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.

27 August 2014

Discovery of gold at Yalwal.


1872 - August 24th - The Shoalhaven news announced the discovery of gold at Yalwal.


The Homeward Bound crushing and processing plant.

This led to a rush to make ones fortune by mining gold, within a few years, there were 7 mines working and many more small diggings.
A small town grew to support the miners. A post office, a Public School with around 40 children attending.
1890 - The town sports event drew a crowd of 200.
1891 -  There was enough people to support three stores, a bank and a hotel. Eventually the gold petered out and the population left.
1939 - A savage bushfire devastated what was left and saw the end of the mining town and mining.

Yalwalites - a word used by the contemporary press to describe the miners and residents of the Yalwal gold field in the Shoalhaven district of N.S.W.

 Jumping Ship.
At it’s peak the lure of gold drew people from far and wide and ship captains were reluctant to stop at Jervis Bay, for fear of loosing their crew as they jumped ship and headed to the Gold fields, hoping to make their fortune.


“The sleepy town would awaken to the deafening sound of silence.”
The stampers from all the different mines in the valley used to operate twenty-four hours a day, six days a week.
Rex Continued. ‘When the stampers would stop on the stroke of midnight, the whole town would instantly awaken from their sleep because of the deafening silence. But on Sunday midnight that painful noise would begin all over again”.
…..Extract from Yalwal Gold….David Gleeson.

“That fire it just exploded thru the valley.”
An account of the terrible day in 1939 by Rex. This whole valley was burnt out you know. Town and all. The fire swept through the whole valley and up those hills in less than an hour.”
Rex said that everything just began to erupt into fire. The very air itself seemed as if it was going to burst into flames”

……Condensed extract from Yalwal Gold…..David Gleeson.

Danjera Dam.
Located west of Nowra the area is now the site of the Danjera Dam, a part of the Shoalhaven Water Supply. Once the dam was built the rising water covered all trace of the old town and many of the small mines dug into the hill side.

On one of my own visits around 1985 the dam water level was very low, while canoeing we came across many mining tunnels exposed by the low water going back into the hill side, tempting as it was to paddle into these dark tunnels dripping with water, common sense prevailed, leaving us to imagine how far back they might go.


The low water level in 1985 exposed the gold stamper which was normally half covered by water and many hidden mines.


  My daughter outside the entrance of a mine.


Yalwal mine 1985, you had to stoop over to enter this mine, we went back several hundred meters into the dark and pondered the sheer effort and determination it would have taken to dig this tunnel by hand, the mine still had railway tracks on the floor and one of the mine trollies outside.

If you visit the area you can explore some of the mines, see the old Gold stamp press on the banks of the dam and a visit to the old grave yard is fascinating.


The  Museum has a fantastic book for purchase about Yalwal. including first hand accounts by Rex Fletcher at 86 years old, the last resident folk history and story teller left in the area…… written by David Glasson.


25 August 2014


August 24th 1872 Shoalhaven News announced the discovery of gold at Yalwal west of Nowra.
More to this story soon.

20 August 2014

The “John Bolton”… Launched at Huskisson 1933

Fan far and celebration for a little ship that would sail the uncharted seas.
Sat February 1933. Alf Settree was overseeing the launching of another one of his magnificent wooden ships into Currumbene creek. The 500 ton ‘John Bolton”.
142-John-Bolton-ready-for-launch When a new vessel was being launched into the “creek” it was always met with great enthusiasm and celebration, The launching of the John Bolton drew a large crowd that gathered on the waterfront to witness the launch.

From early morning the workmen had been busy preparing for the launch at high tide.

By 9.30 everything was ready for the Hon. C.Marr Minister for Health and Repatriation, who would be assisted in the christening ceremony by Mrs. Marr.
Mr Morris manager of the American Shipping Co., presided over the opening, in his opening remarks stated “that practically the whole of the timber used in the vessel was obtained locally, a fact of which the district should be proud”".
737-The-John-Bolton Designed for trade in the islands of New Guinea, and was named  “Bolton” after John Bolton Carpenter, pioneer of W.R. Carpenter and Co.
Mr Marr. “It might be interesting to tell you, that the contract for the ship was obtained in open competition with the world.”
Mrs. Marr then released the suspended bottle of Champaign and Christened the vessel “Bolton” and wished her every success.
The vessel moved off gently and took to the water as graceful as a swan to the accompaniment of cheering and applause.
With the celebration over, she was moored to Huskisson Wharf and loaded with a cargo of 140 tons of spotted gum, the job was finished by lunch time Sunday.
She was then towed by the Illawarra Co.’s ship the Kianga to Sydney, where the engines will be installed and the cabins and fittings completed, before sea trials.
Sydney April 12th – Start of the Sea Trials.
Just two months after her launch at Huskisson she was ready for sea trials.

She was leaving port under her own power for the first time, as the John Bolton passed Fort Denison on her way to Bradley’s Head the “Barcamul”", a 237 ton trawler left her port at Woolloomooloo Bay.
The vessels collided at right angles, the steel stem of the trawler striking the John Bolton close to the Starboard bow and tearing a great hole, described as “large enough for a man to crawl through”, which extended from the deck to the waterline.
Water immediately rushed through the strained planking, the pumps were set going at once.
Realising the ship was in danger of sinking, Captain Cruickshank turned her towards the nearest shallow, Rushcutter Bay.
The Barcamul bore little trace of the collision.
George Dent injured in collision.At the time George H. Dent 45 shipwright of Huskisson was working in the galley, was thrown heavily and received head injuries. He was treated in Sydney Hospital where it was found he was not seriously hurt.

George Dents recollection of the incident.
Dent said, “he remembered very little of the incident, except that he was working in the galley when he was suddenly knocked off his balance, and hurried across the floor to a corner, where he struck his head on a post. He was temporarily rendered unconscious, when he recovered there were shouts of confusion on the deck above, and it was only then that he realised that a smash had occurred”.

Mr. Alf Settree leaps to mans rescue.
One man who leaped overboard and probably would have drowned, was rescued by the builder of the motorship, Mr. Alf Settree, who followed him into the water, and supported him until they were pulled back to the boat with a line. A number of other members of the crew were thrown off their feet by the impact, some suffering minor injuries, for which they were subsequently treated by ambulance officers.
30th May 1933 - John Bolton arrives at Samarai.Just one month later after her eventful start she arrived in Samarai for the start of her Island trade.
”W. R. Carpenter's new island motorship John Bolton arrived early this morning after an excellent passage from Sydney. The average speed was 8 knots. After effecting registration, the vessel, under Captain Cruickshank, will sail for Rabaul”.
18th Dec 1945 “John Bolton” sunk by Japanese. AWM…
After many years of service throughout the Islands of the pacific and sometime during the late stages of WW2 the John Bolton met her end at the hands of the Japanese.
This is the only record I have found that relates to the sinking of the John Bolton.

If you have any more details please contact us - contact details above.



18th January 2016
We received this letter from Kim Flemming of London
He has added the details below to the story of the John Bolton.

On your interesting blog about this vessel you invite others to add to its story.  I can contribute two or three facts.

1 In "The Register of Australian and New Zealand shipping, 1874-1949" a vessel with this name is listed, although some of the details appear to be wrong (there are numerous acknowledged errors in this book).  It is shown as being registered at Samarai, but then as having foundered at Witu Island in 1949, which contradicts other more reliable accounts.

2 The MV John Bolton was certainly chartered by Sir Harry Maude's Phoenix Islands Settlement Scheme, which began in 1938, to carry Gilbertese people to the islands.

3 In January 1940 the vessel delivered supplies to the British administrator (my great uncle) on Canton Island.  It had come from Beru (in the southern Gilbert islands), very probably having loaded from Suva in Fiji in November of the previous year.

With best wishes.

Kim Fleming

Thanks you Kim for the information,  most interesting.

17 August 2014

Historic building at Milton. 1887

Built 1887 by William Riley and his six sons, it was originally a general store.
Located on the corner of the Princes Highway and Croobyar Road south of Milton.

14 August 2014

Jervis Bay’s noisy visitors.


If you live within earshot of the bay you may have heard two very loud blasts from a ships horn this morning.
The Australian Navy Ship Newcastle was on the bay doing “force protection maneuvers”.
This is where the ship is put under attack from small speed boats and the ship implements procedures to deal with the threat, the exercise is designed to get the ships battle ready.
The loud blasts echoed across the bay and the surrounding suburbs.
There are at present, HMAS Stuart, Newcastle, Dimontina and Gascoyne in the bay.

13 August 2014

Reported in the Brisbane Courier Mail 9th June 1891- the disappearance to the steam ship Taramung, and the discovery of wreckage near Jervis Bay.



picture from state library of victoria Description: print : wood engraving.
Image consists of main sketch of steamship and an inset with portrait of its captain.
Captain Page.
Around 30 years of age, he was well known as a careful and capable ship master.
Taramung was his first command and he had served on her for three years.
the late captain page
At the time of her disappearance she was reported to have been “deeply laden with 1672 tons of coal”, but not over laden, and still 2inches above her water line. She was employed on her regular run between Newcastle and Melbourne and was due to arrive in Melbourne on the 2nd of June 1891.

30th May 11pm - She left port with fine weather, but shortly after a fierce S.E. gale set in, raising a tremendous sea. Other vessels much more powerful than the Taramung had as much as they could do to face the seas, and even the P.and O. mail steamer Carthage shipped seas forward for hours in a most alarming manner.

June 1st - Reports recorded she was last seen by the S.S. Federal off the coast of Jervis Bay and appeared to be going along all right. She failed to pass Gabo Island and it’s feared she may have foundered in the gale battering the coast.
 Wreckage found by Tomerong fisherman.
A telegram from Melbourne says that a quantity of wreckage has been found in Wreck Bay.
It was from Joachim Moss, a fisherman of Tomerong, and was addressed to the telegraphic authorities. The message stated that he had that day found on the beach at Wreck Bay a quantity of wreckage, including a vessel's wheel 4ft. in diameter, a ship's barometer newly broken, and a wrecked ship's boat with the oars marked " s.s. Taramung."
Conflicting report - Tamamung Safe.
Another telegram was recieved stating that the Tamarang had arrived safely at Melbourne, but subsequently it was learned that the steamer Easby had been mistaken for the Taramung.
taramung Unfortunate Passage.
The number of souls on board was 23 including one unfortunate passenger Miss Moss, who had been on a visit to her sister at Newcastle. On the morning of the day the Taramung left Newcastle this young lady received news of the death of her father at Melbourne, and booked by this vessel as being the quickest means of returning.

As unfortunate as Miss Moss’s story is, there is another of good fortune.
Mr. Anderson, the second engineer of the Turamung, was not with her on this trip, he having remained in Melbourne to undergo one of his examinations for the qualification of chief engineer.

S.S.TARAMUNG. -- Capt. Page.
1880 – Taramung -  built by Russell at Cartsdyke Glasgow Scotland in 1880 for Carson & McIlwraith Melbourne Australia.
Launched on the 13th Jan a iron screw-steamer of the following dimensions.
Length, 246 feet, breadth of beam 33 feet 6 inches, depth of hold, 16 feet 6 inches, and 1281 tons gross.

Link to digitised item: http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/258514

Moonrise over Jervis Bay


August 12th, 8pm - The moon had an orange glow as it came up and passed behind the moving storm clouds. A magic moment over Jervis Bay.

12 August 2014

A gentleman with birds.


Bird hunting use to be a popular activity in the early 1800’s
This picture taken in Huskisson, shows a well dressed man holding a string full of birds. No explanation accompanies the photograph as to why this ‘gentleman” might be holding the birds or where they were hunted.

6 August 2014

Supermoon Sunday the 10th August

moon-august-6th A supermoon is when the full moon makes its closest approach to Earth in its orbit. This Sunday, Aug. 10, is the full moon and it will be just 221,675 miles away, making it the closest approach to Earth in 2014.

Id suggest everyone brave the cold and get outside on Sunday Night,,,The last Supermoon event was back in July and it was amazing to see. With a bit of luck the sky will be clear.


This picture taken last Supermoon event in July at midnight.

5 August 2014

Steamer for Jervis Bay – the Sophia Jane.



1831 Sophia Jane was the first paddle steamer to operate in the coastal waters of NSW.
She was built in England and arrived in Sydney in 14th May 1831.


The arrival of the Sophia Jane was greeted with much fan fair and expectation, this new age of steam would herald in a new spirit to the coastal districts.

1831 the Australian.
Part of a report in the Australian newspaper June 1831 illustrates the great expectations the arrival and operation of the Sophia Jane would bring to the coastal communities.

“Persons will shortly be able, we expect, to breakfast in town, lunch at Newcastle, dine at Port Stephens,
and put up comfortably at Port Macquarie next morning, at half the present expense and in quarter the time,
for the journey to Wallis's Plains. Should she not find enough to do between this and Newcastle the route to
and from Hobart Town lies open, and the Western Port, when the fine line of coast about there shall be settled.”

Said to be a very beautiful build and a good sea boat. She was commanded by Lieutenant Edward Biddulph R.N. who was also part owner. She was originally constructed for the almost exclusive accommodation of passengers.
No expense had been spared in fitting her out and the apartments were said to be of the finest description. There were three separate cabins (one for gentlemen, one for ladies and one for steerage). Sixteen beds could be made up in the gentlemen's room, 11 in the ladies and 20 in steerage. In an emergency extra beds could be prepared making a total accommodation of 54.
Her value was estimated to be £7,500 and she arrived from England with an experienced engineer and a duplicate set of all the necessary apparatus. She was considered very fast and could make the 60 miles between Newcastle and Sydney in under 8 hours.

By 1842 The Sophia Jane was also plying regularly between Sydney and Wollongong.

Capture 1 from trove - 1843 - the australian newspaper.

Shipping Notice in ‘The Australian” 1842

South Huskisson
By this time the private township of South Huskisson had grown into a small but important coastal port servicing the wool industry.
Edward Deas Thomson subdivided his unprofitable farmland to form the private township of South Huskisson,
(located where Vincentia is today) the township grew to 15 hotels, blacksmith's shops and many other trading places including a brothel in Church Street.
When the bullock train arrived, the jinkers loaded with wool were backed to the water, the bales were loaded into small boats and taken out to the moored ships.


Image of a typical wool loaded jinker.
Public Domain

a successful meeting raised money to build a wharf, some of the hewn sandstone blocks from the wharf area still visible at low tide near the Holden St boat ramp.
The Sophia Jane was  most active running to Sydney twice monthly.


This painting depicts the Sophia Jane being loaded with hay bales on the wharf at South Huskisson (Vincentia) in 1843.
The other ship is the barque Cygnet.
Marine painter. Ian Hansen.

The decline.
A drought started the decline in Jervis Bay traffic and pressure to government's by Sydney wool merchants, businessmen along the Melbourne Rd and the developers of the Twofold Bay saw the end of the Jervis Bay wool trade. South Huskisson being a private development obtained no assistance from the government of the day, some shipping continued but by 1858 the settlement was virtually deserted.

The end of the Sophia Jane.
1845 her timbers showed signs of decay. and her owners deemed it necessary to have another hull built and the old engines installed. This vessel ‘the Phoenix’ was launched in 1846 and continued in the trade until 27th July 1850 , when she was totally wrecked on the Clarence River Bar.

Sophia Jane Specifications.

256 ton brig rigged paddle steamer she was 126 feet long, breadth 20ft and could travel 8 miles and hour, she was an auxiliary steamer.
A two-masted sailing ship with auxiliary steam power. The advantage was supposed to be that the ship could sail up-wind when it was convenient, and additionally, it could use the steam power to move relative to the wind to obtain a more advantageous angle to the wind.

In practice, the disadvantages combined rather than the advantages. The type had great wind-resistance, leading to an increased use of fuel up-wind compared to a pure steam ship. At the same time, the requirement to store coal reduced the cargo space over that of a sailing ship. It thus combined the slow speed, high maintenance and poor righting (ability to resist capsize and wind) of a sailing ship with the small cargo space and fuel expense of a steam ship.

REF: http://www.jenwilletts.com/Steamers.htm
Top painting. P.S. SOPHIA JANE - from a painting by Dickson Gregory, image No.; 2805501, courtesy State Library of Victoria.

1 August 2014

On this day – Nowra Bridge opens

1st August - 1881 - The bridge over the Shoalhaven River at Nowra was opened by Hon John Lackey MLA, Minister for Works.
The bridge was originally built high to allow for navigation and to be flood free. It has never been covered by water. Its official name is the “Nowra Bridge”. It cost a total of £42,500.

Previous post about the bridge here. Continue reading more.