One of the area's best known landmarks is set to celebrate a major milestone.
The Pyree Literary Institute and Pyree Hall, will celebrate their 125th birthday on Saturday, September 21.
A special celebratory dinner is being held at the Pyree Hall to mark the occasion.
In preparation, hall committee members have been gathering various artifacts, memorabilia and reports and stories on the hall's use over the years.
And there has been some great stories, and historical happenings, like how legendary Aussie rockers Cold Chisel practiced at the hall prior to one of its early tours.
Did you know that an Australian boxing champion has originated out of Pyree Hall?
This is one of the great stories local historian Robyn Florance OAM has come across during her many years of researching the Shoalhaven area.
Hughie Dwyer, who was a ward of the state at the age of 51/2 years, blossomed from the cow bails of Numbaa to become the undefeated Light, Welter and Middleweight Boxing Champion of Australia.
Hughie was born June 4, 1898 at Rose Valley, Gunnedah the sixth child of Richard and Margaret Dwyer, nee Maher.
From Numbaa to Australian Lightweight, Middleweight, Welterweight champion - Hughie Dwyer's amazing journey
His father had died in his late 40s from pneumonia several weeks prior to Hughie's birth.
His older siblings were Mary (1887), Matthew (1890), Winifred (1892), Richard (1893), and Marcella (1895).
Hughie was christened Eugene St. Clair Dwyer.
His mother remarried Patrick O'Driscoll on October 7, 1899 and she gave birth to another child Patrick in 1902 but he died within a year of birth.
Her health failed and she rapidly declined.
Faced with so many children, O'Driscoll refused to maintain his wife and excused himself from responsibility for all the family's care.
Margaret was placed in Tamworth Jail "under observation", obviously physically and emotionally depleted.
Hughie was told his mother had died and his early life's sadness then began.
On November 1, 1903 Hughie became a ward of the state and found himself shunted between different homes around country NSW.
His longest stay was at Horseshoe Bend, Branxton, West Maitland, where he stayed from December 29, 1905 until December 20, 1910.
Perhaps his worst experience was at Hillside between January 6 and May 4, 1911 where the 12-year-old encountered a malevolent farmer who treated him like a slave, locking him up at night with two hessian bags to sleep on and subjecting him to bashings.
On one occasion the farmer pinched his ear so hard that a piece of it fell off.
On July 29, 1911 Hughie was fostered to Jack L. Murphy of Lower Numbaa, a dairy farmer, who took an instant liking to the boy now developing into a young man.
They got on well and after many years of sadness and sorrow, Hughie's life took a turn for the better, at least he was being treated humanely.
He was now a farm hand (a cow cocky's apprentice) and a pupil at Numbaa Public School.
Much above average in aptitude and intelligence, but light for a boy of his age, Hughie started to take an interest in the boxing craft and made a hobby of reading the press reports of boxing matches.
He was captivated by one of the advertisements published by Reg "Snowy" Baker and with another neighbourhood lad, Jack Hurdis, invested in a postal course and received an instruction book on boxing.
He graduated to the gymnasium at the Pyree Literary Institute/School of Arts, where he engaged in many friendly "willing" bouts with Edgar Bush, Jack Lamond and other lads of his age.
Soon he was immersed in the theories of right, left, uppercuts and the rest but he had no equipment.
He and some friends built a big, heavy boxing bag and made boxing mittens stuffed with seaweed and straw.
Hughie later recalled: "We stuck the illustrations on the walls of the dairy and studied and practised the moves at night by lantern light.
"We had no money to buy gloves so fashioned them out of small calico rice bags stuffed with dried seaweed which we collected from the Shoalhaven River.
"After a while the seaweed would shift, and we were boxing almost with bare knuckles.
"We practised for hour upon hour until we worked the moves automatically".
Later he graduated to the gymnasium at the Pyree Literary Institute/School of Arts, where he engaged in many friendly "willing" bouts with Edgar Bush, Jack Lamond and other lads of his age.
A number of lads at Lower Numbaa have taken a course of postal instruction in the noble art from "Snowy" Baker, and it is said that a boxing contest for the local championship will shortly take place in the Pyree School of Arts.
Hughie quickly asserted himself and qualified to fight for the championship of the district.
In came the first challenge from one Jack Lamond, a horseman, who scaled 10.7 without the saddle and spurs.
The honour to be fought was the district any weight championship, and Messrs. Dwyer and Hurdis increased their preparations.
The bout took place in the back room of the Pyree Literary Institute in 1914.
Come the night of the fight and before setting out on a five-mile walk to the battlefield Hughie fortified himself with a terrible meal of corned beef and carrots.
He did not know fighters ate nothing, or at most very sparingly before combat. He learned about that on the way home.
This was Hughie's first boxing contest; he was 16 years of age.
There was very little between the boxers save some shreds of flying horsehair from the venerable gloves.
Suddenly there came to Hughie the inspiration of Milburn Saylor, an American fighter, who was an exponent of the magic rabbit punch.
Hughie delivered it. No rabbit was punched so hard as Lamond.
He dropped like a log, but far more silently. Hughie threw out his chest in triumph.
One of Lamond's supporters shouting that the rabbit punch was barred, caught the new champion of the Cow Country unawares, hit him neatly on the chin and Hughie fell beside the fallen Lamond.
After that, there was a donnybrook, greatly to the impairment of the School of Arts. Lamond and Dwyer recovered, and they boxed on.
The referee, fearing the Lamond faction's ebullience, gave it a draw.
Honour was satisfied, but Hughie was virtually champion of the Cow Country for his title was not thereafter disputed.
After the bout, Hughie and Hurdis began their five-mile walk home and it was then that the corned beef and carrots had their way.
Next day Hughie had to be up at 5am to do the milking and plant potatoes.
"I couldn't see out of my eyes," he recalled.
"My neck was so jarred I could turn it neither right nor left."
Having completed his apprenticeship on February 29, 1915 and no longer a ward of the state, Hughie endeavoured to join the A.I.F. but was rejected due to his deficient chest measurement.
His friends, Jack Hurdis and Edgard Bush enlisted as did his brothers Richard and Matthew.
Jack Hurdis was killed at Fromelles in July 1916; Richard Dwyer was killed on the Somme in France 1916.
During 1915 when Hughie was 17 years of age, he left the country for the city and spent some time having lessons from Larry Gaffney, a well-known boxing teacher, who was very impressed with Hughie.
In June 1916 Jack Munro was the matchmaker at Sydney Stadium and organised Pat Humphries and Hughie's next opponent.
This was Hughie's second fight, but his first professional fight at Sydney Stadium.
From 59 bouts he won 37 (KO 12), lost 13 (KO 4) and drew 8 and won one Newspaper Decision.
In November 1916 Hughie went to the rooms of Dave Smith, Sydney's well-known exponent and teacher of boxing, for a few lessons and he showed such aptitude that Professor Smith engaged him to assist in his work of teaching boxing in the state schools.
He next secured the position of boxing instructor to the boys on the training ship "Tingara" at £5 per week.
A boxing tour of New Zealand followed.
This tour was the beginning of Hughie's success as a boxer.
The climate so improved his physique that before he left the Dominion, although only still about nine stone in weight, he had defeated all weights that came along.
Young Hughie found the tour a great financial success and returning to Australia was at once in the boom; win after win came his way at the Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane Stadiums.
Being a sturdy and clean-living lad, and intelligent enough to be his own manager, he found himself, after defeating Sid Godfrey (47-16-8) for the lightweight championship at the Sydney Stadium in 1922, before 12,000 people, beyond the reach of any financial worries.
In 1923 he ventured to the United States and England on a 12-month trip with a number of fights booked ahead.
Unfortunately, in his first fight he received an injury to his hand, which eventually caused the cancellation of his engagements.
In that fight with Jole McCabe he obtained the decision, but was not successful against another opponent a week later. And he did fight at the famous Madison Square Garden.
From America he journeyed to England, where he was matched to meet Ernie Bice, but acting under medical instructions, he bad to cancel the fight, owing to his hand injuries.
Hughie Dwyer was 171cm (5 71/2) and weighed 61.23 kg (135 lb), with a reach of 178cm (70).
He lost an Australian Lightweight title clash to Billy Grime (47-13-3) at the Brisbane Stadium on a points decision on November 1, 1924, but regrouped to win the title back in a points decision over Grime just two weeks later also in Brisbane.
He won the Australian Middleweight Title on April 2, 1927 over Billy Edwards (22-8-0) again in Brisbane after his opponent was disqualified.
Dwyer lost an Australian Welterweight Title bout against Eddie Young Butcher (34-13-3) also in Brisbane on May 2, 1927.
He claimed the Australin Middleweight Title with a points decision win over Frank Burns (24-19-4) on September 3, 1927 at Brisbane.
And added the Australian Welterweight Title to his collection on November 1, 1927 when Al Bourke (16-1-1) was disqualified at the Leichhardt Stadium in Sydney.
(Stats - Boxing in Australia By Grantlee Kieza)
From 59 bouts he won 37 (KO 12), lost 13 (KO 4) and drew 8 and won one Newspaper Decision (Where the sportswriters covering the fight, after reaching a consensus, would declare a winner - or render the bout a draw - and print the newspaper decision in their publications).
He later gave boxing lessons to a young Tony Madigan while he attended Waverley College in Sydney.
Madigan went on to be a three-time Olympian, Helsinki (1952), Melbourne (1956) and Rome (1960), and fought the great Muhammad Ali twice including in the Rome semi-finals when then known as Cassius Clay, and had the distinction of giving the ultimate gold medallist (Clay) his toughest bout of the Games.
Hughie Dwyer was inducted into the NSW "Hall of Champions" on October 26, 1979 and into the Australian National "Boxing Hall of Fame" on October 23, 2004.
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