Our Story

A Long, Long History…

In fact, about 20,000 years of aboriginal history in the Murramarang area.

As part of the Yuin Nation, this area is of great cultural and historical significance for the Budawang and Murramarang Aboriginal people, having provided food, shelter and fresh water for thousands of years. Discoveries of sacred sites, middens and stone artefacts are only part of the history of Yuin people on the South Coast. Archaeological excavations in the floor of a large sandstone overhang near Burrill Lake found that humans have lived here from 21,000 years ago. Mature trees have been found with large scars which indicate the use of bark to make canoes, sadly many more trees must have been destroyed by clearing over the last 200 years.

The first nations people also burnt the country to encourage green pick for kangaroos and to make it easier to walk through, what we now call cultural burning. Much of the middens and sacred sites have been lost to shifting sand dunes and the rising sea which was some 100m lower than it is today.

The Murramarang National Park was gazetted in 1973, preserving and protecting the areas rich secrets and history.

A significant Dreamtime story is that a Bumbi (giant eel) was chased by 2 Yuin hunters down Bhundoo (the Clyde River) and in to the sea. Injured by the hunters spears, it sought shelter in nearby lagoons until it was found by Mirada (Sea Eagle) who picked it up and flew until he dropped it. The local mob then killed Bumbi so it didn’t suffer any longer and held a big corroboree. It rolled off the fire and Narran Narran (Lyrebird) came along and stole Bumbi and headed for the mountains. Eating Bumbi along the way until all that was left was its head. Narran Narran put the head on top of Balgan (Pigeon House Mountain) where it turned to stone.

Follow this link to watch Yuin elder Noel Butler share this dreamtime story in full.

Recent History

European settlement in the area began in 1828 with cattle stations in the Murramarang-Bawley Point area. However, the main industry would quickly become the harvesting of the local timbers for railway sleepers and building materials with the first commercial mill opening in 1852 near Cockwhy Creek. By the mid 1880’s there were 13 mills operating in the Clyde River area including the one here at Pebbly Beach. The settlement was thriving with a school of up to 40 students until the decline of the coastal timber industry was triggered by the depression and the mill eventually closed in 1923. The settlement disbanded and the mill was left to wash away.

In 1946, Ursula Schwallbach (known to her friends as Ushka), was on camping trip to Pretty Beach from her then home being in Kings Cross where she ran a popular coffee shop called ‘The Arabian’. She had heard stories of Pebbly Beach, so she walked the 8km journey along the coast and over Durras Mountain where she looked down on Pebbly. At that point in time there where just the ruins of the timber mill that remained. She fell in love with Pebbly, and immediately returned to Sydney to secure a lease from Crown Lands. This was granted and Ushka and her husband Ralph began building their eco-tourism dream. All buildings (except Buru) were built by Ushka and Ralph and their business was well underway by the late 1940’s. Ralph died in 1958, but Ushka pushed ahead with her dreams and ran Pebbly until handing over the running of the property to Jack Higgins in 1978. Ushka stayed in her house at Pebbly until her death in 1987. In 1991, Jacks daughter Yvonne and her husband Stuart McFarlane then took over from Jack and continued run Pebbly as Ushka had desired.

After 25 years Yvonne and Stuart decided it was time to retire and put the business up for sale. Two brothers, Martin and Adam Anders and their wives Amy and Roebyem, had spent many years holidaying and surfing in the area. It was on one of these trips that Martin had seen the ‘For Sale’ sign and eagerly investigated the opportunity. The Anders purchased Pebbly Beach Cabins in May of 2018. Thereafter, led in the exercise by Colin Bailie, the former owner and manager of the ‘The Escape’ at Shallow Crossing on the Clyde River, the newly named ‘Pebbly Beach Escape’ underwent a major renovation of the entire site. Completely new solar and power supplies, brand new water tanks and filtration systems, extensive refurbishment of the 5 cabins and Yvonne and Stuart’s house was renovated to accommodate guests. Perhaps the most significant project was to breathe life back in to Ushka’s house which had not been occupied since her death nearly 30 years earlier. Local builder/artisan Marty Drysdale, and his team, were instrumental in this process. Major landscaping works were also carried out across the 3 acre site, re-introducing many native species more suited to the surrounds of Murramarang National Park. The entire site is now 100% off grid and green powered.

The Anders family see themselves more as the current custodians, rather than owners of this parcel of land. They seek to maintain and preserve Pebbly Beach Escape so it can be enjoyed by guests seeking to connect with nature while having minimal impact on the beautiful surrounds. We think Ushka would be very happy to see Pebbly Beach loved and shared as she first did nearly 80 years ago.