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Norm Moore - 9 December 2014

Norm Moore made the following comments in Non Agenda Public forum at the Ordinary Council Meeting on 9 November 2014.

Thank you all; for the opportunity

During a conversation with Andrew Constance MP at the conclusion of the granite town parade – he expressed excitement and admiration of a prototype memorial of Moruya blacksmith James Gee and its escort of kids from Moruya Public School dressed as convicts.

"Moruya Granite" he said – "I've got to find $5,000 to make a bigger sign for the town about granite"!!

I pointed out the memorial was nothing to do with the quarry & that any signage should properly signify this town's real history & at least start with Silver, Gold and Granite and I would find the money if he couldn't. I believe that money is now 'on Council table' and like many I'm concerned at how it will be used.

No one has done more to promote Moruya Quarry than myself, having made several DVDs and CDs, and in 2008, - tried to get the then Council interested in a festival – and following a complaint from the late Nelle Grieg, - that as guests of former NSW Governor (now Dame Marie Bashir) – during the 75th anniversary celebrations of the bridge's opening – she heard about millions of rivets, litres of paint & tonnes of steel but nothing about Moruya and the granite faced abutments engineer Bradfield – described as – "adding a touch of distinction to what otherwise would be an immense utilitarian structure". In return, Dame Marie has donated two magnificent books to our library – this is a copy of one – given to me as a thank you.

A CD produced in conjunction with 2ear fm & takes you back to the building of some 100 lighthouses around England and Scotland by the Lighthouse Stevenson family of engineers, - development of technology, involvement of John Gilmore at age 13 years – and possible links to 'reluctant' engineer & later famous Author, Robert Louis Stevenson and brings you forward to the massive operations of the Moruya quarry, - then regards as the most modern in the world. It contains information you won't read about in books as it came from apprenticed tradesmen I knew. Copies are with Moruya & District Historical Society. Huge though this operation was, - It happened in relatively modern times and was but a 'blink of an eye' in the real pioneering story of Moruya prior to WW1. Of far more interest is Louttit's Quarry 1858 and its connection with the Abernethy Lathe, Columns of Sydney GPO Colonnade 1882, St. Mary's Cathedral, Capt. Cook's Statue and the Canberra foundation stone etc.

Of more interest is a very brief of these;

* Produce from farms & timber from our forests both fed & built in Sydney Town. Moruya was the largest supplier of potatoes in the Colony with 7 ships in waiting to load.

* When gold was discovered at Araluen, Moruya became a gold rush town with 2 ships per month escalating to 4 or 5 a week. Miners needed food – meaning a substantial increase in production of meat, fruit & vegetables and a rapid increase in ship building to cater for fishing & transportation of mining goods.

Local businesses prospered by running reams of packhorses carrying supplies – leaving at midnight & arriving at dawn to avoid heat of day. 53,000 ozs or 2 tonnes of gold come from the field within a year and Moruya was the first port to ship gold in Australia. In later years a single dredge produced 3 tonnes from its paddock.

Employment & economy thrived with the opening of Moruya Silver Mine by Sir Saul Samuel in 1862 and was the first payable silver deposit in the Southern Hemisphere. Samuels became Australia's first Postmasters General after opening the Sydney GPO in 1874. The mine's stamp mill was cast in the Sydney foundry of Sir Peter Nicol Russell – whose name is given to the Sydney University School of Engineering building as does the annual engineering award. 6 medals have been struck in his honour. Moruya has the only surviving Stampmill of the hundreds produced in his foundry during the gold rush era. (much more info online if you want it.)

Opening of the Donkey Hill Mine in 1870 – provided employment for up to 30 workers till forced to close by WW2 in 1939, then – the only mine paying a dividend to share holders in Australia. It could be heard from town working day & night – as I experienced as a child in the 1930's.

Not enough time here to full mention that Moruya was the furthest point of convict administration in the Colony – with flogging post & court house at Broulee.

I've been working with Moruya Public School teacher Lynne Ellis and her class of 2a students to produce souvenirs that will remind them of our pioneering past. They've been given an appropriate version of history just mentioned and asked to comment and write essays on the subject.

Some students with difficulties in attitude, concentration or learning – have shown intense interest & produced outstanding work units for their age & given Lynne Ellis and Principal Peter Johnson a most pleasing outcome. If time permits the children's work will be displayed in a window at Harris Scarf till Xmas and I urge you to find time to take a look.

The prototype memorial of blacksmith James Gee will contain a sound system enabling school children & visitors to listen & learn of our unique history. Nearly 50 local tradesmen, businesses and even members of Councils workforce in spare time have contributed. It's ready for stage 2 and that will be a contribution to the Centenary of Anzac by way of an image of the great grandson of James Gee who was a bugler on HMAS Perth sunk by Jap subs WW2 and was known as the Blind Barber of Burma Prison Camp.

I urge that you continue to give full support to the Granite Town Festival – but please remember you must involve the other 90% of the community whose achievements have been elsewhere. Without them, you won't get the full hearted support needed for continuation. It is important that you engage persons familiar with & interested in our pioneers & heritage to design new town entry signs.

Finally, what is happening with the $125,000 given by the Commonwealth Gov. to 53 Shire Council's around Australia for unique projects supporting the Centenary of Anzac?

Council Reply

The Moruya granite quarry is operated by the NSW Government Crown Lands. We have forwarded your suggestion that the quarry provide a large granite bolder for the rock garden in Canberra to them for consideration. The contact person is Martin Bergs, Crown Lands, Ground Floor, 5 O’Keefe Avenue, Nowra, NSW 2541 or telephone 4428 9100.

Andrew Constance’s office is currently awaiting advice from the Minister of Arts regarding the status of the $5,000 grant and as soon as we receive this advice we will contact you.