Pambula Heritage Study

Bega Valley Shire, NSW

About the study

Pambula Heritage Study was undertaken for Bega Valley Shire Council following community support for protecting and retaining the heritage of the town. The aim of the heritage study was to identify heritage sites and the cultural character of the town, to assist Council with general planning and development applications associated with identified heritage sites and to provide information to owners and groups contemplating conservation works or other developments.


History & Tradition

The Pambula area was populated by the Thaua Aboriginal people, with shell middens dating back 3000 years. The name Pambula is derived from its Dharwa name, pronounced "panboola", meaning 'twin waters'. In 1797, the European voyager George Bass explored the area, yet its first European settlers are thought to have been the Imlay brothers who established cattle runs on the Pambula River flats in the 1830s. The village of Pambula situated on the flats near the river was planned in 1843 by surveyor Townsend and the first school and churches were built there, but frequent flooding led to the village being relocated to its present site on higher ground.


By 1856, Pambula had five licensed hotels, in 1860, the courthouse was built, and Pambula was proclaimed a town in 1885. In 1888, gold was discovered, but the boom ended twenty years later. Pambula continued to be the dominant town of the district with commercial premises, banks, a courthouse, hospital, newspaper, and a school of arts. Agriculture developed on the river flats, producing prize crops of maize and potatoes, and a dairying industry became established. Timber felling was carried out in the surrounding forests, and oyster farming was developed in the river. Today, Pambula has a population of about 1200 residents.