Today Reg and I revisited Boydetown on the southern coast of NSW. It was the second visit to this area in my lifetime, I first saw it when the Seahorse Inn was a whaling museum when I was 16, some 48 years ago. Reg and I revisited the area, on one of our many tours, probably in our twenties and at that time, we thought it was a thriving tourist destination and a whaling museum.
Today we thought it looked like a ghost town.
As a keen gardener myself,, I could see the mixture of beautifully chosen, expensive garden plantings and design indicating money spent on the place a few years back but palm trees desperately in need of pruning and indications of vandalism to outside lighting,, giving the place a somewhat run down and in need of some maintenance before the, well healed clients, arrive. I know if I had the money to stay in a boutique hotel, I would expect the grounds to be, maintained to a higher standard.
Maybe the gardener was just off on a holiday and the seahorse in is thriving, but I felt it looked sad and lonely today. The beach was pristine, the area has incredible potential. There is talk of a marina and real estate development in the area. Boydtown has had fluctuating fortunes and it will no doubt still be around when my grand children are the gray nomads and have an even more interesting history to tell.
This is the history of Boydtown, as I know it, up until now.
History of Boydtown and the Seahorse Inn
Boydtown owes its existence to the early Australian whaling industry, which was already flourishing in Twofold Bay in the early 1830’s. In 1843 a flamboyant entrepreneur named Benjamin Boyd decided to establish a base in Boydtown for his whaling and pastoral operations. Boyd was one of the most colourful and important characters in the Nation’s early history and Twofold Bay became the centre of his operations.
Boyd had a great deal of financial backing, which was evident in the grand style in which Boydtown was built. The best evidence of this grandeur is the historic Seahorse Inn, built in 1843 using convict labour. Boyd also built brick houses, a store, a woolshed and a jetty where Boyd’s vessels could be berthed. Nearby Boyd constructed a lookout, known as Boyd's Tower, which was built for the whalers to spot their potential catch. A church was also begun, but never completed. The tower and church ruins can still be seen today.
The Depression of the 1840's hit Benjamin Boyd hard and brought an end to many of his operations. From a prosperous commercial centre with 200 inhabitants, Boydtown soon became a deserted ruin, with buildings abandoned and deteriorating, and part of the population moving to Eden. Boyd left Australia for the Californian Gold Fields, but disappeared while hunting at Guadalcanal.
The Seahorse Inn remained deserted, reduced to a mere shell due to vandalism and natural deterioration. In 1936 it was puchased by the Whiter brothers, who renovated, restored and added a second storey.
In 1973 the Seahorse Inn was purchased by the Lyon Group with a vision to restoring it to its former glory. The Seahorse Inn has now been completely renovated to provide first class accommodation and conference facilities for the local and international tourist market. Renovations were completed in 2006.
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