Before 1945


31st August - The inaugural meeting of the Jellat Jellat Bushfire Brigade was held at Tathra 31st August 1942. At this meeting Mr. J.B. D’Arcy outlined the fundamental principles of a properly organised Bushfire Brigade. Mr. W. Russell was elected Captain, Mr. J Taylor Jnr. Vice Captain, with Mr. L. R. Gowing Secretary.

Present at this meeting were Messrs J. Taylor Snr., W. Russell, J.B. D’Arcy, J. Taylor Jnr., D.R. and L.R. Gowing. Tathra was also well represented.

(As far as was known) this was the first Volunteer Bushfire Brigade organised in this area. Subsequently many other areas in the District followed the lead given by the Jellat organisation.

Because of the prevailing dry conditions in 1942, there was a growing awareness of the danger of bushfires. This situation was aggravated by the lack of manpower, many of the younger generation being involved with World War II.

The main equipment were some leather beaters and wet bags. In the early years the Bushfire Brigade was mainly concerned with helping to fight fires outside their own area. A meeting was held in Bega soon after the formation of the Jellat Bushfire Brigade to organise the various areas of the district. A brigade had already been formed in Candelo and, in fighting fires in January 1942, lost one or more cars. The Bega River at that time had stopped flowing from Christmas to the following March, the first time ever. This was to be repeated in 1968.

(Citation unconfirmed - more notes – 1968)


24 February - Five cottages and a general store were burnt when bush fires swept through Tathra a pleasure resort 11 miles from Bega. Many residents escaped the flames by sitting in the sea. Others stood under a wharf as the fire went through the town. A police car outside a store was destroyed Flames were fought by volunteers with water from household tanks. At Cobargo people were called from the annual show, to fight fires by way of Cooma.(Barrier Miner, Broken Hill 1940)


21 April - A weatherboard building known as Old Tathra Post-Office, owned by Mr. Benjamin Gowing, and its contents owned by Mr. Basil Lawler, were destroyed by fire early yesterday morning. The building was uninsured but the contents were covered. The origin of the fire is unknown. (Sydney Morning Herald, 1930)


30 December - Beare's Sawmill at Tanja was destroyed by fire last night. Only the engine and boiler were saved. The mill was insured. (Sydney Morning Herald, 1925)


11 October - A fire occurred in the five room residence of Mrs. Whiteley senr., Tathra Rd. The building and all the contents, including piano, furniture, sewing machine and money being completely destroyed. There was no insurance. Mrs Whiteley, who is 87, was rescued from the burning building by her daughter. (Sydney Morning Herald, 1923)


18 January - Bega district had a rough time from bush fires. At Wyndham two lives were lost - a settler named Milliner and his child. (Northern Star, Lismore 1905)


Monday, March 9. The residence of Mr. J. Howard, at Tathra, was totally destroyed by fire during the absence of the family. Nothing was saved. (Evening News, Sydney)


24 November - Bush fires have been burning during the week in many parts of the district. Thousands of acres of grass have been burnt. the town (Bega) this morning was enveloped in smoke. Altogether it has been the worst day ever experienced. The steamer Bega missed Montague Island yesterday, and just managed to make Tathra. The SS Oonah had to lay off Eden for some hours on account of the dense smoke, which is all along the coast. (Sydney Morning Herald, 1888)


15 January - There is intense excitement over the fires at Bega, crowds of people from all parts assisting to extinguish it. Mr. Gee, jun., so far, has lost 1,500 bushels of wheat. The fire is now going towards Cockatoo, but if the wind continues as at present, no further damage will be done. At Bega, since Sunday, the weather is most unbearably warm, with hot scorching winds, caused by numerous bush fires raging all over the district. At 4 o'clock on Monday the wind changed to south east, and brought smoke in great clouds from the coast. The sun was completely obscured, nothing being visible at a distance of 600 yards. On Tuesday the weather was slightly improved, and during the night, numerous fires were seen on the ridges, and they appeared to be raging just as bad as ever this morning. Some years ago the same thing occurred and taught a lesson to settlers, who lave been careful to clear all the timber from the vicinity of their dwellings. At Nelson fearful havoc has been played with the grass and fencing. The chief sufferers are William Rlitchie and John Brown. The latter gentleman had a very hard struggle to save his residence. He got upon the roof, and continuously drenched it with water.

At Tonja (sic) the fire is burning fiercely, and all along to Tathra. Black range is alight, and Bega Reserve has not escaped. A constable started on Monday towards Merinuglo (sic), to collect information for the electoral roll, but was stopped by the fire At the last named place Mr. Wren had a great deal of grain burnt. These fires have been burning in some places for nearly a month, and this, with the heat, has caused vegetation to wither up. The whole district is looking very badly, and should the heat and fires continue much longer, water will get short. (Sydney Telegraph, Jan 1884)


16 August - the premises known as the Brighton Hotel at Tathra, and which were unoccupied, were totally destroyed by fire last night. It was constructed mostly of pine and burned furiously. in a few minutes it was consumed. The tenant was to take possession today. The circumstances connected with the fire may possibly be inquired into before the coroner. (Sydney Morning Herald, 1880).


How to find us!

About us

Tathra Volunteer Rural Fire Brigade is just one of the many Brigades that make up the NSW Rural Fire Service. We are a volunteer Brigade operating since 1945 on the Far South Coast of NSW.

Tathra Volunteer Rural Fire Brigade

Bega Road
Tathra, NSW, 2550

0429 858 123