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Walking Group

The Walking Group has finished for 2023.  Watch out for emails from the Museum or the Autumn Newsletter for further updates.

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Our 'Yamba Historical Museum' Facebook page is a great way to keep up to date with the museum, activities, news, people and events. Simply like our page by clicking on the Facebook image above you will be directed to our FB page, then click on the "like thumbs up".  You will be the first to know about new events, exhibitions and general information!


Veda Dante and Joanne Rice

Welcome to our New Members

Volunteer Profile - Gillian Lowbridge

Like many locals I came to Yamba via family holidays. When we drove into town about 30 years ago there was a sense a familiarity for me. I had seen that lighthouse before. I remembered staying at the motel on the headland and the War Memorial was in the centre of the road.


My family detoured to Yamba in the 1960s because my father wanted to see and photograph the war memorial. We were Makinsons and there were Makinsons listed. When you have an unusual name you take notice when it appears, and Dad assured us these were our relations, Great Aunt Nan’s brothers. Her family had once lived in Yamba.


Aunt Nan was a family fixture, the ‘elder’ after my own grandparents had died. She attended afternoon teas, Christmases, family events, even my wedding and I visited her when she was in a nursing home. Nan wasn’t really my father’s aunt but a cousin of my grandfather. A connection we never questioned as kids, she was just Aunt Nan.

Nan maintained she was the second woman in NSW to obtain a driver’s licence, her friend Molly the first. They planned to embark on a great car journey as far up the coast as possible. They took the driving test and passed on the same day.


This must have been in the late 1920’s or early 1930’s when roads were dreadful. It was a huge undertaking for two women on their own. As a child I was intrigued with the idea of such a journey and never questioned why they would do such a thing, or whether they even made their destination. I was fascinated with details of having to change their own car tyres and make any required repairs on the road. I didn’t connect tales of their journey with a car trip to Queensland that my own family took, except to marvel at the fact  they didn’t have the modern roads of my childhood where it only took us three days to drive from Sydney to Gympie. Now I wonder, was her journey to visit the same war memorial in Yamba?


I wish I had paid better attention to Nan’s (Clare Russell Makinson) stories or asked questions when I could. Since moving to Yamba. I have often tried to see Yamba through her eyes. This connection is what first brought me to the Yamba Museum. I had known a prim and proper elderly lady. I knew she had been a secretary and she had watched from her upstairs bedroom window as the two giant sides of the harbour bridge were joined in 1930 but I knew next to nothing of her family. I didn’t even know that her real name was Clare.


I have very early memories of her brother ‘Uncle Cuth’, as a tall thin man in a workman’s suit and felt hat. He worked as a gardener. I don’t have any memory of him speaking but I realise now he may well have been suffering PTSD. I have a letter from his dying mother which warns Nan he is unable to manage on his own. Could I connect my memory of him with this name on the War Memorial?


Through the Yamba Museum I discovered insights into the family. Nan’s father built the Yamba Surf Club’s first lifesaving reel and her three brothers had been fit, active club members holding Bronze Medallions for swimming. Her mother was an involved

member of the community organising social events and fundraising for the hospital. Looking at early photos of the crowds on Yamba beach I wonder if they are there. Another brother married and moved away. I remember Nan saying he was a doctor though I have no validation of that. I only see him in an old photograph as he appears to have disappeared from family memory.


Cuthbert and Hilary Makinson enlisted for the first War along with many young men from the area. Perhaps they thought it a great adventure at the time. I can only glimpse them through Museum records. While Cuthbert was welcomed home to Yamba in August of 1919, Hilary had died of wounds in France the year before.


The impact of war seemed to fracture the family as it must have for many others. Although they remained in the Yamba area I think until around 1927 her father’s health was deteriorating while Cuthbert’s health never recovered from bouts of trench fever

suffered during the war. The family moved to Sydney. Her parents died quite soon afterwards and neither Nan nor Cuthbert married.


Their story was my first connection to the museum. My research has now become membership. I have enjoyed assisting with an exhibition on watercraft of the Clarence River and attending museum activities. The Museum is the Story House of Yamba with

both old and new stories being told.



At the Members Meeting held Friday 17th November, members discussed the lack of volunteers and the continuation or change of opening hours. It was decided that from Tuesday 6th February only one shift per day 10-3pm. That's a 4 hour shift. 

Contact Bev 0499588137 at your earliest convenience

if you are able to help keep our doors open!

Surf Club Historical Figures



Philip John Makinson was born on 23 June 1860 at Glebe, Sydney to Thomas Cooper (1809-1893) and Sarah Anne (nee Soulby 1815 - 1873) Makinson, one of 12 children. His mother died in 1873 when he was only 13 years old.  He married Frances Elizabeth “Fanny Eliza” Blaxland in Sydney in 1887 and they had four children:


Cuthbert Giles “Giles” Makinson was born 1888 at Kogarah.

He enlisted in the army in WW1 on 20 May 1916 and was discharged on 25 March 1919. His name was recorded on the Yamba Cenotaph. He never married. His death was reported at Yass in 02 October 1963 DEX on 31 August 1963, aged 75 years. He was living at 8 Primula Street, Lindfield at the time. Brother of Nan, Roland [sic Ronald] and Cooper (deceased).

Clare Russell “Nan” Makinson was born at Ryde in 1890. She never married. In 1978 she was living at Lindfield probably at 8 Primula Street.

Philip Ronald “Ronald” Makinson was born on 16 June 1892 at Ryde. He married Ellen Ann Vinettin Mowle at Grafton in 1915. From Electoral Rolls, they were farming at the Upper Richmond in 1930; living at Rydalmere, Sydney in 1954 and Ronald was a boat proprietor in 1963, living at 7 Roland Street, Forster. He died on 01 October 1978.

Hilary Cooper “Cooper” Makinson was born in 1893 at Narrabri. He enlisted in the army in WW1 on 04 July 1916 and was killed in action in France dying at the 53 Casualty Station of gunshot wounds received on 14 August 1918. Prior to enlistment on 02 August 1916, he was employed at the Bank of Australasia in Brisbane from where he enlisted. His name was recorded on the Yamba Cenotaph. - View Gallery above for photograph of Yamba Cenotaph 1923. Original location of the Yamba Cenotaph on the corner of Wooli and Yamba Streets c1923

Philip was employed by the Department of Mines and Agriculture from 07 July 1877 as a Clerical Inspector and Inspector of Public Watering Places. From Electoral Rolls, he was living at Moree in 1897 and Brewarrina in 1903-04. He became a Timekeeper in 1904 with the Department of Public Works.

The family moved to Yamba in 1906 where Ronald and Cooper were enrolled in Yamba Public School on 30 April. Their father Philip was designated as a Surveyor (Civil Servant).  In 1907, Philip leased Portions 184, 185 and 186, Parish of Taloumbi, which took up almost all of Romiaka Island, from Jane Mary Cox for 3 years. It was a 144 acre cane and dairying farm.


After the establishment of the Yamba Surf Life Saving Club on 09 September 1908, the first surf club outside metropolitan Sydney, the Makinsons became keen members. Philip was appointed to the inaugural general committee. In October, he successfully tendered for the construction of the ladies and gents dressing sheds on Yamba Beach (which were replaced in 1913) as well as on Turners Beach. President Edward Cox went to Sydney to inspect the surf reels, lines and buoys used by Coogee and Bondi Clubs and brought back specification so member, Philip Makinson, could construct two reels and surf belts. One was placed on the breakwater and the other on Anderson’s (Yamba) Beach, with lines and buoys.


One of the reels and a belt are stored at Schaeffer House, Grafton.  View gallery above for Surf Club shed and dressing sheds erected by Edward Cox in 1913 picture and an image of Frank Allison in front of the 1913 surf club shed about 1928 after the shark tower and verandah were added. He is standing in front of the reel made by Philip Makinson.

Following a visit in early 1909 by Mr Williams, examiner for the Royal Life Saving Society, to hold examinations in the valley, Proficiency Certificates were awarded to Clarrie S Redman, Walter J Freeburn, Cuthbert Giles "Giles" Makinson, Clarrie C Freeburn, Philip Ronald "Ronald" Makinson, Hilary Cooper "Cooper" Makinson, and George JT Lowe. They were put through rescue and relief methods on land and in the water.


On 25 May 1910, Bronze medallions were presented to Philip Ronald and Cuthbert Giles Makinson after they passed the Royal Life Saving Society of NSW examinations at Yamba Surf Club. In August, Gilbert Cooper Makinson of Yamba Surf Club was awarded an honorary Instructor’s Certificate.


PJ Makinson advertised a clearing sale on 30 May 1916 at the old Wooli Hotel of furniture and sundry  were reportedly leaving the district. DEX of 03 June 1916 reports that “Mr and Mrs Makinson and family are leaving the district and intend touring before settling down again”. However, it was reported in the 09 January 1917 DEX  that Corporal Hilary Cooper (known as "Cooper") Makinson spent his final leave with his parents at Yamba. There are newspaper entries for Philip and Fanny at Yamba up to 1920 but they are not on the Cowper Electoral Roll after 1908 except for 1919.


During WW1, Fanny E Makinson was heavily involved with the war effort and in particular Yamba Red Cross of which she was appointed Secretary.  Philip John Makinson died at Manly Private Hospital on 10 July 1921, aged 61 years and was buried at Manly Cemetery.

The following obituary appeared in the 21 November 1933 Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer:  “Mrs. Fanny Makinson, who died at Chatswood recently, was a great granddaughter of Gregory Blaxland explorer, and a daughter of Charles Blaxland of Cleeves, Ryde, where she was born in 1863. In 1888 [sic 1887?] she married Mr. Philip J. Makinson. Their home was in Moree and Grafton for many years and later at Ryde. There were three sons and one daughter. One son Mr. Hilary Cooper Makinson, died of wounds in 1918.”

John McNamara

Research Officer

Port of Yamba Historical Society

November 2023



Where Fanny was buried in 1933.

Where Philip Ronald was buried in 1978

Death date for Clare Russell “Nan” probably after 1978 – Gillian may know?

Why the Makinsons are not listed in the Cowper Electoral Roll for 1909 to 1919 even though they are mentioned numerous times in the local newspapers.

There are no known photos of the dressing sheds Philip built on Yamba and Turners Beaches in 1908. The only photos are from 1913 when Edward Cox replaced the dressing sheds and also built a club house.

Unsure if Philip was employed by the PWD in Yamba as the breakwater works were completed by the time he arrived. Perhaps he took up farming at Romiaka Island instead.

Celebrating Surfing - Angourie, Yamba

Click on the gallery to see more images

A team of volunteers - Jude McBean, Fay Brown, Warrwick Hoad , Mark Maunsell, Susan Ong and Gai Pritchett are busily working on a new exhibition 'Celebrating Surf - Angourie, Yamba' which will be part of the Plunge 2024 program, opening Saturday 30th March.  Save the date ...


Click on an image to see more pictures from the opening night


Art Enthusiasts were not disappointed with the works Graham Mackie and fellow artist Linda Westmoreland exhibited at their exhibition from 20th October to 19th November.  Titled 'The Surreal Feel' works were inspired by the great surrealist artists, i.e. Salvador Dahli.  The opening night was lots of fun with Graham Mackie, Linda and Graham Westmoreland encouraging friends to wear Salvador Dahli face masks and dress up in the theme of the occasion.

Surrealism is a cultural movement that developed in Europe in the aftermath of World War 1 in which depicted unnerving, illogical scenes and developed techniques to allow the unconscious mind to express itself.  It's aim, according to Andre Breton, was to "resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality into an absolute reality, a super reality."  It produced works of painting, writing, theatre, filmmaking, photography and other media. 

This subject matter was certainly a challenge for both artists, but Linda and Graham most definitely delivered!  Clarence MC Ritchie Williamson wasn't going to miss officially opening this Exhibition by his mate 'Mackie'.

Raffle winners on the night were C. Loom, Will ?, Honey Clarke and Liz Griffith, congratulations to all.

A MUST SEE exhibition!

Confronting, statistical, creative.

Myra wants to get the message out, especially to young drivers, about thinking when behind the wheel and the consequences of bad decisions.


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Woman and two girls on Yamba Beach. Picnic shelter in the background above Craigmore Rocks.

Photograph donated by Vi Irvinne in 1984

1920 Swimmers

Mystery Item

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Remember when these were a thing !

What are they?


Our collection piece above is missing several items. The image below shows a the complete set ..  

Mystery Item Revealed


Samuel Clarke’s Patent Pyramid Food Warmer and Night Light.


Slogan: ‘When nights are dark then think of Clarke/ Who’s hit the mark precisely./ For his Night-Lights create Light-Nights/ in which you see quite nicely.’

This device could be used to heat a pint of milk, keep food warm or to prepare pap. Flour or bread was mixed with milk diluted with water to make pap, which could be used to wean infants off breast milk. It was used in the nursery for boiling milk (to kill bacteria), keeping food warm or preparing pap. The metal jug was filled with hot water and the ceramic pannikin was placed inside it. The jug was then placed in the stand. To provide heat a lit candle or a tea-light was placed underneath. The device was trade marked by Samuel Clarke as a ‘Pyramid’ food warmer as the different parts stack up like a pyramid.

The jug would have a small metal stand (missing from this object), holding a night light, which heated it from below. Patented by Samuel Clarke, Cricklewood, London, England.

Canadian Museum of Civilization exhibit: "Caring Profession"; Sept. 2006

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What's on ...


Fri 8 Christmas Party - Wobbly Chook - 12 - 12.30pm

Museum closes from Thursday 21st December.


Museum re-opens 2nd January

Sat 6- Sun 28 Caroline Varendorff Art Exhibition

Wed 31st Executive meeting 3pm.


Mon 5 Committee meeting  - 9.30am

Wed 14 Coach Tour x 2

Friday 23 - Sun 24 March ... Myra James Art Exhibition - on Road Safety.

Wed 28 Executive meeting - 3pm


Mon 4- Committee Meeting 9:30

Fri 29 - Good Friday

Sat 330 - Surf Exhibit Opening

Save the Date

Christmas Party at The Wobbly Chook

12 noon, 8 December 2023

Bookings required contact Anne to RSVP

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