Latitude -36.301691, Longitude 150.133544
Located in the Eurobodalla Region of NSW, nearest town Narooma
On 10 October 1880, at a bay near Bermagui in NSW, five men vanished in what became one of Australia's most baffling sea mysteries. Within a few hours of their reported disappearance an intensive search commenced, and continued for many months, but no trace of the men, or any clues to the mystery of their disappearance were ever found.
In 1880, gold was discovered at a site in NSW called Montreal (see Montreal Goldfield elsewhere on this site) near Bermagui. The Mines Department sent Lamont Young, one of its geologists, to inspect and report on the find. He was accompanied by a German friend, Louis Schneider, a botanist.
After arriving at Batemans Bay by steamer, Lamont secured a boat and a crew of three to row them to the Montreal Goldfield. The crew included the boat's owner, Thomas Towers of Batemans Bay, and two of Towers' friends: William Lloyd and Samuel Casey. However rather than going directly to the Montreal Goldfield, Young apparently changed his plans: after 4 pm on the Saturday of his arrival, he was never seen again. At about 7am on the Sunday morning, his rowing boat, a green eight-metre vessel, was seen by several residents leaving Bermagui and others noticed it as it moved slowly north along the coast.
At about 4pm that afternoon, a man riding along the coast found the boat on the rocks known locally as Mutton Fish Point, about fifteen kilometres north of Montreal, but there was no trace of any of the men who had left that morning.
Police, who hurried to the scene and examined the boat, noted that it had been carefully steered through about 70 metres of jagged rocks. There were four large holes in the hull but the planking had been stove out, not in. On the seats were bait, a pocket knife, pipe and tobacco, crumbs and other food. There was also a bag of potatoes and a bag of mixed personal articles like clothing, bedding, tools and sundries. The anchor and stern lines were missing but some large stones had been placed in the boat. Scattered on the beach nearby were a pipe, sheath knife, an axe and shovel. Other items which may have been linked to the mystery were three mother-of-pearl studs, a portion of a meal and three cigar butts. Young, Schneider and the three boatmen were not at Bermagui and were never heard of again despite subsequent searches, rewards, government inquiries and wide media coverage.
The name 'Mystery Bay' is the result of this bizarre event and a memorial at Mystery Bay was unveiled on 10 October 1980 on the centenary of the incident.
Of particular geological interest are the sedimentary rocks of Mystery Bay: chert, black mudstone and slate of the Ordovician period, nearly 500 million years old. The outcrops lie in what is called (in geological terms) a kink zone, which means they've been subjected to great pressure during the movement of tectonic plates. A feature called foliation (parallel alignment of the textural and structural features of a rock), formed during rock movement at high pressure, enabling further deformation, is apparent in the kinks and breaks in the angular brittle rocks, making these rocks look as if they could have been pieced together one by one. Kink zones are common, but are particularly well presented in this area of Eurobodalla's coastline.
Mystery Bay is 15km south of Narooma, and 70km south of Batemans Bay. It is a short 2km from the Princes Highway. From the highway turn left on to Mystery Bay Road and follow it into Mystery Bay. The car park opposite Lamont Young Drive as you come into Mystery Bay (where you will find a memorial plaque to the lost geologist and his party) is a good place to access the display of kink zone rocks that lie at the northern end of the beach. There are toilets at the basic camp ground site on the left as you come into Mystery Bay. There is car parking available at both the northern and southern end of the beach.