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 May 2015

Lake Windermere – Jervis Bay

 Dune Lake.
Untitled-1 Google Earth image.
The beautiful Lake Windermere and the more well known but smaller, Lake McKenzie  are permanent, closed, freshwater “dune” lakes, home to a population of eastern long-necked turtles who use the lakes in times of low rainfall.  You travel past the gates  to the lakes as you head out to Cave Beach and probably never give them much thought.  But the lakes have quite a story to tell, of failed enterprise, big ambitions and advanced technology.
Lake-WindermereLake Windermere.

image was an important link in the early development of the Naval College.  Lake Windermere’s ready supply of fresh water was used in the construction of the college and later as the main drinking and sewerage water supply for the college itself.

Agave_potatorum_Kichiokan 1891 – The Australian Hemp and Fibre Company made an application for 6400acres of land at Bherwerrie for a period covering 21 years, to grow Aloe, at one penny per acre.

1895 - Mr.T. Marriot cruised Lake Windermere on Saturday last in a boat which he, assisted by a fisherman named Ellmoos,  conveyed across the strip of land lying between the lake and St. Georges Basin.   The Lake,  which is of fresh water,  and about a mile extent,  is prettily situated and has some nice scenery about it.  Mr Marriott is the first person known to have taken a boat over the lake.

1902The Australian Hemp and Fibre Company. After much public discussion, and a  lengthy court case, objections to the project mounted, concerns about locking people out of the water supply, the possibility of polluting the water, and the future development of the area when the much anticipated train line connecting Nowra to Bristol point arrived,  saw an end to the proposal at this site.

nla.pic-an23193352-v 1902The Shoalhaven News and South Coast Districts Advertiser. Land around the lake was at one time leased for 28 years at the annual rent of 17 pounds 10s for the first 7 years,  and 35 ponds for the remainder of the term,  to Octavius Charles Beale a piano manufacturer who tried to grow timber “ Valonia Oak ” for piano frames. An inspection of the site in 1908  showed Beale had planted 2600 trees comprising, oak, redwood,  hickory,  catalpa, and made improvements consisting of buildings,  fencing,  clearing,  tree planting,  cultivation,  to the value of 1670 pounds,  Beale claimed to have expended 5000 to 6000 pounds on the lease.
Beales’ plantation suffered badly,  out of 2600 trees planted, only 100 still survived,  his ambitions proved fruitless and the farm turned into a dairy farm called ' Bherwerre'.  The area was acquired off the NSW Government,  by the Commonwealth Government in 1915.
Photo: Octavius Charles Beale.

bherwerre-farm-location. Bherwerre Farm located on the shore of Lake McKenzie.
Read More.

Lake-Windermere1 pumping-station
lake-mcKenzie Lake McKenzie.

1913The Shoalhaven News and South Coast Districts Advertiser  - Nineteen inches, and 64 points of rain fell at Lake Windermere last month, (May) – the heaviest in years.  They are building a big reservoir over there to hold an inexhaustible supply of water for the use of the Naval Cadets and regulars who may be camped here,  and for use in time of war.

1916 – Mr Black, Chief Secretary for the Government, visited the naval college and  Lake Windermere for the purpose of testing the fitness of the waters for  the acclimatisation of fish.   It appeared to Mr Black that perch and carp would thrive in the lake.  He proposed to make some experiments in this direction.

1951 - The Australian National Botanic Gardens Annexe, located between Lake McKenzie and Lake Windermere.   Development of the site as a botanic gardens started in 1951 when the area was selected as the frost free annex of the Australian National Botanic Garden and was called the Jervis Bay Botanic Gardens.

1995 -  Water in the lake would become the first water treated with Australia’s first Ozone Purification Plant, capable of treating up to three million litres a day. It supplies water to the Jervis Bay Village,  Wreck Bay Aboriginal township, HMAS Creswell and recreational sites in the national park.
It was chosen because it’s highly automated,  eliminated the reliance on chemicals, like chlorine and alum and reduced waste products that could pollute the site.

1997 - To reflect the Aboriginal ownership of the Gardens the name was changed to Booderee Botanic Gardens.

2000 - The Gardens ceased to be an annex of the Australian National Botanic Gardens, however strong ties and a close working relationship with the Gardens' staff continues. The collections policy now focuses on the Aboriginal use of plants, as well as the flora of south eastern Australia's coastal environments.     Read more.


20 May 2015

Cape St George Lighthouse


Sydney Morning Herald Tuesday 22 October 1861.

The navigational details  below,  gave Mariners the necessary information to safely sail past Jervis Bay and Wreck Bay. It also outlines some of the  dangers of the Jervis Bay, Wreck Bay area. Most interesting of all, it gives us some clues into why this lighthouse,  positioned where it was, eventually proved to be such a failure.


image  .-

Alternating Light near Cape St. George. 
The Pilot and Steam Navigation Board of Sydney have given notice  that on and after the 1st day of October 1860,  a light would be exhibited from the lighthouse recently erected on a prominent headland,  situated about 1 3/4 mile northward of Cape St George,  and 2 1/2 miles southward of the same point of entrance to Jervis Bay,  East coast Australia. 
The light is an alternating light,  showing consecutively a red, green,  and white light at intervals of thirty seconds.  It is elevated 224 feet above the level of high water and is visible seaward when bearing between S.S.W. 1/2 W, and North.
It is seen as far as N. by E. 3/4 E. over a sloping hill situated south of the lighthouse;  But then a vessel must be a considerable distance to the southward of it.   In entering Jervis Bay the light will be eclipsed by Bowen Island,  forming the south point of the entrance,  when bearing S.1/2 W.;  and it will only be visible from a portion of the bay,  between the bearings of S.S.E. 1/2 E.  and S.E.  The white light will be seen in clear weather at a distance of about 19 miles,  and the green and red lights at 14 miles, 
The illuminating apparatus is catoptrics,  or by reflectors,  of the third order.  The light tower is 61 feet high,  built of white stone,  and stands in the latitude of 35 : 9 : 16 : S.,  Longitude 150 : 47 :8 : East of Greenwich.

Vessels approaching Cape St. George from the southwards should always endeavour to make this light to avoid being embayed in Wreck Bay,  the deep indentation westward of the cape.   The light will first open over the sloping hill to the southward of it bearing N, by E 3/4 E.;  caution must, however, be observed in nearing the Cape,  which is low,  dangerous, a rocky point on which sea breaks.  When within distance of about eight miles,  the light should not be brought to the northward of N by W. ;  for if the vessel should be near the land,  to the southwestward of this bearing,  the light will be partially,  if not wholly obscured,  but by standing to the eastward it will gradually open out,  and when bearing N.N.W 3/4 W.  it may be passed with safety at a distance of from one to two miles.
In approaching from the northward the light will open of Crocodile Head,  bearing S.S.W. 1/2 W., and by keeping it in sight a vessel will pass the Head in safety at a distance of from one to two miles,  Jervis Bay affords good and safe anchorage in all winds.

The bearings are magnetic.  Variation, 101/4 E. east in 1860.

By command of their warships, JOHN WASHINGTON, Hydrographer.
Hydrographic Office,  Admiralty,  London,  23rd October, 1860

This notice effects the following Admiralty Charts:- Australia, General, No 1042; East Coast, sheet 2,  No. 2142.  Also Australia Lights List,  No, 116 ; and Australia Directory,  vol. 1, Page 212.

The old lighthouse ruins.  A fascinating story of, endurance, hardship and endeavour.
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19 May 2015

Jervis Bay Whaling – Profit and Loss

1913 Reports of large pods of whales, ‘for as far as you can see”, drew whalers and their ships from as far away as Norway to the east coast of Australia in search of large profits.
  After a short time working the east coast of Australia, profits were as hard to find as the whales.

Below is a report from the Shoalhaven Telegraph 1913, it gives some insight into the costs of operating these large ships.

The Captain of the Norwegian Whaler now lying in Jervis Bay,  in a conversation with the writer on Saturday last,  gave the following information:-

It will be 16 months on the 8th of August since the whaler left for these waters.  The expedition is financed by a wealthy Norwegian company,  and was formed in the first place to operate principally in Tasmanian waters,  where,  it was said,  there were plenty of whales.

On arrival however,  Captain Egeness says they were found to be vary scarce.

Therefore the trip so far has been a financial failure,  the loss to date being something in the vicinity of 40,000 pounds.  Even with a run of good catches from now until the end of the trip,  the company would still sustain a slight loss.

The expenses of the factory ship alone run to 1500 ponds a month.  This includes insurance,  provisions, etc,  but not wages.

There are 113 men all told employed on the whalers.

The men on the factory ship work on wages,  with a percentage on the oil ( so much per cask).

The men in the whale boats get wages also so much per whale,  which varies according to the class of whale.

Captain Egeness and Dr. Kolflaath both consider if a factory could be established to treat whales it would be a paying concern.  They are of the opinion their own country men are best adapted for shooting and landing whales,  and Australian workmen for the work on shore.

The best results for the trip have been secured at Jervis Bay.


1913 the Norwegian whale boats Sorell and Campbell operated from the bay,  supporting two factory ships the Loch Tay and the Polynesia,  the Polynesia had spent the 1912 season working in New Zealand Waters.

From June through to October they took 379 whales, making a total of 537 whales for the two seasons yielding 2666 tons of oil. This operation was forced to close down after only two seasons as there were many complaints received due to the strong odour and offal floating in the Bay.

 Continue reading
TBG14219110220001 Loch Tay

The Norwegian  factory ship Loch Tay.

whale in the bay

A whale being readied for processing inside Jervis Bay.




You can see these medieval like tools on display inside the museum, along with whale bones, drawings, and photographs.


15 May 2015

The Desikoko – an exciting life at sea.

1934 - The launch of a new boat at Huskisson
The launch of a new vessel would sometimes be accompanied by adds in local newspapers letting people know about the occasion.  The adds bought people from all over the district,  and would turn the launch into a gala affair.
After the launch,  celebrations were conducted in the Huskisson School of Arts, the present day Huskisson pictures.


The Desikoko 230 tons,  120ft long, was one such vessel,  


Desikoko during construction on the banks of the Currambene.


The Shoalhaven Telegraph. Monday May 28


There was a large assemblage of people from all parts of the district at Huskisson on Monday night,  the occasion being the launching of a new boat just completed by Mr, Alfred Settree. The breaking of the customary bottle of wine across the bow by Miss Vera Settree,  with good wishes and the naming of the craft “The Desikoko,”  heralded her graceful entry into the placid waters of Currambene Creek,  to the accompaniment of much applause from the onlookers.  So smoothly were all the details mastered,  and so capable was the organisation,  that the launching was over in a matter of seconds,  and the Desikoko took the water without the slightest hitch.  Later she was manoeuvred over to the wharf,  where crowds of people boarded her for a closer inspection,  and Mr Settree was the recipient of universal congratulations.


The Desikoko was a beautifully made vessel,  built by a highly respected shipbuilder of the time, Alfred. W. Settree learnt his trade in New Zealand, he knew the boat-building game from A. to Z., and the Desikoko was the eighth boat he has launched since coming to New South Wales.

Shipbuilding was a vital part of the local economy during this time,  employing local men in the construction stage and also providing employment for, and supporting local timber mills.

The Shoalhaven Telegraph May 28.

  It is worthy of note – and incidentally it is a big thing in the industrial history of the community – that the whole of the timber used in the construction of the boat,  was secured locally,  even the cedar used in the cabin fittings,  The deck is of spotted gum and the vessel is copper fastened throughout.  She took 10 months to build and employed 9 local men, paid an average weekly wage of 40 pounds.  

After the celebrations had finished the Desikoko was moved back along the river where final preparations were made for her to be towed to Sydney to have her engines fitted.
Loaded with timber, the final manoeuvre was suppose to be a simple affair, but nearly ended in tragedy.




Launched only on Monday night last week,  at Huskisson,  the Desikoko,  a vessel built by Mr A. Settree for the island-trading company,  was on Monday aground at the right of the entrance to Currambene Creek,  on a sand bank almost opposite where she was launched.
     The mishap occurred on Friday night when she was being towed out of the creek by launches,  A cylinder cracked in one of the launches, ropes broke, the outgoing tide boosted by recent rains and the Desikoko was soon in trouble..
    The Desikoko was loaded with timber,  some of which was removed,  when the steamer Erina from Sydney,  tried to mover her without success.
     Tides are low now,  the last big tide having been on the night of the launching;  but the ship’s position,  for the present at least is not giving rise to any great anxiety.
     Captain Stobo,  of the Sydney Marine Underwriters’ Association,  paid a visit to Huskisson to view the situation,  and future operations will depend on his report.


June 6Desikoko successfully refloated
Further investigation found she had suffered no damage and as long as the weather stayed in their favour, it was expected to get her off the sand bar on the next high water.
Thing’s didn’t go quite so easy, despite efforts she sat wedged on the sand bar for 5 days, before finally she was refloated of June the 6th,  without any damage, reloaded with timber to the order of Alan Tailor and Co., and made ready to resume her original purpose.

June 10
Arrives in Sydney
After an uneventful trip,  the Desikoko arrived in Sydney,  towed by the coastal steamer Bermagui,  where she will be equipped with Diesel engines and shortly sail for the islands with a large cargo of timber.

June 20 – Native Boy’s
Six New Guinea natives and two Solomon Islanders saw the wonders of the big city for the first time yesterday.
They arrived by the  Machui to man the Desikoko,  Captain R. C, Duncan who is to take charge arrived on the same vessel.

July 25 - Sea Trials.
After her engines were installed and her fittings were finalised she was taken outside Sydney Heads for sea trials, the engines proved themselves quite satisfactory and no further trials were necessary,  she was now ready to be loaded with timber and sail to the islands, where she will join W. R. Carpenters fleet of island traders.


1935 – The Desikoko, along with other island coastal vessels were involved in a fruitless search for the missing Government ketch Hermes, carrying 3 white officials and a crew of 14 natives.
The search was extensive, but no trace of the missing vessel was found.


May 1937 – The Desikoko had a very lucky escape from Rabaul Harbour after 2 volcano’s erupted and showered her with scorching ash,  During the turmoil she was thrown onto a mud bank by the tidal wave that accompanied the first eruption, but was later refloated.
     She was the only vessel of any size left afloat after the eruptions and despite repeated efforts could not find a way out of the harbour past the mud bank that had been pushed up during the eruptions blocking the harbour.
    Finally the Desikoko  pushed her way through dense masses of pumice on the surface of the harbour in almost total darkness,  the engine became clogged with pumice but the Desikoko eventually reached Nordup beach, giving hope that a passage was available for larger ships to enter Rabaul Harbour.
   Her keel was damaged and her superstructure badly burnt.

See some remarkable images and information about the eruptions.
Continue reading

December 1937 – She arrived in Sydney for repairs.


During WW2 many small ships in Australia, were commandeered into the US Army Small Ships Section.  In 1942 the now named USS Desikoko, number S-129, and was used to carry supplies round the islands,  petrol, rations and mail convey soldiers and civilians from Rabaul shortly before the Japanese captured the town on the 23rd of January 1942.

28th January 1942 she arrived in Cairns from Samarai,  of the tip of Papua,  disembarking evacuees.

Mr. Hood had poignant memories of the war in the South West Pacific.


Mr Hood was an engineer of the Desikoko at Rabaul when the town was attacked by the Japanese.  When the last aircraft had taken off, The Desikoko left Rabaul,  Two days later the Japanese landed and after a fierce battle the Australian Garrison was overwhelmed.
    He was aboard the the Desikoko when it picked up evacuees from Samarai, and unloaded in Cairns,   reaching Townsville a large hole in the vessels side was repaired.
    Once back in Australia the Desikoko was not out of danger.  When attempting to enter Port Stephens in NSW,  the vessel was mistaken  by a coastal battery for a Japanese craft and fire was opened on her.
    After two “near misses” and a strafing by lighter weapons the vessel was able to satisfy the coastal batter that it was not an enemy ship,  but was told to leave the area as the port was closed.
    The Desikoko miraculously escaped damage from the shelling and strafing.

Surviving the war,  she was returned to W. R. Carpenter who had no further use for her as the companies coconut industries had been destroyed during the war.


All seafarers know by changing the name of a boat you will anger the sea gods and curse the boat with bad luck,  right or wrong,  in this case it appears to be true.


December 1946 – She was sold to the Chinese and while in Sydney the Desikoko was renamed the “Yua Hwa”, there seems to be some confusion about the actual name, research of the NSW Environment and Heritage site has the name listed as ‘'Yau Wha” while all other references have the name as previously stated.


January 1947 – After many years of faithful and sometimes exciting service for the island trading company W. R. Carpenter, after thousands of hours crossing the oceans between the islands and Australia, her final voyage was a sad and undignified affair.

The Sydney Morning Herald January 6 1947


NEWCASTLE, Sunday. – the ships company had to jump overboard when a 230-ton wooden motor vessel, the Yau Hwa (formerly the Desikoko)  sank five miles south of Newcastle early this afternoon while being towed to port.
     They were the 72-year old English master, Captain James Baldwin,  two Norwegian officers,  and 10 Chinese.  Only the captain was hurt.  He is in Newcastle Hospital with a fractured knee-cap.
     The vessel left Sydney at 2 p.m. yesterday with a cargo of flour for China,  but sprung a leak last night and began to take much water.
     The Newcastle pilot boat Birubi took the Yua Hwa in tow about 1 p.m. today.  However after being towed for an hour the Yua Hwa suddenly listed and sank within two minutes.
      The crew jumped overboard and were taken in by a lifeboat from the Birubi.

Prompt action saves crew.
      The crew were saved from possible drowning by the prompt action of Dr. Keith Watkins,  a prominent Newcastle surgeon,  who saw the plight of the Yua Hwa as he was passing by in a fishing launch.  He notified the pilot station which sent the Birubi to rescue the Yua Hwa.


“I am the luckiest man in the world to be alive”


“I am the luckiest man in the world to be alive.” said captain Baldwin in Newcastle Hospital last night.
       “When the ship listed badly,  the deck cargo began to fall overboard. I remember practically nothing until the lifeboats from the Birubi picked me out of the water.  I was bombed and sunk off the China Coast soon after the war with China broke out,  but my experience today was the worst I have had in 50 years at sea.”

No inquiry into sinking.

“Because the “Yua Hwa” was sailing under a Chinese flag no inquiry was held,  and it fell to the Chinese authorities to instruct it’s representative in Australia to hold an inquiry into the sinking”

IMG_8884 The museum has a beautifully made scale model of the Desikoko on display, along with other photographs and information.

69 years after she foundered,  the Desikoko is discovered.
Until recently this once beautifully handcrafted ship laid like so many other pieces of Australian maritime history,  forgotten, broken and slowly dissolving back into the elements until the early 80’s when trawler operators on the north coast reported to a local diver and his son that they knew where a wreck was located,  the diver investigated these claims and the remains of the Desikoko laying lonely on the sea floor were found.
   69 years after she went down, the objects below were given to the museum in April 2015,  and are now undergoing a stabilisation process.


Museum curator Graham Hinton showing some of the relics.

instrumentconglomerate  conglomerate-2
instrument2 instrument3 part
Stabilisation process.

After so many years being in salt water these objects need to be stabilised to avoid further deterioration, once objects are exposed to air and drying,  decay is quickened, to arrest this process the objects have to undergo a process called “desalination”, the relics are submersed in fresh water that is changed on a regular basis, the next stage will be to “de-water” the objects by immersion in acetone.  Once this process is complete the objects will enter the museums collection and be available for display.


Submerged in fresh water during the process of desalination.

Meaning: Desikoko - desiccated coconut

13 May 2015

Lois Johnson Exhibition

Examples of some of the fine artworks on display in the Science of the Sea Gallery by Lois Johnson.
IMG_9486 IMG_9487

Desikoko discovery

Graham Hinton seen here holding up relics from the Desikoko, discovered in the early 80’s by a father and son while investigating reports by local fishermen who told them of an unknown wreck, the relics were donated to the museum in April.

The Desikoko was built in Huskisson in 1934 by A.Settree and foundered near Newcastle in 1942.

A comprehensive post about the adventurous life of this beautiful ship will be posted soon.


12 May 2015

Jervis Bay Snippets 1907

Shoalhaven Telegraph April 1907.

This articles takes us back to a time when simple games and quickly arranged sporting events were enough to keep the population of Huskisson and surrounds happy,  you can feel the sense of community from the article.
      It also shows us how the Dent Family of shipbuilders were diversifying into tourism,  and just how much the people from the district were hoping that the long proposed tram way would eventually arrive at Jervis Bay and bring prosperity to all.

74-Owen-Street,-Huskisson-1920s---a Huskisson main street.


There was to have been a regatta at the Bay on Saturday,  but the strong and treacherous westerly wind caused the owners of the boats some uneasiness,  and finally agreed to postpone the event.

About mid-day quite a crowd had turned up to the wharf - almost the entire population one would think - including many ladies.

There are three boats engaged in fishing at Currambine,  and their crews - as jolly and  "sporty" a crowd as could be found anywhere - provided some amusement.

They matched one another against each other in skiffs,  and someone else against the winner,  until every man had beaten all the others.  Then they repeated the performance in pairs and finished with a boys' race.

"A tarpaulin muster "raised a few  "bob" for a duck and dinghy race.  Jimmy May,  who has been the "duck"  in similar event for years volunteered to keep out of Charlie Ganderton's clutches for 10 minutes.  The chase was very funny while it lasted,  but Jimmy succumbed in three minutes.

An adjournment was made to the tram terminus,  at least where it might be,  and a handicap footrace was run.  Charlie Ganderton was again victorious,  though he just beat L. Dent.

The genial host of the Jervis Bay Hotel then introduced a game for the ladies he said,  but they were a bit shy at first,  though they made warm when they started.  A stick with a shilling on top was the objective,  and the competitors were expected to knock the silver off,  after being blindfolded and turned inside out,  the ladies did well at this,  but Mr Cambourn's chivalry surely let them chance one eye at the shilling.  It was amusing to see some of the attempts,  and everyone was in great humour.


Jervis Bay Hotel from this time. J. Cambourn Licensee

The regatta will be held on Saturday week.  It's a bad day to expect visitors,  but,  of course,  it suits the fishermen,  and they make the race.  A few field sports might be arranged for the afternoon,  thus filling in the day.

Mr Cambourn in making baths at the Bay.  He has erected a dressing shed,  and with wire netting purposes to make the place perfectly safe from sharks.

With a magnificent sheet of water, sea and lake fishing, oil launches,  sailing boats,  shooting,  oysters,  and excellent accommodation,  Jervis Bay cannot have any superior as a tourist resort.  Messrs Fred and Dick Dent each has an oil launch,  and there will shortly be another available,  in expectation of a good time summer.

Mr Dick Dent has been giving the lobsters a trial,  but they are not to plentiful just now.  He has had some good catches,  and the price paid for them in Sydney makes the game fairly remunerative.

If the tramway idea is carried through,  those people who have property at the Bay will be on a  pretty good wicket.  There are a fairly large number of houses scattered about now,  and it does not seem to much of a strain on the imagination to picture the whole of the land between,  say,  the school and the hotel,  built upon,  and kept going to a very large extent by a tourist trade.