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 July 2018

The Ferry well.


Another hidden well worn and fascinating piece of the Lady Denman will soon be seen by visitors to the museum when access to the ferry well is open to the public..


17 July 2018

A time to explore.

In the near future the museum will have a new and exciting exhibition area for visitors to enjoy. The area known as the ferry well will be opened to the public enabling people to walk around the beautiful old hull of the grand old lady, it's a fascinating area to explore. Some fairly major infrastructure works need to be carried out and preparations are starting. In the mean time here is an image from the ferry well and the unique perspective it will give future visitors.



5 July 2018

Whales and War ships.

Ships in the Bay
This morning the suns golden glow illuminated Hobart Class Guided Missile Destroyer, HMAS Hobart 111 as she headed to sea to conduct gun firing practice off shore from Jervis Bay.  In the foreground a pod of aproximately 12 Humpback whales were making their way north on their yearly migration.


HMAS Hobart 111, was moored near HMAS Creswell during the night, I took the following pictures before the sun had breached the horizon.   The ship was illumated by bright red lights.


HMAS Choules is also in the bay at the moment.
HMAS Choules is a Landing Ship Dock (LSD) which was originally commissioned into service with the Royal Navy in 2006.


HMAS Hobart plowing through the small north swell as she leaves the bay.



29 June 2018

Huskisson Post Office.–1843 to 1938

Today we expect to be able to communicate over great distances almost instantly, we become annoyed if mail is delayed by a few days or our phone calls are interupted by bad reception or our internet is not working.  Take a moment to think about what it must have been like when mail was delivered by horseback and telephones were almost non existant.

Huskisson Post office approved.

1843 - The Post Master General (P.M.G) approved a post office for Huskisson, to commence operations on the 12th January 1843.

Mail would arrive at Nowra then be distributed to the surrounding districts by horseback.

1845 - Timothy Donovan was the first person I found any reference to, he delivered mail by horseback once a week from Nowra to Huskisson, Ulladulla, and Broulee a distance today of 140  miles, and was paid 85 pounds per week.

- Timothy Donovan was still delivering mail to Huskisson, Ulladulla, and Broulee, payment was 140 pounds per week.

1849 - Henry Thomas took over the mail delivery, the payment was reduced to 100 pounds per week.

1851 - John Allen took over the delivery by horseback to the beforementioned destinations,  his payment for the service was reduced to 80 pounds per week.

1852 - The post office at Huskisson was discontinued and the letters were sent to the Shoalhaven. (Nowra PO).

1852 - John Allen was was still delivering mail to Huskisson, Ulladulla and Broulee by horseback once a week, his allowence had increased to 120 pounds.

1871 - The post office for the whole of Jervis Bay was located at Tomerong, at that time the centre for local governmant.  During wet weather the roads to the outer districts would become impassable making it impossible for mail to reach Huskisson for days at a time.

1886 –
An "official" post office to service Huskisson residents was established at Tomerong. Huskisson could now expect a mail delivery two days a week.


1904 - By this time the amount of mail being handled by Tomerong P.O had increased to such an extent the Shoalhaven Progress Association put forward a submission to the P.M.G. to have the mail service between Tomerong and Huskisson increased from two days a week to three days.
The Huskisson Post Office was still operated as a "non-official" post and telephone office with a revenue of about 40 pounds per annum. People who needed their mail urgently had to climb aboard tradesmen carts and travel the rough dirt road to Tomerong and back, which was regarded as an unsafe and dangerous pursuit.

post office 1913 husky

- The Huskisson post office's normal mail routine could almost be overwhelmed when the Australian Fleet came to the bay. The post office would be inundated with incoming and outgoing mail.

The post office operated six and a half days a week.

1914 - A letter was sent to the Hon. Austin Chapman by the secretary of the Huskisson Progress Association, Mr. Les Dent, requesting the Saturday half-day holiday be moved to another day. The request was denied on the grounds the present arrangements "were the most suitable and in the interests of the majority of local residents and businesses."


1915 - Representations by the Hon. Austin Chapman to the Deputy Post Master General, (P.M.G) for increased payments to small post offices was denied. It was explained increases could only be paid to offices which can show increases in business. Huskisson Post Office had shown a fall-off in business and payments would be decreased.  Mr. Austin Chapman protested against any decrease in payments stating. " all of these offices are not fairly paid for services rendered."

Huskisson Post Office had a telephone at it's office.

1917 - A request to change the half-day holiday from a Saturday to a Wednesday was rejected on exactly the same grounds as in 1914. The Deputy P.M.G. went on the say, ' Residents can use the telephone in urgent cases on Saturday afternoon, and any time after ordinary business hours  by paying the usual opening fee."


1921  - The post office at Huskisson had not been recognised officially by the authorities.
In December a communication was sent by the Post Master General, (P.M.G.) of Huskisson to the Hon. Austin Chapman requesting that the local post office is raised to official status and that more privacy is provided for receipt and dispatch of telegrams. The matter was considered but it was found that the conditions at Huskisson did not justify the status of the office being raised. The matter of the privacy for handling telegrams was solved by placing a "silence cabinet"  inside the office to provide the necessary secrecy in dispatch and receipt of telegrams.


Huskisson Post Master General seriously injured.

- The Huskisson Post Master General was Mr. Richard Dent, sen., a member of the well known Dent family who pioneered shipbuilding at Huskisson. Richard Dent was helping to launch a motorboat which had just been overhauled from the Dents slipways at Huskisson.  Attached to the launch was a wire rope which played out as the vessel slipped into the water. He noticed a twist in the rope, and put out his foot to clear the kink, but instead of doing that his foot was caught in the wire. The wire tightened with such force that the bone of the leg was snapped above the knee and the wire cut through the flesh almost completely severing his leg. He was taken to Berry Hospital and the leg was amputated a few inches above the knee.

1928 - Francis Riches wrote into the Nowra Leader complaining of the inconvenience she had experienced in trying to get a message out of Huskisson after post office hours. She was appalled at having to pay 3 shillings to use the telephone after hours. She also complained about the lack of electric lighting at Huskisson, stranding her son in the dark. The son had to ask a policeman to show him the way home.

1931 – Like almost every coastal community at that time Huskisson had very poor communication with the outside world, which is illustrated by a story which appeared in the Shoalhaven Telegraph August 1931 about a man named Sydney Thurstan, Haynes 65, who was enjoying a holiday with his wife at Huskisson. Mr. Haynes took a bad turn on Saturday night, attempts were made to get in touch with Dr. Rodway of Nowra. The Huskisson post office had the only telephone in Huskisson, but it was closed and the occupants were away. It was necessary to send a car to Falls Creek where the doctor was communicated with by telephone. By the time he arrived at Huskisson, Mr. Haynes had passed away from a suspected heart attack.

1931 - The sad affair above caused local papers to agitate for a better means of communication between the popular seaside resort of Huskisson and Nowra.

1938 - The popularity of Jervis Bay as a holiday destination was growing rapidly. The post office now had a staff of four and was finally recognised by the P.M.G Department  by consenting to a continuous telephone service.  During visits from the fleet the post office handled many thousands of letters each way, and many dozens of telegrams and phone calls.

1938 - 10 years after Francis Riches mentioned above,  complained about how dark Huskisson was, electric light poles connecting Tomerong and Huskisson were completed. The roads in the district were still in a shocking state and almost unusable in some areas.

1938 - Mr. and Mrs. Grant from the Huskisson Post office were highly praised in the Nowra Leader for their outstanding service to the community in the face of a rapidly growing population and the allocation of a continuous telephone .


MV Sycamore


The early sunrise reflecting off the side of the Australian Navy's multi-role aviation training vessel.


19 June 2018

Wreck of the Barque Pacific - June 1864

June 1874 was a partricuarly tragic month,  Nowra and the district's farms were being devastated by floods and gales. Two ships were lost at the entrance to the Crookhaven River.  The ketch Sarah Jane was wrecked on the north spit with the loss of one seaman, while the Schooner Pacific went ashore on the south of Crookhaven Heads.

The Pacific.

21 May – The Pacific left Auckland bound for Newcastle for a load of coal. She enjoyed fine weather for the best part of the voyage until approaching the Australian coast.

12 June 10a.m – The Pacific drew near the land,  sighting the Shoalhaven coast,  the weather was dark and hazy, the wind from the E. and S. she hauled off the land and stood S.S.E. under close reefed topsails and foresail.  313 tons, American built, the Pacific was now in the grip of the "perfect hurricane", which carried with it every sail leaving her at the mercy of the wind and waves.

13 June 6 a.m. –  Nothing could be done to save the vessel and she came ashore on the flat rocks near the gap at the north-east end of the Pilot Station Hill Crookhaven.  At the time a crewman "James Grant" was on the foreyard of the ship helping to shorten sail when the ship struck, the sudden impact threw the unlucky sailor over the side of the ship onto the rocks below, killing him instantly.
The body was sewed in canvas and buried with the Union Jack wrapped around it, the crew knew he was an Englishman, he had been shanghaied on board at San Francisco under the name of "Jack".

Dead sailor burried.
James Grant was buried on the hill where the pilot station was later built.  Several local residents including William Armstrong, Mr Alex Munro, and Mr Tom Wellere were asked by the ship's captain, a Mr Chase, to witness the burial. The deceased man was described as being about 5 feet eight inches, blue eyes with five flags tattooed on his chest, an anchor on his right arm, and a bird with a leaf in its beak, over an axe, a saw and an auger on his left arm.

Superstitious pilot removes poor "Jacks" grave stones.

The grave used to be a landmark on the Station, and for many years was cared for by the wives of the pilot men; until in later years one of the Pilots, who was evidently superstitious removed the stones placed on the mound, he leveled out and used every effort to destroy the evidence of a grave being there, he said, "He did not want to live with a bloody cemetery.

The wreck was pushed above the high water mark and was stripped of everything of value. The beach below the Crookhaven Heads was strewed with candles. The vessel was uninsured.
The captain and crew later made the journey to Sydney by the steamer Illalong.


16 September - The vessel was later repaired and refloated by Mr George Dent of Jervis Bay.


12 June 2018

Francis Charles Chinchester lands in Jervis Bay.

Historic Tasman Crossing 1931.


"I wanted to fly across from New Zealand to Austalia. No-one had flown across the Tasman Sea alone, and I had a great urge to be the first to do it."


This remarkable flight in an open plane when aviation was in it's infancy was a very risky affair.  New Zealand airman Francis Charles Chinchester with limited resourses, dared to set off across the Tasman in an attempt to become the first man to solo cross from East to West, and only the second ever cross ocean flight, after Lindberg's crossing of the Atlantic.

chichester stamp-front
An envelope and stamp were released to commemorate the crossing.

March 28 – With limited funds, and a plane needing repair,  he borrowed floats from the New Zealand Permanent Air Force and fitted them to his Gypsy Moth Bi-plane aircraft (Madam Elijah ZK-AKK).  He did this because the plane could not carry enough fuel for the whole distance, which meant he would need to land at islands to refuel during the flight.  

The first leg of his journey saw him land at Norfolk Island, the next was Lord Howe Island, becoming the first person to land at Lord Howe.


April 1 - Successfully landing at Lord Howe, he moored the plane in the lagoon. Overnight there was a storm and awoke the next day to find his aircraft upside down and severly damaged.  He thought the flight was over, but with the aid of Mr. R. Wilson (who was In the Air Force In Egypt during the war) and the inlanders who had never seen a plane before. The wings and fuselage were entirely remade and fitted, this was quite a challenge as there were about 4000 pieces of wood in each wing to be glued back into the right place. There was 92 feet of sewing around each wing and tape to be sewn on the top and bottom ribs, each 41/2 feet long. The float was repaired, the machine repainted, after weeks of effort the engine was reconditioned,  the repairs took around 9 weeks. This was an amazing feat considering there were no vehicles or aircraft mechanics on the island.


"All the tinfulls of nuts, bolts, washers, screws and parts must be used up. If anything was left over, I nosed around the engine until a place was found for it."


June 7 – Leaving Lord Howe he flew into a torrential storm, in an open cockpit he was soon saturated, the storm was so bad he flew completely blind, unable to make out the surface of the ocean and ruining his only chart.  Flying out of the storm he used a school atlas and worked out he was on a course for a point south of Tasmania.   
He quickly turned towards the Australian coast, greatly concerned about his fuel situation.  An engine defect compelled him to steer a course giving favourable wind conditions.  He sighted the Australian coast, then the Shoalhaven River came into view, he next sighted Jervis Bay, where five war ships were the only sign of life. At 3.30 pm Chinchester landed in Jervis Bay alongside the seaplane carrier, HMAS Albatross, near the Naval College. It had taken him 6 hours and 15 minutes to cover the 500 mile journey at a average speed of 70 miles per hour.


Great anxiety was felt by those waiting on his arrival in Sydney, fears for his safety mounted as a report from the steamer Kurow had sighted him at 1.30 pm 80 miles due east of Sydney.  Fears were allayed when news of his safe landing at Jervis Bay came through.


H.M.A.S Albatross.

Navigation – Compasses then were unreliable in small planes, so he learned astronomical navigation used by ships and tried to adapt it to flying. His only method of fixing his position was to take sun sights with a sextant.  As a solo pilot, this was a difficult thing to do in a moving aircraft, as he needed to fly the aircraft at the same time.

"I had to use the sextant fast, setting the plane into a dive so as to get the sun above the tank with the horizon below the wing beside the motor, and immediately I had the sun touching the horizon in the sextant I jogged back the control to climb, while I recorded the sextant, watch and altimeter readings."

He could not have hoped to land in a more fortuitous place,  H.M.A.S Albatross had only arrived in Jervis Bay a few days earlier for exercises.

A greatly surprised Captain Feakes of the Albatross.
Welcomed him aboard – "Dr Livingstone I assume....At any rate you have managed to discover the only aircraft carrier in the Southern Hemisphere."

The navy proceeds to lift Mr Chinchester and his plane aboard Australia's first aircraft carrier, HMAS Albatross,  where he was made comfortable by the officers.  Mechanics onboard HMAS Albatross overhauled his seaplane.

Mr Chinchester assisting in the lift injured his hand when he caught it between the plane
and the side of the ship.  He severed the top of one finger and sustained a serious cut to the hand.
He was immediately admitted to the ships hospital for treatment.

pic of man

Francis Chinchester was a remarkable man, his life story is well worth reading.


His remarkable life, Continue reading - http://www.a-e-g.org.uk/sir-francis-chichester.html
Gypsy Moth -
Stamp -

There are some discrepancies in the date he landed at Jervis Bay. Many stories have him landing on Jervis Bay on the 10th of June, but my research via newspaper reports which were printed on the 8th of June 1931,  have him landing on the 7th of June.

Beaten in his attempt to fly solo across the Tasman.

StateLibQld_2_112972_Guy_MenziesJanuary 1931 - He was beaten by an Australian, Guy Lampton Menzies.  Menzies flew from Australia to New Zealand in the same plane Kingsford-Smith had used during his record crossing from England to Australia.


7 June 2018

A rare look below the decks of the Lady Denman Ferry

Built in 1911 by shipbuilder Joseph Dent the Lady Denman now rests in a world class museum close to where she was built on the banks of Currambene Creek Huskisson.
The video gives you a rare look below the decks of the Lady Denman Ferry.  Constructed from locally felled timber one can only marvel at the skill and craftmanship of the builder and his crew.

The work by dedicated volunteers over many years to secure the Lady from deterioation can be seen amoungst the broken pipes, and rusting valves, she has seen better days.

The work continues.

For a larger viewing follow this link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3cXDUArqJ0


5 June 2018

The Barque Sapphire and the Barque Narramissic 1874

The sea near Jervis Bay and the clear waters of the bay ran red with the blood of the whale industry.|

Whaling was a dangerous and unforgiving enterprise.

When a whale was spotted, ships would begin the chase, trying to draw near enough to lower their boats, manned with hard weather-beaten men, armed only with a hand-propelled harpoon, determination, and hopefully, luck. If they managed to catch and kill this great leviathan the men would now have to tow the whale by sheer back-breaking effort back to the waiting ship.

Death and injury was a common occurrence for the chasers, but the danger didn't stop there, when the whale was drawn on board, danger was ever present.

Sailors survived on limited rations in cramped quarters aboard creaking ships, as one sailor expressed, "we worked like horses and lived like pigs." Timber decks soaked in the fluid from processing whales were extremely slippery, men came down hard onto the deck, men slipped overboard to the waiting sharks drawn by water running with blood, men could be crushed by the weight of blubber being hauled into copper cauldrons in the try-works, they suffered deep lacerations from the sharp tools used for processing the whales.
Everything, including the men were covered in whale oil, all this aboard a ship pitching and rolling on an unsettled sea, hot oil from processing cauldrons could spill onto the fires, this could easily spread engulfing the ship and the crew, many ships left port and were never seen again.

When the processing was complete which could take 6 hours or more depending on the size of the whale, the crew would scrub and clean the ship as best they could,  despite their best effort, ships sailing downwind would always know when a whaling ship was approaching by the smell.

Collision at sea.

There were dozens of ships plying the coast chasing whales, collisions between ships occurred.

One such incident occurred 30 miles south of Cape St George between the whaling barque Saphire and the barque Narramissic.

10 September 1874 - The barque Narramissic left Newcastle bound for Melbourne and ran into heavy weather and was forced by leaks into Sydney Harbour.

20 - September 3am - The barque Narramissic left Sydney Harbour continuing her voyage to Melbourne, 30 miles south of Cape St George, in the pitch black the silence was shattered by the violent sound and vibration of two timber ships coming together.

The Hobart Town barque Sapphire,which was not displaying any side lights, struck the Narramissic with her flying jib-boom on her mizzen chains. The Sapphire lost one boat and her spritsail yard.  The Narramissic had her stanchions and gaff carried away, her covering board and spritsail were also damaged, five of her crew, thinking she was about to sink, jumped on board the Sapphire, leaving the master and three men to bring her into Jervis Bay, where repairs would have to be carried out before she could sail again.  The Sapphire came into Jervis Bay the following day.

The Narramissic stayed in the bay for 4 weeks wind bound because of terrible gales which had damaged other vessels caught at sea.

Once the repairs were finished the Narramissic sailed out of Jervis Bay continuing her journey to Melbourne.  She ran into more heavy weather, the second mate and a seaman named Christopher Tomkin went aloft to secure the yard-arm of the upper main topsail, which had got adrift from the gaskets. The sail caught Tomkins, who was 36 years of age and a native from Berwick, England, and knocked him overboard. A life-buoy was thrown to him, and the master hove a line to the drowning man, which he almost clutched but did not catch, the vessel drifted away from him, the weather being so bad as to preclude the possibility of rendering
him any assistance.

The Narramissic's voyage had been cursed with near disaster and tragedy.


The whaling barque Sapphire was a regular visitor to Jervis Bay,

1872 December - she put into Jervis Bay after a 10-month voyage from Hobart Town to recruit. She had taken 28 tons of sperm oil.

1875 February  - during a 14-month voyage she came into the bay to try-out 9 tons of oil,
the total take of oil for the trip was 21 tons.

By 1885 the romance of going to sea chasing whales was starting to decline, many whaling ship owners found it difficult to secure suitable crews and were forced into taking anyone that offered himself.  The Sapphire was involved in an incident when as was customary at the time, the owners would advance the willing a small sum in advance of the voyage.  Taking the advance these larrikins would often spend the money, then not join the ship as required when it was time to sail. The police would be called and these reluctant absconders would be arrested and taken aboard the ship.


4 June 2018

Old houses of the Shoalhaven.


The remains of this old farm house stand on a farm near Pyree.


The slab timber house is easily seen from the road on the way to Culburra near Pyree.


27 May 2018

Tomerong, centre of local government. 1908

1906 The small community of Tomerong was thrust into the public eye with the formation of the district Clyde Shire Council.

1908 The first meeting of the council was held in the newly erected Council Chambers.  At this time Tomerong was considered to be a central location between Nowra and the Milton/Ulladulla districts. All road carriage travelling north or south passed through Tomerong.  It was also in close proximity to a steadily growing Huskisson on the shores of Jervis Bay.

Any petition signed by fifty householders could initiate the establishment of a Municipal Council. The Council could implement rates and tolls to finance roads, bridges, hospitals, water supplies, cemeteries and other public facilities.

The newly established Clyde Shire was vast in size and commenced from Crookhaven Heads skirting the southern boundary of the South Shoalhaven Municipality to Falls Creek. It continued north-west following the southern boundary of the Nowra Municipality to the Shoalhaven River and then to its junction with the Endrick River. Following the Endrick to its source, the line continued south across the ranges to a point south of Budawang Mountain. The southern Clyde boundary followed the creeks east from north of the Clyde Mountain to a point near Durras. The eastern boundary followed the coastline north back to the Crookhaven Heads but excluded the Municipality of Ulladulla. The Clyde Shire was surrounded (anti-clockwise) by the South Shoalhaven Shire, Nowra Municipality, Cambewarra Shire, Wingecarribee Shire, Mulwaree Shire, Tallaganda Shire, and the Eurobodalla Shire.
Ref: http://home.exetel.com.au/tomerong/history2/index_files/Page840.htm

The arrival of his Excellency the Governor of NSW, Mr Harry Rawson.

Harry Rawson governor nsw 1908

October 1908 - Tomerong residents and school children were busy preparing the small village for a special occasion. His Excellency the Governor of N.S.W. Mr Harry Rawson was coming to town.
Local people erected a large arch across the road,  festooned with ferns and flowers, through the centre of the arch were the words "welcome" also covered in flowers. Above that coloured flags were flying in the breeze, long colourful ribbons tied at the top of the arch and anchored to various points helped to support the structure..
It must have been a very special occasion for the children of the district, I'm sure they would have never seen anything quite like it before.

People from all over the district travelled to Tomerong for the occasion. The men donned hats and dressed in their best suits, the women wore long flowing dresses typical of the time.
The children looked wonderful in their best clothes,  and many of the young girls wore hats decorated with ribbons.

222-Tomerong-township-welcomes-governor 1908 Visit by governor hawkens road looking north.

The official party arrived, as the Governor left his vehicle to address the waiting children he noticed a local woman Mrs Canavan seated in a wheelchair at the corner of the playground. The Governor proceeded to cross over and introduced himself, shook her hand and expressed his sympathy at her plight. This brought a hearty cheering by the children which echoed through the surrounding bush.

These close up images are very revealing which are easily overlooked in the larger image.



Huskisson View

Below is a photograph from the museum's collection looking across the "Huskisson Camping Reserve." Robert Johnsons Grave can be seen fenced by pickets.