Kangaroo Valley history

The Valley features frequently in the Mission reports of the Shoalhaven, one of the earliest having been in 1863. Reference is also made to people from the Valley journeying to the Shoalhaven for Confirmation, or just to greet the Archbishop as he visited the region.


The original Mclnerney home in Kangaroo Valley.

One of the earliest Catholic families to settle in Kangaroo Valley was the Mclnerney family. Mick McInerney was born in Tulla, Co. Clare (Ireland) in 1839, he married Mary Anne Murphy at Kangaroo Valley in 1860 and of course settled in the Valley, where they raised their family. The family’s association with St Michael’s Nowra, and St Joseph’s Kangaroo Valley extended over 130 years. The last direct link with this truly pioneer Catholic family in the Valley was broken in the early 1980’s with the death of Tom McInerney in his late eighties. Other families who have had a long and valued association with the Church in Kangaroo Valley include, L’Estrange, Ettingshausen, McRea, Condon, Walsh, Garratty, Gerrey and Nelson.

In earlier days the Nowra clergy welcomed the leisurely week-end stay-over at the little presbytery adjacent to the Valley Church. Long before the advent of TV they enjoyed ‘a game of cards’, and the warm hospitality of the people in ‘the Valley’. During the days of Fr Bernard Sheridan 1910-1918, Frank Rouen of Nowra who was his ‘Pilgrim altar boy’ recalls the 15 mile ‘sprint’ via Cambewarra Mountain to Kangaroo Valley for 11am Mass. In an era of rather rigorous ‘Eucharistic fast’ that meant that for many, including the clergy, the fast extended from the previous midnight into the Sunday afternoon.

St Joseph’s Church | Kangaroo Valley (1888)

Opened in 1888 St Joseph’s is a pleasantly proportioned Gothic Revival Church. It seems to have been influenced by St Matthew’s at Jamberoo, but it is built of brick on stone foundations.

The building is well sited, commanding a beautiful view of the surrounding country-side from the entrance porch.

The entry door is a typical Early English Medieval design with pointed arch and deep parallel mouldings. The door hinges are also examples of Gothic Revival metalwork. The metal plates with protruding bolts that can be seen on the outside of the building were an early form of brick reinforcing.

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St Joseph’s Church - Kangaroo Valley in 1988 (left), before restoration works; and today (right).