The House That Jack Found

Convict-Made Bricks from Murramarang Point

Kangaroos may have grazed on the sandy dunes and seabirds soared overhead on the day in 1967 when Jack Thompson (1908-1996) explored the Murramarang Point headland, between Ulladulla and Batemans Bay.

While strolling, he came across the remains of roughly-made slab huts – the timber parts having long disappeared. Curious, Jack picked up these bricks and took them, along with some shards of broken tableware and a shiny button from a 20th Regiment soldier’s uniform, back to his ever-expanding local museum.

English-born but Sydney-bred, Jack was a newcomer to the NSW South Coast, having only settled there in 1955. His passion for knowledge drew him to Murramarang headland many times. The area was first occupied by the Budawang people around 20,000 years ago, indicated by remnants of stone tools, bone points, shell fishing hooks, and animal bones. 

Historical documents reveal that in 1828 Sydney Stephen and William Turney Morris were granted parcels of land on the headland. Twenty assigned convict servants with skills and trades were put to work, likely making the sandstock bricks themselves. When the property was offered for sale in 1838, the inventory listed the main brick cottage, several other outhouses and stores, and eight simple huts for the convicts.

The structures, most likely built from slabs of timber with brick fireplaces and chimneys, were the area’s first settler buildings. A history Jack would stumble upon decades later.