THE Narooma News last month featured a story about the new bar at The Dromedary Hotel, Central Tilba and an old photo of patrons in the pub.
One of these was identified as Frank Riley, but his relative Kerri Binstock has contacted us with some information about the man and also to let us know his name was actually spelled “Rily”.
She said it was a trip down memory lane to see the article and photograph ‘At the bar at the Drom… Now and Then’ published on August 28 and that she has the same photo.
“He was every bit as cheeky and full of life as his grin, in both pictures, suggests,” she said.
“Some of the old locals in Bermagui would remember him well.”
Frank (Popeye) Rily was her cousin and his father was Jack Rily, and his grandfather was Francis Edward (F.E.) Rily and his great-grandfather was Nicholas Harford Rily, who came to the Bermagui/Cobargo area, Narira Creek to be exact, in 1876.
There is no “E” in this family name, she said.
“Why do I bother to point out the misspelling of a surname?” she said.
“Although the Rily family had a long history in the area and contributed to its early development this is mostly overlooked when well-meaning people undertake the writing of local histories.”
On Rily’s Road, about 10 kilometres from Bermagui along the Bermagui Cobargo Road, the street sign has been corrected and the “e” removed.
Follow the road to the creek through dairy farm land now subdivided, and you are on the old Rily property, “Narira”.
According to Land Office records, Nicholas Harford Rily, born in 1818, took up land at Narira Creek, in May 1876.
He had been a miner in Nerrigundah and before that in California and Mexico.
After his arrival in Australia in the 1850s, Nicholas had tried his luck at Ballarat and Sandhurst at Bendigo.
In the late 1880s, he worked his claim at Coolagolite with his brother, James. It became known as Rily’s Reef.
When Nicholas died in 1892, he left five children including Francis Edward Rily, the youngest son, who had been born in Nerrigundah in 1863, who took over the property at Narira Creek.
Francis married Elizabeth Janet Whiffen and they had seven children.
“Old FE” as he was affectionately called, went on to become president of the AP&H Society of Cobargo, director of the Cobargo Cooperative Butter Company, president of the Mumbulla Shire Council, and Labor candidate in the 1910 state elections.
On his death in 1954, his youngest son Russell took over “Narira” farm. Russell and his family, wife Beulah (Reed), children Pat, Mary, Anne and Tony moved to Sydney in 1960.
The Rily farm was sold and later subdivided. The last of the Rily family to reside in Bermagui was Frank, (Popeye), son of Jack and Evelyn (Smith) Rily and grandson of “FE”.
After Frank died in 1977, his wife, Patricia and children, Julieanne and Michael, moved to Sydney.
So all that remains of the Rily family’s pioneering role in the area is the name of a road: Rily’s Road - without an “e”!