Pig Island was given its title by the Geographical Names Board in 1969, however some older residents still call it by its previous name, Burraga Island.
Judge Alfred McFarland wrote in his 1872 book – Illawarra and Manaro [sic]: Districts of New South Wales – that a farmer from the mainland released his pigs there in the hope they would breed and multiply.
Sadly, they all perished after they were poisoned by ticks.
Given the location, it is no surprise the island has changed in shape and size over the years.
According to the original land grant, it was 103 acres at the high water mark, but by 1970 it had increased to about 300 acres.
An 1827 map believed to have been drawn by Alexander Berry, indicates it was his property which was joined to the southern bank of the river.
It was occupied by one of Berry’s employees, Thomas Hall, who came from the same part of Scotland and arrived in Australia in 1836, the same year as Berry’s siblings.
Mr Hall was manager of the Numbaa portion of the property until his death in 1869, but his son Peter continued to work on the estate.
The island was linked to the mainland by a ferry in the middle of the nineteenth century, an era when Dr George Underwood Alley lived there.
After seeing his home washed away in the 1860 flood, he relocated to Araluen, while other generations of the Alley family settled at Sassafras.
Originally part of the Berry Municipality, Burraga Island became the responsibility of Cambewarra Shire in 1908.
Nowra Council was however, involved when it came to connecting the electricity in 1933.
After being a sleepy farming area for some years with the agistment of cattle being its major activity, a proposal was put forward in 1972 to transform it in to an international resort, accessible by a bridge from Terara.
The design involved an 18-hole golf course and marina, which was estimated to cost $750,000, with river cruises organised for the influx of visitors.
The development included camping and picnic areas, wildlife refuge, medium density villa-style housing, swimming pools, shopping centre and medical clinic.
The big feature, however, was a six to eight story country club development.
Shoalhaven Shire Council gave the multi-million dollar development “approval in principle” in August 1974.
Concerns were abundant, including the recurrence of floods similar to those of a century earlier. Eventually the plan was abandoned.
- The information in this article was kindly provided by the Shoalhaven Historical Society.