Bega Valley Genealogy Society




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The Bega Valley Genealogy Committee would like to thank all the people who took an interest in our plight, and wrote to the Bega Valley Shire Councillors.   We are all greatly relieved that Bega Valley Shire Council has agreed to reduce the rent for the court house back to the basic minimum charge of $560 per year plus C.P.I.

The Genealogy Society like other small museums in the shire are non for profit groups and are maintained by volunteers who work many hours collecting, recording and preserving the valley’s history for our generation and future generations to come.  These precious resources, collections, family histories and Archives are priceless.

We would like to thank Sharon Tapscott and especially Russell Fitzpatrick for their interest and support.

I would like to thank Cr. Mitchell Nadin who asked the initial question on notice regarding lease arrangements at the Old Pambula Courthouse, at a Council meetings.

This is the motion put forward by Cr Russell Fitzpatrick – Background on Use of Council Facilities for historical related purposes.

Notice of Motion

That Council be provided with a report in relation to the use of Council facilities by museums, including current management arrangements, costs and possible options in relations to financial support for the important voluntary committees operating from these assets.


The Bega Valley Shire has a number of museums that are situated on Council-managed land.  These museums are predominantly run by volunteers and are important for the preservation of the Shire’s history.

The Shire’s museums are appreciated by many locals and tourists.  Costs associated with the management and operation of Council facilities in which these museums are located need to be considered to ensure the structural integrity of these facilities is maintained into the future and both the museums and the facilities continue to be financially viable.

A special thank you to Jenny Drenkhahn from the Eden Killer Whale Museum and Shirley Bazley from the Merimbula Old School Museum who spoke at the public forum prior to the Council Meeting on the 25th Nov ’20.


Below is the outcome from the BVSC minutes 25th Nov ‘20:

11.2 Bega Valley Shire Museums
259/20 RESOLVED on the motion of Crs Fitzpatrick and Bain

1.    That Council receive and note the report.

2.    That Council enter into a formal tenure arrangement with the Bega Valley Historical  Society Incorporated for their occupation of the Bega Pioneers’ Museum (being Lot 1             DP  787591) located at 87 Bega Street, Bega, for an annual rental fee in line with  Council’s adopted minimum fee.

3.    That Council approve further formal tenure for the Bega Valley Genealogy Society Incorporated for their occupation of the Old Pambula Courthouse and Police Station                  building within Reserve 180066 at Pambula for an annual fee in line with Council’s adopted minimum fee.

4.    That Council, as Crown Land Manager of the Old Merimbula School site Reserve R84856,  resolve to enter into a further five year licence agreement with the Merimbula              Imlay Historical Society Incorporated for their continued occupation of the Old School House Building located on Crown Reserve 84856 at Merimbula for a fee in line  with         Council’s adopted minimum fee.

5.    That Council, as Crown Land Manager of the Old Merimbula School site Reserve R84856, resolve to enter into a further five year licence agreement with the Merimbula                Scout and  Guide Associations for their occupation of the Hall and section of land at the rear of Crown Reserve 84856 at Merimbula for a fee in line with Council’s adopted          minimum fee.

6.    That Council note that by reducing the fees charged for use of Council managed Facilities there will be budgetary implications.

7.    That Council authorise the General Manager and Mayor to execute the necessary documentation to formalise the above course of action.

8.    That Council convene an initial meeting within 6 months to resolve with each  committee, maintenance issues and rental and to develop an ongoing maintenance                        schedule.

9.    That Council’s policy on Crown Land rentals is reviewed.

10.  That the lease agreement for tenants of museums within the Shire includes maintenance  and repairs as the responsibility of the tenants.

IN FAVOUR:             Crs Fitzpatrick, Bain, Nadin, Griff, McBain, Seckold, Dodds and Allen

AGAINST:                  Nil

Thank you 


To All Members & Visitors 



Days /Times    Tues. 1pm – 4pm         Thurs 9.30am – 12.30pm        Sat  1pm  – 4 pm

Contact Ursula Hunt

 We apologize for any inconvenient.

 Check our web site or Facebook page for opening times in the future.

Members and visitors are welcome to use the Bega Valley Genealogy Society’s research services and extensive library which is continually expanding. We have:

  • A large local section with books indexed for surnames
  • Surnames index
  • Microfiche readers
  • Microfilm readers
  • Local newspapers on microfilm
  • Five computers holding over 300 CDs
  • BDM indexes for all Australian states
  • ‘Family Search’ for international births and marriages
  • Internet access to many free, family history sites
  • ‘Find My Past’, covering UK, Scottish Census, Ireland, Australasia, the World (all of them) plus USA & Canada
  • British Newspapers on the Internet


  • Toilets
  • Car and Bus parking
  • Disable Access to Main Library and Courthouse

We also produce a newsletter and have books for sale.


Interest in Genealogy was a relatively new phenomenon when 28 members formed our Society on 1st August 1987. This had followed a series of lectures given by Dr Brian Harrap at the suggestion of the Eden Community Council of Education.

The 1988 Bicentennial programme, with its emphasis on the origins of European settlement certainly caused many to wonder about their pioneer ancestors.

And yet, since the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788, we had a rich source of documents. State Archive Offices, provided by the Register of Birth, Deaths and Marriages, How-to-books, and the efforts of the Latter Day Saints (Mormon Church) attempting to record details of all people on earth resulting in the IGI (International Genealogy Index) all added to our research.

Old Courthouse

Membership rapidly increased with the need to find a permanent home.

In the early 1990’s the local community was agitating to have the Old Court House Complex Heritage listed and saved from private sale.

Fears were that the empty building could be vandalized.

In 1992 the Genealogy Society obtained a 2 year lease at $2,620 per year and acted as caretakers for the buildings. Our voice added to the agitation.

In May, 1994 the State Government agreed to hand over the trusteeship of the historic Pambula Police Station and Court House to the Bega Valley Shire Council.

And now, in 2015, we are the holders of the official licence for the buildings



The Court Room

Late 1840’s     The Eden Police District extended from Cape Howe in the south (now Victoria/NSW border) to Wallaga Lake to the north and inland to include the Monaro.    Policing of Pambula was done from Eden.

1850’s             A Policeman was stationed at Pambula but there was no lock-up (although a temporary lock-up was used).

1860-61           A Courthouse/Lock-up built. Building contained 2 cells, small courtroom, Magistrates room, Constable’s Bedroom and 2 outside privies in enclosed yard

1890’s             Present Courtroom built, also new cell block built, The old courtroom became the Police Station

1978                Last use of cells (Short term holding only – NOT gaol.

1979                Police Station closed and building converted to a residence for policeman stationed at Merimbula

OPCH 1859
Old Pambula Courthouse Plans 1859
PCH 1980 1987
Old Pambula Courthouse Plans 1980 – 1987

1984                Courthouse closed

1992                Bega Valley Genealogy Society rents building

1994                NSW Government appoints Bega Valley Shire Council trustees of Courthouse and Police Station for public use of building, now Heritage Listed


COURT          Petty Sessions – eg. Minor offences such as failure to send children to school, failure to pay fines/debts, drunk and disorderly conduct, offensive language, vagrancy, assaults, inquests etc.

Local citizens appointed as MAGISTRATES in early years

Later, visiting POLICE MAGISTRATES heard cases

Later again, cases were heard at Eden, Bega or serious cases in Sydney (transported by steamer)

GAOLING at Eden, Bega or Cooma.


POLICE          Two members have written a history of all the Police stationed at Pambula (this history is in our Library) and their photograps can be seen on the walls in the Courtroom.

The Jail and Exercise Yard


Click on the above photographs for a larger view.