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Time capsule reveals Shellharbour’s past

Shellharbour City Council’s Tongarra Museum curator Tamara Hynd with some of the contents of the 1984 time capsule. Picture: GREG TOTMANItwas a time capsule due to be opened in 2034, but the sale of the old council chambers at Warilla forced Shellharbour City Council’s hand.
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The capsule was buried in front of the Warilla chambers as part of Shellharbour Council’s 125th celebrations in 1984, containing brochures, letters and books from the time.

Unfortunately when it was opened it was discovered that water had leaked into the capsule, causing some items, such as articles from the Illawarra Mercury, to be damaged beyond repair.

However some things were salvaged, providing a snapshot of changes that had taken place in the fast growing city in three decades.

In 1984 Shellharbour’s population was 42,007 and according to the real estate guide buried in the capsule you could buy a house at Oak Flats for as little as $52,000.

Today the median house price in Oak Flats sits at $393,000 and Shellharbour’s population is almost 68,000.

A breakdown of the population figures provided by the 1984 council shows just 1.1 per cent of the population at the time was over the age of 75. Today that figure is more than 6 per cent.

“It was disappointing that the capsule had become waterlogged,” Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba said.

“We are grateful for the expertise applied by a number of people at the museum, in particular Kevin Gillis and Tamara Hynd, who have worked hard to save these items.”

The capsule included the booklet Illawarra at its Best, a brochure on Lake Illawarra activities and a copy if the book Land Between Two Rivers.

The time capsule’s contents are on display in the foyer of the council’s administration building, Lamerton House.

The council sold its former chambers and neighbouring library for $4.05 million, with $2 million going towards the Shellharbour City Hub project.

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