Pambula War Memorial & Old Bank Building – 22 Quondola Street


Pambula Soldiers Memorial, C. 1964. Image by Allan “Bubby” George, courtesy of the George Family Collection.

LISTEN NOW to the story of the War Memorial & Old Bank Building

The Pambula War Memorial is linked to many important and often heart-breaking stories. Just one among them is that of Edgar Bootes Johnson. Hailing from Blayney NSW, he was just 18 years old when he arrived in Pambula in 1914. Edgar enlisted in the AIF and after a farewell function at the Commercial Hotel, embarked for Europe. Joining the 55th Battalion, he wrote to Mrs. Weekes at the beginning of 1917 expressing appreciation for the Red Cross: “We gave three cheers for the Red Cross ladies of Australia when we opened up the Christmas supplies you sent us. We got them all and if you know how we appreciated them you would have no doubt about sending us stuff.” Tragically Edgar was killed in action in September 1917 during the bloody Battle of Polygon Wood. His remains were never found, but his name is recorded here on the Pambula War Memorial.

Produced locally from Bega granite, the memorial saw its first Anzac Day ceremony in April 1936. It has remained a focus for the remembrance of war time and peace keeping service and sacrifice ever since, with the march down Quondola Street to the monument always well attended by both service people and the broader community. The memorial now records the names of 170 locals who served in conflicts including WWI, WWII, Korea, Malaya and Vietnam. At least twenty-six died in service of their country.


Pambula Soldiers Memorial, C. 1964. Image by Allan "Bubby" George, courtesy of the George Family Collection.

Pambula Soldiers Memorial. Image courtesy of the George Family Collection.

Behind the memorial stands the former home of the local branch of the Commercial Banking Company (CBC).

In 1883 Pambula storekeeper Patrick Doherty had a  weatherboard store and residence constructed on this site, reportedly the largest structure in the township at the time. Doherty opened his Commercial Stores here, eventually being run by the ill-fated Daniel Fraser. Business was failing and in 1894 Fraser advertised a clearance sale. The sale never took place, as a fire broke out in the building and within two hours there was nothing left standing but two brick chimneys.

Doherty offered to erect this new, purpose-built bank and manager’s residence on the empty site, and in 1903 the bank commenced business. Following Doherty’s death in 1909 the property was then bought and renovated by Commercial Banking Company in 1917. (Now known as National Australia Bank).

During the next fifty years the bank reflected the life and times of its population with female tellers being introduced at the outbreak of WW1. The bank’s existence was threatened more than once due to labour shortages and only survived through the tenacious and insistent lobbying of its locals.


Former CBC Bank Pambula, now Banksia Restaurant, 1966. Image by Allan "Bubby" George, courtesy of the George Family Collection.

Then, in November 1982, after more than 80 years business, banking was relocated further up Quondola Street. This building is an important tangible reminder of the town’s 20th century financial and commercial activities. The bank’s original vault, still insitu, has converted well into a temperature controlled wine room.

On the wall facing the old bank building you will see the vibrant mural titled Summer Showers by local artist SueEllen Yates depicting the local flora and fauna of Pambula. A popular photo opportunity!

Heading south down Quondola Street, you will pass Wild Rye’s Bakery. Although the current building was constructed in 1981, the site has reportedly been occupied by a bakery for a century and a half.

In about 1860, Syms Covington apparently sold the block for a bakery so that he could be assured of a good supply of fresh bread for his Forest Oak Inn next door. Then, in 1891, it was reported that Thomas Cornell’s new bakery shop on the site was nearly finished. It was serendipitous that Cheryl Davison’s artwork chosen in 2021 to grace the southern wall of the bakery depicts indigenous women collecting grain, and is titled Breadmakers.