Local News

Savouring ‘Yamba Yesteryear’ are Trish, Sue, John and Rob. Image: Contributed

The Written History of Yamba – YAMBA YESTERDAY

The 40th birthday celebration of the Port of Yamba Historical Society last week was a fit and proper event for Susan Howland to launch the 5th edition of ‘Yamba Yesterday – A Retrospective View 1885 – 1985’ by Keith Howland and Stuart Lee and the Museum’s best selling publication.  

Access to resources has greatly increased in the last ten years and this has allowed for improved research – checking dates and location of photographs and historical events. 

President Lesley Pickering thanked Society researchers for starting and finishing the project: Rob Knight and John McNamara. Also the valued comment and input from Marea Buist, Trish Bowes, Kathryn Knight.

“This book has a history all of its own.” Susan announced to an engaged audience. “Whilst the idea of Yamba Museum, the Story House was conceived during the 1970s mainly at the Yamba Golf Club, the concept of the Yamba Yesterday book was conceived at the Pacific Hotel in 1984.

Now as many of you know, Keith Howland and Stuart Lee frequented the Pacific Hotel and had many a discussion about life and Yamba with the publican Harry Woods. Keith always had either a beer or a pen in his hand and sketched anyone who ventured near him and had built up a great collection of sketches of local identities. He also was very busy painting all the trawlers of Yamba’s famous fishing fleet. I remember him talking about producing a book with all the sketches he had of local people and there was also talk of a book about Yamba trawlers. But these remained just an idea. Possibly for the future sometime. However, Yamba’s Centenary created the impetus to actually do something and of course any book needs WORDS and this was Stuart Lee’s forte.

So, in 1984 with the Centenary committee meetings taking place at the pub and Keith and Stuart being at the pub everyday, it didn’t take long for the idea of a book about Yamba to take shape; with Keith to do the design, drawings and gathering photos etc and Stuart to do the writing. Other people that helped were Jean and Arthur Bultitude. The Yamba Centenary Committee was set up in 1984 to plan events to celebrate 100 years of the town being called Yamba as opposed to being called Clarence Heads or Wooli. 

The Centenary committee met at the Pacific Hotel, with Sandra Woods as Secretary, Arthur Bultitude with photos, Milva Lee did the typing, Sandra and the Centenary committee borrowed the money. Both the Howland and the Lee households were covered with pictures, articles, photos, mock ups and scraps of paper for many months. The Yamba Centenary event was held in March 1985 but the printing of Yamba Yesterday hit a couple of snags and the first edition was not ready to launch until 18 December 1985. It was launched at the Story House Museum.”

Launching ‘Yamba Yesteryear’ is Sue Howland. Image: Contributed

Susan then expressed her delight that the 5th edition has gone back to the original concept of the hundred years between 1885 and 1985 and concluded: “I think that John McNamara and Rob Knight have done a superb job, with clearer photos, colourful diagrams and fixing up some errors. The first chapter – Before European Settlement – has been revised by Trish Bowes very successfully. I thank the Port of Yamba Historical Society for making this edition such a pleasure to read for locals, tourists and historians alike, and today I formally launch this latest edition.” 

This excellent coffee table book is a ‘must have’ for all those who call Yamba home, and it makes a fabulous house warming gift! 

‘Yamba Yesterday’ is available from Yamba Museum for $40 (members receive 10% discount). Membership of the Society is $20 per annum. The Museum is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 10am – 4:30pm, Saturday and Sunday 2-4:30pm; $5 entry, Children under 15 free, Members free. 

Gai Pritchett