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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Bega’s Community Is Helping Document Bega’s History

It’s been 80 years since the last major history of Bega was compiled.

‘That’s far too long for a community such as Bega that has an incredibly interesting history,’ South Coast History Society’s President Peter Lacey suggests.

‘Locals and visitors have always been - and still are - extremely interested in the town’s history, so it’s a real tragedy for Bega that a comprehensive history of the town has not been available for such a long time.’

A couple of years ago the Bega Valley Historical Society and South Coast History Society decided to change things and produce an up-to-date history of the town.

‘It’s not been an easy exercise because the 80-year ‘black hole’ in Bega’s history has meant we’ve had no existing foundation upon which an updated history could be built, and essentially we’ve also had to go back and research and then document what has happened in the town over the past 100 years or so,’ Peter explained.

‘But, in the past month, our two local history societies have jointly published not one but two histories of Bega. This illustrates just how much interesting history of the town has been available, just waiting to be collated and shared with the community.’

The first history that the Societies produced was an 86-page book, Fascinating Bega: the Anatomy of a Town, 1851 – 2023, which outlines how the town has developed into what it is today.

More recently a much more comprehensive history of Carp Street, Bega has been released.

‘This is the story of the ‘heart’ of Bega, one that has changed enormously over the years, and is still constantly changing, and is the story of that part of town that everybody is most familiar with,’ Peter revealed. ‘So, this publication is much larger than Fascinating Bega, running to 140 pages, and it includes 200 very interesting photographs of the town, many of which have not been previously published.’

‘A lot of the detailed information in Carp Steet, Bega was provided by local residents, reflecting community memories of the town and of businesses that were once, but are no longer, there.’

‘And that community support is continuing. In the few days that Carp Street, Bega has been available, a number of people have contacted us and provided us with more information and photographs about the town and about Carp Street,’ Peter said.

‘For example, an engineer who worked on the construction of the current bridge across the Bega River (which, as the book reveals, is actually the third bridge to span the river) has sent us new photographs of the building of that bridge and the demolition of the bridge that it replaced, which has been absolutely fabulous. We will be including at least one of these new photographs in the book when it is ultimately printed.’

‘And, we’re hoping more locals will similarly provide additional new information to us because there is still a lot more for us to learn about the history of this fascinating town.’

Currently Carp Street, Bega is only available as a PDF file. It’s free. Copies are available on request by simply emailing ‘Send Carp Street book’ to southcoasthistory@yahoo.com

Above: A new photograph of the old Timber Truss Bridge across the Bega River in late 1975, supplied by a local resident after the release of Carp Street, Bega


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