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.

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. 

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