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.

10 December 2014

Southern Pencillings - By the Raven.

A trip to Jervis Bay1883. Australian Country Journal.
I will post this article written by the correspondent then know as ‘The Raven” in parts.  It’s quite long but takes you back to a time when things moved a little slower.
The article starts off by talking about his stay at the small village of Tomerong in the Travelers Rest Hotel opened by John Parnell in 1857. With the opening of the new southern route to Ulladulla Tomerong became the most important centre between Nowra and Milton, Parnell opened the hotel to cater to the commuters along the road. By 1862 Tomerong had it’s own school, post office and general store.
In 2012 the school celebrated it’s sesquicentenary, 150 years 1862 – 2012.

Waking up in Tomerong.

“It is early morning at Tomerong, the patter of the rain on the roof and against the window is the only sound to be heard, it’s painful regularity palls upon the ear.
Rising from bed and drawing up the binds, I notice that a uniform, dull laden hue pervades everything outside, there is evidently no sign of it clearing up today.

Despair seizes me - This makes the fifth day of imprisonment at Tomerong.Raven was clearly getting frustrated by this time, Tomerong was only around 5 miles away from his objective Jervis Bay, but with the state of the roads and lack of transport it might as well have been a million miles away.

Tomerong a place, under the most favourable circumstances, not calculated to inspire one with cheerful thoughts, Without companions and the books, except an ancient Robinson Crusoe, have three days of miserable incarnation been passed. The spotted china dogs, with guilt collars, and an expressionless stare, which are seated on the mantle piece and the fashion plates on the wall, for the year 1856, in which are several females, also expressionless and in balloon like attire are depicted, now cease to attract. Although the middle of November, a fire is not only welcome, but almost indispensible.
      For the sake of those who have never heard of Tomerong, I may say it consists of a public house, with post office adjoined – wise combination – school, and church, and that it is situated on the road between Shoalhaven and Ulladulla.
My object in coming here was to visit Jervis Bay, the nearest point of which, viz., at North Huskisson, is only about five mile distant.

The rain finally clears and his journey continues to Jervis Bay.

Accordingly the following day, the rain having at least ceasedand there being every prospect of fine weather, I set off for the bay in a buggy kindly placed at my disposal by my land lord (Mr Parnel), a well known identity. Very little, if any good or even cleared land is passed through on the road; the timber principally spotted gum and blackbutt, being of more value than the land upon which it grows, Several timber wagons drawn by bullocks are to be met with; timber getting being one of the main industries of the neighborhood”.


To be continued,
Entering Huskisson.

Finally, the Raven reaches Jervis Bay.
government-school-at-huskissonJust upon entering North Huskisson, one’s attention is attracted by an evidently poverty stricken little humpy leaning over so much as to require propping up by saplings. This, I am surprised to learn is the Government school, and has an attendance of 40 scholars. A new building was promised 12 months ago.
The small village of North Huskisson is situated at the north of Jervis Bay. at the mouth of Currumbene Creek. Shipbuilding is it’s main industry, the chief firms interested in this employment being those of Messrs. G. Dent, Thos, McCall and A Conlon respectively. Almost every description of craft is built by these firms; the favourite varieties of wood used being spotted gum for sailing vessels and pine for steamers. There is also a fair sized sawmill here.

A howling wilderness the home of the dingo and curlew,is all that is left of South Huskisson, at one time a large and prosperous township, a mile and a half from the above. It was originated with the idea of it’s becoming the shipping port for Braidwood, but in this the inhabitants, it is, perhaps, needless to state, were disappointed; hence the desolation.St Georges Head at the south of Jervis Bay, where is situated the lighthouse, attracts a great number of visitors, and is a favourite resort of fishing excursionists, shark and schnapper abounding in the locality.
It is some 15 miles distant from Tomerong, the nearest route being via St Georges Basin. a magnificent sheet of water, in shape and appearance reminds me of Sydney Harbour. On the north bank of this lake, or, more correctly speaking, arm of the sea, or, what would in Norway be called a “fjord.” are situated the estates of Messrs. William and Alexander Brice, to of the earliest settlers in the village. These two estates adjoin and together comprise 2560 acres, upon which dairying, as well as a small amount of agriculture. is carried on; They are well watered by the Wandandyan and several other smaller creeks.

A sketch of the residence of Mr. Alex Brice done by “Raven” during his trip.

A day on the Basin.

Being a guest under the hospitable roof of Mr.Willam Brice, a days boating in the Basin is proposed, and of course, gladly acceded to. A short walk brings us to the creek, on the brink of which is a neat little boatshed. We launch our craft, and after half an hours pulling, emerge into the open, upon which the sails are set, and our rate of progress through the water consequently materially increased, there being a pretty stiff breeze bowing at the time. The southerly gales more than any other are felt here.
The two or three fairy-like islands with which the Basin is studded are duly inspected and admired, for to see is to admire in their case.
Mr Raven must have been duly impressed with what he saw that day, especially with the amount of birdlife.
Water-fowl of almost every description are to be seen here.The well know instinct of the Britisher to kill is strong within me, but to satisfy this instinct were to break the laws of my adopted country, it being the close season. There is no law, however, against “running down” moulting swans. Although the sun had not long risen when we started on our trip, he had already been at rest for some time when we once more arrived at the little boat house, after a delightful and appetite-inspiring day.

Clearly from the Raven’s description the Basin was a happy hunting ground for wildlife, other than fish, It’s hard to imagine now that people looked at swans as a resource for food, but there is other evidence included in other articles supporting this. 
 ST-GEORGES-BASIN-VIEW A sketch of the Basin done by “Raven” during his trip.
To be continued. Horse hunting and a trip to St Georges Head.

Hunting horses is a favourite sport of the residents.
Numbers of wild horses in large mobs roam about this neighbourhood; hunting these is a favourite sport of the residence, The day following that spent on St.Georges Basin one of these hunts was organised; to join this, I was invited, but having already made arrangements for going to St, Georges Head, a distance of 11 miles, had to decline running the risk of breaking my next amongst the timber.
    After crossing an arm of St.Georges Basin by which means a great saving in the length of the journey, is effected, we – my host and self – find ourselves following the track to the Head, through as wretched and hungry looking a description of country as it has ever been my lot to see, grasstrees, oaks, reeds and sandstone forming prominent features in the landscape. Fortunately we are able to vary this otherwise monotonous journey by the occasional canter for a mile or two along a splendid beach, It was during one of these latter that I had me attention directed to the peculiar phenomenon known as the “Hole in the Wall”;.Of this I send a sketch, which will do away with the necessity of any further description.
A sketch of Hole in the Wall done by “Raven” during his trip.

”We came across the remains of Whales”

During this period a small whaling operation was using this part of Jervis Bay to process whales.
We also came across the remains of two or three Whales recently caught here. In travelling along the creek, several small creeks have to be crossed, in doing which, there is a certain amount of risk, in consequences of the existing quicksands. We, however, manages to arrive at our destination without any more serious mishap than my companion, in attempting at the commencement of our journey a short cut, finding himself suddenly rolling on the ground, and his horse bogged up to the girths, We did not try any more short cuts that day.

After what seems like an long and sometimes interesting journey Raven and Companion reached their destination, the majestic Cape St George Lighthouse. Raven goes on to describe the lighthouse and surrounds in great detail adding to our knowledge from this time.

A sketch of Cape St. George lighthouse done by “Raven” during his trip.

Cape St, George Lighthouse.

       The St.George lighthouse stands on a bold rocky promontory, as the sketch will show, and is superintended by Mr. Gibson, son of Captain Gibson, who for 30 years was pilot of Port Jackson. The tower is of the most substantial character, being built of massive cut stone, and, along with the assistants’ cottages, the signal staff, the meteorological instruments and the flag-room, is enclosed within a stone wall 4ft high. It is connected with Mr. Gibsons private residence, and the assistance’ quarters by a system of electric bells. The lights, nine in number  ( three red, three green, and three white ), are revolved by means of a clock work, which regulated as circumstances require; these lights are visible for a distance of from 15 to 25 miles. A public school is within a short distance. From the summit of the tower a magnificent view of the whole of Jervis Bay, 30 Miles in circumference, and about eight miles across, is to be had.
After partaking of Mr. Gibsons hospitality, we turn our faces homeward, and we are once more following the little-used track through some of the most barren land in Australia.
Another part of his journey has come to an end, it is apparent from Ravens’ correspondence a days journey in this part of the country at that time was something you didn’t take to lightly.
To be continued – Opinions as to the prosperous future sooner or later of Jervis Bay.
After a few exciting days at Jervis Bay the Raven concludes his story, seeing a prosperous future for the Bay.
Amongst the safest harbours of refuge on the east coast.
Opinions as the the prosperous future sooner or later of Jervis Bay are, I think, unanimous. The Admiralty records place it amongst the safest harbours on the east coast, being accessible in all weathers, and the “Nautical Almanac” describes it as ‘superior to Port Jackson, inasmuch as a fleet of the largest ironclads might enter in any conditions under weather, and choose anchorage in from five to six fathoms close in shore.” Some short time ago there was talk of a railway being constructed by the Victorian company from one of the rich coal seams of the coast range – if I remember alright, from the Jamberoo mountain – to this bay; but here the matter ended. It is generally thought that the Illawarra railway will have a terminus here. In regard to the most suitable landing place on this bay, Mr. J. Brache, C.E., late superintendent of mining surveys to the Geological Department of Victoria says; ‘A close investigation of the various landing places in Jervis Bay has decided me in favour of the beach from Plantation Point south towards Darling Roads. There a high beach, with rocky projections, approaches within a short distance, to deep water. six fathoms and over, enough depth for the largest tonnage vessels; whilst the adjoining hills contain stratas of good sandstone to freestone, available for wharf, jetties, and all other building purposes.’
The ‘Raven” has painted a picture of a beautiful, but harsh, and rugged landscape, interspersed with small pockets of activity of the early pioneers, it highlights the isolation and remoteness of Jervis Bay, but like so many other stories concerning the Bay from this period, the correspondents all come to the same conclusion, Jervis Bay has a prosperous future for industry and commerce if the infrastructures are built, the railway, and better shipping facilities being the main concerns.
Its interesting to note, despite much talk and promises these things never materialised.
Because of this inaction, we are fortunate to have the Bay the way it is today.
Additional ref. http://home.exetel.com.au/tomerong/history2/index.htm

No comments :

Post a Comment