Bodalla: Cheese, the Church and much more
by Mark (with help from Jane Sandilands)
Bodalla has just celebrated 150 years since its beginnings, but as it passed this milestone, the village gives the impression that it is on the move again. Meanwhile the All Saints Church stands majestically overlooking the township, as a mark of the commitment of wool industry pioneer Thomas Sutcliffe Mort to Bodalla.
The Mort of pastoral company Elder Smith Goldsbrough Mort, owned 13,000 acres in the district and H.J. Gibbney's History of the Moruya District records him pursuing his dream of a model estate at Bodalla, realized in the 1860s and which attracted the attention of those interested in farm technology all over Australia.
Mort chose the site for All Saints Church, its architect, Edmund T. Blacket and the builder, Joseph Zeigler from Moruya. The granite to build the church was quarried on Mort's estate. Mort died in 1878 aged 62 and did not see the foundation stone laid but anyone who enters the church cannot fail to be aware of his influence. On the chancel arch are his last words: "Thine Eyes Shall See the King in his Beauty", given by the people of Bodalla in memory of Mort and his wife. Mort is buried in the local cemetery.
In more recent times, Don McPhee started to make cheese in Tilba Tilba in 1966 and moved to Bodalla in 1970 when if you said 'Bodalla', people immediately thought of cheese. For several years, McPhee traded as South Coast Cheeses, practising his craft in an industrial shed a few hundred metres down Potato Point Road, establishing a regular clientele for up to 600 kilograms of good quality aged cheese that left his premises each week. More recently still, Nic and Erica Dibden purchased the business and have continued and enhanced the reputation of South Coast Cheeses by producing specialty handmade cheeses. While many regular customers drop in, taste the cheese and choose their supply from their well stocked refrigerator, overnight post packs to other parts of New South Wales and beyond means that those living away from the district can also enjoy the cheeses of Bodalla.
When visitors stroll up Bodalla's gently curving hill under the magnolia grandiflora, there's plenty to tempt those looking for the unusual - and the homely. The Bodalla bakery still makes a traditional loaf of bread, using an old wood oven and only rainwater in the mix and at the post office, Heather Toward will sell you stamps across the original old wooden counter. In the same building as the post office is Gallery Bodalla, where you'll usually be welcomed by Valerie who exhibits the work of several renowned local artists. Click here for details on the currently featured exhibition.
The Bodalla Dairy (as opposed to the old cheese factory on the highway just North of town) is a relatively new addition to the Bodalla streetscape which serves a great coffee, healthy snacks and lunch beside the open fire on cooler days and on the magnificent timber deck with a Northerly view the dams nestled between rolling green pastures on the neighbouring farmland.
One of the hidden gems of Bodalla is the Fishing & Maritime Museum (just off the highway behind Matilda's Service Station)
If you're interested in fishing and things maritime; the memorabilia, fossils and other historic relics on display here will make your visit to this fascinating place worthwhile. Click here for details.
Yet another real surprise package is the Bodalla Chinese restaurant ! Tucked in behind the Bowling Club, the authentic Chinese food served here is comparable to some of the best available Chinese food restaurants in Dixon Street. Don't miss the opportunity to order a drink at the bar of the club on the way in. You're likely to meet some of the colorful local identities of Bodalla.
Bodalla is also the place for interesting antiques, and a stroll around town reveals much of its early history, including the farrier next to the bakery. Just before leaving Bodalla, notice the rustic bird feeders, wishing wells and bridges in Paul Blinman's front garden. He uses recycled, salvaged and untreated timber to create unusual garden furniture. A blind craftsman, Blinman's card says he "may not have sight but still has great visions".