Who knows where the name came from? The need for the place arose in the 1850s when Braidwood and its satellite towns were up to their ears in the explosion of people and commerce surrounding the discovery of gold. The movement of goods, people and information by unsealed road between Braidweed and Sydney was chancy and and oh so slow. However, down the mountain lay the very navigable Clyde Rivewr and thence a 24 hour run by steamship to Sydeny.
So in the 1850s the town was laid out and the road from Braidwood was opened. Over the next 20 years arose four pubs, two stores, a blacksmith, a bakery, a police station, a court house, schools, churches and a post office.
The most enduring commercial activity at Nelligen has been one of the pubs, the Steampacket Hotel. After the 1914-18 war, Mrs Adelaide Neate and her husband bought the Steampacket Hotel which at the time stood on the corner where the general store is located today. When it burned down in 1924 it was re-established in the building still know and sign posted as the Old Steampacket.
From the 1870s gold mining around Braidwood had started to wind down. Over the next 80 years, until Nelligen ceased to be a port in 19521, the town itself wound down too, but the Steampacket continued on.
The fact that the Old Steampacket was opposite the ferry ramps, did it no harm at all. In the 1950s and 60s on a holiday weekend, traffic on the Braidwood side of the river woudl commonly wait four hours to get on the Nelligen ferry. The fellas would opt to walk up ahead in order to see wha the problem was and leave wives to edge the car up as the queue moved forward. Hours later the kids would be dispactched to see where their father was and in any event, to fetch back a ration of tea and scones from the shop. All that changed when the grand new bridge opened in 1964 and in 1967 Adelaide Neate moved the pub to its present site on the Kings Highway.
Is there any truth in the rumour, do you know, that there are plans to convert the bridge into a drawbridge - like the one at Batemans Bay so as to let the tall ships pass by?
From (The Clyde River and Batemans Bay, by Stuart Magee, 2001)