The Mystery of Bermagui
In October 1880 a party of 5 explorers led by geologist Lamont Young set sail along the coast off Bermagui to search for potential gold mining sites.
3 days later their boat was located 15kms up the coast in what is now called Mystery Bay. The crew were missing and never seen or heard of again. What ever happened to the men has remained one of Australia’s most puzzling mysteries.
The story at the time received massive media coverage, not only in Australia, but also throughout the British Empire. Mystery Bay, where the boat was located received its name because of the disappearance.
Young and his assistant, Samuel Casey, travelled on a small boat with the boat’s owner, Thomas Towers of Batemans Bay, and two of Towers’ friends. The boat set off from Bermagui at night on Saturday October the 8th 1880, with the aim to find possible gold field sites further north of Bermagui.
Report indicates that a boat was observed the following morning, stationary with one person in it. On the following Monday the boat was discovered, abandoned at Corunna Reef, 15kms north of Bermagui.
In the boat were five bags full of clothing, Young’s books and papers, spectacles, a bullet in its starboard side and some vomit. However no sign of the five men.
Despite numerous searches and Government enquires the fate of the crew remains a mystery. The remnants of a fire, some food, three shirt studs, and mysterious footmarks along the beach were all that was found.
The Unanswered Questions
The boat was located in a position which it wouldn’t be able to drift too naturally. If there had been an accident at sea, how did the boat manage to navigate through the nearby rocks?
A large amount of supplies were found within the boat, including a pair of spectacles laid out on a seat. None of the boat’s contents were wet or saturated, so the boat could not possibly have been swamped by water.
There were holes within the hull of the boat, however it was discovered these holes had actually been made from the inside.
A revolver bullet was found in the boat, and the copper case of a cartridge was found in the sand about 30 yards away. But neither the fishermen nor the geologists were known to carry any weapons.
Where was the anchor and sail?
Why were there large rocks found within the boat?
If the crew were murdered why was there no evidence to suggest a struggle or even foul play.
The Memorial is located 15 kilometres north of Bermagui, midway between Bermagui and Narooma. There is a park and a road at Mystery Bay named after Lamont Young. A monument was erected at Mystery Bay in 1980 to mark the centenary of the disappearance.
“Jumble of sand, and mongrel scrub, and tussock and Beach Hotel, Sort of regular jumble of weatherboard shanties. All seem to face sunset with guilty, guilty, glazed and glaring eyes turned towards where, far out at the end of Mountain, Lamont Young party were lost or not lost nearly 30 years ago” Bermagui, In a Strange Sunset – Henry Lawson 1910
What really happend to Young and his men? An article written by a local journalist 7 years after the event.
Pictures from Mystery Bay 2015