Beilby's Beach at Nambucca Heads is located on the south side of the bluffs and is the secluded northern extension of Shelly Beach. It is just south of Main Beach.
George Henry Beilby was the son of immigrants Richard and Jane Beilby from Yorkshire in England. They arrived on the ship the Sir Edward Paget in 1842.
It is not known what attracted them to the colony, but they joined the swell of migrants who arrived in 1841, known as the "greatest flood of immigrants before the gold rush".
They brought four children with them. George was their third subsequent child born in the colony in 1847. His birth was registered at Willoughby, a suburb of Sydney. His father's trade was that of a carpenter which would have made him much in demand in the skill-starved town.
When George grew up, he must have chosen to travel as he married Catherine Wilson in Queensland in 1871. They had two sons in Queensland and five on the Macleay. By 1885 they were on the Nambucca where they had two more children, a son in 1885 and a daughter in 1894.
George was employed as Pilot Boatman assisting Pilot Whaites. A pilot takes the place of the ship's captain when arriving or leaving a port, due to his knowledge of local conditions.
In the infant town of Nambucca Heads, the Pilot and his crew held vital roles. Ships could arrive daily and the pilot's duty was to ensure safe navigation of the ship to the shore. This required not only local knowledge of currents, depths, swells and tides but in the instance of Nambucca Heads, the notorious sand bars.
The Pilot boat would meet a ship as it approached shallow waters. The pilot would then board the ship by climbing a ladder, which could be a hazardous task especially in heavy seas. It is some indication of a pilot's importance that in the modern day USA, a pilot's wage can reach half a million US dollars a year.
The Pilot and his crew were also said to have a medical role whilst transporting the sick and injured and in the case of shipwrecks.
George Beilby was likely a boatman on the Macleay and in Queensland before his arrival at Nambucca Heads. At the time the cedar trade was leading the growth of the area, with there being four busy sawmills requiring sea transport to the Sydney markets.
The Beilbys lived on a reserve near Pilot Hill not far from the pioneer cemetery above Shelly Beach. The creek and beach near the house site became known as Beilby's Beach and Creek. The reserve was for a short time used as part of the first golf course.
Beilby's Beach is known for the location of the tragedy that occurred there when the schooner, the Slippery Charlie, was wrecked in 1866. The ship's rudder stem broke in an easterly gale and she was soon at the mercy of the waves being pounded to pieces on the rocks.
Only one person survived and spent the night exhausted on the beach before walking over the hills to the settlement. Five bodies came ashore. A woman and child were buried north of Beilby's Creek and the men to the south. It was reported that 11 to 17 lives were lost in all.
A photo of Pilot Whaites, his crew and their families shows the men as being distinctively seamen of the day with Whaites and Beilby having full beards and the bearing of naval officers. Included in the photo are their wives and children.
They look like a friendly social group with Valla pioneer Marmaduke England's daughter included. A newspaper report of the time cites Nambucca Heads as being "the liveliest town in the district".
Tragedy was to strike the Beilbys with the death of their last born child Rita at the age of six in 1900. The death of Catherine from cancer soon followed in 1902. George lived on without his wife for another 36 years dying at the age of 91 in 1938. At that time he was living in Port Macquarie.
This story was resourced from the records of the Nambucca Headland Museum and the Beilby family ancestry records.