HOME OF THE LADY DENMAN - Local history isn't always about the big story - the everyday story of life in the early development of the region can be a fascinating, entertaining and educational journey.

22 August 2016

S.S. Kooraka in peril off Jervis Bay.

July 1947. Kooraka  saved from disaster by the actions of the captain and crew of the trawler Korowa.

S.S Kooraka.
imagePublic Domain - REF: SLSA

8.30pm July 17 -  in dark and dangerous conditions the 300 ton S.S Koraka was caught in a fierce storm 6 miles off Jervis Bay,  pounded by 30 to 40ft waves breaking onto it’s hatches, the Kooraka’s steering gear broke away under the strain of the relentless pounding.
There was a real chance the Kooraka could drift ashore and become a total wreck putting life and limb in real peril.  The captain immediately ordered flash signals,  flashed by Morse Lamp.

9.p.m - An unknown steamer attracted by the signals approached,  but when the Korowa appeared at 9p.m. the other ship left.

The crew of the Kooraka attempted unsuccessfully twice to throw a line attached to a buoy to the trawler.
Each time a terrific sea swept the buoy beyond reach.

3. a.m – The Korawa came along side and a line was taken aboard.

Seaman B. Summers who was at the wheel when the Kooraka broke away,  paid tribute to Captain T. Webb and the crew of the Korowa in bringing their vessel so close.


”providence must have had a hand in preventing a seemingly certain collision.”  he said.


4. 30 a.m. - The trawler Korowa towed the Kooraka safely into Sydney Harbour.




Paying high tribute to the captain and crew of the steam trawler Korowa,  Mr Justice Abbott awarded 3,300 pounds to it’s owners and 2,100 pounds to the ship’s company,  for services rendered in the salvaging of the South Australian vessel Kooraka.
The owner (Red Funnel Trawler Pty.) master and crew of the Korowa had sued the ship Kooraka,  it;s cargo and freight for a salvage award for services rendered to the Kooraka near Jervis Bay NSW, on July 17 and 18,  1947.

The Kooraka was worth about 20,000 pounds and it’s cargo 5,000 pounds; the Korowa about 25,000 pounds and it’s cargo 345 pounds.



In his summary his honour said.
” Clearly the Korowa was a very important factor in the salvage operations.  Without it’s trawling warp,  and high engine rating,  probably nothing could have been successfully accomplished.
Also nothing could have been accomplished but for the initiative,  courage,  and determination of the captain, efficiently backed by his officers  and crew”



The Kooraka, 300 gross tons. Lb: 135 x 24 ft. (41.2 x 7.6 metres). Steel, single screw motorship built by George Brown & Co in Greenock, Scotland, in 1925. Arrived Australia August 1925 for Coast Steamship Ltd. Day passengers only (10). Serviced Yorke Peninsular run on an irregular basis. Requisitioned as RAN Minesweeper during World War 2.  Ref: Flotilla

imageThe Korowa, 324 tons gross WWII auxiliary minesweeper HMAS KOROWA was one of the Sydney-based Red Funnel Trawlers Ltd vessels requisitioned by the RAN at the outbreak of war. With the RAN, fitted with a 12-pounder gun and minesweeping gear, she was attached to Minesweeping Group 66 based at Fremantle, Western Australia.
After WWII she returned to the fishing industry until 1954, when she was sold for scrapping.

REF: https://www.flickr.com/photos/41311545@N05/4705358584





Wind Bound – Jervis Bay

28th April 1874.





19 August 2016

Wreck of the William Coombe

April 1931.

Three Italian Fishermen had a lucky escape when their 39-ton steam launch William Coombe was driven ashore on one of the three small islands north of Jervis Bay known as the Drum and Drumsticks.

Steaming through a heavy sea their trouble commenced when a steam pipe burst, rendering the vessel inoperable and unmanagable.  An anchor was put down straight away,  but it soon carried away in the heavy sea, in a few minutes the William Coombe had drifted onto the rocks.   It soon became apparent she had been badly holed,  and the three fisherman,  Sam Puglesi,  David de Costo and his son,  took to the life boat.  Before they had reached the small beach nearby the vessel had disappeared.  Then they commenced the long walk to Nowra,   but they were overtaken by a motor lorry which conveyed them to Nowra.

The mens limited knowledge of english made it difficult for the police at Nowra to ascertain full details of the floundering.

The William Coombe was a timber vessel built at Drummoyne in 1929 by William Griffiths, valued at 5000 pounds.  She had been specially designed for schnapper and lobster fishing and was elaborately equipped with fishing gear.  She was also fitted with wireless and electric light.  She was owned by Cam and Sons, trawler owners of Sydney, but was  chartered to the Puglesi brothers who made Nowra their headquarters.  The vessel was insured.


Located north of Jervis Bay the rocks themselves have a dramatic history,  once shrouded in controversy as local residents fought to have the area protected from being used by the Navy and Airforce as target practice.  Because of the bombing the pinnacles have been reduced from their original height.

T.S.S Wandra.
More famously known because of the total loss of the T.S.S.Wandra which ran aground on the rocks and became a total wreck on the 15th November 1915. 

Today the area is more widly known for a large seal colony that uses the rocks as a haul out.   This has been a relatively new occurance as the seals only appeared as a permanent colony over the last few years.  If you would like to experience this beautiful location the Jervis Bay tour operators run regular trips there in their fast boats.




17 August 2016

Old Barrels Exposed

Two local friends, Nina and Michael Strachan,  were exploring the north side of the bay on the weekend 13/14th August 2016 - in their canoes and came upon a very interesting discovery .

The recent large swells have eroded the shoreline,  and the remains of what appear to be two timber barrels are sticking up out of the clay bank.

They appear to have a black substance within the remains,  and are surrounded by small rocks.

Their located in the area where Captain Kinghorn’s land based whaling operatation was conducted in 1840.  If indeed they proved to be from that era, that would make them around 176 years old.

It’s hard to imaging timber surviving that long,  but entraped within the mud and protected from the air you never know..

However old they are,  they are very interesting…

Read more on Captain Kinghorn and whaling in Jervis Bay.
Thank you Michael and Nina for sending us these photographs.

Falls Creek–Shoalhaven

More on Falls Creek.



11 August 2016


Researching old south coast newspapers you will come across this type of advertising time and again..  This was a one of many advertisement that promised amazing cures for all sorts of ailments.

Shoalhaven News and South Coast Districts Advertiser 1900.


Advertising for Ayre’s Sarsaparilla appeared in many local Shoalhaven newspapers over many years.

It made me wonder what this miracle cure was?

”The back of this advertising card claimed: "Without doubt the discovery of America is Ayer’s Sarsaparilla.   This is a compound concentrated extract composed of the Sarsaparilla-root of the tropics, Stillingia, Yellow Dock, Mandrake, and other roots held in high repute for their alterative, diuretic, tonic, and curative properties. An economical and reliable blood-purifying medicine."

In fact, this remedy was nothing more than a simple beverage of sweetened, herb-flavored water. It was dispensed as a "tonic" (still the general term for soda pop in certain areas of the country) but it was little different from the drink we now call root beer”.



Moona Moona Bridge

1931 - Nowra Leader.



10 August 2016

Take a trip back in time.

Another beautiful old image from the museum’s collection.
700-Ken-Lymbery-a-smallKen Lymbery.

While I was researching this morning I came upon the above image of this old Chevrolet truck driven by Ken Lymbery from the 20’s near Jervis Bay.  It made me think of a old 1927 Chevrolet truck I had just done tailgate signs for,   I wondered if it looked anything like the above image.

In an amazing coincidence while I was looking at the picture I heard the distinctive sound of an old Klakston horn blast,   and to my almost disbelief there was the 1927 Chevrolet in my driveway.  I knew Rob was coming over to pick up another sign for the truck that will sit above the cab,  but I didn’t know he would do it in his old truck.  He decided to bring the truck over to show me where the signs were being used.

Rob bought the truck 30 years ago as a rusted wreck,  fortunately most of the timber work was still intact laying in pile on the rusting chassis, this gave him templates to reconstruct the timber cab and other timber parts.,  it’s been a long process to get it looking like it does today.

Its an amazing truck,  and a credit to his determination, The similarities between the trucks is amazing.

Rob uses the truck around the Jervis Bay area,  you may see it some day yourself, and don’t forget to give him a wave.




9 August 2016

Working barge – Huskisson.

8th August 2016.
Jervis bay was a hive of activity yesterday, while the Yacht Alexander was being taken off Hyams Beach,  (story below),  a large barge was being positioned at the entrance to Currambene Creek Huskisson carrying a large digger.
Im not sure what the purpose was,  maybe one of our readers might know.

I have been informed they were dredging the river mouth……not sure how long this will last,  more than likely the next large swell or torential rain will just deposit more sand and the entrance will be as it was before. 

Large sailing vessel slips quietly out of the bay.

Earlier that morning in a scene straight out of the early 1900’s and in complete contrast to all the noisy activity of work,  a large white two masted yacht that had spent the night moored near Hole in the Wall  slipped quiety out of the bay and into the sunrise.

leaving-the-bayRounding Bowen Island.
large-two-master-leaving-the-bay-1Sailing into the sunrise.


Wrecked Navy Yacht.

Air lifted off Hyams beach today - August 8th 2016.
base-2HMAS Creswell. click to enlarge all images..

June 2016
Back in June the coast was slammed by a very deep East Coast Low producing large waves measured by offshore bouys at 17 meters.

The headlands and narrow entrance to the bay offered little protection as the huge north swell smashed straight into H.M.A.S Creswell.

The base suffered a lot of damage to it’s infrastructure,  least of which was two of the Navy’’s training yachts Alexander and Friendship.  They were behind the breakwall and secured to large floating concrete pontoons,  thought to be safe.

During the height of the storm large waves rolled right over the breakwall and dislodged the concrete pontoons from their moorings.
It has to be understood just how violent and dangerous these waves were to cause this to happen.

The pontoons are fixed to large steel pylons driven deep into the sea bed,   these have steel railway track like slides running vertically down the sides that are designed to let the 17 ton sealed concrete pontoons freely rise and fall with the tides and swell.

The height of the steel pylons is around 3 meters above water level,  for the waves to come over the wall with such force and lift these 17 ton pontoons clear off the top off the pylons is quite amazing.

The two yachts attached to the pontoons were then ripped out of the harbour and started to drift with the wind and driving swell towards the beach.

The men from DMS, quickly followed in a work boat trying to get a rope onto the yachts and haul them back to safety.

With great difficulty they managed to do this  with the yacht Friendship,  but unfortunately,  despite successfully attaching tow ropes to Alexander she was found to be still attached to the pontoons,  it was decided they had no choice but to abandon the attempt in the dangerous deteriorating conditions.  They were forced to stand off,  and watch helplessly as Alexander and the pontoons were driven onto Hyams Beach not far from the base.

Once the storm had subsided an inspection was made,  and the yacht was found to be beyond recovery.

Alexander has been sadly lying ungraciously on her side, holed and scared,  slowly being burried by the shifting sands ever since,  while plans were being arranged to get her off the beach.

Continue reading a previous post about the June storm.

Yacht-cut-into-piecesThe once beautiful yacht Alexander shown here cut into pieces ready for the lift.
no-entryPreparing the pieces for the lift.

August 8th.
Over this week a team of men have been digging the now half sand covered yacht out of it’s resting place.   Using cutting equipment they cut the yacht into three large pieces ready to be lifted clear of the beach by a helicopter.

This has been a difficult,  back breaking job, as large digging equipment had no way to access the area,  so everything had to be done by hand.

The yachts life raft was found over a meter below the sand and had to be dug out,  other equipment from the yacht suffered the same.

Around 2pm today a powerful helicopter arrived and started to lift the pieces off the beach.  It was exciting to watch, but very sad for some of the Base observers as the yacht was a favourite training vessel for young Naval College Cadets.

The whole operation took less that an hour and a half,  as piece, after piece,  was lifted and disappeared over the back of the trees, where the final recovery team will strip any valued parts off the wreckage.

chopperThe helicopter on arrival.
Getting ready for the first lift.
chopper-pick-up-7pgStaff and onlookers.
Bow section being lifted.
another section of hull on it’s way to be scrapped.

The 17 ton Pontoons.
This is an entirely different proposition, they are to large and heavy to lift,  so other options have to be considered.  At the moment the pontoons are buried deep in the sand,  they are around a meter deep at their sides and most of this is under the sand.  The normally empty pontoons have been damaged and are expected to be either full of water or sand making the job that much more difficult.

17-ton-concrete-floating-pontoonsTwo of the four pontoons buried deep in the sand.

The surviving yacht Friendship received a badly holed hull and is currently in drydock at HMAS Creswell being repaired and repainted.

friendship in drydock - paul newman.



2 August 2016

Local correspondence–Jervis Bay


Albury Banner and Wodonga Express 1926.


Uncle Geoff is a journalist that publishes a children’s column.  Children from all parts of the country write in and apply to become one of his nieces of nephews and have their stories published.

There usually small simple letters,  but they contain some very interesting information.

Some of the Jervis Bay and surrounding districts children have sent in letters and this time we have one from a young girl at Tomerong who’s pen name is. -   Heather Bell.

Heather Bell is quite a prolific writer with many of her articles appearing in  ‘Uncle Jeff’s”  collumn.

It appeares Heather Bell’s real name is Eileen.

Dear Uncle Jeff,

17th September 1926.

We enjoyed the pantomime very much which came here last week. The warships have, been having target practice lately in the bay, and we could hear all the shooting and see the splash of the waves as the shells struck the water. There was an aeroplane or seaplane hovering overhead all the time, evidently marking for the warships.
At night there have been rockets sent up from the man-o'-wars, and they looked so pretty from here. Tomorrow we are going aboard the warships with the Huskisson school children.
Love to all.— Your fond niece, 'Heather Bell.'

(It must have been very interesting to you all to visit the warships Eileen,  It would certainly be a pretty sight.)

27th August 1926.

Dear Uncle Jeff, — There was a motor boat launched to-day at Huskisson. We saw a largo vessel launched there at one time. We will soon be having our Sunday School picnic, and it is a day we all look forward to. Daddy is getting a Rexonola and records, as our other gramophone is about worn out.

Our little bantam has some dear little chickens. Last time mummy set her on three duck eggs, but she soon tired of the ducklings, for they did not seem to understand her language and would run into water, when she would try and warn them off it.— Your fond niece, 'Heather Bell.'

(The ducklings natural love of water must have been very puzzling to the foster mother, Eileen.)

23rd July 1926.

Dear Uncle Jeff, — Mummy has a 2A Brownie camera; and has taken a few snaps, 'h toook one and it came out nicely. We have an 'Aladdin' lamp and it shows a beautiful white light. We also have  two 'Aladdinettes' and one has a pretty globe with animal pictures on it which revolves and looks pretty. The people of Tomorong are going to build a School of Arts and I hope we will be having some nice entertainments. Tomerong is a village about 14 miles from Nowra on theSouth Coast road.
-  When we first came down here we travelled from Moss Vale by motor and on the way across we saw the Fitzroy Falls, also the beautiful scenery of the Burrangarry and Camberwarra mountains.

-  Have, you, ever been down this way, uncle?  — Your fond niece, 'Heather Bell.'.

(Yes,. Eileen, I have been in all the places where my nephews and nieces live. I believe in the slogan 'Know your own country. '


Antique motion lamp with animal shade.


My own Box Brownie owned by my grandfather - similar to the one described above.

30 July 1926.

Dear Uncle Jeff,— On Tuesday; two old schoolmates, with whom we used to go to Huskison School, came over to spend the day with us. They brought another little girl friend with them and we spent a very nice day. We played rounders, cricket, hide-and-seek and other games, and played the gramophone. On Wednesday we minded the little ones while mum and dad went to town, and as Thursday, Friday and Saturday were very wet we had to remain indoors, but we spent a very happy week at home, sweet home during our holiday.— Your loving niece,

'Heather Bell.' (After all, it is the spirit that makes a holiday, Eileen, and if you face your holiday with the right spirit, you can enjoy it anywhere — even at home.)

20th August 1926.

Dear Uncle Jeff,— Since I wrote to you last we have finished our tennis match at school, and am pleased to say my team won. Our baby has been very sick, but is getting better now. I have a new piece of music called 'Deuxieme Mazurk.' The Great White Train nas not visited this district yet, but I hear it is expected to come to Nowra in October, when we hope to see it and what our great country can produce — Your fond niece, 'Heather Bell.'

(I hope the music is not as hard to play as the name is to pronounce. You wil enjoy the Great White Train when it comes, Eileen.)


The Great White Train.
And what was the Great White Train?
It was regarded at the time as "The most spectacular plan of publicity undertaken by the  "Australian Made" Preference League".
The train was a travelling exhibition of Australian - made articles. The train was loaded with representative exhibits of Australian products and goods.

The train visited Berry and Nowra on the 14th of October 1926.

The train comprised 20 vehicles,  including two sleeping cars,  a dining car,  a break-van, a power van,  and fifteen semi louvered vans or coaches.

The train was a attempt to show the country what the towns are doing in an attempt to bring a deeper conciousness of Australia's industrial progress and achievements.