Narooma family history to be focus of new book

HISTORY CAPTURED: Sylvia Gauslaa with her first edition of the book, published earlier in 2021.
HISTORY CAPTURED: Sylvia Gauslaa with her first edition of the book, published earlier in 2021.

Narooma history buffs, self-appointed historians or those with remarkable memories are being called on to contribute to a book of stories of the town's days gone past.

Local Sylvia Gauslaa is putting together a second history book, after the first was a roaring success.

"I published 'Noorooma Our Town, Our Stories' earlier this year and have since had some more people come forward with stories so I decided to start working on a second edition," Ms Gauslaa said.

Noorooma, which means "clear, blue waters", was the original name of the town before it was changed to Narooma in 1972.

The theme of the second book will be about the families who have made Narooma what it is today.

"I am a passionate historian and I love genealogy," Ms Gauslaa said.

"I think it's important for stories to be written down, otherwise we will lose them."

The book features a story from Wally Stewart and his sister Sandra Patten, members of the first indigenous family to own a house in town in 1958.

"This was before the referendum in 1968 when indigenous people were counted in the census. Before that, they were classified as 'flora and fauna'," Ms Gauslaa said.

"Wally and Sandra's mum had to carry a certificate to say she was allowed to be in town. This was referred to as a 'dog tag'.

"As a white woman born in Wollongong in 1955 I had no idea this was the situation for indigenous people in our shire, and I am appalled and saddened this was the case."

Hylands Hotel Healy Series Post Card. Photo: Ailsa Finn.

Hylands Hotel Healy Series Post Card. Photo: Ailsa Finn.

Ms Gauslaa has also heard stories which show off unique aspects of Narooma that may have been forgotten.

"A friend told me someone used to sing Christmas carols from the spire of the Uniting Church in town," she said.

"It was apparently back in the 50s when someone climbed onto the tower and sang. She said it was beautiful and you could hear it all around town."

The book aims to have 50 stories published and Ms Gauslaa encouraged anyone with a particular town memory to contribute.

"People can write their stories in their own words and then I collect them all together," she said.

"It doesn't matter whether people have stories from yonks ago, 20 years ago or two years ago, it all matters."

Some guiding questions to get started are:

  • When and why did you or your family choose to come to Narooma?
  • What did your family do in Narooma?
  • What do you remember about times gone by?
  • What features used to be around town that are no longer here?
  • Is there a special story you would like to record about an event, community club or adventure?

To submit a story or photos for the book, email


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