Our Stories

Learning about the history of the Milton-Ulladulla area is much more than reading through lists of dates, names and facts. Every place has its unique stories – stories that explain why a place is what it is today. They bring to life the character of the people who have lived there and how, over centuries, they have interacted with and changed their local environment.

The stories of Milton-Ulladulla are the stories of its Aboriginal indigenous inhabitants, of the early settlers who came here in the 1800s and their descendants and, because even yesterday is now history, the more recent stories of the many people who have chosen to call this part of the New South Wales South Coast their home through the 20th and 21st centuries.

From Bendalong to Bawley Point, Conjola to Croobyar, Turmeil to Tabourie Lake, and Yatte Yattah to Yadboro, and from the Dreamtime to today, here are the stories of our place.

People Places Events Industries

Shipwrecks of Milton-Ulladulla

Early in local European settlement, travel by sea was the quickest and most economical way to transport both passengers and produce to other places. Not until the early 1950s were roads and road vehicles efficient enough to totally replace coastal shipping. Vessels to and from Britain, European and other ports regularly passed along our coastline. Before settlement whalers and sealers ranged as far south as Bass Strait.

May Kiely: ostrich feather curler, singer, ladies’ companion

No Edwardian woman of taste and fashion was complete without an ostrich feather fan, boa, trimmed hat or edged cape. As the demand for ostrich feathers grew, many ostrich farms were established throughout NSW and workers developed the special skills required to dye, dress and curl the feathers. For over 20 years the Milton district had a thriving ostrich feather farm near Pigeon House Mountain, attracting premier feather dresser May Kiely to come and work there in the early 1900s.

John Spurgin – teacher and unrecognised pioneer

John Spurgin, born in Hatfield, Essex in 1815 was probably the first trained teacher to reside and work in the Milton Ulladulla area. He trained at a Model School in Sydney Ulladulla and in 1858 established a private school on the eastern side of Murramarang Street, Ulladulla where the Pricemart Variety Store stands today. The charge per pupil was one shilling a week, with no government assistance.

Holidays by the sea

Tourism had its humble beginnings in the early 1900s when the Butson family first ran a simple camping area on the northern side of Lake Burrill in 1924. As roads slowly extended south of the Shoalhaven River passenger services (mail car) expanded and more adventurous tourists braved the difficult roads.

Geological history: from the mountains to the sea

270 million years ago mud, silt and sand was eroded from mountains along the east coast of the supercontinent, Gondwana, and deposited here in horizontal layers by ocean currents in a shallow sea. Gondwana had drifted down to the Antarctic Circle so, further south, glaciers carried rock debris from the mountains to the coast.  There, icebergs floated north and, as they melted in the shallow waters here, dropped their loads including boulders weighing 10 tonne into the mud and silt.

Latest Articles

  • Have you found Millards Creek Weir, Ulladulla?

    Have you seen a piece of Ulladulla’s history, existing since 1861, near a busy road, but only noticed by a few pedestrians? It is the weir over Millards Creek, 20 metres off St Vincent Street, looking west.

  • Heritage trees in Milton Ulladulla

    The heritage fig in Milton is a well-known landmark and much loved by locals and visitors and the historic elm outside the Anglican church is also an important part of Milton’s history.

  • The day the Milton Show exploded

    In the late 1940s, Milton Shows were still fairly frugal affairs and offered little entertainment for small children. Children quite naturally created their own fun.

  • A Milton ‘institution’, Matron Gwenda Porter

    Gwenda Porter arrived in Milton by bus in 1940 and was said to have told the bus driver that she would be back on it the next day after seeing how small the town and hospital were. Instead, she stayed on as Matron at Milton Ulladulla Hospital for the next 32 years, retiring in 1972 and then continuing to live in the district until her death.

  • Milton pioneer William Henry Wilford

    Milton’s 19th century prosperity was partly built on the expanding dairy industry, established by pioneers like William Wilford on the rich volcanic monzonite soil that surrounds the town.