The last camper in Hobbs Corner for the summer of 2017/18 has pleaded for Tathra’s ‘unspoilt’ character and environment to be protected as he adds his own chapter to Tathra’s history.
This has been Stuart Howard’s eighteenth summer camping just across the road from Tathra Beach.
“I just love the place, it’s a bit more laid back than Merimbula,” Stuart laughs.
Campers start to arrive at Hobbs Corner in the week leading up to Christmas. By Boxing Day its 32 grassy sites are usually full.
Having campers in Hobbs Corner says summer holidays are here, in the same way that cricket on the radio does or cicadas calling at dusk.
Tathra’s more formal campgrounds are usually enough to cope with the town’s flow of visitors, but during the summer school holidays, the extra spaces at Hobbs Corner are called in to play.
Stuart was determined to be the last to leave this year, that happened last week. In the same way that campers arriving at Hobbs Corner says “holidays”, campers packing up says “back to work”.
Slowly folding away his tarps, tents, and camp kitchen, Stuart speaks of the friendships renewed and extended over the previous three weeks.
“Three other families come up from Victoria and we camp together, this is where I met them,” Stuart says.
“You end up knowing everyone, and you watch everyone’s kids grow-up, mine included. My bloke is 16 now, he first came here when he was three months old.”
People have been coming to Hobbs Corner to holiday since the early 1900’s. A “good road” constructed to access the steamers at Tathra Wharf meant that getting to Tathra Beach was easier than most.
According to long-term locals Ron and Doreen Stafford, Hobbs Corner was named after Bemboka shopkeeper Nick Hobbs.
“He used to set up there [Tathra] each Christmas, just on the left at the bottom of Beach Hill,” Ron remembers.
“And he built a wood-fired oven at his campsite, probably illegal but he got away with it.”
Ron and Doreen remember Nick Hobbs as a “likeable character”.
“He would have been the mayor of Bemboka if Bemboka had a Mayor,” Ron chuckles.
When his son Jack took over the business, Nick bought a house in Tathra, “He never had to camp again,” Ron says.
Local historian Jim Kelly adds to the story.
“The little house on the beach, just south of the surf club, used to be a little grocery store in summer for campers,” Jim says.
“And Mrs Caddy would set up a small hut and sell billy cans of hot water for threepence. She also sold ice creams from a canvas ice bag for as long as the ice lasted.”
Stuart is back at work this week as a plumbing and gas inspector with the ACT Department of Environment and Sustainability, but his history with Hobbs Corner looks set to continue next summer.
“We’ll bring the boat next year,” he says.
“But please, don’t wreck this place, just leave it the way it is.
“Sensible development please, it’s such a great place, it would be a shame to see it wrecked and over commercialised,” Stuart pleads.
Hobbs Corner will fill up again at Easter. In the meantime, Tathra’s population of kangaroos will have control, part of the unspoilt charm Stuart points to.
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