THE MYSTERY OF MYSTERY BAY
On the 10th October 1880, five men vanished in one of Australia's most baffling sea mysteries. Within a few hours of their reported disappearance an intensive search commenced and continued for many months, but no trace of them was ever found. Nor were any clues to the mystery of their disappearance.
Gold had been discovered at Montreal, near Bermagui, and the Mines Department sent Lamont Young, one of its geologists, to inspect and report on the find. Young was accompanied by a German botanist friend, Max Schneider.
After arriving at Batemans Bay by steamer, they secured a boat and a crew of three men to row them to the gold fields. They visited the goldfield on Saturday, returned to their camp at Bermagui, and were never seen again.
The next morning at about 7am a green 8 metre rowing boat was seen by several residents leaving Bermagui and others observed it moving slowly north along the coastline. But local stories also report a similar green boat belonging to Thomas Towers, William Lloyd and Daniel Casey of Bateman’s Bay - in Bermagui supposedly to sell potatoes to the miners - which may or may not have been the one spotted.
At about 4 pm that afternoon, a man riding along the coast found the boat on the rocks at Mutton Fish Point, about fifteen kilometres north of Montreal, but there was no trace of any of the men.
Police examined the boat and noted that it had been steered through jagged rocks - but to add to the mystery, although there were four large holes in the hull, the planking had been pushed out, not in.
On the seats were bait, a pocket knife, a pipe and tobacco, crumbs, potatoes and other foods along with a bag of mixed personal clothing, bedding & tools. The anchor and stern lines were missing but some large stones had been placed in the boat. On the beach nearby were a pipe, a knife, an axe and shovel.
Other items which may have had a link to the mystery were three mother of pearl studs, a portion of a meal and three cigar butts.
Young, Schneider and the three boatmen were never heard of again and a memorial was unveiled on 10 October 1980 by the Minister for Mineral Resources, R J Mulock.
The mystery remains unsolved to this day.
Gulaga is known as one of the oldest and most significant rock features of Australia, alongside Uluru in the Northern Territory, Wave Rock in Western Australia and others.
The local rocks of chert, black mudstone and slate and date back nearly 500 million years to the Ordovician period.
The outcrops at Mystery Bay lie in what is called in geological terms a kink zone, which means they've been subjected to great pressure during the moving of tectonic plates.
The first prehistoric volcanic eruptions of Gulaga occurred about 94 million years ago during the mid-Cretaceous period when dinosaurs still roamed the earth.
Both Little Dromedary (Najanuga) and Montague Island (Baranguba) formed through the volcano's activity.
Originally close to 2000m in altitude, Gulaga, which is now 797m above sea level, would have continued all the way to Tuross Head. The mountain that you see today is more or less the inner core of the original volcano. The volcano has been dormant since the Cretaceous period - which ended 65 million years ago.
The main rock types present are monzonite and banatite (a rock of intermediate composition between quartz diorite and quartz monzonite) plus basic and andesitic lavas and tuffs.
Monzonite forms the outer region to the banatite core of the main mass forming Gulaga. There is strong evidence that they were impacted by the vertical movement of magma forcing it way into the surrounding Ordovician sediments.
Dykes (newer vertical rock between older layers of rock) are common throughout the area and are principally dolerite or a quartz feldspar rock.
Gold in the Gulaga area was first noted by the Rev. W.B. Clarke in 1852, who found alluvial gold along Dignams Creek. Alluvial gold was found in many of the creeks that run down the northern and southern slopes of Gulaga.
Mining commenced around 1860, and a significant quantity of gold was recovered - enough to draw additional prospectors and to promote growth in the region.
In 1877 some rich gold-bearing vein deposits were found. These were worked extensively over the period 1878-1920 for a yield of over 600kg of gold.
The Mount Dromedary Gold Mining Company developed several tunnels into the mountain side from around 1878-1910 and excavated significant amounts of gold.
Further attempts to source more gold from tunnels of the existing mines started again in the 1950s, but were largely unsuccessful.