In a week in which Lonely Planet described Eden as a “little sleepy place”, the re-release of a book about a story “too unbelievable for Hollywood” has reminded us of how different the town could have been.
Bob Lawrence first came across the story of Benjamin Boyd as a young cadet journalist in Adelaide in 1971, as was so taken with the remarkable tale of the London stockbroker turned Eden whaler and pastoralist that he travelled to Sydney to study him, and later write Benjamin Boyd.
The high cost of hot-metal book printing in the 1970s prevented its publication, and it was first released as a limited edition in 1993.
But after a chance discovery, it has been re-released and is now on sale locally.
“I actually found some old copies in the back of my walk-in wardrobe, behind some old tennis racquets,” Bob laughed.
“I just felt that it was criminal that the people of Australia didn’t know about this man; I used to tell my friends about him and they thought I was mad.
“You could write the script and send it to a Hollywood producer, and they’d say it’s too unbelievable, so I wrote this book.”
The story covers Boyd’s time in Australia, including his rise to become Australia’s largest landholder, the advent of his Boydtown whaling station and the construction of several landmarks such as Boyd’s Tower and the Seahorse Inn.
“Boyd had plans to make Boydtown the capital city of Australia, building it around Twofold Bay as a major shipping port,” Bob said.
“When I first saw Twofold Bay I thought it was one of the most beautiful places in the world, so you can say ‘thank God it didn’t happen’, because there might now be six million people living around it like there are in Sydney.
“But it could’ve turned out differently, and Boyd, as one of the founders of the area, would have been a national hero.
“In America, they tend to trumpet their heroes, but here we tend to forget about them unless they played sport.
“If you ask most people who Ben Boyd is, they say, ‘I don’t know’.”
Benjamin Boyd (RRP $19.95) is on sale now at the Eden Killer Whale Museum, visitor information centres in Eden, Merimbula and Bega, and Candelo Books.