Amateur sleuths were again out in force last Sunday on the trail of the crime that has intrigued people of the Far South Coast for almost 140 years – the ‘Bermagui Mystery’.

More than 40 people joined members of Narooma and Bermagui Historical Societies and the Montreal Goldfield Management Committee to retrace this mystery from Bermagui to Mystery Bay.

Five men disappeared from Bermagui on Sunday 10 October 1880. Their bodies were never found, only their boat deliberately wrecked near the area now known as Mystery Bay.

They were Government Geological Surveyor Lamont Young, sent to survey the new Montreal goldfields, his assistant Max Schneider, and three men from Batemans Bay – Tom Towers, owner of the boat, William Lloyd and Daniel Casey. Their disappearance quickly became known as ‘the Bermagui Mystery’.

“This is the fourth time we’ve held this event and amazingly each time we have something new to consider,” said Narooma Historical Society President Laurelle Pacey.

“Last time there was discussion about the initial confusion in the original records about where the boat was wrecked, Corunna Point or Mystery Bay. By the 1890s Mystery Bay had been established as the location; we heard how and why that occurred from a local family story.

“This time we introduced the possibility that one man somehow associated with the tragedy may have had another but similar identity.”

Dave Cotton of Bermagui Historical Society distributed a map combining old maps and evidence from the time to give people a clear overview of the area between Bermagui and Corunna Point.

Judi Hearn of the Montreal Goldfields committee said several descendants of some of the people involved were there: Lamont Young’s great-grandson Roger Lamont Young, two descendants of Daniel Casey, a descendant of Bermagui resident Charlie Jaggers, and a descendant of local selectors Lee-Anne Eddie.

“So while we are no closer to solving the mystery, everyone went away mulling over what might have happened and why,” Ms Pacey said. “The mystery remains.”

Judi Hearn of the Montreal Goldfields management committee outlines to the gathered throng on Sunday the scene on the Montreal goldfields and what was seen from the beach on the fateful morning Sunday 10 October 1880.
Holding a rolling pin believed to have been fashioned by Corunna selector John Josiah Poole from one of the paddles from Tom Tower’s boat wrecked on Corunna Point is a descendant Lee-Anne Eddie. With her is a descendant of Lamont Young, the surveyor who disappeared, John Lamont Young. The rolling pin was given to the Bermagui Museum by Mark Hunter, another Poole descendent. The Museum is open Friday and Saturdays 10-2.

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