Local History

Introduction 

Long Beach, the aptly-named 2 kilometre stretch of sand on the northern side of Batemans Bay, is enclosed to the north and east by spotted-gum forest and bounded to the west by the mangrove-flanked Cullendulla Creek.

 

Prior to the arrival of Europeans, Long Beach was mainly appreciated by the local indigenous communities, the Walbunja people of the Yuin nation.  Cullendulla Creek was an important camping site and resource ground since time immemorial.


In 1841, the renowned Sydney auctioneer, Mr Thomas Stubbs, closed his description of the recently advertised blocks of land around Long Beach by stating that it ‘is unnecessary to dilate more upon the general merits and beauty of this favourite spot’.

 

Potential settlers had less opportunity to experience the merits and beauty of Long Beach at the time of the initial land auctions in the early 1840s. The 320 acres around the beach remained in the hands of a large Sydney merchant firm, Hughes and Hosking, and the surrounding land was purchased by a recent migrant from a prominent Rochdale woollen manufacturing and merchant family, Edward Lord. Furthermore, when the village of Batemans Bay was laid out in 1859 on the southern side the Bay, Long Beach was relegated to the periphery of mainstream development.

 

However, by the 1870s, the forests on the north side of the Bay attracted local timber mills. Sawmills and wooden tram lines were built at Benandarah and Cullendulla, with punts used to transport logs from the navigable upper reaches of Cullendulla Creek across to the town of Batemans Bay. In the late 1800s two pastoral leases at Long Beach were granted to Charles Henry Higgins, who then ran a dairy farm on the land adjoining Cullendulla Creek and Square Head (which, along with the lagoon, had been declared a Government Reserve).

 

These pastoral leases and the Hughes and Hosking blocks (which split Long Beach in half) changed hands frequently between the two World Wars. Opportunities for development remained distant, however, considering that until the 1950s Long Beach was only accessible from the Princes Highway (proclaimed in 1920) by a dirt track through private blocks and farm land, and a punt connected the northern end of the Highway to Batemans Bay.

Yet, two significant developments occurred in the 1940s. Dorothy and Clarence Blair built their farm on the old pastoral leases and, not long after, The Long Beach Country Club Pty Ltd purchased the old Hughes and Hosking block. This consortium subdivided the land into beach lots. At the beginning of the 1950s the Morgan family was the first to erect their holiday residence along the beach front, bringing their own building materials down from Sydney.

The first cottage on Bay Road

Over the following decade, other modest weatherboard and fibro ‘fisherman’s cottages' were erected by families, many of whom continue to have a presence in the community. These dwellings were sprinkled along Bay Road, the eastern end of Sandy Place, the beach end of Longbeach Road and the western end of Fauna Avenue. Self-sufficiency was practiced among these early settlers, who made do without town water and town sewerage. Blair’s Farm played an important role in the community, running a small farm shop and general store, until the Blairs sold up in 1969.

Local history has it that during the Second World War a RAAF pilot reported bombing a Japanese submarine off Batemans Bay. Subsequently, the carcass of a whale appeared on the Square Head end of Long Beach. During the 1950s, people would collect parts of the skeleton at low tide, using it for garden furniture or other forms of decoration.

A whale (bone) of a good seat - courtesy RAAF

Access to Long Beach had gradually improved by the mid-1960s. A bridge connecting both sides of the Bay was opened in 1956, another spanning the Clyde River at Nelligen was build in 1964, and the roads from Canberra and Sydney were improved. Furthermore, a more direct route from the Princess Highway to the Long Beach subdivision was also built in the 1960s, alleviating the need to drive through Blair’s Farm.


Between the 1970s and the turn of the century, the subdivision filled out, as houses crept up Longbeach Road and along the cliff ridge of Northcove Road. The connection of mains water and sewerage in the mid 1980s, along with a local public transport route, gave Long Beach the same conveniences as other Batemans Bay suburbs.

 

Since the turn of the century this original subdivision has colloquially come to be known as ‘old Long Beach’.  In the early  1990s, on the land previously occupied by Blair’s Farm, Sandy Place was extended towards Cullendulla Creek. The second sub-division of this Longbeach Estate following in the mid-1990s on the land north of Sandy Place. This subdivision originally had provision for a shopping centre and community facility, neither of which was realised. Early in the new millennium, the northernmost subdivision of Long Beach looking towards Cullendulla Creek was released, with the loop streets named after the three landowners during the 1930s, Courtney, Broomfield and Litchfield. In the mid-2000s the sub-division on the eastern side of Blairs Road overlooking the Bay began to fill out, with many of the street names associated with the Higgins family. Also, Higgins Park stands at the intersection of Sandy Place and Blair’s Road.

 

Today, Long Beach is a popular location for people working in the area as well as retirees. As a consequence, it now boasts a permanent population of over 1400 residents, while retaining its attraction as a coastal retreat.

 

Long Beach has always boasted a healthy community spirit, with a small local improvement group emerging in the 1970s. The current Long Beach Community Association is one of the largest and most active on the NSW coast, involving both permanent residents and holiday-home owners. It provides a voice for the local community on a range of issues and works closely with the local Rural Fire Service and participates in community environmental campaigns. Another proud tradition, which began in 2004 in conjunction with the ‘Summer Fish and Chip Night’ (which itself began in 1986) is the annual December ‘Carols on the Beach’ which has been led by the Association over recent years.

 

A healthy marine environment is paramount to the concerns of the Long Beach Community Association. There are several local pods of dolphins, and whales are increasingly recorded within Batemans Bay. In 2018 a Southern Right Whale calved close to Long Beach and remained for over a week before continuing its journey south. The whales were known locally as Miranda and Bubbles.  

 

At this stage, one can only conclude that Mr Stubbs was prescient in his assessment of the merits of Long Beach.