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.

5 April 2014

On this day – April 5th 1812

George_William_Evans_Explorer,_1780-1852,_NLAThe crossing of the Shoalhaven River - George Evans wasn’t the first, despite his claim.
The explorer George Evans claimed to have been the first white man to cross the Shoalhaven River 1½ miles west of the present location of Nowra. Evans was on his way north from Jervis Bay.
The crossing by Evans and his party took 6 hours.
However, he was not the first.
Survivors of the “Sydney Cove”, wrecked on Preservation Island Tasmania, walked to Port Jackson in 1797 (see May 15th). They must have crossed the Shoalhaven River about April 26th/27th of that year.
And survivors of the cutter “Nancy”, shipwrecked south of Jervis Bay walked to Port Jackson in 1805 April 20th.
So George Evans wasn’t the first, despite his claim.

This situation does not diminish George W Evans other great exploits – Read more

But this leads us to more remarkable story’s of survival along our coast.

The tragic and harrowing story of the Sailing Ship the Sydney Cove.
Built: Calcutta.
Type: Square rigged merchant ship.

An example of the type of ship - Alexander’ (Marine Artist Frank Allen)

Leaving Tasmania on 10th of November 1798 she encountered heavy seas in December and started to leak.
She ran into more bad weather and the severity of the leak meant the pumps had to be manned continually.
The ship struck more bad weather and the leak had become unmanageable ad the bailing efforts couldn't cope. By February the 9th 1797 with water up to the lower-deck hatches, and in imminent danger of sinking, Hamilton decided to ground the stricken vessel on an island north of Tasmania, now called Preservation Island, in the Furneaux Group. He chose a sheltered location, so everyone was able to get ashore safely and most of the cargo was saved, too. Salvaged rum was stored safely out of the crew's reach, on nearby Rum Island.

Sydney_Cove_Plaque-14922-23400A desperate walk to safety.
17 set off only 3 men survived the journey.
A party of 17 men set off on the 28th February in the ship longboat to reach help in Port Jackson 400 nautical miles (740 km away}. Ill fortune struck again and they were wrecked on the mainland at the northern end of Ninety Mile Beach.

Their only hope was to walk along the shore all the way to Sydney, a distance of over 600 kilometres.
They had few provisions and no ammunition, and fatigue and hunger lessened their number as they marched. Along the way they encountered various aboriginal people, some friendly and some not. The last of the party to die on the march was killed by a man named Dilba and his people near Hat Hill. Those people had a reputation around Port Jackson for being ferocious. Matthew Flinders and George Bass had feared for their safety when they encountered Dilba the previous year.

Nearly 60 days after starting the walk in 1797 the three survivors of the march, William Clark, sailor John Bennet and one lascar had made it to the cove at Wattamolla and, on 15 May 1797, with their strength nearly at an end they were able to signal a boat out fishing, which took them on to Sydney.

This remarkable walk was the first known European exploration of the south eastern coast of Australia and marked the first contact between Aboriginals and Europeans in this area.

Of course this is a condensed story for the full story of this remarkable true tale explore the links below, It’s a tale well worth reading.


The Cutter Nancy.
sloop-silo-2The Nancy was wrecked on 18 April 1805 near Jervis Bay, Australia.
The Nancy was a wooden sloop of some 20 tons constructed in 1803 on the Hawkesbury River, New South Wales by Kable & Co. It arrived in Sydney on its maiden voyage on 17 October 1803. On 18 April 1805, the Nancy commanded by Captain Demaria was just off Jervis Bay when a violent squall hit the area. The Nancy's mainsail split and the ship could make no leeway. Everything on board was washed overboard and then the ship struck a small sandy beach between two headlands. The ship promptly broke up with one crew member, Richard Wall, from Exeter, drowning. The remaining crew walked to Sydney, arriving on 1 May 1805

An interesting story.
“The same morning the hull parted, and shortly after went to pieces, the continued violence and rapidity of the surf preventing any part of the cargo from being saved; and such few articles as were washed ashore were carried off by the natives, who, though they offered no personal violence, had become too numerous to be resisted. One of the people, whose conduct Mr. Demaria, the master of the vessel, notices as being in all respects opposite to that of his brethren, cheerfully undertook to conduct his distressed party round to Jervis’s Bay [Jervis Bay], for which place they set out on the morning of the 20th, and reached it the same evening; and net morning perceiving that the natives, possibly with no other design than the gratification of curiosity, were clustering round them from all directions, it was considered most advisable to commit themselves to the Providence that had thus far bountifully preserved them, to make the best of their way for Sydney by pedestrian travel. Destitute of provisions, without a musket, except one that was useless and only borne to intimidate the natives, the proposal was readily concurred in, and after a terrible journey of eleven days, lengthened much by the inundated state of the country, they attained the much-desired object on Wednesday night last, crippled by fatigue, and reduced to the last extremity by actual want.”


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