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.

9 January 2014

On this Day

ALEXANDER BERRYJanuary 9th 1822 - Alexander Berry, in the vessel “Snapper” arrived at Shoalhaven.
He was prevented from entering by a line of breakers and so sailed 3 miles south to enter by the Crookhaven River. Finding the northern arm separated by some 250 yards of sand spit from the southern arm, the party “hauled the boat across”. He later returned in June 1822 to settle in the area.

 Alexander Berry (30 November 1781 – 30 November 1873) was a Scottish-born surgeon, merchant and explorer who in 1822 was given a land grant of 10,000 acres and 100 convicts to establish the first European settlement on the south coast of New South Wales, Australia.

This settlement became known as the Coolangatta Estate and later developed into what is now the town of Berry, named in honour of Alexander and his brother David.

In June 1822, Berry and Woolstonecraft purchased a small cutter, the Blanche, an old decked vessel of 15 tons and Berry returned to the Shoalhaven with Hume and assigned servants (convicts) Hamilton Hume, David Souter and Toodwit and Aborigine known to Europeans as Broughton, to develop his land grant there.

This painting by Ian Hansen shows the loss of poor Davison and Kelly at the entrance to Shoalhaven River aboard the cutter Blanch at 4pm on the 23rd June 1822.

Cutter Description:
The Cutter during the 18th and 19th centuries was a small, single-masted vessel, fore-and-aft rigged, with two or more headsails, a bowsprit, with a mast set further back than in a sloop.

While attempting to cross the bar into the river in a small boat, two people drowned, including Davison, who was the boy that Berry had rescued from the 'Boyd'. Given the danger, Berry arranged to drag the Blanche across a sand bar that separated the Shoalhaven River from the Crookhaven River, with the Crookhaven entrance offering a safer passage. Hume then oversaw the digging of a canal in essence to keep the convicts occupied while Berry was away exploring, they eventually dug a channel two hundred and ninety yards long and 18ft wide at the surface and 4 ft wide at the base and an average  depth of 3ft, quite a feat using only hand tools, thus constructing the first land navigable canal in Australia.

berry-canal If you would like to see the Canal today, take the scenic trip across the Comerong Island Punt…what you will be travelling across is the canal..

Biography Read more
Coolangatta Estate history Read more

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