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.

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.


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