Bodalla Soccer Club


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Official Bodalla
Village website


Photos of


Jonathan Edward Hodgkin diary 1896 extracts

Charles Harpur (1813–1868) - Bodalla's famous Poet

Family history

Arms Hotel

Bodalla Main Street Study Aug 2011




Above: Bodalla celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2010


The Shared History of Bodalla Exhibition was opened at Gallery Bodalla and was visited by a heritage walk through Bodalla on Sunday, led by local historian Laurelle Pacey.

Situated in the heritage Post Office c1899 the show brought together photographs collected over 150 years since the Bodalla Estate was established, stories from Bodalla’s rich Aboriginal heritage and ‘My Bodalla Stories’ from both newcomers and people who have lived in Bodalla for a long time. One common thread was the appreciation they all have for the village and the area.

“Bill and Glenda McConkey and Robert and Sandra McCuiag kindly lent their photographs of Bodalla for the show. They included copies of photographs from the Mort family’s Bodalla Company collection and the Moruya Historical Society’s collection. The McConkey’s have a personal collection of photos too, making up a broad view of the early days of the Mort estate and Bodalla,” Gallery Bodalla director Valerie Faber said.

“The strong Aboriginal connection to Bodalla that remains today is honoured with stories and photos from the publications ‘Coastal Custodians’ and ‘Aboriginal Men & Women’s Heritage: Eurobodalla’. Two films, ‘The Farm’ and ‘Walk with Words’ were screened as part of the exhibition. ‘The Farm’, written and directed by Romaine Moreton, is about bean picking in Bodalla and ‘Walk with Words’ is biographical on Romaine’s connection with Bodalla and how it has influenced her creative life.

“Paddy Norton has collected stories and memories from 24 people who live in Bodalla, and reading these gives a wonderful indication of the rich tapestry of people who come together to make Bodalla what it is today.

“Ian McKenzie’s watercolours of All Saints Church Bodalla and Bodalla Arms Hotel, a painting of a favourite swimming hole, the Nerrigunda Bridge, by Beryl Brierley, and Cheryl Davison’s print of Sisters at Whittackers Creek added beauty to the exhibition. There were also art works from previous shows to appreciate along with the rich historical narrative,”


An Overview of the town of Bodalla

In 2010 Bodalla will be celebrating 150 years since Thomas Sutcliffe Mort purchased over 13,000 acres in 1860 and established the Bodalla Estate.

Prior to Mort’s purchase of the estate, the previous title holder, John Hawdon had employed managers and spent fourteen years pioneering agricultural development in the area to little success.

Recognised as an Australian patron of the 19th century for his contributions to developing the country’s resources, Mort achieved success in Sydney establishing the first public wool sales in Australia, promoting the Sydney to Parramatta railway and setting up the first company to work some of the recently discovered gold deposits. He also played a part in the founding of AMP, he pioneered refrigerated transport and built the business known today as ‘Goldsborough Mort and Co’.

His decision to move from tenanted properties to employing managers for his dairy farms enabled the control of producing milk and cheese of great quality. His investment in modern machinery to assist the manufacturing processes at the Estate’s cheese factories gave rise to the methods being emulated by other farmers. He gradually developed his total holding to 56,000 acres and provided the foundation of the dairy industry still continuing today in the district.

The Bodalla village (in present location) was constructed in 1870 on the main southern road including a store, smithy, bakery, carpenter’s shop, company office, public hall and a number of workers cottages. The hotel was built some four years later after Mort discovered that alcohol was being consumed despite his preference for prohibition.

The Bodalla School first operated in 1867 at Comerang Farm and eventually in 1878 after a number of schooling arrangements had been trialled the Bodalla Public School was completed.

The Mort family dedicated the building of the All Saints Church to T. S. Mort’s memory with the foundation stone laid in 1880, two years after his untimely death from a chill he contracted. The church was completed in 1902.

Over the late 1800’s and early 1900’s The Bodalla Company endured fluctuations in economy and converted the Estate into thirteen leased farms for a time. Eventually, in 1925, the Bodalla Cheese Cooperative Society Ltd was formed being a combination of the farmers and the Bodalla Company - most of the farms are still operating today. The Cooperative purchased two of the Company’s cheese factories and continued the tradition of cheese-making that had been pioneered in the early days.

The village was sold off in 1926 to most of the occupiers of the buildings.

The Bodalla Cheese Factory was built in 1954 and closed in 1987 owing to lack of milk supply and production costs.

From its gradual development into the community of today, its grand attempts at community farming and experiments in modern methods, its pasture improvement, irrigation, dairying, husbandry and its failures, the Bodalla story is so very interesting and integral to the making of the town and the building of a nation. The beauty of its site and surroundings still persists and has provided over 150 years of delight.

Referred to as ‘Bodally’ and later ‘Boat Alley’ and was once described as ‘the Devonshire of the south’. However, the name is commonly recognised as a derivative of the Aboriginal word ‘Bularra’ meaning ‘near two or many waters’.
The Bodalla Estate Book

Interested in buying the The Bodalla Estate Book?
Contact Moruya & District Historical Society Inc Telephone: (02) 4474 3224 or postal address: 85 Campbell St Moruya 2537




History of
All Saints Church Bodalla

In 1857, after a two year holiday in England, Thomas Sutcliffe Mort found his tract ofland (13,000 acres) at Bodalla still unsold, so he decided to take it up himself.

The story of Mort is well-known and is told briefly on the memorial tablet in All Saints Church:


THERESA SHEPHEARD MORT this church was erected in 1880.

"Born in England at Bolton, Lanes. in 1816, TS Mort came to the country in 1837, a pioneer of Australian dairying, through the creation of the Bodalla Estate, of engineering and shipbuilding at Balmain, and of the wool industry and other enterprises, he devoted the last fifteen years of his life to the invention of a process of freezing and exporting Australian meat to supply the need of England. A colonist and a citizen of keen foresight and unselfish service, the soul of honour, a faithful and generous churchman, a neighbour of unfailing kindness to rich and poor alike, his simplicity of nature and largeness of heart gained for him the friendship and love of men of all classes. He died on 9 May 1878 of illness contracted in ministering to the needs of one of his churchmen, and was laid to rest in the cemetery of the Bodalla Estate he so dearly loved."


The Building
The architect chosen was Edmund T Blacket, architect of the cathedrals of St Andrew's Sydney and St Saviour's Goulburn. Though the original design was his it is unlikely that Blacket ever saw the site of All Saints (chosen by TS Mort) for he was not only very busy, but also ill at that time, so it was his son, Cyril, who carried it through its first stage (ie Chancel, Vestry, Organ Recess and the first two bays

The builder chosen was Heinrich Zeigler of Moruya under Blacker's supervision. The granite of which it is built was quarried on the Estate. The entrance door, with its intricate hand wrought iron hinges and straps and the stone font within, were designed by ET Blacket himself. A par-close screen divides the extension from the earlier part of the Nave, so that accommodation of small congregations is compact.

Foundation Stone
The foundation stone was laid by Thomas Mort's widow, Marianne (second wife) on 18 March, 1880. The service was conducted by John Selwyn, second Bishop of Melanesia, who later married Mort's elder daughter, Annie, to whose memory the window in the Baptistry is dedicated. The building was finished in 190 I. Still lacking the intended spire, it was consecrated by Archbishop Saumarez-Smith on the feast of All Saints, the following year.

All the woodwork is oak. The stained glass windows, the Chancel tiles, the unusual rerodos of marble mosaic, as well as the pipe organ, were brought from England. On the Chancel arch are Thomas Mort's last words: "THINE EYES SHALL SEE THE KING IN HIS BEAUTY", and beyond it the stained glass windows of the Transfiguration light up the Sanctuary. This East window was the gift of the people of Bodalla in memory of TS Mort and his wife Theresa Shepheard.

The beautiful hand embroidered furnishings were the work of their daughters, the original festal altar frontal being made from Theresa Mort's wedding dress, while her wedding ring is incorporated in the stem of the silver gilt chalice. The oak light standards in the Chancel were turned from trees grown on Ernest Mort's property in Surrey and are a memorial to their youngest son. the Reverend Ernest Mort.

The building cost £13,000 to erect. There are many tablets on the walls in memory of the members of the Mort family and various worshippers of the past.


The Willis Organ at All Saints Bodalla

The organ at All Saints was built by Henry Willis & Sons of London in 1881 and installed in the church in 1882

Writing in his universally authoritative work, "The Organ", the eminent historian William Leslie Sumner commented that "Willis was the greatest of the nineteenth century British organ builders." Organists evidently agreed with this comment for "Father Willis" as he was known, was responsible for such famous English instruments as in the Royal Albert Hall, Alexandra Palace, and Westminster Abbey; Cathedrals at Salisbury, Winchester, Durham, Hereford and St Paul's London.

Henry "Father" Willis (1821-190 I) was himself an organist and developed many new tone colours in English organs of the period.

Presumably due either to Willis' reputation for being expensive or to local tastes preferring more "old fashioned" sounds at the time, only seven small Willis organs were imported to the Colony ofNSW. Of these five were supplied to Maitland, one to Bodalla and the remaining one is now in Armidale.

The organ at All Saints was the last sent to NSW, and is the best preserved of the seven, and least altered from its original state. Its bright choruses, exquisite flute stops and fiery Comopean stop are magnificent examples of the sound for which Father Willis was famous.

The organ was restored in 1991 by Peter D G Jewkes Pty Ltd of Sydney, with meticulous attention being paid to the preservation of its original tonal and mechanical characteristics. Even the hand pumping lever was maintained - a useful device during blackouts when the new electric blower fails to function'

Please visit this webpage for indepth info about the church and Organ

The Parish of Bodalla and Narooma - a short history by Laurelle Pacey

We trust that you will find all the info you need on the link above. Please contact the Reverend Carol Wagner on 02 4476 3049 or 0427 267 242 if you would like to inquire about booking a wedding.




In 1860 Mort somewhat unwillingly had acquired the Bodalla, originally Boat Alley, estate near the mouth of the Tuross River.

Still recovering from long ill health and debilitating hypochondria started by a riding accident in 1855 and intensified on his visit to England in 1857-59, he saw in Bodalla both a potential country estate for his retirement and a challenge to his concept of the productive purposes of capital.

He planned to make it into a model of land utilization and rural settlement: a tenanted dairy estate run as an integrated whole. He had the beef cattle on Bodalla removed, land cleared, river swamps drained, fences erected, farms laid out, imported grasses sown, provided milking sheds and cheese- and butter-making equipment and selected tenants. Butter and cheese of steadily improving quality were produced for the Sydney market. Within a decade tenants were not prospering as share-farmers and Mort chafed under their right to make production decisions.

In the early 1870s the whole estate was back in Mort's hands, run as three farms with hired labour. Specialized labour, first-class facilities, efficient stock control, careful stock-breeding programmes and controlled blending of milk from different breeds and farms all paid off in higher quality products.

Mort died on 9 May 1878 from pleuro-pneumonia at Bodalla where he was buried; he was survived by five sons and two daughters of his first wife and by his second wife Marianne Elizabeth Macauley, whom he had married at St Mark's on 30 January 1874, and by their two sons


Mort family photographs

Wiki entry



Some more old Bodalla Photos and brochures


Jonathan Edward Hodgkin diary 1896 extracts

Charles Harpur (1813–1868) - Bodalla's famous Poet

Couch Family history


The Bodalla Estate
By Helen Townend


Using “voices from the past”, the Bodalla Estate book is an extraordinarily valuable historical record of the development and establishment of the dairy industry in early Australian European history through to modern times.

The story begins with TS Mort’s 1860 decision to establish a single vast integrated dairy farming estate & butter & cheese manufacturing enterprise over 50,000 acres of land at Bodalla.

A series of eye-witness documents, quoted exactly as written at a particular time, describe in detail how this huge estate was established, the landscape, buildings, workers, practices, regulations, facilities etc & the difficulties and successes of daily milking & cheese making.

Beginning in 1860, the original reports continue through the years to the final outcome for the “Bodalla Estate” in 1989. This book provides a rare opportunity to present to the reader an accurate a view of history as is possible.

Available from the Moruya & District Historical Society Inc.
85 Campbell St Moruya 2537
$25 + $10 postage & handling

Also available at Tuross Head Post Office

All proceeds from sales of this book have been dedicated to the Moruya & District Historical Society


Visit the Bodalla Village website


Bodalla on Wiki