Illawarra June 2003 027-smFry’s cave is a deep sea cave, cut into basalt on the coast, south east of Kiama, NSW. It lies south of Kendall’s beach, between Marsden Headland and the Little Blowhole. It is best approached from the south, via the little Blowhole in Tingira Crescent. The route is over rugged rocks and is considered quite strenuous. It is possible to climb into the mouth of the sea cave but it is extremely dangerous.

The cave appears to twist and turn for quite some distance inland. The ocean waves break with a loud booming sound on the inside twists and the surge and backwash are extremely strong and dangerous.

The cave is named after Robert Baker Fry, a local resident, born in County Roscommon, Ireland in 1808. He migrated to NSW and in 1844 married Ellen Anne Jane Collins in Sydney. Ellen came from a prestigious background – she was the daughter of Captain J G Collins of the 13th Light Dragoons, and the grand-daughter of the Hon. Levison G K Murray who was the youngest son of the Earl of Dunmore. Robert and Ellen moved to Kiama and had a family of eight children.

Kiama Area 1997-1998 001-smOn 1st September, 1860, Robert Baker Fry Esq., J.P. was appointed Coroner for the District of Kiama and on 6th July, 1865, he was appointed ‘a Magistrate of the Colony.’ However, just a few years later things weren’t going so well for Robert and on Wednesday, 10th November he appeared before the ‘Insolvency Court’ with liabilities of over £319 and assets of only £57.

On the 30th November, 1871, Fry disappeared near the sea cave - apparently washed from the rocks and subsequently drowned.

At the inquest into his death his wife stated that “he had for some time past been much depressed on account of pecuniary difficulties, and she had feared he would make away with himself, but for the last week he had been cheerful, and was particularly so on the morning in question……he was not in the habit of leaving home without acquainting his family: when he did so they were always uneasy, but on this particular occasion they were not so because of his unusual cheerfulness.” Robert left home “unperceived by any one” some time after eleven on the morning of the 30th and was seen by a neighbour “going towards Mr. Kendall’s”.
Fry’s son John testified that: “he never heard his father say he would drown himself; he was at times much depressed because he could not pay his bills…..he knew of no differences in the family or with neighbours that could distress his father; he had heard his father was fishing at Kendall’s Point, but he did not think it was true, for the lines were at home, and his father – who could swim – never to his knowledge went fishing.”

Robert’s body was eventually recovered and he was buried at Jamberoo Church of England cemetery on 2nd December 1871.

The sea cave was originally called Fry’s Cave in memory of Robert Fry, but over the years the name has been corrupted to Fryer’s Cave and Friar’s Cave.

 

 

Return to Local History Articles pinboard32