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.

29 September 2014

When Jervis Bay turned green

Who remembers when Jervis Bay turned bright green.
It happened in 2001, it was really amazing to witness, It was so green even the clouds above were green from the reflection.
It happened quickly, only taking a few days to completely cover the whole bay.
I remember it caused great concern at the time, but eventually it was found to be harmless, but the authorities still advised caution when entering the water.

I remember Husky pool turned almost fluro green as well.

I'm having trouble finding out any more information about the algae, if you can help out please don’t hesitate to contact us.
jan1st 2000

This photo is from the CSIRO and clearly shows just how amazing this strange event was.

Comment from:
Ian Osterloh i remember it well, I can't remember exact details off the top of my head nut I'm guessing it was 'Noctiluca' which is a species of dinoflagellate. It can be either a red or green bloom and in this case a green but quiet often you will see red. Usually caused by by nutrient rich water from upwellings... and because the bay is shallow with plenty of light penetrating throughout the entire water column it provides great growing conditions.
Realistically the bay is a great location for blooms like this as it is a shallow bay giving it great growing conditions close to the shelf making susceptible to plenty of upwellings of nutrient rich water.

Thanks Ian, I new someone out there had some more details.

S.S Corangamite – 6 December 1886



1886 the SS. Corangamite designed specifically to meet the growing intercolonial passenger and cargo trade set off from Melbourne on a voyage to Sydney carrying 100 passengers and 40 crew.

Travelling along the the south coast near Wreck Bay she encountered dense fog.

Commanded by Captain Le Neveu, she is regarded as a beautiful ship fitted up with every appliance for the comfort of her passengers a steel screw steamer, 2420 tons gross, 90.92 m (300ft) length, built at Wallsend on Tyne, UK, 1885.

8.am December 6th - Her voyage came to an abrupt end when she ran aground onto the headland in the Wreck Bay region early in the morning.
Fortunately the sea conditions were calm and after the initial impact all haste was made to get her passengers to safety, most of her passengers were taken to Ulladulla by the ships boats to catch the first steamer thence to Sydney. Boarding another steamer the SS Kiama must have been a nervous process after the passengers recent experience The SS Kiama arrived in Sydney on the 8th December delayed through having in tow the disabled steamer Civility.
An exciting event filled trip for all concerned and one I'm sure they were glad to finish.


Allan C. Green collection. Watercolours of steamships. - Green, Allan C., 1878-1954, (artist.
Perilous Position

The SS Coramgamite was stuck firm, there were dangerous rocks under her amidships and one bump in getting her off may cause her to be smashed up, but there was hope she would be floated off.

6th December, Herald telegram  - The Corangamite was making water fast in her fore compartment raising concern.

8th December, All attempts to-day to get off the steamer Corangamite have failed.

10th December, We have been pumping for 1 hour without gaining, we shall pull at her this tide relying greatly on the second pump and the Eagles assistance.
The rescue party still had great hopes of refloating the Corangamite, with calm seas and two pumps and two tugs the Eagle and Stormcock working and the incoming tide expected at 7am on the 11th December.

Holding together splendidly.

Even in the calm seas she was striking heavily in the aft, but the ship was holding together splendidly no straining was shown on deck. As the rescue attempt was being organised various moveable objects were being removed from the vessel, a piano, marble baths, cabin fittings, compasses, lamps and other ships fitting.

S.S. Corangamite a total loss.
22nd December, Despite repeated attempt to refloat the vessel by the 22nd December in heavy seas the vessel broke up and became a total wreck.

The area where this once beautifully fitted out wreck lies is now known by the locals as “Corangamite”, the remains of the wreck lie in around 15 meters of water, not much is left of the wreck…ballast blocks can be found and are the only signs that it is the final resting place of a once magnificent vessel.

If you have any information regarding this wreck please contact the Museum.


25 September 2014

Naval Drill Practice at Huskisson.

Since 1911 when the Commonwealth selected the site of Captain's Point for the Royal Australian Naval College, the navy has been an interregnal part of Jervis Bay maritime history.
Below is a photograph from the Denman Archives showing Navy practice drills on Owen street Huskisson in the 1930’s

24 September 2014

Did you know?

Ever wondered how or why a place was named?

pp Pt Perpendicular
Originally named “Pt Upright” by Cpt. James Cook in 1770 as he sailed by the bay, due to perpendicular cliffs.
The name was changed to its existing name during colonial times.
Untitled_Panorama1 Murrays Beach
Commemorates the late Cecil McLeod Murray, who established the first mechanical workshop in Sawtell.

Cape St George
23 April 1770. Cook. It was discovered by Cook on St George's Day. The lighthouse built at St George's Head had to be destroyed because it was built in the wrong place, and was a danger to shipping.


Sussex Inlet
Recorded by surveyor Thomas Florence in 1827 as Sussex Haven




Shipbuilding on the shore of Currumbene creek.


This image is one of many beautiful images you can find by visiting the Trove web site.

22 September 2014

Antique Fair 4th-5th-6th October

Only a few days to go before the Antique Display and Fair is on at the Museum.
I bet you have an object or two at home handed down from your old granny that you have always wondered about?
Is it worth anything?…. How old is it?…. Who made it? Well if you bring it along to the Museum you can have all those questions answered.
We have 26 of Australia’s top collectors and traders displaying a wide range of products.
We also have special guest Gordon Brown from the ABC Collectors show at the museum who will be doing appraisals.
OPEN - 10AM – 4PM.

Museum Markets. Sat 4th
And if this wasn’t enough on Saturday 4th we have the Museum Markets held on the grounds of the Museum….so come along, and treat yourself to a fantastic day out…

19 September 2014

1918 Horse Drawn Transport

In our mad world of rushing around these days, it’s hard to imagine a time when getting to Nowra from Huskisson and back could have been such an adventure.
Barney McTiernan's Service Coach

11 September 2014

Huskisson Jervis Bay

In contrast to the conditions the poor souls aboard the SS Dandenong were facing 138 yeas ago, today was a glorious day on the south coast,  the sea and wind were calm.
Time exposure taken around 9.30pm..

The sinking of the SS Dandenong off Jervis Bay September 1876.

40 lives lost to the cruel sea. 
Amongst the many sea stories that have come across my desk from the 1800’s the story of the sinking, heroics, self sacrifice and loss of life on the SS Dandenong is truly a sad tale and one of the worst sea tragedies of its time in these waters.

SS Specifications: The Dandenong iron screwed steamer, 743 tons, built 1867, length 291 ft, beam 28ft 2in, constructed with three water tight compartments.
Described as being of sturdy build, with all equipment of the highest standard.
A well known and respected regular on the Melbourne to Sydney run.

Friday afternoon September 8th 1876.
In good weather the passenger steamer SS Dandenong left Melbourne on the 8th of September under the command of Captain Irwin carrying 53 passengers.
Like so many other earlier ships before her, she had no idea what lay ahead, near Wilsons Promontory she started to run into foul weather, as she travelled further up the coast the winds became gale force, the sea rose and became very violent.

1.30am Monday morning the 10th.
Nearing Jervis Bay passengers sleeping in the officers quarter in the aft part of the ship were awakened by a sudden shock beneath them, inspection revealed she had broken her propeller shaft, tearing a hole in her and she immediately began taking water.
The crew worked hard to stem the flow by using blankets, bedding and anything else they thought might help stop the leak. But the attempts were futile as the aperture around the shaft was very large, and she began to settle by the stern, water extinguished the boiler fires and the pumps failed.
In an attempt to lighten the ship her cargo of malt, rice, tea, kerosene, iron and furniture were jettisoned, but this had no effect on the water rushing in.

All hope of saving the ship are gone, lifeboats are readied.
Captain Irwin ordered the lifeboats to be readied and get prepared to leave the ship.

Ensign Union Down

Monday 11th 2.30pm – The Barque, Albert William arrives on the scene.
The Dandenong crew observed sails on the weatherbow, which proved to be the Barque Albert William, the crew of the Dandenong immediately hoisted the Ensign, union down, the Albert William observed the Dandenong’s distress signal and “hove to” all the while the crew and passengers were manually pumping and using buckets to try and decrease the rising water below.
Communication between the vessels was ongoing and plans were implemented to get the lifeboats away. The first lifeboat was launched from the Dandenong with the chief officer and four men taking charge and about 18 passengers managing to get into the life raft, mostly women and children.

‘‘The sea was terrific but five adults and eight children succeeded in getting into the lifeboat,’’ the chief officer said.

‘‘But on getting alongside the Albert William, the barque rolled so heavily she struck her and split her in two, precipitating all aboard into the water.’’

One child, two men and the chief officer were saved, the rest drowned.

A second boat successfully carried many to safety, however a collision between this and a third boat cost more lives, and when darkness fell more than 30 still remained aboard the doomed vessel.

The Albert William, having rescued 28 passengers and 12 crew, stayed alongside the sinking steamer throughout the night.

The S.S. Dandenong foundering off Jervis Bay, 1876 - Gregory, George Frederick

8.30pm Monday Lights of the Dandenong disappear.
In the minds of nautical men, there remains but little doubt that when the look out on board the Albert William lost sight of her lights between 8-9 o’clock, she foundered, and all of those on board not one being left to tell the sad tale of what took place from the time darkness set in.

Described as “labouring like a log in the sea” with her bows smashed in there was little hope of finding her afloat and “taking all matters into consideration, there can be but little doubt when plunging down one of the heavy seas she went to the bottom stern first”

9am Tuesday.
After searching from first light no trace of the Dandenong could be found, the yards were squared, and the Barque kept away on her course for Newcastle.

At daybreak no sign could be seen of the Dandenong. The scene at the time of the rescue was described as ‘‘heartrending’’. A little girl who had been saved lost her mother, father, three brothers and two sisters. One boy saved lost his mother.

As soon as news of the tragedy became known, several boats were dispatched to assist, including one belonging to the Bulli Coal Company. Telegrams were also sent to Wollongong and Kiama, asking if vessels could join the search and rescue.

Two orphans and the stewardess rescued from the Dandenong
Collection from the Wollongong City Library and the Illawarra Historical Society.

Forlorn hope.
”The telegraph office and the office of the owner Captain W.Howard Smith in Market street, were frequently visited throughout the day by the relatives of those still left on board the steamer on Monday night when darkness set in.
They were in continual hopes that a telegram might be received announcing the return of one of the searching ships with the Dandenong in tow”.

Shock and disbelief.
At first news of the sinking was met with skepticism, but when the telegrams confirmed the reports the news of the sinking and the fate of the passengers was met with great shock and melancholy.

The enquiry’s final verdict, They acted with great bravery.

Capture 5

CaptureA Court of Inquiry found that the captain, officers and crew did all in their power to save the ship.

The wreck of the Dandenong has never been found.

Link to a folk song about the Wreck of the Dandenong - http://ozfolksongaday.blogspot.com.au/2011/10/wreck-of-dandenong.html

Painting details

Title:    [The S.S. Dandenong foundering off Jervis Bay, 1876] / G.F.G
Creator:    Gregory, George Frederick, c. 1824-1887
Description:    1 painting : watercolour ; 38 x 50 cm

Meaning of
Hove to
1.In sailing, heaving to (to heave to and to be hove to) is a way of slowing a sail boat's forward progress.
2.To turn a sailing ship so that its bow heads into the wind and the ship lies motionless except for drifting.
Weatherbow: The side of the bow toward the wind.
Foundered: To fill with water and sink.


A Barque like the Albert William - has a minimum of three masts two of which are square-rigged, except the aft (mizzen) which is fore and aft rigged

9 September 2014

SS Mibbin and the SS Booyong

109-AWR-Settree Builder Alfred.William.Morrow Settree. (1820-1896)
Started building his own ships in 1903 on the Tweed River. After moving around building ships at many locations A.W.N Settree decided upon Huskisson to start a ship building industry.

Two of his early vessels were the SS Mibbin and the SS Booyong

Built for the the Tweed River passenger trade, both vessels were added to the G.C. Skinner Brothers passenger fleet in 1903.

The River Road
Road travel was still difficult and slow and river steamers provided a quick, convenient and efficient link between rail heads..
Both vessels were stylish additions to the Skinner Brothers fleet, and capable of carrying up to 200 passengers, although the photographs certainly seem to show with that many people on board it might not have been all that pleasant a journey.

As well as passengers, they were used to carry a wide range of goods for local traders as well.

These little ferry’s led very busy lives, running daily except Sundays between Murwillumbah and Tweed Heads, during their working life they were involved in many incidents.

Passengers boarding the ferry SS Mibbin (Mebben), A Skinner and Lowes River Passenger Service, at a small wooden jetty at Fingal, 1911
reference http://ehive.com/account/5051
Here are a just a few condensed accounts of incidents involving the SS Mibbin found during the research.
1. One of her crew had his hand severely crushed while oiling machinery.
1916. While underway a small child fell overboard, everyone was alerted when the mother let out loud screams. A passenger jumped overboard and after a harrowing swim against the current managed to reach the child, she was pulled on board and after some assistance regained full consciousness. 
1926. Mibbin, in charge of Captain Lowes, towed the pilot boat towards the bar after a lobster boat with 4 men was overturned in heavy seas while trying to enter the bar.
The sea was running to big for the Mibbin to venture out, all the men were eventually safely rescued.
1929. While on one trip with around 30-35 passengers, many of them women, she lost steerage after hitting a sand bar, the Mibbin was carried down the river at around 8 knots towards the bar the master was afraid of striking the retaining wall, but with skillful navigation he managed to keep her off the rocks.
Fortunately she became fast on a sand-spit which had formed just inside the river, all crew, passengers and cargo were safe.

Changing sand bars always created problems, she became stuck a number of times, delaying passengers, who often missed their train links.

Without these little hard working boats life at coastal and inland towns would have been a greater burden.

Below is a collection of images of the Mibbin and the Booyong. reference to these images can be found below..
119-SS-Mibbin capture 6 rvrkp4_6q5g_l
StateLibQld_1_298611_Unloading_passengers_off_the_steamboat_Booyong_at_Caves_Wharf_on_the_Tweed_River,_1913 Steamer tweed river postcard 118-SS-Booyong
Booyong ship Footballers picnic at Fingal Point Tweed Heads 1928

Mibbin beached on Tweed Heads shoreline 

http://picclick.com/Postcard-Tweed-River-NSW-Steamers-EMMA-PYERS-and-301229315406.html http://www.facebook.com/VintageQueensland?filter=3
article about a misshap of the ss mibbin at tweed heads.http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/94165440?searchTerm=ss%20mibbin&searchLimits=
Article about child falling overboard off ss mibbinhttp://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/125931348?searchTerm=ss%20mibbin&searchLimits=

8 September 2014

Crest Restoration

shed4The Crest Restoration Team
have released another video in it’s series following the progress of the restoration of this historic vessel located within the grounds of the museum.

3 September 2014

September Moods


The mood of Jervis Bay can change very quickly, A deep east coast low depression slowly moved off the coast today sending large swell into the bay.
This shot was taken very late in the afternoon as dark storm clouds and rain moved past the cliffs.
Point Perpendicular caught the last rays of the sun before disappearing into the west

1 September 2014

Point Perpendicular

The impressive and formidable cliffs that dominate the northern headland of Jervis Bay gave sanctuary, but sometimes became the scene of drama for sailors in the late 1700’s and 1800’s before the lighthouse was erected to warn passing ships of the dangers of sailing to close.

The last of the Sixty Milers.

Around 1975 I did my first dive with Canterbury Underwater Club. The club was made up of spear fishermen and experienced recreational scuba divers with a great interest in shipwrecks.
On my first dive with the club we travelled approximately 7 kilometers north from Sydney heads on board an old stinking fishing trawler with a dead gull hanging from the main mast it was hired as our dive platform for the day.
Our first dive was on the wreck of the Birchgrove Park a 640 ton coastal collier laying on her side in approximately 45 meters (150ft) of water.
A really fascinating dive, highlighted by the huge school of fish that hovered over her remains that parted and closed back in as you followed the anchor line down.
Large Kingfish circled and looked almost transparent as they travelled in and out of the the light rays.
The water on this day was very clear, it’s an amazing feeling leaving the surface, the weight of twin scuba tanks on your back, becoming aware of your breathing like never before. Slowly descending the water gets dimmer with depth and the excitement builds, the dark shape of this lonely piece of maritime history slowly starts to appear below. The wreck was still in good condition back then, we had anchored right on top of the wreck, hooked into some of the twisted structure, swimming down the side of the hull to the sea floor we were greeted with large Woobbygong Sharks laying on the sand.
At the time I didn’t know anything about the wreck or the circumstances leading to it’s sinking, but as I swam along it’s rusting hull and peered into the dark open hatches I wondered what the drama was that bought this coastal steamer to her final resting place. It sparked a fascination for wrecks and their stories, that has stayed with me since that first dive.

The Birchgrove Park. The last of the Sixty Milers.
birchgrove-park-24-july-193 Built in Scotland in 1930 she arrived in Sydney in 1930.
640 ton, 153ft 4in long.
She was fitted out for coal handling and serviced the east coast including Bulli, her main trade was north to Newcastle.
1941 – She was commissioned by the Navy and fitted with a 12 pond gun and used as a mine sweeper.
1945 - After her war service she was returned to her owners and recommenced her coal carrying operations.
1956 – In command by Captain Lynch and setting from Newcastle in mild sea conditions and expecting the same for the whole voyage, the Birchgrove Parks hatch covers were only covered by light tarpaulins.
A young crew of 14, 11 under the age of thirty eight.
….’She’s unsafe, one day she’ll go, I only hope I’m not on her”.
This fateful statement was made by second mate Thomas Kenny after the Birchgrove Park had surprisingly passed it’s latest Marine Survey.
Expecting good weather she set off…but only a half hour into her voyage she met a strong south east change and in a short time the sea’s character had changed dramatically with a quickly rising sea.
With her decks awash with water and entering her inadequately covered hatches and despite repeated attempts to address the situation she began to list badly to port.
With water rising in the hold fast the crew realized the collier was doomed, the Captain ordered all hands on deck and to put on their life jackets.
The ships crew huddled on deck trying to avoid being washed off, the Captain maintained his position on the bridge getting an SOS signal away to South Head Signal Station by lamp until the ship rolled over and started to sink.
2.45am - The Birchgrove Park capsized and sank on August 2nd
Rescue vessels rushed to the disaster and picked up 4 survivors, 10 drowned including Captain Laurence Lynch and second mate Thomas Kelly who spoken those fateful words..

Check Michael Fadyens site for some underwater images of the wreck

Video taken on the wreck.

I have wept for dear dead brothers, perished in the lost Dunbar.

Image from the collection of the
Power House Museum.

These words are a line from a poem penned by by Henry Kendall (1839 - 1882)

On the same day the club decided to do a second dive on the wreck of the Dunbar, one of Australia’s best known and tragic wrecks, she lies in shallow water just south of Sydney heads.
On our trip back from the Birchgove Park to the Dunbar site, I stuck up a conversation with experienced wreck diver John Sumner, he filled my head with stories about the ship wrecks he had dived and a brief history about the wreck of the Dunbar, John became a good friend and I did many wreck dives with him in the following years.
On this dive I was lucky enough to find a few relics from the wreck scattered about amongst the rocks.

Some of the relics can be seen here in a previous article on the Dunbar.

A Tragic loss of life.
Dunbar fdtd 1The Dunbar arrived off Sydney Heads on the night of Thursday, 20 August 1857 in appalling conditions. Heavy rain and squalls reduced visibility to a few hundred metres, obscuring the sandstone cliffs at the entrance to Port Jackson. Captain Green had made a number of visits to Port Jackson and had been captain on the Dunbar on its 1856 voyage. On the approach to Port Jackson in 1857 Green misjudged the ship’s position in relation to the heads because of the poor visibility. On the turn for the run into port he believed that they were approaching North Head. When the shout ‘breakers ahead!’ was heard, Captain Green, still believing their position to be north of the harbour entrance, ordered ‘hard-a-port’. Instead of entering the safety of the harbour, the Dunbar crashed onto boulders at the foot of South Head.
The impact brought down the masts, huge waves sank the lifeboats and the Dunbar heaved broadside in the swell. Lying on side on to the cliffs, the vessel broke up almost immediately. One man, able seaman James Johnson, was washed onto a ledge on the cliff face was the only survivor. The remaining 58 crew and all 63 passengers drowned. REF: http://www.migrationheritage.nsw.gov.au/exhibition/objectsthroughtime/dunbar/

James Johnson was later employed in the pilot service at Newcastle, New South Wales, and was instrumental in rescuing the sole survivor of the paddle steamer SS Cawarra wrecked there in 1866.

The Dunbar was launched on 30 November 1853 for London shipowner Duncan Dunbar and entered the passenger and cargo trade between London and Sydney early the following year

Below is a link to another poem that soul survivor James Johnson commented on. “ and I am certain that it is the best account I have seen in print”.