Bermagui Historical Society

Bermagui Museum is open on Tuesdays from 10am to 2pm.

A donation for admission is appreciated.

Keeping our Heritage Alive

Our Museum is an integral part of the Bermagui Community Centre and offers a modern historical research facility to the public.

Along with treasured relics of the past the digital collection includes over 11,000 professionally scanned photographs and records, where searches can be made of our database by topic or name. This archive includes a collection of 840 images digitally reproduced from the glass negatives taken by Tilba resident William Henry Corkhill between 1880 and 1910. Today, it provides us with a unique record that vividly captures the life of the Tilba district and its pioneers.


The Museum is open on Tuesday 10am to 2pm. Meetings are held quarterly and new members are welcome.

We wish to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands and waters of the Shire – the people of the Yuin nation and show our respect to elders past and present.


Our History

Wallaga Lake with Gulaga

Gulaga – In The Beginning

In the Early Cretaceous period (about 140 million years ago) the final breakup of Gondwana began with rupturing and rifting on its eastern margin, which led to the separation of New Zealand and the formation of the Tasman Sea. Igneous activity (rocks formed from molten magma or lava) is associated with this rupturing and the Gulaga Igneous Complex is one of a number of volcanoes which formed along the newly created eastern Australian margin at this time.

At Gulaga 98 million years ago, a very large stratovolcano formed. Stratovolcanoes are a steep conic form built up by interlayered lava and ash flows. The volcano was probably at least 2-3000 metres high with the summit and main mass of the cone to the east of Gulaga.

Djiringanj – Yuin Nation

The Yuin people are the traditional owners of Wallaga Lake land. For thousands of years, they roamed the lower ranges and coastal flats, living off the rich abundance of food around the lakes, waterways and ocean.

TT-892-A-P King Merriman Senior Elder of Wallaga Lake Aboriginal People square cropped (002) (2)
King Merriman Senior Elder Djiiringanj people (Died 1904). Corkhill Collection.
Bermagui Historical Society

Cobargo – Valley Life

In search of better grazing lands, William Duggan Tarlington (W.D.) and three Aboriginal men travelled south from Braidwood and over the ranges to Cobargo, arriving in February 1829. W.D. set up camp beside the creek where the showground is today. Noise from their party alerted some Kooris camped further downstream who were astonished at the sight of a white man. The Aboriginal People travelling with Tarlington understood the Cobargo mob’s language, and friendly relations were soon established.

Tilba – Mountain Life

In 1834 two Aboriginal men led John Jauncey, a young convict, to suitable grazing land in the Tilba district where he took up the Tilba run for his employer George Curlewis and his stepbrother Septimus. A site was chosen for huts and yards on the clear hills where Mountain View property at Tilba Tilba now stands.

Bermagui Historical Society
Bermagui Historical Society

Bermagui – Ocean Life

Bermagui lies in the middle of a vast coastal range that was occupied by the Djiringanj people for many thousands of years. It was a Yuin word, no doubt Djiringanj, recorded earlier on as ‘Permageua’, which gave the town its name.

Our Museum

22 June 1993 a small group of local people met at the Horseshoe Bay Hotel in Bermagui with the purpose of conserving the past of our district. This meeting marked the beginning of the Bermagui Historical Society and Museum. Its objective was to foster and maintain interest in the history of the settling and development of Bermagui and surrounding districts and to provide facilities for research. Monthly meetings were established and fundraising activities included exhibitions, raffles and lamington drives.

Museum Display