Tathra is a small coastal township (population 1571) situated high on the bluff above its wharf 446 km south of Sydney via the Princes Highway.
The area west of what is now Tathra was first settled by Europeans when pastoralists began illegally squatting on crown land in the 1820s and 1830s.
Following an enquiry into the transport facilities in the Bega district in 1851 the Illawarra and South Coast Steam Navigation Company was formed.
Tathra came into existence as a small jetty which served as a shipping outlet for a group of local farmers led by Daniel Gowing. Previously the nearest port had been Merimbula 25 km away and Gowing had offered financial reward to anyone willing to ship produce to a point further north. It was replaced in 1861-62 by a wharf which was erected out of funds donated by local farmers and the Illawarra Company.
The township was surveyed in 1861 and regular shipping commenced in 1862. Passengers travelled to and from Sydney with pigs and produce for company (hence its contemporary fame as the ‘Pig and Whistle Line’).
The wharf was built of turpentine driven into solid rock. The site was chosen due to the shelter it offered from southerly winds and because it was the best site available between Merimbula and Bermagui.
The population increased after crown lands were opened up to free selection in 1861. The growth is reflected in the physical evolution of the wharf. The Illawarra Company built a cargo shed in 1866 and growing usage led to the enlargement of the wharf in 1873, 1878, 1886, 1889, 1903 and 1912. Amongst other changes a cattle yard was built in 1901, the existing two-storey shed was constructed in 1907 and a jib crane added in 1912.
The absence of a railway line and poor roads made the steamer service crucial. The Princes Highway from Batemans Bay to the Victorian border was still gravel in 1940. South Coast shipping finally disappeared in 1956.
Calling the Police
There still seems to be some misconception about contacting local police.
If there is an emergency which requires police attendance, ring 000.
If you wish to speak with local police and it is not an emergency but requires their attendance, ring the local police station. If unattended, your call will be diverted to Warilla. Inform Warilla of the situation and they will direct local police to you. If it is not an emergency and does not require police attendance, leave a message and local police will return your call.
If you attend the local police station and police are absent, then you can contact Warilla by using the door phone at the front of the station and police will be directed to you.