“Nice? It’s the only thing,” said the Water Rat solemnly as he leant forward for his stroke. “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”
from The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
One of my happiest memories of the few years I had with my father was our fishing trip to Sussex Inlet. Waving goodbye to my long suffering mother we drove down Macquarie Pass in the truck, singing “Gone Fishin’” all the way.
Our accommodation was a cut above the basic hotels where we usually stayed. It was a guest house called Heimdall spread out along the waterfront on beautiful Sussex Inlet. The gardens were filled with exotic trees and the octagonal dining room looked out across the water to another famous guest house, Christian’s Minde.
My father hired a motor boat and fishing equipment. We motored towards the sea past magnificent sandhills which I loved to climb and roll down. Then we turned around and headed towards the entrance of St George’s Basin. The colour of the water was unbelievable with the clean yellow sand below the clear water. I caught the first fish of my life, a leatherjacket and learned how to take it off the hook.
So began my love of boats and Sussex Inlet. As an adult I have returned many times. Alas, the guest house had gone and has been replaced by an RSL Club. Development has changed the town but not too much. It is still a great place to launch your boat and go fishing, swimming, sailing, paddling or pedalling.
I was interested to discover that Heimdall belonged to the same family as Christian’s Minde so I have written a very abbreviated history of the family based on information provided by the Sussex Inlet Computer Club.
The oldest existing building in the Sussex Inlet district is the Christian’s Minde complex located on the north shore of the Inlet.In 1880 Jacob Ellmoos, a seaman from Denmark, was granted a selection of 1200 acres in an unspoilt fisherman’s paradise. He enthusiastically invited his parents and siblings in Denmark to join him. Despite hardship and family tragedies, a guest house was opened in 1890, the only one between Port Hacking and Twofold Bay. The home was given the Danish name of Christian’s Minde meaning “To the memory of Christian”, the name of both Jacob’s father and his late brother, during a traditional Danish wreath-laying ceremony.
In 1915 the Commonwealth took over the Inlet and part of the land bordering St Georges Basin as a part of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Jacob was compensated by the government and bought land on the southern bank. On a part of this site, he established another famous guest house Heimdall which he and his family controlled until the site was purchased by the Sussex Inlet RSL Club.
Christian’s Minde is currently being renovated but a small house in the complex can be rented for a short holiday break.