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Sleuths trace the Bermagui Mystery

Amateur sleuths were out in force on Sunday to retrace the Bermagui Mystery.Over 50 people joined members of the Bermagui and Narooma Historical Societies and Montreal Goldfield Management Committee to revisit the greatest unsolved mystery of the south coast. Five men disappeared on 10th October 1880. Their bodies were never found, only their boat which had been deliberately wrecked near the area now known as Mystery Bay. They were Government Geological Surveyor Lamont Young who had just arrived in Bermagui to survey the new Montreal goldfields, his assistant Maximillian Schneider, and three men from Batemans Bay – Tom Towers, William Lloyd and Daniel Casey. Their disappearance quickly became known as ‘the Bermagui Mystery’.‘This is the third time we’ve held this event and each time we seem to add something to the story,’ said Narooma Historical Society President Laurelle Pacey. ‘Dave Cotton of Bermagui compiled wonderful composite maps combining old maps and evidence that emerged at the time to give people a clearer overview of the area between Bermagui and Corunna Point. These greatly assisted with the interpretation. 'And this time we were joined by descendants of two of the missing men including Lamont Young’s descendant Roger Lamont Young from Victoria, and two descendants of people who were part of the story that played out at that time. There was considerable discussion this time at the last two of the five stops of the day about how there could have been any confusion about where exactly the boat was wrecked.‘ An extraordinary explanation was offered at the final stop at Corunna Point by a descendant of the first selectors in the area of her family story about how that happened and why,’ Ms Pacey said. ‘So while we are no closer to solving the mystery, everyone went away mulling over what might have happened and why, so the mystery remains.’

Above: Discussing the confusion over where the boat was actually found are Smiley McGill, left, Laurelle Pacey, Harry Bate (behind), Lee-Anne Eddie, Dave Cotton and Susie Egan. Photo by Susan Pryke.

Above:Retracing the Bermagui Mystery began at Bermagui and ended at Corunna Point. Seen here are Lee-Anne Eddie (descendant of Mary Poole), left, Cheryl Salmon (descendant of William Campbell), Laurelle Pacey (Narooma Historical Society); Dave Cotton (Bermagui Historical Society, back left, Judi Hearn (Montreal Goldfield Management Committee), Roger Lamont Young and Harry Bate of Tilba Tilba.

Above: Organisers of the Bermagui Mystery day Dave Cotton of Bermagui Historical Society, Laurelle Pacey of Narooma Historical Society and Judi Hearn of the Montreal Goldfield Management Committee at Bermagui, the first of five stops of the day.

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