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.

23 April 2015

Jervis Bay snippet.

It’s well worth reading this story, it gives us a fascinating look at Huskisson and the Bay in 1899, shooting, fishing and camping, the hospitality and interaction of strangers.

Shoalhaven Telegraph December 17th 1899,
It details two men’s holiday at the bay and gives us some interesting details of their trip, of Huskisson and surrounds and the relaxed attitude of the time.


My brother, Dr S------, with a busy practice in an inland town of New South Wales, feeling the want of rest and a complete change for a month,  invited me to join him in a fishing trip,  and having visited the bay similarly about six years ago,  I proposed the same place for our tour,  as being in every way suitable.

We left Redfern station on Monday morning early in April by the 8.30 train,  and after a very pleasant journey through the Illawarra country,  reached Nowra at 1 o’clock – in good time for a wash and dinner at a good hotel.

We arranged for a two horse buggy to drive us and all our traps to the bay,  distance 16 miles,  and after purchasing a liberal supply of provisions made a start about 3.p.m.   The road is an excellent one - very suitable for cycling - and the weather being lovely,  we enjoyed the drive immensely.

The village of Huskisson,  as the chief settlement at the bay is called,  is old,  but very quiet and small,  and consists of a public school,  post office,  sawmill,  hotel and store combined,  and a few scattered cottages and fisherman's humpies.  it is prettily situated on the banks of a large creek,  at the entrance of which is a good wharf for the vessels engaged in the timber trade
We drove a mile further on,  to a good camping ground at Moonie Creek,  and at once proceeded to put up our tent and make snug for the night.

I would here like to describe our bunks,  which are easily made,  and are most comfortable.  Two large sacks are placed end to end and stretched on stout saplings,  supported by uprights spread as an angle of about 40 degrees,  sunk in the ground,  and lashed at the top.

We rowed from Huskisson to boat harbour, taking 2 hours.
After a hearty camp tea and smoke,  we turned in early and slept the sleep of the just.  Next morning up with the sun and on to the beach for a swim; then breakfast and on to the village to get a boat,  Most of the craft available are big and heavy,  but we luckily secured the only light one in the bay,  covered in bow and stern, with sail and all gear.  The fishing on the west side is not very good and the water is shallow,  so after a couple of days we decided to cross over towards the heads,  seven miles.  Struck camp,  and started at 9 o’clock on a perfect morning,  no wind__water like a pond__so had to pull all the way,  doing it in just two hours.

A nip of whisky all round.
We met a fishing boat on the way,  and got all information as to camping ground, water, etc,  and parted after a nip of whisky all round,  drunk out of the billy tea lid__as the mugs being buried to deep to find amongst the dunnage.  Before landing we dropped lines in a likely spot,  and were rewarded by some nice squire and bream,  after which we made for the place which was to be our home for the next fortnight or so.

What our correspondent is describing as “Boat Harbour” we now know as “Honeymoon Bay” the Government Wharf is still there in the top of this picture, but with no need for steamers it is much shorter today.

Boat Harbour was our destination,  and it is well named,  being a most beautifully formed little bay,  sheltered from every wind,  with a narrow rocky entrance opening out into a perfectly natural harbour about half an acre in extent,  with a nice beach__oysters galore –level grass banks for the tent__wood and water close__an ideal spot.  We immediately christened it “The Smugglers Retreat, or the “Pirates Lair”  and set to work at once to settle down,  soon feeling very snug and comfortable in our new quarters,  and pleased as having made the change.

Moving goods and chattels.
Although so isolated,  we found congenial company near,  as a couple of sturdy young farmers from the Shoalhaven way had bought cattle down for grazing,  and were camped close by,  sleeping at night in their cart, in straw,  covered by a tarpaulin;  also there were some locals engaged in moving the goods and chattels from the old lighthouse on the South Head (Cape St George) to the fine new one just completed at North Head (Point Perpendicular),  a distance of five miles by road from the new Government Wharf at Benjajine Beach__about a mile north from our camp.  Everybody we met was most friendly and obliging,  one lending a water jar and shark spear,  another a gun when wanted,  others bringing fresh supplies when crossing,  and carrying our letters to and from the post.
loading-wharf-for-point-perp-lighthouseA steamer approaching the  Government Wharf at Benjajine Beach, it was used to supply the Point Perpendicular Lighthouse. 

When out of bread we made some capital dampers,  and once soared into trying a cake.  The ingredients consisted of flour,  eggs,  sultanas,  breadcrumbs,  sugar,  lemon peel,  salt,  and rum:  and although rather heavy,  it was pronounced a great success.  We made a camp oven out of an old kerosene tin,  surrounding it with hot ashes.

And now with regard to the main object of our trip__the fishing.  We could always catch plenty of bait at the mouth of our little bay__yellow tail and Mackerel:  also garfish,  the later of which we would keep for grilling on the ashes,  and which are most tasty and delicious eaten thus hot and fresh.

The sharks were troublesome as times.
Then off to the Snapper grounds,  good fish being plentiful nearly everywhere.  The only drawback was the sharks,  which were very numerous and troublesome at times.   Before getting the spear,  we lost most of these pests,  together with hooks and sinkers,  but afterwards killed a lot,  averaging 6ft to 7ft long,  and being mostly females with young,  we had the satisfaction of feeling we were doing some good for getting rid of such prolific brutes.  They really spoilt our sport with the red fish,  although we always caught more than we could possibly eat,  besides keeping our friends ashore well supplied.

Our favourite ground was called Dart Point__a mile and a half south__where we never failed to get good snapper,  mixed with squire averaging 3lb to 4lb.  Our biggest fish weighed 14lb,  which we sent tot eh lighthouse; the next 12 lb we gave to the Thetis crew,  who came down with the Marine Board to open the new lighthouse.  Smaller fish of about 6lb we would stuff and bake in the ashes,  or grill slowly.   Some we would steam in plates over a boiling pot,  some fry with egg and breadcrumbs,  and others we made into fish soup. 

One day seeing some fine black beam in the cove,  we tried for them in the evening,  after tea,  and caught six beauties in half an hour,  weighing between 2lb and 3lb each.  These fish being so rich,  are excellent grilled over a clean wood ash,  and are very nice for next days cold lunch in the boat.

We saw no fresh meat for eighteen days,  and with the exception of a wild duck (which we shot on a pretty little creek two miles off) a plover,  parrots,  and oysters__ all of which made delicious stews__we lived almost entirely on fish,  and throve exceedingly on it.

Of course, the whole conditions were responsible for such a satisfactory state of things,  and for those whose tastes lie that way,  nothing could be more beneficial or enjoyable then such an outing.

For those fond of shooting there are Quail near,  but a dog is almost indispensible,  as they lie very close.  Also there are wallabies about.  and a large lagoon is a few miles away,  where swans and ducks can be got.

On the last evening of our stay on the eastern side we had a billy hot rum punch with our friendly neighbours,  and next morning made an early start back to the old camp at Moonie Creek,  where we had arranged for the buggy to meet us a day or two later.

All that remains to be said is that after bidding farewell to all our kind friends,  we left the bay on a most lovely morning as 10. o’clock,  arrived at Nowra shortly after 12,  paid a necessary visit tot eh local barber,  had a good dinner,  and caught the 1.40 train,  arriving in Sydney at 6 feeling an splendid health and condition__sunburnt and happy,  and delighted with a most pleasant, economic and healthful outing.

For the benefit of those who may contemplate a visit to the  same place, I may add the cost of our trip:-
   Second – class return to Nowra, 14/3 each.
   Buggy to the bay, 30/return.
   Boat 5/ a day.
For those not camping,  there is an accommodation house,  as there is     also as St Georges Basin,  some miles further south,  where I understand there is plenty of fishing and shooting,  and boats available._




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