that the three siblings have spent in Bermagui. Their Aunt had been coming to Bermagui for holidays even before that, that’s how they knew about the town. Originally from Albury, their parents used to drive them over the Brown Mountain (at the time it was still a dirt track) in their Austin A70. The trip took 12 hours then, and they would have to pull over to the let the car cool down, after the long trip they would arrive into Bermagui dusty and dirty ready for their holiday on the coast.
The family used to stay at the original Seaview Flats (which have since been stylishly renovated into family accommodation with all the mod cons www.seaviewbeachhouses.com.au ). Back then you used to have to put a shilling in the box on the outside of the flat for power. They remember sitting around playing cards at night with some of the other kids on holidays, when the lights would go out, one of them would quickly run outside and put a shilling in so they could continue the game! The toilet was up the back of the property along a path, each flat had its own toilet.
At this stage there was no break wall, or marina, and the water used to come up to the road and close to the units, they remember all the soldier crabs running away as they walked down to the water.
They spent their time swimming, playing tennis, getting oysters off the rocks and prawning, later on they also would go out fishing in a friend’s boat and eventually in their own boat. Going to the movies in the old hall was something to look forward to. Charlie recalled how you would know which girls were going to the movies that night because during the day you would see them with rollers in their hair. During the movie, often the projector would break down and everyone would whistle and carry on until it came back on again.
Bermagui has changed a lot since then, each time they came something new was here. They remember the old wharf, the tuna factory, the timber mill, the 9 hole golf course and the original country club. They remember when you ordered your meat from the butcher through a hole in the wall and he would get it ready and pass your order out through the window. The Fruit & Vege truck would come once a week, and the bread and milk was delivered to your door. There were a lot more campers then, camping on Dickinson Oval and around the headland right up to across the road from the pub. The pub had a beer garden, and the bridge over the river was still an old wooden one.
The siblings remember Arthur Upfield, the author, who was often seen writing. Arthur had a big pair of binoculars and when the Game Fishing Boats would start coming in with their catch they would fly a flag to indicate what type of the fish they had caught, blue, red, yellow, Arthur would then hoist up the same colour flag. Everyone in town would then see what type of fish it was and make their way down to the wharf. The siblings remember there were a lot more fishing boats then, and you could buy your fish and seafood straight from the boat
“I have only missed two summers in that time” Charlie says. What lovely memories the three have of their holidays in Bermagui. No doubt their children and their grandchildren will be able to one day pass on their own memories of Bermagui holidays to the next generation.