One of the reasons for my visit to Cooma is that my parents came from there. Mum was born in Bega, but grew up in Cooma. Dad was born at Berridale, a small village on the way from Cooma to Jindabyne. They were married in Cooma in 1946 and lived on the family property at Berridale until 1959.
I visited Cooma a lot as a child but hadn’t been there for over 25 years. I found the town had not really changed much in recent years. We did a bit of a drive around the town with me pointing out places I remembered to the kids. I also visited the cemetery where my maternal grandparents are buried.
But it was really Berridale that I wanted to visit most. When I was growing up I heard lots of stories from my Dad about the property he grew up on and the old stone house that he lived in. My mother and my sisters both claimed it was haunted.
The property which used to be called ‘Bush Hall’ has not been in our family since the late 1950’s so I have never been there. I had however seen numerous photos so I was able to recognise it from the road. Unfortunately it has fallen into a bad state of repair. There are holes in the roof and the front verandah has fallen off. Even in it’s current condition it is still possible to see that it was once a beautiful home.
Our next stop was the cemetery at Berridale known by it’s original name of Gegedzerick Gegedzerick is believed to be the Aboriginal name for the area. Some headstones date back to 1842 and many of them are relatives including my paternal grandmother and an uncle who died at the age of 13. There is also a memorial plaque there for William and Catherine Fraser, my paternal great-great-great Grandparents.
The small but beautiful St Mary the Virgin Anglican Church is also situated within the cemetary. Originally built in 1860 it is still in use today. It is made of granite rock in a similar manner to my Dad’s old home. I was quite surprised to find that it was not locked so I was able to look inside.
I have done some research on our family history and this visit helped tie names and relationships in together. Many of the people buried here are just names as I was born after they died, but visiting the cemetary somehow made them a bit more real.
Apart from that it is fascinating looking at the names and dates that are now so old now. The tiny church is beautiful and has an amazing view out over the valley. So for me it was a very worthwhile stop.