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.

18 July 2017

Jervis Bay July moon rise.

After the beautiful clear night of the 9th, (see previous post below) when the moon was exceptionally vivid,  these two photo's were taken on the following night showing the moon shrouded in cloud.  The moon illuminated the sky behind Point Perpendicular with a distinct orange colour which could be clearly seen with the naked eye,  and with a short time exposure, it looks particularly amazing.


Taken before the moon had broached the horizon, at this stage a soft glow of orange/magenta caressed and fringed the moving clouds.


Once above the horizon the orange/yellow became dominant, this soon gave way to white as the moon rapidly rose above the lighthouse.


The tragic death of Harriet Parker. - 1887

Cape St George Lighthouse is a place of mystery, intrigue and tragedy
, not only for the Mariners plying the coast but also for the families that occupied the light.  During its operation, there were 7 deaths associated with the lighthouse,  the children seemed to suffer the most. 

In 1887 Isabella Jane Lee, daughter of one of the lighthouse keepers died of typhus fever, then in 1882 13-year-old George Gibson died of pleurisy, in 1885 11-year-old Florence Baily also died of typhoid,  9-year-old Francis Henry Hammer died after falling off the cliff while pushing stones over the edge.

The lighthouse children were isolated on a wind blown cliff face overlooking the ocean  far from the company of other children,  they had to make their own fun. The bush and the beaches of the bay were their play ground. Being so isolated meant they were familiar with their distant neighbours, finding friends wherever they could.


Harriet Parker.

One of the most tragic deaths would surely haunt the families involved for the rest of their lives was the tragic death of 19-year-old Harriet Parker. Harriet was a beautiful young girl who in company with her life long friend 16 year old Kate Gibson set out to fetch in some horses.  Leaving the lighthouse about ten o'clock they went down to the beach at New Bristol, (present day Bristol Point, Green Patch area)  they came to the local fisherman Mr McPhail's hut.  They found the key and went inside, Kate lit the fire and put on a kettle, sending Harriet to fetch some wood, while Harriet was away Kate put on McPhails hat which covered her whole face,  she took up a gun which was lying in the corner of the kitchen, Harriet was about to come inside when she met Kate at the door carrying the gun with the hat still over her face.  Harriet tripped at the door which made her laugh, Kate then heard what she thought was a cap going off, Kate pulled the hat off and saw Harriet fall,  Kate went to Harriet, she called her name and lifted her up thinking she had fainted, it was then she saw blood run from her head. Kate let her down and went home and told her father who in company with Mr McPhail immediately set off for the hut, they found Harriet was dead, she had a large lacerated wound to the back of the head, a portion of the skull was missing, and the remainder fractured and comminuted. The two men carried the body home.


Kate Gibson

At the enquiry Kate stated;
"I took up the gun I do not know whether it was cocked or not; Harriet and I were always on best of terms:

Mr McPhail's hut was the nearest neighbour with no other neighbour within nine or ten miles. Mr McPhail left the gun in his hut loaded with small shot, capped and with the hammer down.

The Jury of which Mr Alexander Bryes was foreman, stated:
" That Harriet Parker, aged 19 years, died at Cape St George, New Bristol, on the 14th day of July 1887, from a gunshot wound, accidentally received: and that her companion,  Kate Gibson, was not to blame, as they were skylarking."

Harriot was buried at Greenpatch,  her sad grave can still be seen there today in the middle of the camping area..


The grave as it appears today July 2017


17 July 2017

Head-board picked up off Jervis Bay

The lost Clipper Ship Strathnaver 1875.

"A brave ship struggling with might and main,
And its white sails rent and torn ;
It lurches and groans like a thing in pain,
And its mast is well-nigh gone".


The Clipper Ship Strathnaver left Port Jackson and was never seen again,  the only part of the vessel ever found was the headboard picked up off Jervis Bay.

The Strathnaver left Sydney on the 27th of  April 1875 heading for her home port in New Zealand. she was almost a new ship at the time of her disappearance and since her launch had made periodical trips to Sydney.

She carried no passengers, and was regarded and a first class sea going ship and ably manned.  Her crew numbered around 30 men. Her commander, Captain Devey, was regarded as a thoroughly competent sea-man and experienced in voyages both by way of the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn. Her valuable cargo consisted of 3423 bales of wool, 21 bales of skin, 15 casks of tallow,  127 bags of bone dust, 13 bales of leather, 38 logs of timber, 931 cases of meat, 2517 ingots, 488 cakes of copper,  3586 ingots of tin.

As time went by and it became obvious the Strathnaver, had floundered different theories were put forward, with some believing she may have been wrecked on the Auckland Islands and there may still be survivors.  The recent case of Captain Dalgarno who was wrecked on these islands,  and lived there for thirteen months before being rescued.  He was of the opinion that some of the crew of the Strathnaver and other vessels may now be alive on these islands.
Both the Australia and New Zealand government were widely criticised in the press for not sending a ship to look for survivors. The governments of these colonies and H.M.Navy on the Australian Station were at the time noted for their lack of concern for missing ships and crews.

Press release which appeared in the Town and Country Journal.

" We think that the attention of the Admiralty might with advantage lie directed to cases of missing ships, and the rescue of shipwrecked seamen from savage or uninhabited islands, The Strathmore and other wrecks are cases in point, proving that if periodical visits were made to tho Crozett's, St. Paul's, the Auckland Islands, and other solitary dangers that beset the track of Australian clippers in mid-ocean, many lives would be saved and the mystery regarding the fate of many a noble ship would not remain a mystery for ever."

Following the continued critisism 12 months after the Strathnaver went missing H.M.S Nymph (Nymphe) was sent in search of the Strathnaver, nothing was found of the missing vessel or her crew.

HMS Nymphe (1866)

H.M.S. Nymph. (Nymphe)

In an attempt to provide some sort of relief for marooned sea-men the government left casks full of provisions at chosen spots on designated islands in the Auckland group containing matches, flint, steel-tinder, axes, knives, fish hooks and lines, warm clothing and blankets, hammer, saw, nails, chisel, a spade, a few tins of preserved meat and biscuits, a chart and a small map of New Zealand, water tight boots, needles, thread, camp oven, pannikins and a little ordinary medicine. On some islands, they also turned out pigs.

The Strathnaver was just one more missing ship,  leaving family and friends to ponder their loved one's fate.

Clipper Ships - A clipper was a very fast sailing ship of the middle third of the 19th century


6 July 2017

On this day – 6th July 1935

Nowra Aerodrome Opens.
As far back as 1929 a resolution was put to the Shoalhaven Chamber of Commerce by Mr.H. Ranch  in regard to establishing and aerodrome at or near Nowra. He spoke about the great developments expected in aeronautics in the near future and wanted the town and district to be prepared for such.


6 years after Mr. H. Ranch spoke to council, thousands of people gathered on the hills behind Nowra for the  official opening of the Nowra aerodrome on the 6th of July 1935.  The day marked the opening of the first licenced aerodrome on the south coast.  Building the aerodrome cost council 1700 pounds with ongoing expenditure for the future.  It was regarded as the best so far established in NSW.  

The aerodrome was established on land bought by the Nowra Council from Mr Muller for 700 pounds in 1934. There was already an air service running between Sydney and Bega with Nowra being the biggest town in between, It was hoped the inclusion of the Nowra aerodrome within that service would greatly benefit the town and district. Especially since the extension of the railway past Nowra looked likely never to happen in the near future. The council also pressed for the aerodrome to be used for defence purposes, especially being in close proximity to Jervis Bay and the Royal Australian Navy.

The Hon.E.S.Spooner. Minister for Local Government performed the official opening.  Planes were sent from the Aeroclub with the Federal Aero Board sending a trio of the highest class of planes in Australia to add to the function.

An interesting air programme was arranged, 30 planes were in attendance including six Air Force machines, including three Hawker Demons. and the programme included a fly past and a 20-mile handicap aerial derby. The young airman who recently broke the round- Australia record, Mr H.F. Broardbent was also an official guest. The day was beautifully fine with people from all over the district and beyond in attendance.

hawker demons

Hawker Demon.

The establishment of the aerodrome was looked on as a great benefit to aviation in NSW.  Long distances could now be covered with ease and comfort.  Local commerce could be carried on in a manner unimagined just a few years earlier, aviation was seen as no less than a revolution in transport.

The aerodrome was unofficially operational in 1934, before the official opening Captain Follett, of Adastra Airways Ltd., at the time running a regular sevice between Sydney and Bega conducted a test landing in November of that year.
He arrived at the aerodrome after flying from Sydney against a stiff westerly with an average air speed of 98 miles per hour, using 41/2 gallons of fuel. This was the first distant flight in his new British Klemm Eagle, low winged monoplane.

The purpose of the flight was to test the new aerodrome, Captain Follett expressed delight at the improvements made. On his arrival, he taxied over the drome and the plane hardly rocked. He arrived at 10.42am and left at 12.20 noon.



Tuesday the 17th of August 1937 -  Two men escaped serious injury when their Moth plane apparently stalled at 600 ft above the aerodrome requiring a crash landing.  If it wasn't for the coolness and skilful piloting the consequences would have been much more serious.
The pilot was Leslie Byrnes of Ashfield who escaped with a lacerated wound on his forehead and passenger Mr Ray Gardner of Kirribilli, abrasions and shock.

The port wing struck first and as the machine slewed around the propellor snagged the earth.
the plane then sumersaulted twice in a distance of about 80 feet, the engine was torn off at the first impact with the ground and trown 60ft away from the fusilage, while the two men were pinned in the cockpit.  The plane was severely damaged and all who saw it marvelled at the men's escape.


On this day. Huskisson 1936

Today I was fortunate enough to run into John Settree, son of the late Alf Settree the last wooden framed boat builder to build vessels at Huskisson. The conversation was short as John had other commitments.  He spoke about the vessels using shipbuilders terms, many of which I was unfamiliar with, but were a natural part of his language.  He talked about some the vessels his grandfather and father built and what he knew of their history.  One of those vessels was the MV Myall which was launched 81 years ago, Thursday 26th June 1936.

The launch of the MV Myall.

The 220 ton Myall was the largest vessel built by A.W.M. Settree on the banks of Currambene Creek.
She was a twin-screw steam lighter, measuring 120ft long, 25ft beam and a draft of 6ft.
The christening was carried out by Mr Settree's wife. 

An interesting launch.
When the Myall slid into the water it was said it was like one hundred garden sprinklers had been turned on inside her. Fine sprays of water were coming from everywhere. Manning Davis had provided Wool Butt timber full of tiny worm holes that went right through the planking. Pop Settree was a very unhappy man. He had the lighter hauled out of the water and went off and bought a huge box of brass boot sprigs and got everyone (including the cook) to sit in her,  screwing a sprig into each hole. He never really forgave Manning Davis even though he acknowledged he should have noticed the wood was holey when he was working it.  The boot sprigs obviously succeeded because Myall worked for the next 60 years on Sydney Harbour
Ref: Huskisson Ships and their Builders, Bridget Sant.

She was made to carry heavy deck cargos in Sydney Harbour, where she became a familiar figure.

Taken shortly after the launch.  The final fittings are yet to be carried out.

766-Alfred-William-Morrow-SettreeAlfred William Morrow (Pop) Settree

720-Alf-SettreePop's son Alf Settree,  the last of the wooden frame boat builders of Huskisson is seen here on the grounds of the museum showing some of the tools used in the production of wooden ships at Huskisson.

Alf was a key figure in the restoration of the Lady Denman. Towards the end of his life his work and community service was recognised when he was awarded an Order of Australia Award.


3 July 2017

On this Day 3rd July 1936


By 1936 the golden age of timber shipbuilding had almost past.  Iron and steel had replaced timber as the preferred method of construction.  The Dent family name has been associated with timber shipbuilding at Huskisson since 1861. George Dent was attracted by the ready supply of Spotted Gum and the protected easy access to Currambene Creek, the work being carried on from father to son whenever an order was available.

The Phyllis was the latest vessel in this long line.

Built by Fred Dent, with the assistance of his brothers Les and Richard,  the launching of the "Phyllis created quite a lot of interest at Huskisson.

It proved very successful in every respect, the craft gliding gracefully from the stocks into Currambene Creek, She was built to the order of Mr G.H. Duesbury.

The Phyllis was built as a deep sea Siene trawler, 60ft long,  13ft, 6inch beam, and a draught of 5ft. 6inch.  Described as a "very fine boat," built of spotted gum, her decks were of Oregon pine.   All the timber was cut and supplied by Joseph Dent.  She still needed a few finishing touches, some painting and a mast needed to be installed and her 50 h.p Delvin Deisel engine fitted.

The trawler will have a crew of four,  with 10 bunks being provided for.

The builder commenced operation in February and is intended that she will be ready for the sea by 7th July.  

There was quite a crowd of people in attendance to witness the launching, and included in the interested visitors were the parents of the proprietor, Mr and Mrs G. Duesbury, of Bexley.  The christening ceremony was carried out in a customary manner with Mr Duesbury breaking a bottle of champagne over the bow of the vessel,   naming the vessel in honour of his daughter. The health of the owner was drunk in right royal fashion, those assembled wishing him success in his new venture, that of trawling.

Timber boat frame on the shore of Currambene Creek Huskisson.


July 26th 1879



27 June 2017

Government pilot steamer, S.S Thetis.

imageCopyright free. https://www.flickr.com/photos/anmm_thecommons/8966369784

S.S.Thetis was built in 1868 for the New South Wales Department of Public Works.

A regular visitor to Jervis Bay, she was most famously involved in the search for the S.S. Dandenong which floundered off Jervis Bay in 1876 with the loss of 40 lives.

1870 - The Thesis was sent out to examine the coast off Jervis Bay, The brig Spec from Melbourn had passed a piece of wreckage consisting of the roundhouse of a ship.  It was painted red on the top, and sliding hatch,  the main boom of the vessel was lashed to the house,  and what appeared to be the bodies of two men were lashed to the boom. More wreckage was spotted a few days later.  The Thesis could not find the wreckage.

1870 - She visited the bay and opened telegraphic communications with Sydney.

1870 - She called into Jervis Bay to inspect the Cape St George lighthouse which required the officials to leave the ship near Bristol Point and travel by foot overland. After the inspection, they headed to the wreck site of the ill-fated Walter Hood just north of Bendalong. The Walter Hood was wrecked during a heavy gale in April of the same year.
The gale drove her onto rocks, 12 souls perished with the survivors fighting a desperate battle for survival as the remains of the vessel broke apart around them.  At this stage there was no wreckage showing above the water,  the hull appeared to be lying right in the breakers, a diver was sent to inspect the wreck but because of the breakers, he was unable to make any careful examination of her remains.

1873 - Thesis came to the aid of the steamer Hero which had been reported missing,  but she had put into Jervis Bay short of coal. The Hero had her top-gallant forecastle washed away during a severe gale.  The Thesis supplied the Hero with coal. The passengers of the Hero presented Captain Logan with a purse of Sovereigns because of his efforts to keep them safe during the gale.

1896 - The Thetis arrived in Jervis Bay with members of the Marine Board for an inspection of the Cape St George Lighthouse. It was found to be in good order and left for Kiama and Wollongong.

1898 - The Thetis was fitted with nets and was sent on a mission to test the fishing grounds along the coast,  she intended to work the grounds off Jervis Bay but a boiler pipe burst and she returned to Sydney for repairs.

1898 - Arriving in Jervis Bay she trawled nets but the trial was deemed almost useless, with masses of seaweed and worthless fish secured being fourfold the number of edible fish.

1899 - During one excursion to Jervis Bay the Thesis was involved in an experimental fishing technique, where a series of electric lights were attached to a wire netting cage,  with a view of trawling for fish at considerable depth. The experiments failed during the day in deep offshore waters,  with some of the lights breaking.
Experiments were then conducted at night in Jervis Bay. The steamer anchored in 6 to 8 fathoms of water lowering the cage with the lights, the lights were so powerful they illuminated the whole of the water around the vessel, and though it was not possible to see the fish swimming near the globes they could be observed a short distance above the lights.
The cage was left down for about and hour and a quarter,  and upon being drawn to the surface the globes were found to be intact,  but there were no fish in the cage. The gentleman who invented the apparatus is of the opinion the lights were so strong the fish could at once see the cage.

1899 - The Thetis arrived in Jervis Bay carrying an official of the Works Department for the final inspection of the new Point Perpendicular Lighthouse before the official handover to the Marine Board. The officials were landed at the Government wharf at Benjajine Beach near present day Honeymoon Bay before walking to the lighthouse on the service track.


S.S Thetis at the loading wharf for Point Perpendicular Lighthouse

1900 the Thetis while on a voyage to Wagonga River
to investigate complaints about the way the fisheries were being worked was forced into Jervis Bay by very heavy weather. She anchored near the Miranda Lagoon, described as a large sheet of water running back about a mile,  ( as far as I know there is no lagoon inside Jervis Bay called Miranda,  there are two possible places, one being Moona Moona Creek the other being Hare Bay, that could be described as a lagoon with the dimensions described below.)

The lagoon was described as being an average width of two chains. ( A chain is a unit of length. It measures 66 feet or 22 yards)  A large sandbank was formed across the mouth and a Mr Want directing that a channel should be made to connect it with the waters of the bay.  All hands were engaged in the work,  and after some considerable labour a narrow passage was cut,  and in a very short time, the mouth widened to thirty or forty feet,  caused by an immense volume of water forcing it's way out. The lagoon was found to be alive with mullet, bream, eels and myriads of small fish. 
They were surprised to find such and array of fish living in such brackish water highly charged with vegetable matter.

It was presumed that the entrance had been closed for some considerable time and the cutting of the channel to admit a free passage of water to and from the lagoon would be of great value to the fish in these waters.

Shortly after the Thetis resumed her voyage.

Continue reading about the Walter Hood  - http://jervisbaymaritimemuseum.blogspot.com.au/search?q=walter+hood
Continue reading about the Dandenong -  http://jervisbaymaritimemuseum.blogspot.com.au/search?q=dandenong


26 June 2017

Combination plane.


45 Combination plane, used for cutting grooves or rebates into timber.  The lowest part of the plane in the photograph is called the fence, the plane uses a combination of the adjustable fence, adjustable depth and the blade to cut an acurate groove into timber.


The width of the cut is adjusted by loosening the thumb screws and sliding the fence sideways on the two protruding round metal bars. This plane accepts different width blades to cut a narrower or wider groove as need be.
The blade's depth can be adjusted by the screw adjuster near the front of the plane on this image.

The way the fence guide bars are set up in the top photo the plane can be used for cutting a rebate, by moving the two bars to the bottom holes you would be able to cut a grove as in the picture above.



This very early all metal speargun is part of the museum's collection. The leaver at the back with the two lengths of bent wire were used to grip the rubber and make it easier to pull the rubber back into the firing position.



An Early Stanley No 78 Duplex,Rabbet & Filletster Plane


This wonderful old plane is part of the Museums collection. It was mainly used for creating rebates in timber typically the rebate around doors. This type of plane was one of Stanley's most popular tools favoured by door fitters and hangers.
As a bevel-down plane pattern type, it is generally used by joiners and furniture makers for forming the occasional rebate and especially for cleaning up machine marks from spindle moulders before the finish is applied.

The small three way adjuster with the screw in the middle seen here just in front of the blade could be loosened, the small three way adjuster turned exposing a small blade which would then be tightened, this would cut the timber fibres stopping the blade from tearing the timber if used to cut across the timber grain, there is one on both sides of the plane.



Helen Dawn - Huskisson 1939


The launch of the Helen Dawn at the AWM Settree slipway on the banks of Currambene Creek. 
The Helen Dawn was a Danish Sein trawler,  built for Mr Clancy and Mr Johnny Owens  who
worked with the Puglisi family at Ulladulla.

The event was quite an affair when a large number of carloads of people travelled from Milton to
Huskisson to watch the launch.  By 11 a.m a large crowd had assembled to look over the ship
and admiring the workmanship, all eagerly awaiting the ceremony. Opening the ceremony
Mr Clancy called on Mr. P.N Ingold to explain the reason for building the ship. Mr Ingold stated that
vessel the was to be used for deep sea fishing, after being taken to Sydney,  where the engines
will be fitted.

The ceremony continued with the wife of the joint proprietor christening the ship by taking hold
of the bottle suspended on red, white and blue ribbons and smashing it on the bow as she
named it "Helen Dawn,"  telling the assembled onlookers "Dawn" was her suggestion,  as it
would be the dawn of a new adventure.

With great excited expectation, the ship immediately glided to the water's edge,  but to the
intense disappointment of the spectators,  some slight hitch prevented the successful launching.

The shallow tide had caused the ship to stall on her slip, with the change of tide it was hoped
the launch would be complete.

The vessel was commandeered by the US Navy during WW2. 4.500 pounds was paid in compensation.

Fred Woods a crewman nearly lost his arm when it was caught in the winch.

The vessel was lost during enemy action in 1942 in New Guinea, she was run aground loaded
with ammunition abandoned and sunk by enemy planes.

MEANING: Sein Trawler -  is a method of fishing that employs a seine or dragnet. A seine
is a fishing net that hangs vertically in the water with its bottom edge held down by weights and
its top edge buoyed by floats. Seine nets can be deployed from the shore as a beach seine, or
from a boat.

Boats deploying seine nets are known as seiners. There are two main types of seine net
deployed from seiners: purse seines and Danish seines.
REF: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seine_fishing


22 June 2017

Wrecked on Bowen Island

Monday the 8th of April 1895 3 men arrived on foot at Cape St George
  after walking over rough bush tracks from Bowen Island at the entrance to
Jervis Bay.  At the time the men had been living aboard the fishing smack Carina which had been
anchored in the shelter of Bowen Island for some days. 

At 5 p.m on Saturday the Carina was making her way out to the fishing grounds when she went ashore on the north west corner of Bowen Island and became a total wreck.

The Carina was built in Scotland as a sailing vessel,  being imported by Captain Gascoigne 
aide-De-camp to Lord Carrington during his term as Governor of  New South Wales,  and
was bought out to Sydney on the deck of a sailing vessel.  The Carina sailed in various
races but was unsuccessful.  Captain Gascoigne disposed of the yacht to a Sydney gentleman
and she subsequently became the property of a couple of fishermen who took her to
Jervis Bay and employed her in connection with the coastal fisheries.

The week before becoming a wreck the tug Newburgh met the smack at the bay. 
The Carina had just been through a torrid ordeal outside the Bay,  losing two dinghies 
one was carried overboard off the deck,  and the other broke adrift while towing astern. 
The smack also lost a kedge in Jervis Bay.

The Carina carried 4 hands at the time of the incident including a Chinaman  who was
employed curing the fish for the market, all hands were saved.

Meaning -  Kedge - a small anchor.
              -  Fishing smack - a type of traditional fishing boat that has a well amidships. The
well was filled with circulated external water, which kept fish alive until delivered.

The Tug Newburgh,  was a well known Sydney tug used for towing sailing
vessels into Sydney Harbour.  Sydney tugs like the Newburgh would ply the coast north, 
and south as far as Jervis Bay  looking for sailing ships,  charging a fee for towage back
to and inside the harbour. A becalmed ship or a ship under stress could take many
days to get to Sydney Harbour,  stranding valuable cargo at sea, the arrival of a Sydney
tug was a welcome sight.