The mystery of where Nowra’s first Catholic Church chapel was located is still no closer to being solved, reports The South Coast Register.
However, Bill Hancock, the author of a recently published book, The Shoalhaven Catholic Quarter, believes he may have found the site of the church on the NSW south coast.
His book tells story of the early part of the development of the Nowra township including the creation of a Catholic church in the area.
In a scene almost out of an Indiana Jones movie, Mr Hancock was joined by fellow members of the Shoalhaven Historical Society, St Michael’s Parish Priest Father Pat Faherty and a heritage geology consultant for a trek into Ben’s Walk to a location that he believed may have been the chapel’s site.
Mr Hancock has been on the case since unearthing some interesting facts for his book. Prior to the local Catholic church on North Street, which was officially opened in September 1877, there were two chapels, the first a wooden structure, constructed in 1846 opposite the present site, also on North Street, where the playground and car park is located.
But Mr Hancock believes an earlier Catholic chapel was established in the Shoalhaven, down on the banks of the Shoalhaven River near Ben’s Walk between 1839 and the building of the wooden chapel in 1846. With the Catholic Parish of Nowra celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, Mr Hancock is more determined than ever to possibly locate that original site.