An extensive search, including ground radar and excavation equipment, has failed to find a time capsule buried near the Captain Cook Bicentennial Memorial, on the southern bank of the Shoalhaven River.
The memorial arch, which was built in Moorhouse Park and officially opened in September 1971 to mark 200 years since Captain Cook landed in Botany Bay, was also home to a historic floodboat.
Part of the official opening in 1971 included the placing of a time capsule near the structure.
The structure has had to make way for the new $342 million Nowra bridge crossing of the Shoalhaven River.
The arch was demolished in early June with Transport for NSW attempting to find the capsule and return it to Shoalhaven City Council and the Shoalhaven Historical Society.
Unfortunately, despite an extensive search no trace of the time capsule could be found.
A Transport for NSW spokesperson said a search was carried out using ground radar and excavation equipment at multiple locations near the memorial but no time capsule was found.
"Engineers conducted an assessment of the arch and it wasn't able to be moved to another site," the spokesperson said.
"An assessment of the Captain Cook Memorial concrete arch indicated it couldn't be relocated during work to build the new Nowra bridge due to the construction type and size of the structure, and had to be be removed."
However, Transport for NSW did carry out an archival recording to document the details of the structure.
Shoalhaven Historical Society president Lynne Allen said it was disappointing the time capsule wasn't located.
"It's sad and also very puzzling the time capsule couldn't be found as there is no record of it being removed at any stage," she said.
"Very strange and very disappointing."
Local historian and former South Coast Register journalist Alan Clark, in writing for one of his many publications has compiled the following -
THE NAMING OF MOORHOUSE PARK
With the start of preliminary works for the next bridge over the Shoalhaven River, Moorhouse Park has disappeared from the Nowra landscape, after 56 years at the southern approach to the original bridge.
The park was named by Shoalhaven Shire Council in February 1964, honouring Frank Moorhouse who was then the district governor of Rotary District 275.
The announcement was made by the Shire President, Clr Bruce McIntosh during a function which saw the official opening of the Rotary conference that attracted nearly 1000 delegates from the southern suburbs of Sydney to the Victorian border and across to Canberra.
The Shoalhaven News reported on the honour for "one of Nowra's outstanding leaders in community affairs".
Council's motion approving the name had been kept a secret - even from the Moorhouse family.
Measuring 200 by 400 feet, Moorhouse Park fronted the Princes Highway outside the Riverhaven Motel.
"I'm overcome," said the New Zealand-born Mr Moorhouse who had been a Rotarian since the inception of the Nowra club.
"I am indeed proud, and hope I can remain worthy of the honour you do me," he added.
His son Arthur recently revealed that Frank (who died in 1994) had been proud to have the park named in his honour and on occasions would take visitors to see it.
Arthur had been kept informed of the levelling of the area, and had been given the discarded sign.
However he does not intend to let the Moorhouse Park name disappear into history.
Given that Frank was the foundation secretary of the Rotary Club of Nowra in 1934 and became president four years later, that body would push for a plaque - at least - to mark the site.
However one mystery remains about the park:
What happened to the time capsule that was placed in a concrete column during the dedication of the Captain Cook Bicentennial Memorial in September 1971?
Shire president, Dr Bill Ryan performed that ceremony, as shown in the front page photograph of the September 15 edition of the South Coast Register.
The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment website reveals that the capsule contained a copy of the Register, the latest Chronograph produced by Shoalhaven Historical Society, along with the 1970 Rates Bulletin, a set of local postcards, a Captain Cook Bicentennial Medallion and a map of the Shoalhaven Shire.