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 January 2015

1933 - Mysterious plane parts found at Jervis bay.


A charred and rusted aeroplane wing was found at Jervis Bay, the Civil Aviation Authorities were puzzled by the find.
Aotearoa Many theories were put forward, most were discounted. It was thought they might be parts off the Ryan Monoplane “ the Aotearoa” which Moncreif and Hood, two New Zealanders, attempted to fly across the Tasman in 1928, they disappeared and were never found,  this was discounted.
southern cloud -  www.verdon-roe.co.uk

Another theory, It was thought it might have come from the Southern Cloud, an Avro 618,  The Southern Cloud flew daily air services, and during a trip between Sydney and Melbourne disappeared in March 1931 without a trace with 6 passengers and two crew, this was discounted once the relics were examined.


Another theory put forward, was it might have come from the R.A.A.F,  D.H.9A in which Captain W.J.Strutt and Sergeant Dalgell set out from Melbourne in 1920 to search for the Schooner Amelia J, reported missing in the Bass Straight area. The plane was not seen again, until wreckage was found floating near Fiji two years later over 2000 miles from the initial search area and that wreckage was believed to be from the missing D.H 9A. Examination of the wreckage found in Jervis Bay discounted this theory as well.

Senior air inspector Captain T.E Johnson:  The parts could not have come from any British machine in Australia as they were made to fit a machine with a big wing span, between 50 and 60 feet.

Another theory, They may have drifted from Hawaii, They may be parts from a machine which hurled into the Pacific during the Dole race from San Francisco to Hawaii in 1927.

Another Theory, During a visit of the American Fleet two single float seaplanes crashed. One fell into Port Phillip Bay and was never found, while the other crashed near Longueville.
And still another theory came forward, They may have belonged to a seaplane lost from a Scandavanian whaling fleet in the South Pacific, and the campers have used the wood and parts as fuel for fires.
It was thought the burnt parts could not have been burnt as bad as they were,  if the plane had caught fire in the air and fallen into the sea.
The final theory, advanced by authorities at Mascot, is that the parts belonged to a Curtis Flying Boat imported to Australia and never flown. The machine was lying on a beach near Botany Bay for some time, and subsequently,  parts were taken to a spot near Jervis Bay to be used for building a weekend camp.

The mystery still remains.  
Post Script. On 26 October 1958, a worker on the Snowy Hydro-electric Scheme named Tom Sonter was bushwalking on his day off. Near the little dam at Deep Creek, he came across the twisted wreck of a plane, and found some skeletons s well. The mystery of the Southern Cloud was finally solved.

"Airco D.H.9A ExCC". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Airco_D.H.9A_ExCC.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Airco_D.H.9A_ExCC.jpg
Southern Cloud: http://richandyon.com/?p=1402
Aeroplane Aotearoa: Lieutenant J R Moncrieff. Ref: 1/2-051197-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23228357


Coastal Steamer.


27 January 2015

Winter sport at Jervis Bay.

“Gill-birds make nice pies”
In 1912 an article appeared in the Sydney Mail under the heading “Outdoor Australia”
with the sub heading “Winter Sport at Jervis Bay.”

“The little township of Huskisson, which has only sprung up of late years, has become a favourite resort for fishermen and shooters.   There is comfortable accommodation in the boarding houses, a fine beach for surfing, splendid fishing, and in winter time Gillbirds coming in numbers afford good shooting and make nice pies.”

This had me thinking, what are Gill Birds
I had never heard the term before, then I remember seeing an interesting photo in the Denman’s collection.  There was no explanation attached to the photo, it actually looked a little strange.
It showed a well dressed man, holding a string of birds in the main street of Huskisson.

Here he is, standing next to a vehicle, packed with luggage and well dressed people,,,Where are they going?. where is he going? why does he have a string of dead birds in his hand?

This photo leaves us wondering.


Gill - Birds in this case, turned out to be a species better know as the Wattlebird. There known for their queer almost human call, suppose to be “Polly, be careful, Pickpocket.” is rather appropriate, as they are great fruit thieves, though also insectivorous.”


Husky Duck Derby

Put together by John Hill from the Denman Video Production team.

John said it was a fun day, it started off a little slow but soon the park was full of people, the tide and wind played havoc with the duck race, but everyone took it the spirit it was intended and had a fantastic day…The volunteer ladies from the Denman manned the lamington stand and raised a bit of money for the museum…well done…all in all a good fun family day.

23 January 2015

The Launch and destruction of the Colonial Built Steamer.

The Chindera
On Saturday morning the 10th of September 1895, the twin screw, timber steamer “Chindera”, was launched into the calm waters of Currambene Creek Jervis Bay, by ship builder Mr. G, W. Hardman, who was one of the shipbuilders working along the shores of Currambene Creek Huskisson in the late 1800’s, along side the Dent family of ship builders.

Specially built for the Tweed River passenger and cargo trade for the Nicoll’s Line, the new steamer was built exceptionally strong and will carry 180 tons on a easy draught.

P03849Another timber vessel being built at Huskisson.

Saturday 29th November 1895.
Trial trip goes well.

After being fitted out the Chindera made her trial trip with Mr. Nicoll and a large party of friends and recorded a speed of over nine knots, which was considered highly satisfactory. The Chindera is nicely fitted up for passengers, and on Saturday afternoon dressed in bunting from deck to masthead, she looked extremely smart.
Wednesday 9th September 1896
Chindera aground on the Tweed Heads Bar.
Almost exactly 12 months after her celebrated launch, the Chindera was aground on the Tweed River spit just inside the bar.

First Report’s of the disaster.
  “Still in same spot, but seas are now breaking over her.” By 7.30pm. the vessel was full of water and likely to become a total wreck. Some of the hands came ashore, but the master and engineer and two crew remained on board.
The Chindera was carrying 185 ton’s of coal and general cargo on board from Sydney when she struck at 9.30am. There was a heavy break on the bar, and a moderate southerly was blowing.
When the vessel was driven on the South Spit waves broke clean over her, washing overboard the deck cargo. The vessel bumped heavily, and commenced to make water. By days end, The steamers back appears to be broken and the hold full of water. There appears no possible chance of getting her afloat.
Marine board enquiry.
William Aksel Williamson, seaman on the Chindara, stated he served about 2 and a half months in the vessel.
  ‘'She was very hard to keep on course’.
Mr. Aksel and mate were at the wheel crossing the bar.
”They got over all right and into deeper water, they were steering by order  when close to to the South Spit the order was “hard a starboard.” The Chindera came to and just struck on the corner of the South Spit. She kept slewing – not forging ahead – until the waters put out the fires.
Another witness, named Aksel Rossendahl, also a seaman on the Chindera, gave corroborative evidence regarding the vessel’s bad steering qualities.
  CaptureMr William Mc’Gregor,  harbour pilot’s evidence.

Sourced from Community based heritage study - Tweed Shire Council
  The Pilot.
”Stated that on the morning of the 9th, the “stand off” signals were flying at the Tweed. He saw the Chindera approaching from Point Danger. He informed the master the old channel was no good, as it was only 6ft 5 inches”.
Captain Pearson.
”He told the captain of the Chindera to go to the south, informing him that the leading beacon was down, but that a house he mentioned – a prominent landmark – would lead him in”.
The pilot was subjected to a lengthy cross examination, with a view of showing that the depth of water in the south channel was less than the draught of the Chindera.
”The stand off signal was intended to warn vessels from attempting to enter. He knew there was not sufficient water for the vessels outside to enter. The Chindera, he considered, was deeper than he had ever seen her before”.
Captain Pearson, was recalled on his former oath.
  “He denied that the Pilot M’Gregor had warned him not to go in by the south channel”.  
Marine Boards final judgment.
The board found that the loss of the vessel was due to the wrongful act or default of the master in entering when the “stand off” signals were flying, and sited him to appear on Monday to show cause why his certificate should not be suspended of cancelled.

After reading certificates as to character, the board decided to suspend Pearson’s foreign going certificate for a period of three months. Pearson applied for a first mate’s certificate, which was granted to him.
Chindera a danger to navigation.
  “The wreck has become a danger to navigation. The pilot has reported to the Marine Board that it is dangerous for vessels to pass between the wreck and the rocks, and that navigation of the entrance is only safe in calm weather”.  
Chindera to be blow up.
  “The minister of works has issued instructions the Chindera wrecked on the bar is to be blown up. The work to be carried out as soon as possible”.
Monday 5th October 1896.
370lb of dynamite used.
The steamer Chindera was successfully blown up yesterday. It was intended to explode three mines of 250lb each of dynamite, but the strong tide running and the sea breaking over the vessel prevented more than one charge of 370lb from being placed under her keel.
The charge was fired electronically.
The debris was thrown a distance of about 60ft, and the centre and fore part of the hull disappeared.

The end of another vessel built built at Huskisson.
Vessels Specs.
Chindera -  186 tons. Lbd: 118' x 20'8" x 9'7". Wooden steamship of 35 horsepower, 2 masts schooner rigged, Built by H Hardman.
“Stand off”
As I have been researching these stories involving ships wrecked trying to enter a harbour or river mouth, I keep coming across a reference to the “stand off signal flag”  being displayed by harbour pilots, as a warning signal to ship captains, - do not enter the harbour or cross the bar until otherwise advised.

I thought it would be good to have an image of the flag to go along with this story, I thought with a bit of work Id find the image easily, but that wasn’t the case.

Despite extensive research, at this time I'm unable to find an image or for that matter any reference to the words “Stand off” signal at all, the closest international signal is the one below meaning,   “you should stop your vessel instantly”

It seems flags that were flying then, may not be in existence now, or may have a different meaning, the research continues.

Id like to thank Tony Burton from Flags Australia and Andrew Brown from the Naval Reserve, for their assistance.

Sourced from Community based heritage study - Tweed Shire Council

 The most important signal for the masters of vessels approaching the port was to convey
information about the state of the tide. McGregor devised a system of flags to show whether the tide was flooding or ebbing.
Then he needed to convey to the vessel if it was safe to cross the bar. In rough conditions he would fly a ‘stand off’ flag signal, to warn the vessel to anchor, usually in Danger Bay, under the lee of Point Danger headland.

Sourced from Community based heritage study - Tweed Shire Council
Andrew Brown’s continued input. 28th Jan 2015
The ‘stand off’ signal would have been flown from or very close to the Tweed Heads Signal Station near, but not necessarily at, Point Danger (they would know the location).  There is probably a record up there of the specific signal it use to fly - don’t be surprised if the one referred to in the report as ’the stand off signal” is not in fact called the ‘stand off’ signal.  It might well be described as ‘Harbour Closed’, 'Bar Heavy’ or similar as ‘stand off’ is a bit too generic.

22 January 2015

An unknown grave found - Jervis Bay 1908.

Let me slumber in the hollow where the wattle blossoms wave.
Below is the fascinating story of an unknown man in an unnamed grave found on the shores of Jervis Bay.

In May 1908 a party of fishermen from Sydney and Wollongong were exploring the shores of Jervis Bay and happened upon a long forgotten grave, beneath the mound of which rests the remains of one who passed away long years ago.
The resting place of the unknown is a beautiful spot on a small hill facing the clear waters of Jervis Bay and behind it a background of the bush.

 A campers thoughts as he stood beside the grave.

  “I thought of the man, who’s remains lie beneath the mound on the hillside, and of what strange chance drew him from out of this world to be buried in this wild but beautiful place. As I stood trying to solve the impossible, so far as the unknown was concerned, the clear ring of the bell from the camp drew my attention to the fact that breakfast was ready and resolving in my mind I would try to solve the problem of the mound on the hillside”.  

Did the camper resolve this mystery?.

  “The day that our party left Jervis Bay, I learned from one of the oldest residents of the Jervis Bay district some facts regarding the lonely grave on the southern side of the bay”.

”Some thirty-two years ago.” to use the words of my informant, “on a wild bleak night in the month of June, the man who rests in the lonely grave on the south side of the bay came to the settlement. He came alone, and it was evident from the small amount of luggage that he bought, that he came the journey on foot. In the morning, following the night that he came to the settlement, he purchased a boat, a tent, and some camping articles, and made his way across the bay to a place close to the position in which he is now buried. Now and again he would come to the settlement for the purpose of procuring flour and other commodities,  but he came and went always in the same silent way,  as if something was weighing heavily on his mind.
After a time we missed his visits to the settlement, and one day – about a year from the time he came to the bay – a man who had been prospecting the country on the south side of the bay bought the news that a man was dead in his tent on the edge of the bay some ten miles from the settlement.
We reported the case to the authorities and he was buried close to the tent where he had lived his lonely life.
We bought his tent back as well as a few other things he had with him, but there was nothing to tell us who he was, of where he came from.”

“Did he have any letters or books in his possession?” I asked.

  “No!   Only one small book with a brown back, and some writing in front, which I will show you sir,” he said. I took the book from his hand, and on the turned down page I read -  


“Let me slumber in the hollow where the
wattle blossoms wave,
With never stone or rail to fence my bed;
Should the sturdy station children pull the bush flowers on my grave,
I may chance to hear them romping overhead”.



I turned to the front page of the book, and there, written in a strong, clear hand,
I read the words -



“If thou hast assumed a part beyond thy power to play, then thou hast both come to shame in that, and missed one thou coulds’t have well performed.”



”I closed the book with a brown back, inscribed on the front page with the wisdom of the old philosophers, and a leaf turned down:  yet in the folding of that leaf, and the inscription on it’s front page, what a world of trouble and sorrow it conveyed!  ‘' I saw a man in the prime of his life, battling with the conditions of life that surrounded him; cast in a mould very different from the men amongst whom he labored there came a time in this strange mans life when the tie which held him to the place of his boyhood was broken, and he moved out into the world seeking for a place to rest, and he found the needed rest.
When most of us in camp were small, ever little children, this strange man of chance came to this place to find the rest for which he craved during his troubled life. Here it is that for thirty long years the mornings sun rising over the cliffs of Cape St George has covered the silent grave in golden glory. A grave where rests the remains of one of those strange human beings who may be correctly termed as misunderstood.

The image appearing in this story is a reconstruction, at this time, no image exists of the actual grave site.


21 January 2015

Jervis Bay Items – on this day

Nowra Leader 22nd October 1937.
There was rather a humorous incident during the progress of the terrific hail storm at Huskisson on Sunday last, when a retriever dog was racing for its home.  Every now and again, when an out-size hailstone would strike it' somewhere about the head it would bound aside as if it was being assaulted by a stone thrower.

Hail storm passed over Huskisson,
Hail stones fell in bucket fulls, and out near Errowel the hail could have been shovelled up in barrow loads. There were still plenty lying on the roadside on Monday morning.  Mr. and Mrs. Wally Osmond, of Nowra, were spending the afternoon at Huskisson, and were sheltering in their car from the storm. The hail was so heavy that it burst through the hood of the car. Roofs of houses looked as though a fall of snow had occurred. Windows of many cottages were broken. It lasted 15 minutes.

This photo is from the Denman collection, it shows Owen Street Huskisson and the buildings covered in ice after a hail storm in 1937.


Hail and a water spout 1938.

Canberra Times.
The bay is often subjected to large storms, a hot humid day, culminating in a large thunderstorm is quite common over summer. I don’t think I have ever heard of seven and a quarter inch wide hail stones before.

I took these photos in June 2015 during the most violent thunderstorm I have seen in 30 years of taking photo's of Jervis Bay.


The Sydney Morning Herald. 1938

Huge jagged hailstones which dented iron roofs, ruined gardens, broke windows, and tore holes in motor car hoods, fell during a fierce storm which occured at Jervis Bay at 6.30 p.m. A the time the storm was reported to be the  severest in the history of the town.

" Dr N.W Bansard, a resident, said he had never seen such large hail. Many of the hailstones would have killed a man if they had hit him squarely, he declared".

"Inky black storm clouds hung over the town for two hours before the storm broke and it went across the bay. A huge waterspout rose out over Wreck Bay. It was a thick column of water,  which joined sea and sky,  and made a  most awe-inspiring spectacle."

During the storm people locked themselves in their houses, and not a living thing was to be seen in the open.


October 1937 – Nowra Leader


20 January 2015

Jervis Bay Items.



Example of a Martin Henry from the time.

I often come across small articles from around the bay.
This article appeared in the Kiama Independent and Shoalhaven Advertiser 1896.


19 January 2015

The steamer Tilba ashore – Wreck bay 1912

Water colour of the Uralla, renamed the Tilba attributed to  George Fredrick Junior (1857 – 1913)

The notorious area of coast known as Wreck Bay claims another vessel.
The Tilba, formally the “Uralla” A 200 ton, twin screwed steamer, built by Denis Sullivan at Coopernook N.S.W in 1908. She was renamed “Tilba” after it was sold to the South Coast Steam Navigation Company.

Commanded by Captain A. Bavistock she left Narooma at 4pm on a voyage between Narooma and Sydney carrying a load of timber, she ran into heavy weather while approaching Wreck Bay.

1.30am and running at full speed the Tilba went ashore on a shelving rock ledge on the Northern side of Wreck Bay, she struck heavily, the bottom was badly damaged, and a portion of the frames where on the rocks. She settled in the stern, with water in fact, being right up to the fore hatch.

The impact bought all hands on deck. The crew however was landed safely.

The S.S Hillmead, (also built at Jervis Bay) with a load of salvage gear on board steamed to where the Tilba was ashore,  but immediately left the scene and returned to Sydney.
She was later sold at auction for 300 pounds to Mr. Emerson of Messrs. Einerson Bros, of Balmain, who employed a number of men for salvage, they successfully removed the winches, anchors, chains, and a number of fittings.
with the engines still to be salvaged.
The hull of the vessel was in a hopeless position and became a total loss.
The story of the S.S. Hillmead’s desperate struggle – Continue reading.

17 January 2015

Jervis Bay - what could have been.

From it’s earliest discovery Jevis Bay was recognised as a place where great industry and enterprise could flourish. The earliest explorers saw it’s potential for development.
In the 1800’s, proposals were spoken of to establish a large shipbuilding industry, a timber industry, a whaling industry, a thriving port, supplied by railway, all failed to materialise for different reasons.
In the 1900’s, there were proposals for a steel works, land had been bought,   a nuclear power plant, testing and excavation had begun,  a quarantine station,  an oil refinery,  a woodchip mill, an armaments depot,  they all failed to materialise for different reasons.
As you read about the industries proposed for the bay, you realise we are fortunate to have the bay and surrounds the way it is today, if just one of the heavy industries earmarked for the bay were established, the bay would most certainly be a different place.



Museum Display -  Grand Visions.
The museum has a fantastic display covering some of the larger projects, the diagrams, maps and information will be a surprise to many who see the bay as it is today, instead of what it could have been.
Below is a condensed version of just one of many articles, written about large development proposals for the bay.
The Canberra Times August, 1972, it makes interesting reading.
 Inquiry order on secret report.
  SYDNEY, Monday.
Police would conduct an extensive investigation into the issuing of a secret report prepared for the NSW Government on the future of Jervis Bay, the Public Works, Mr Hughes said today.

The report, which outlines the possible establishment of a major industrial complex at Jervis Bay, was issued by a Jervis Bay watchdog committee yesterday and printed in a Sydney newspaper today.

The report indicated the establishment of an oil refinery, a petro-chemical processing plants and a woodchip mill, if an overseas consortium goes ahead with plans to build a steel works at the Bay.

Initial development therefore was recommended in the area between Callala Beach and Calla Bay, where the absence of urban subdivision would minimise the disturbance of the local residents, the report said.

Dr Russel Darroch from the Society for Social Responsibility in Science stated.
The societies studies so far had indicated that the Armco mill, if established would surely disturb the coastal ecology.

Mr Hughes was disturbed a confidential document prepared for the government should be issued.

Souvenir letter opener2011

There are many stories about these undesirable industries, one can only imagine the damage they would have caused to this sensitive beautiful environment..
Other examples.
1896 Illawarra Mercury July 1886.
An English syndicate visited Nowra in connection with establishing a large timber block street paving industry at Jervis Bay, With plentiful supplies of timber they planned on building a wharf and tram way from Jervis Bay to Jerrawangla, a distance of 20 miles.  The company was offered 20,000 acres for forestry.
The plan fell through in 1898 when it was realised there wasn’t as much timber available as first thought.
1840 A port to rival Sydney.
Completion of the Wool Road from the Southern Highlands to South Huskisson (Vincentia) to carry wool and other produce to the coast.  Huskisson boasted hotels, accommodation a thriving town, land sales were anticipated and subdivisions designed. A booming port to rival Sydney.
The end came swift.
The Sydney merchants seeing their lively hood threatened, mounted a campaign against the now port.
1843, a severe drought affected wool production.
The development of Nowra and Terrara saw the road redirected.
1848 South Huskisson ceased as a grand outlet and fell into ruin.

The second vision for Jervis Bay was the grandest of the Grand Visions. A stipulation in the Seat of Government Act 1908 stated that Canberra must have a sea port. Bherwerre Peninsula on Jervis Bay was acquired from New South Wales and made a Commonwealth Territory. A sea port was proposed and a rail line route was surveyed in expectation of the development of commercial wharfs, naval dockyards and other industries on Jervis Bay.

In addition to this a grand urban vision was proposed by surveyor and real estate agent Henry Halloran, who had plans drawn up for two major cities: Pacific City and St Vincent City to be built on the shores of Jervis Bay.

In 1917, Henry Halloran advertised a second tract of land for sale in St Vincent City in the area called Jervis Bay City (Callala). Callala Beach was planned by Walter Burley Griffin. Again the timing was wrong. These cities relied on railway connections to Canberra and Sydney which were never built because of World War l.

1932 Illawarra Mercury June 1932.
A proposal for a paper pulp mill at Hole in the Wall.

The third Grand Vision for Jervis Bay has been subtitled "Industrialisation by Stealth". In 1968 the NSW Department of Decentralisation investigated a proposal which would see the development of a large steelworks at Jervis Bay; they saw the Bay as a perfect location for iron and steel manufacturing.

At the same time the Federal Government under the leadership of Liberal Prime Minister John Gorton, was planning the development of a 500 megawatt Nuclear Power Station at Murray's Beach.

The plans for the Nuclear Power Station and steelworks were secretly commissioned and only came to the attendion of media and locals when a secret report was leaked. This secrecy alarmed the environmental movement including some of the members of the Shoalhaven Shire Council, under the presidency of John Hatton. This accelerated the emergence of the protest movement which in 1971 formed the Jervis Bay Planning and Protection Committee.

Political intrigue and stealth as well as an active environmental movement were the main causes of the failure of the industrial vision.

1969 Bendigo Advertiser, March 1879.
Proposal for the establishment of a $100 million railway and coal loader facility.
  There a many more stories to tell, I will post more in good time.  

Through circumstance, good luck and public protest, we are able to enjoy Jervis Bay as nature intended. 

15 January 2015

Strange sunrise over Jervis Bay

This shot was taken last year, it was a strange morning, a weird dark sea mist had settled across the bay obscuring the headlands,  the sun finally appeared in the sky, like a small light bulb that was lacking power.

january-9th-bay-shots-034 january-9th-bay-shots-031  

Dark sea mist.

Sun appeared through the mist -  400mm lens.

Jervis Bay

Another beautiful January morning on the bay.IMG_0549

14 January 2015

“Bikinis” and Sharks Disturb Jervis Bay

Headline to a story in the Canberra Times 1953.
Looking at these pictures it’s hard to imagine what all the fuss was about.
A different time, changing attitudes and old values sometimes don’t mix.

  A report that ‘Bikini’ swimsuits were “somewhat” in the vogue” at swimming resorts in Jervis Bay were made by the Jervis Bay Progress Association in a letter to the Advisory Council.
Members felt that the ban applying on the majority of N.S.W beaches should apply at Jervis Bay. it was stated.
  “I bet all the members of this Progress Council are men,  They are notoriously conservative.’
  Mr Baily:  All I can say is they must be old.
  Mr. Rogers said the Advisory Council might dodge this answer, the letter being addressed to the “Officer in Charge, Department of the Interior, Jervis Bay.
  The Council secretary. Mr G. Murphy, will inform the Association that the local policeman is the “responsible authority” for policing bathing costumes.
Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954) , Wednesday 22 August 1951, page 5 The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), Wednesday 8 August 1951, page 4 Advertising from the period.

13 January 2015

Close encounters.

The story of seafaring along the east coast is awash with stories of hardship, despair and melancholy, but there are also stories of luck, near misses and close encounters. If the wind shifted, or the anchor did not take hold, or if the sea conditions changed for the worse, many close encounters could have turned into disaster.

Starting off this series of “close encounters” is the story of the Barque Italy in 1877.
Reconstruction of the Barque Italy, enveloped in fog and ashore at Wreck Bay.
As reported by Captain Rapp.
Saturday 2nd June 1877.
Sailed from Hobart Town on the morning of Saturday, 2nd instant. Had light variable winds with remarkable fine weather until Sunday morning.

Sunday 10th.
When the weather set in thick, foggy and showery, at intervals clearing a little (wind south) during the night.

Monday 11th.

9am, on the 11th, sighted Pigeon House, the bearings agreeing with the reckoning. During the afternoon caught a glimpse of the land twice through the fog. At 1pm. a glimmer of light like a flash or revolving light to the south and westward, where we expected to see Jervis Bay light. We were then going at the rate of five or six knots, steering north1/2 east, wind south, veering to south west; had two men on the lookout forward. At 7p.m. the barque Adeline Burke, which vessel had been steering towards us from the eastward, was then nearly ahead. At 7.35 the second mate told me he saw land, and on looking saw land on the starboard beam; ordered the helm to be put starboard, but immediately after, hearing breakers and seeing land ahead, on the port side, I ordered and assisted to put the helm hard aport.
Before the ship could answer her helm she struck on a flat out lying rock, turned off and forged partly over, hanging on it by her heel about fifty yards from shore. We had everything aback; waited sometime; found she would not move; stowed the sails and cleared the boats ready for lowering; sounded the pumps and found she was not making any water. The night being very dark and foggy we could not see any land, only rocks and breakers; lighted some touches and sent the second mate with three hands in the boat to make a line fast on shore on the port bow.
At 11p.m. the ship heeled over much as the tide left her, wind and sea rising, with every indication of easterly weather; we all landed safely.

Tuesday, 12th.

At daylight, went on board, sounded the pumps, and noted our position; ran out kedge anchor and line; put out the long boat and laid out stream anchor and chain; got tent and stores on shore.
Captain Rapp went in search of assistance; after three hours of fruitless travelling he returned on board; started again at 1pm, taking Mr. Wilson, the second mate and compass, making in a straight line for Cape St George lighthouse.
5 hours walking through dense scrub seeking assistance.
After five hours’ walking through dense scrub, over hills, and through creeks and swamps, when within half-a-mile of the lighthouse, Captain Rapp, being unable to proceed further, sent the second mate on, who with Mr Gibson, the superintendant, returned; between them they managed to bring him to the lighthouse, where dry cloths and good treatment bought him around, and the following day with horses and a guide went back to the ship.
mapThe walk for help.
Wednesday, 13th.
Put out springs and breastwarps; then began to lighten the ship; weather fine and sea smooth.

Thursday, 14th.
Fresh breezes and sea rising; hauled a longboat up a creek, and pumped the water out of the ship; weather looking threatening, landed some provisions.
8p.m. tide, wind, and sea rising, the ship went ahead on the rock into 12ft of water, parting all the wasps, only the stream anchor holding her; bumping very hard all night.
Thursday, 14th. went on board at daylight, found 6ft of water in her, picked up the broken wasps and made all fast again then took to the pumps, employing some blackfellows to assist.
5p.m., reduced the water to two feet. The steamer Woniora coming to our assistance took her hawser; then commenced boating off the undamaged portion of the landed cargo.
Stream Anchor.
Kedge Anchor.
At 8p.m., half tide, noticed the ship began to move; crew went on board, found her afloat, hauled her in to the channel, and gave the order to go ahead easy. The night being dark, could not stop, to cast off, but cut everything, towed out and anchored in seven fathoms. Sent crew with boat on shore to bring off stores and luggage, the Woniora boat assisting.
11p.m, wind and sea rising, deeming it advisable to abandon the longboat, anchors, and other gear ; hove up the anchor, and towed to Sydney.

Captain Rapp speaks highly of the kindness of Mr Gibson, the superintendent of the Jervis Bay lighthouse, and also of Mr. Lovegrove Shoalhaven, who was in assistance and gave all assistance in his powers.

Warp - A line or cable used in warping a ship.
Stream Anchor - A light anchor for use with a bower in narrow waterways.
Kedging or warping - Is a technique for moving or turning a ship by using a relatively light anchor.
Kedge anchor - is an anchor carried in addition to the main.
Aport - On or toward the port or left side of a ship.

REF: Trove. http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/18820092

12 January 2015

Early Moona, Moona Creek Camping.

The shores of Moona Moona Creek, was once a very popular camping area for holidaymakers.
There are many stories about happenings around the shores of “Moonee Creek” as it was once known.
I will add some of those to this post at a later time.

Early Huskisson

Date unknown.

9 January 2015

The shark infested waters of Jervis Bay.


A dramatic headline, but that was how Jervis Bay was often described by early sailors and correspondents.
Since the earliest recordings, sharks have always featured in writings about Jervis Bay.
Countless reports in regional newspapers attest to the excitement of shark encounters.
Sailors have always had an uneasy relationship with sharks, and non more so than the early sailors, and steam ship crews that plied along our coast.
I have found numerous reports of fishermen catching sharks in the 1800’s, and upon examination of their stomach contents, found, buttons and pieces of rotting cloths.

Fishing was mostly carried out on small timber launches. Jervis bay was seen as a “Fisherman’s Paradise”

Below are just a few of the more interesting examples of stories that appear in newspapers all over the country. There are many more.
1886. Evidence of a man eater.
A correspondent of the “Colonist” writes:
Mr G. Dent, snr, on Saturday last, caught a shark of the Blue Pointer species, measuring 10ft, in length. Upon opening the monster, Mr Dent was surprised to find a pair of boots and a pair of trousers inside.
Making light of the situation the correspondent goes on to say.
” We have often heard of persons finding their cloths gone after coming from bathing,  and being unable to trace the thief. Perhaps this shark incident explains it.  Still one can hardly understand the shark leaving the bather and taking his cloths.
1893. Disecting Sharks
An article in the Sydney Morning Herald about fishing in Jervis Bay
goes on to explain the practice of dissecting sharks.
”Everyone, and more especially sailors, love to see a shark caught, and as a general rule they are dissected to discover what they have been eating last. Sometimes there are buttons, or hideously suggestive fragments of clothing, fortunately we did not come across any traces of man eating”.

1914. Shooting Sharks. The Evening News Sydney.
These images appeared in the Sydney Mail 1926. This photo appears to be taken inside Honeymoon Bay, a popular spot for fishermen to seek shelter.


The story of Sydney fishermen on a trip to Jervis Bay.
“While out fishing on a sandy bottom for whiting, were surprised to see the water simply swarming with sharks. Fishing under the circumstances was out of the question so the launch returned to the shore. Two rifles, and a couple of harpoons were secured, and the boat returned to the shark infested spot.
When a large shark rose to the surface two shots were fired at it, after dashing around in a circle, the wounded brute came close to the launch, again, when the harpoon was embedded in it’s side. The shark did not put up much of a struggle”.  This pattern went on all day until the tally of sharks accounted to no fewer than thirty.
A typical early fishing party at rest in Honeymoon Bay.
Doesn’t everyone fish in a suit and tie?

1925. Capture of a shark at Jervis Bay.
Cootamundra Herald.
his story is about a couple from Wagga who had just returned from a holiday at Jervis Bay.
“Standing on the beach watching a number of fishermen hauling in their nets, when a large shark was seen to break through the nets, and it became stranded amongst the breakers on the beach. After much struggling, and telling how the shark lunged at their legs causing great excitement, they lashed the tail with a rope and hauled the shark on shore, tied it to a tree overnight, next day it was discovered to be a 9ft Whaler, with jaws 21inches across.
Early Huskisson wharf, this shark attracted quite a crowd.

1937. DRUM FISHING. The Shoalhaven News.
A story appears about Reg Jarman and S. Parnell using heavy lines set to oil drums for a float, “it didn’t take them long to land three blue pointers – one 5ft, one 8ft, and one 9ft”.

The slaughter of the Grey Nurse shark.
SHARKS - Jervis Bay Wollongong City Library.Large hauls, up to 30 sharks at a time have been reported, mainly used for their oil, fishermen knew where to find them, and how to catch this slow moving beautiful harmless creature.

Grey Nurse Shark Catch, Currarong NSW.
Wollongong City Library.

By 1937. A big game fishing angling club
Was established at Huskisson. Tournaments attracted anglers from all over the country.
“The visit of so many head-liners of the angling world was very gratifying” -  sharks were an easy target and put up a good fight.
1953. “Bikini’s and sharks disturb Jervis Bay. Canberra Times.
The bikini part of the headline, referred to an amusing story about the trends in swimming attire, and the angst they were causing in Jervis Bay. I will post that as a separate article in the future.
Shark Net Beach.
Because of complaints at the amount of sharks seen in Jervis Bay and the common fear that comes with such creatures, a large shark net barrier was suspended across the small beach that became known as “Shark Net Beach”, Remnants in the form of large concrete supporting blocks can still be seen on either side of the beach today.
The story continued: 
”Sharks have again invaded the swimming pool, according to the second letter from the association.
The association complained that the pool had not been cleaned out, and the gap in the net not mended, despite promises by the council 12 months ago.
The association claimed a shark 7ft long, swam into the pool recently.
Many large sharks have been captured.
1937, White Death.
‘Another fishing record was created at Jervis Bay last Saturday night, Milton Kent, well known Sydney airman and big game fisherman landed a 1000lb white pointer shark, after a fight lasting 4 hours and 40 minutes.

1928. Torpedo hits shark.
One of the more unusual stories appeared in the Northern Standard. Darwin.
”A shark was struck by a torpedo fired from the Cruiser ‘Sydney” at Jervis Bay and lost it’s tail. When it was struck it swam in a circle several times leaving a trail of blood. The tail was later seen floating on the surface of the ocean.
With a small amount or research one can find numerous stories in old papers about sharks, shark fishing and close encounters in Jervis Bay.

These days most sharks that are caught in our local waters are tagged and let go, occasionally someone will bring in one of these magnificent creatures to hang on the scales at Huskisson wharf. This practice still draws a crowd, fascinated by these denizens of the deep.
1918 An old time swimmers miraculous adventure.
The late Henry Gordon of Nowra N.S.W is credited with winning the first swimming race in Australia had a lucky escape from death while swimming in Jervis Bay.
One of his exploits was to swim across the mouth of the Shoalhaven river and back with one of his boy’s on his back.
This day in Jervis Bay, while going for a dip.
He swam out half a mile and on the return swim and within 20 yards or so of the shore, he saw and heard a great commotion among the blackfellows on the beach,
They were shouting out and gesticulating in a most excited way, and Mr. Morton at once jumped to the conclusion that a shark was after him.    He at once made frantic efforts to reach the landing-place, but before he could get there a huge shark bore down upon him
   And then a miraculous thing happened, which almost passes belief. So fierce was the rush of the shark after it’s intended prey that the speed it attained proved the swimmer’s salvation.
The onward rush of the monster carried it past the swimmer as he was just a few feet from the rock where he was trying to land, and it landed high and dry out of the water. As it dashed past the swimmer it scraped his thigh, the marks of which he carried with him his to his grave.   While the stranded shark was withering to get back into it’s native element the startled swimmer was able to clamber out safely.   The shark measured about 20ft in length, and the swimmers escape was one of the most remarkable on record.
The mirror Feb 1918.

6 January 2015

The day the Sea Gull Landed on Jervis Bay.

In 1921, an Arial survey was commissioned from Sydney to the Victorian boarder, the main stretches photographed, and places suitable for the establishment of aerodromes marked.

During this trip the little sea plane known as the “Sea Gull” landed on Jervis Bay or “the Ditch” as it was described by Napier Lion and his partner Shellback.

He describes his delight at seeing Huskisson for the first time.



The following day they ran the nose of their aircraft onto the spit opposite Huskisson to the delight of the gathering crowd. The sea gull crew then took their ‘live freight” for scenic flights over the bay.


Supported and accompanied by the sailing vessel the “Acielle”  she carried supplies and repair equipment, it was decided to bring the plane into Currambene creek and onto the government slipway for inspection, astonished to find the hull covered in barnacles' they used petrol and elbow grease to clear the growth before applying new varnish.

He describes his slight encounter with a fishing vessel that might have damaged the plane and the effort required to get it ready for flight.

1166-Curtiss-Seagull 1165-Curtiss-Seagull

Time to leave the bay.

Ready to get back into the air, Napier describes the difficulty they experienced with the tide “the tide was running at an absolute banker” getting stuck on the spit, and going to great physical effort to get her floated and into the air for the next part of the journey.

He describes running into a fog bank south of the bay and flying close to the cliffs and as low as 50ft over the ocean to clear the fog.

The whole story of their time at Huskisson makes great reading, you can see the story by clicking on the link here.