The following is based on a story which appeared in an article called “Moruya – Past and Present”. It was expressly written for the “Moruya Examiner” by “Walrab”. “Walrab (Barlow backwards) was Reginald Heber Barlow, local teacher, surveyor, architect and contributor of newspaper articles.
This article was originally published 26th January 1888 and reprinted in the “Moruya Examiner” 12th January 1932 as part of the “Back to Moruya” special edition.
The article was then sent to me by local historian Shirley Jurmann.This makes this version the third time that this wonderful tale has been published – 1888, 1932 and now 2016. Thank you, Shirley!
In the early days of Moruya few boats could come up the river owing to the sandbar at the entrance. Most were met by punts and the goods taken up to the township on these. One boat, stuck at the Heads with a precious cargo received a very special welcome, its cargo unloaded tenderly and lovingly onto a punt and this was escorted up the river by a party of men. What could be so valuable that it deserved this kind of treatment?
With Christmas coming up a group of local men had promised themselves a grand old time. They each put in a certain amount of money and sent to Sydney for a hogshead of good old London porter. The boat duly arrived at the Heads with the hogshead. Some of the men thought it only fitting that a punt with such a worthy guest should be greeted with honour and escorted up the river.
A little way up the river, a thought struck them – what if it was not genuine porter? Should they just try a little to make sure? The bung was drawn and a pannikin filled with the glorious stuff with its frothy cap. It was handed round and found to be good. The rest of the subscribers heard about this and felt duty bound to also make sure it was the real stuff. They too fell to their knees in worship.
By Boxing Day the hogshead “knew its late occupant no more.” Whether the subscribers became better and wiser men is not known but it was rumoured that several joined the “Temperance Society” the very next day.