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2 March 2015

A forgotten Town

The Sydney Morning Herald – Tuesday 13 October1908
Shattered dreams, withered hopes.

Extracts from an article that appeared in the above mentioned paper, by a Sydney correspondent reminiscing about South Huskisson (Vincentia) and a general description of Huskisson and the District  when he visited the region in 1867.


'With the exception of Sydney Harbour,” says the ‘'”Nautical Almanac,” ‘'Jervis Bay is perhaps the most perfectly protected sheet of anchorage water in Australia.”

”Anchorage for “ironclads” sounds well for the Federal Port.  Indeed, Jervis Bay is now used chiefly by the ships of the squadron for gunnery.  The men do not land.  But many of the officers say that they enjoy their trips down there, and the wallaby shooting along the wild, beautiful harbour side, actually better than their time in any other port in Australasia.”


Whale in the bay.
”There was whaling in the old days at Jervis Bay – a small town of solid houses just inside the hook of South Head.  The warships anchor at least half a mile from the North Head shore, in “Montague Roads.”  But the safest anchorage is Darling Roads, close under South Head, and Bowen Island.”     There was the old town of South Huskisson.    

  whale in the bay  

What with whaling and the big timber along the shores, a large ship-building industry sprung up there.  Mr Hardiman who builds ships there for many years, went to Jervis bay in the 60’s.”




“The old town was dead when I went there’'. The houses were still standing, and the fruit trees still growing around them.  But doors were broken in and the windows.  There’s nothing of it left now except one big Norfolk Island Pine by the water there,  a long mound which they say was a baker’s shop,  and a few tumbled stones on the beach that look as if a pier may have been there.”

”Jervis Bay in a wonderful big stretch, 8 or 10 miles across.  Just to the south of it is another beautiful basin,  St Georges Basin, nearly landlocked, but not very deep. It opens into Wreck Bay.”

”It’s well called Wreck Bay. The old lighthouse used to be on South Head, where it could not be well seen,  and ship after ship made into Wreck Bay by mistake.   I remember the Walter Hood – an Aberdeen clipper she was – went down with almost all hands on a reef there one awful night. That same storm swept away the farm land on the Shoalhaven River.   I saw the black mud spread over the flats there, and men prodding it with sticks to find the bodies.  The Corangamite and the Rose of Australia were lost there too; and the juniper, coming round with wine; her hull use to wash out occasionally and get covered again. The Plutus – she was wrecked off North Head.”

”As for a railway from inland to the coast, there is no road running to Old Huskisson.  The Old Wool Road used to come down there from Braidwood.   I suppose the old teams bought the wool that way over the Jerrawangala Gap – I think it was – and across to Wandandian and St Georges Basin; and from there to Huskisson,  But the Old Wool Road is overgrown now;  I doubt if you could follow it through the farm lands there.  One or two of the piles of the old wool stores still remain – that’s all.”




This typifies the type of scene people would have seen as the Bullock teams bought Wool from the Southern Highlands along the Wool Road to South Huskisson. (image public domain)


”The warships get their stores from N. Huskisson at the head of the Bay.  The stores come through by road from Nowra.  North Huskisson used to be a town with a school of 30 children.  That was before the timber was cut out, and when the shipbuilding was brisk.

There is no school there now.  There are not enough children to keep it going.  They go to Tomerong -  a dairying village five miles away.    The main road there – the only road to speak of – is the road from Nowra to Braidwood.”


The remainder of the story related to Canberra and the surrounding district.
But one small item of interest remained, it was the official description of the Crown Lands of Jervis Bay in 1867.


“Jervis Bay itself is 87 miles south of Sydney.   It’s shores are almost uninhabited.”


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