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.

21 September 2017

Hole in the wall - through the ages.

  "Hole in the Wall" is located at the end of the beach near Scottish Rocks. This natural sandstone structure inspired artists and photographers from the time it was first discovered.  The area was first described by early sea explorers as a safe, protected place for anchorage.  Early writings speak of the locations clear water, flat sand bottom and sweeping high headland creating a natural barrier against strong easterly or southerly gales.  Hole in the Wall has been depicted in historical paintings from the very earliest days of exploration.  Unfortunately, the top of the sandstone structure collapsed in the 1980's leaving a U shaped gap.  Some of the romance of the area has been lost but not the beauty or its importance to mariners.



Painted by Louis Auguste de Sainson in 1826.
Described as - The Astrolabe, moored in nine fathoms, fine sand and shells, three cables
from the beach at Hole-in-the-Wall.


Samuel Elyard painting – 1840's

As depicted in an article in 1883.

Early 20th Century

hole in the wall2

Early 20th Century   

hole in the wall

Early 20th Century

hole in the wall 1953
Australian Womans Weekly 1953

Visiting the area today you will still see vessels of all description sheltering near Hole in the Wall.


The Ketch Atoll II near Hole in the Wall 2017.

Like a scene from the 1900's, the Young Endeavour takes advantage of the protection offered by the surrounding terrain adjacent to Hole in the Wall in 2017.


18 September 2017

On this day–September 20 1930


Today marked what may be regarded as the closing of the final chapter in the history of the Royal Australian Naval College at Jervis Bay.

This morning, the Illawarra Company's steamer Bermagui headed for Sydney with the last consignment of machinery and general equipment which will be taken to Garden Island. This afternoon witnessed the departure for the Flinders Naval Depot of the last motor lorry laden with the personal effects of the small party of naval men who remained behind yesterday to complete the

Dismantling and packing.

For several weeks past, under the supervision of Engineer-Commander L. Carr, the huge task of closing down the college has been steadily carried out. At the end of June, the cadets left the college, and after five weeks' leave resumed their training at the Flinders naval depot, and to those who have not had the opportunity of visiting the training school, its magnitude and beautiful surroundings would come as a revelation. Situated on a small headland on the southern shores of Jervis Bay, the college occupies an area of some 300 acres and was virtually a township in itself. Rows of spacious and picturesque cottages, which would be the envy of many city dwellers, stand back from pine-shaded avenues, while others command an uninterrupted view of the waters of Jervis Bay, guarding the entrance to which are the sentinel-like cliffs of Point Perpendicular.

A walk through the college grounds yesterday afternoon conveyed the impression of a visit to a township from which the inhabitants had suddenly fled. Streets and houses which a few months ago had resounded with the cries and laughter of children and the homely clatter of busy housewives were strangely silent. As if to complete the atmosphere of desertion, blinds were drawn at all the windows, while the gardens and front lawns, which only a short time ago had been so proudly and carefully tended, began to show signs of neglect. A fine playing area and parade ground facing the cadets' barracks, known as the quarter-deck, which to naval men are looked upon as the holy of holies, is now nothing more than a grazing paddock for horses. At nightfall, the feeling of loneliness and isolation is accentuated. The faint glimmer of a few oil lamps now takes the place of the blaze of the electric light, which a little while ago shone welcomingly from the windows, the officers' wardroom, and scores of residences.


Building the Royal Australian Naval College at Jervis Bay was bathed in controversy from the time it was first announced in 1911 until the time it was finished in 1915.  After the first cadets graduated with many entering World War 1 and going on to have remarkable careers the facility was deemed a great success. Unfortunately, Australia in 1930 was in the grip of the great depression and the college was seen as an unnecessary expense for the nation.  Most of the college was closed with some of the buildings turned into holiday accommodation.  The Navy still used the facility but in a much more limited way.


The coastal steamer Bermagui, was built by the Ailsa Shipbuilding Co Ltd, Troon, Scotland in 1912. She was requisitioned for naval service as an auxiliary minesweeper on 30 October 1939 - https://www.flickr.com/photos/41311545@N05/5663926754

The images below appeared in the Australian Womens Weekly in 1953.


womans weekly 1953

click on images to enlarge.

REF: http://www.navy.gov.au/hmas-bermagui

Continue reading about The Australian Naval College (HMAS Creswell).


On this day.

17th September 1856 –
Government Surveyor George Legge was drowned while crossing the Shoalhaven River  The nearby island was named Legge’s Island in his honour.


In a small run down historic cemetery located next to the main road near Worrigee, you will find amongst a few dilapidated tomb stones one that is quite distinctive in its design.
The worn out description carved into the tombstone describes the unfortunate death of a "Mr George Lecc" who accidentally drowned while trying to cross the Shoalhaven river on horseback on the 17th September 1856.


His name has been miss spelled on the tomb stone, it's actually supposed to read "George Legge". George Legge was a young well respected 24-year old who made a bit of a name for himself by being appointed the Government Surveyor to the Shoalhaven District.

He was responsible for surveying the Sassafras Area in the early 1850's.

He was drowned near Burrier trying to cross the Shoalhaven River on horseback.  At 10 am he was heard cooeing by his friend Mr. J.L. Biddulph, from the opposite side of the river intimating that he was
about to cross the river.  When Mr. Biddulph arrived at the crossing place he saw his friend's horse floating in the river dead, but no sign of the rider.
He immediately procured a boat and went in search of Legge. They continued the search until Friday, when a black fellow, by diving, bought up the body.

The cemetary has a collection of run down tomb stones, many are lying on the ground, some are still standing.


Some of the other Tombstones.


It would seem Mr. Legge was riding a young horse with a martingale, which he neglected to let loose when taking to the water. The Martindale bound the horses head down and drowned him and the rider.

15 September 2017

On this Day 2017

A large fire broke out at Summercloud Bay a few days ago. Pushed by strong westerly winds the fire soon spread right across the southern headland of the bay. Fortunately all campers and workers at HMAS Creswell were evacuated early. At this time no major damage to buildings as been reported. A vast area of the Boogerie National park lays in ashes.
I took this photo this afternoon from Callala Beach showing the extent of the fire.


The extent of the fire today as illustrated by the NSW RURAL FIRE SERVICE web site.
For more details go to.


14 September 2017

Ships in the bay


This afternoon a beautiful ketch sat gently swaying back and fourth at anchor out the front of Huskisson.  The strange light was the result of smoke being carried on a stong SW wind from a large bushfire burning near Summercloud Bay in Booderie National Park.



30 August 2017

A New Motor Boat.

Nowra Leader 1923.

A correspondent writes:
There will be launched shortly at Woollamia, Currambene Creek, a motor launch now being completed by the owner, Mr. Deprose.  The boat which is 37 ft long when in the water will represent one of the best of this kind of craft built on the Currambene.  She will have all conveniences for holiday makers,  men, women, and children who may decide on a day's outing on Jervis Bay.
The correspondent in verse concludes with the following advice to Mr Deprose on the subject of naming the launch:

Out in the bush he felled the frame
And bought it to this scene,
With skillful hands he built it up
Close to the Currambene

Assisted by his good wife Jean
No failure did he fear,
She was the only help he had
His manly heart to cheer.

Soon the launch will leave the slips
To kiss the Currambene
I hope he'll leave the names aside
And call her little Jean.

I have been unable to find any more information about this vessel
I wonder if he ended up naming her Little Jean?


29 August 2017



CaptureCutter Moonbill

March 1934.

Quite a stir was felt in Huskisson when word of the adventures of the auxiliary cutter Moonbill spread around the town.

The new gaff sail cutter was moored just off Currambene Creek flying a couple of flags at the stern riding the waves as if nothing untoward had happened to her.  But this comparatively small vessel and her crew had just been through 4 days of torturous sea conditions which tested the ship and her crew's strength and will to survive.

Barely able to walk when they reached the shore, the crew related their story to interested listeners before returning to their vessel.   Word quickly spread and a small crowd gathered to see the cutter.

The crew moved the cutter into Currambene Creek where the people had gathered at the wharf hoping to hear from the crew once they had moored, but instead of tying up to the wharf, she anchored mid stream causing some disappointment for those onshore.

A local journalist made arrangements to be taken to the vessel and record the adventure from the captains log.


Monday, Feb 19 - 3.40pm Sydney. The cutter cleared Barrenjoey on a cruise to Lord Howe Island with a crew of four men, good progress was made overnight.

Tuesday, Feb 20 - A moderate wind was coming from the south east.

Wednesday, Feb 21 - The wind swung around to the North East and during the afternoon the weather became threatening, with long N.E swell and the wind rising rapidly.
At 4 pm they took in all sail and streamed the sea anchor.  By midnight the wind reached gale force from the N.E with high seas.

Thursday, Feb 22nd - The wind blew a moderate gale all day. The wind now shifted from the N.E to N.N.E with a very high sea and continuous rain.  The vessel rode as best could be expected under the existing violent conditions.  The sea anchor was lying about 3 points on the starboard bow.  By nightfall, the sea became lashed with fury and the crew had a very tiring and hazardous time, Mountainous seas crashed over the vessel.  Due to the rolling the engine was flooded, and the bilge pump was disabled, but in two-hour shifts, they pumped by hand,  there was not much time for eating with the crew surviving on biscuits, the crew having to give every attention to the safety of the vessel.
Luke on one occasion had to climb the 30ft mast in huge seas to retrieve a broken halyard.

Friday, Feb 24 - The seas started to show signs of moderating, but violent squalls and continuous heavy rain,  which prevented any observation of the ship's position being made.
By midnight the weather showed signs of abating and the wind hauled from the S.W.

Saturday, Feb 24th - 4 p.m the sea anchor hawser carried away, the crew set a reefed canvas and proceeded close hauled towards the westward, by noon the weather had cleared,  and the wind moderated to a light breeze from the N.W.  This enabled observation to be made showing them the ship's position.

Incredibly the ship had drifted 200 miles to the southward. During the ordeal water had poured through a skylight, the wireless was sourced and all their clothing and bedding was saturated.


The crew by this time were almost completely exhausted and set a course for Jervis Bay,  they sighted Point Perpendicular Head at 7.55 am, entering the bay at 11 a.m.  and dropped a ground pick, and were pleased with the prospect of a hot meal and unbroken rest.

The crew - W.E. Moulin (owner). Captain Hill - ( ex Royal Navy Navigator).  S.J Keegan and Peter Luke the youngest.
Moonbill – measured 34ft ft in length, 11-foot beam and 5ft 6 inch draft and fitted with a 16 h.p Hercules engine.

Meaning:  Sea Anchor - an object dragged in the water behind a boat in order to keep its bows pointing into the waves or to lessen leeway.

sea anchor


25 August 2017

On this day–1891

1891 – The Royal Australian Naval College, Jervis Bay was placed on the Register of the National Estate by the Australian Heritage Commission. This represented a recognition of the historical significance of the RANC and its special value for the present community and future generations.

Continue reading more stories about H.M.A.S Creswell.

One of the beautiful historic buildings at H.M.A.S Creswell.


22 August 2017

Submarines in the Bay.

Submarines have had a long association with Jervis Bay.  As far back as 1915 when the Royal Australian Naval College was being constructed at Captains Point.   At the time it was proposed to construct a basin, which would provide for destroyers and submarines, docks for larger ships, and floating docks.

In 1946 during joint British and Australian Naval exercises the British Navy assembled quite a flotilla of submarines inside Jervis Bay.



In the 1950's the prospect of a submarine base surfaced again when newspapers reported Jervis bay was going to be the site of Australias first major Submarine Base.   "Conferences between Navy Board chiefs and Federal Housing engineers are taking place."


Soon after the reports appeared in the newspapers the Minister for Navy, Mr J. Francis denied the reports saying, " the present base as H.M.A.S Penguin, Balmoral, Sydney Harbour,  was adequate for present needs." he went on to say. " the Navy and Works and Housing departments were investigating a proposal that a berth in which a submarine could  be kept should be built at Jervis Bay,  A berth was needed there so that one of the Royal Navy submarines based in Sydney could make periodic visits."

At the time of the announcement two British submarines H.M.S Telemachus, and H.M.S. Thorough, were conducting exercises with the Australian Navy in the waters off Jervis Bay.


H.M.S Telemachus surfacing in Jervis Bay, 1950.

hms thorough in jervis bay 1950
H.M.S. Thorough,  seen here entering Jervis Bay in convoy with the Australian Navy, 1950.

Interesting comparison between H.M.S Telemachus and the Collins Class submarine of today.


REF: http://s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/news-networkeditorial/network/interac/longform/submarinedossier/index.html


May 1963.
The Tabard reported a bent fin and "superficial" damage. Tabard was one of three Royal Navy submarines based in Sydney for anti-submarine exercises with the R.A.N. and the R.A.A.F. Such a collision could lead to disaster for the submariners in the remote chance of serious hull damage.


21 August 2017

Ships in the bay

August 20 2017.

Today one of the Australian Navies Collins Class Submarines entered the bay and moored on the  Man of war Mooring No4.  It made quite and impressive contrast to Point Perpendicular. 

Last night was your last chance to see the old Point Perpendicular lighthouse illuminated as described in the previous post.

Click on photo's to enlarge.

The characteristics and range of Collins class submarines have been tailored specifically for its defence and two-ocean surveillance role in the Royal Australian Navy. Designed to be as quiet as advanced technology can achieve, Collins class submarines have been developed from five generations of submarines designed and built by the Swedish Navy.