Diego Bernacchi


The Bernacchi family on the verandah of their house on Maria Island, c 1890 (ALMFA, SLT)

Angelo Guilio Diego Bernacchi (18531925), entrepreneur, was born in Italy. In 1884 he moved to Darlington, the former convict settlement on Maria Island, with a government lease to establish sericulture and viticulture. By 1888, Darlington (re-named San Diego) was booming, with new buildings and a population of about 250. Bernacchi's plans to produce cement on the island were doomed by the 1890s Depression and a financial crisis. San Diego became a ghost town again, its name reverting to Darlington. Bernacchi became ill and left the island shortly before National Portland Cement Ltd began production.

Bernacchi's schemes did not bring him prosperity, but he was a colourful and popular personality who built up the island's reputation interstate and overseas through newspaper coverage which termed him 'King Diego' and 'His Most Amiable Majesty'.

Further reading: ADB 7.

Wendy Rimon