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.

30 June 2015

First permanent dwelling at Callala Beach

 Canberra Times Friday 30 September 1955.
This was one of the advertisements promoting the sale of land at Callala in 1955.

1956 - This was the first building at Callala Beach,  situated in Quay Road built by one of my relatives,  Cliff Brown.
The whole area had been extensively cleared.  In those days the water supply came from crystal clear ground water drawn to the surface via a spear point and pump.
Our water was from around 40ft below the surface.



This photograph shows the rescue helicopter after it landed in front of Cliff’s house in 1956.
Continue to more image of the 737 squadron Firefly on the beach after the crash landing.



Navy manoeuvres on the bay.

If you had been down the bay this morning to watch the sun rise,  you would have see three or four navy ships conducting manoeuvres.   There was a school of dolphins visible in the soft mist that was slowly drifting across the Topaz  water.  It was an impressive site.



26 June 2015

A Camera On Gallipoli

To commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign the museum has a fascinating collection of photographs taken by soldier and surgeon Sir Charles Ryan, the exhibition finishes in September.

One of a series of skillfully drawn emotive illustrations that appeared on the front page of the Sydney Mail in 1915.


25 June 2015

Jervis Bay – passing winter lightning storm

The bay is an amazing place –  a beautifully violent storm lights up the bay as it slowly drifts past Point Perpendicular.

22 June 2015

“The look of disappointment as he hauled up an old boot”


This funny and fascinating story takes us back to Huskisson when life was much slower,  people lived in the moment, where the very simple things were enjoyed and appreciated.

This article has not been corrected,  it’s as it appeared..
Shoalhaven News Saturday June 6 1891

   "Queen's birthday" came this year on the 25th May.   The natal day of Her Most Gracious Majesty,  for whom we have one person of "gross" individuality who ever has a verse of 'Rule Britannia"  on his lips,  brings pleasant outings to many persons who otherwise would not think of having a day's pleasure and recreation.

This fact shows very loyal attachments,  some twenty Shoalhaven gentlemen,  representing Nowra,  Terara,  Berry,  and  Kangaroo Valley,  proceeded to Jervis Bay the day preceding the abovementioned holiday to have a run with the schnapper.  One of Mr.  Robert Thornton's coaches was engaged for the occasion,  and the team of five fine horses  (of mixed colour)  was well handled by Barney M'Ternan.


Coaches and the Prince of Wales Hotel Nowra, on the right, early 1900’s

Several of the party raised objection, - they did not like the journey started on the Sabbath.  Leaving Lawrence's Prince of Wales Hotel at 3p.m. Sunday the Bay was reached at 7,  after a very pleasant drive.

The road was in A1 order,  the portion from Tomerong to the Bay having recently been considerably improved,  a fact over which it was hard to restrain several of the tourists giving three cheers for Mr. P. H. Morton,  MP.,  who has been of great assistance in procuring money for the permanent improvement of the highway.  "Never mind,  boys," exclaimed one of the party, " give him your vote when the time comes," this being right royally applauded.

The Bay reached,  the first thing to be done was the kindle a fire for the manufacture of tea,  this duly being relegated to Messrs. A. Wolf and R.  Leeming.  With the aid of a frying-pan some of Morrison's best steak and chops were prepared in quite a recherch√© style and served to the company with plenty of 'modarimin" as the aboriginal would term bread.

After a hearty meal,  the company proceeded to arrange a programme.

It was agreed that a levy of one shilling per man be made and awarded to the person catching the first fish from Dent's wharf.  Several who did not favor this proposal wrapped themselves in their rugs and went to sleep by the fire. The "pool" party had some fun at the wharf,  and the way lines were drawn in at every little nibble was very amusing.  Barney was declared to be the most scientific in the angling biz,  and the beautiful moon shining full in his face revealed a determination quite repulsive to his companions.

Suddenly his face gave out a smile and he announced "a bite,"  and in a few seconds Barney,  with a strong and long pull,  landed the coveted water denizen,.  'hanging"  to which was a bright half sov.   A rush was made to eye the monster,  which on close examination was found to be of the whiting species,  but which had evidently been in the hands of a landsman before,  as it gave out a flavor strong.  Barney,  in truth,  was "had,"  and the company became hilarious.  Another of the company known as "Mac",  was also "had" at the same time,  and the look of disappointment he gave as he hauled up and old boot was sufficient to make a protectionist candidate tremble.  This fishy affair was called a "leather jacket"  by some, but old friend Dent termed it a "canary."

Soon afterwards the company made themselves comfortable at the fire for the night,  but three of the company were bent on some fun,  and they had it,  such as hobbling those who were in blissful repose.  The biters were however bit before 4 a.m. as they themselves were hobbled before they rose.  Shortly after 4 the company made for the boats,  laden with baskets of edibles in large quantity.

The steamer, just arrived from Sydney,  could not reach the wharf,  but she was boarded just as daylight was breaking in the west.  The Marvel is a nice little steamer for fishing excursions,  with an agreeable and obliging crew.  Old Mr. George Dent was aboard and was welcomed by the visitors in a hearty manner.  The steamer got under way at sunrise.  Oh, for another sight of that beautiful sunrise - nature in it's best attire;  the large expanse of calm water before the eye,  and it's silvery boarder:  the birds singing in the air as the steamer hugged the shore on her way down - all combined to fill the heart of any man who is nothing of a crank.

The first place cast anchor for fishing was near North Head,   and here several fine schnapper were secured.  Sweepstakes had been previously arranged, of 10s., 6., and 3s. for the first fish,  the heaviest fish,  and the most fish,  and curious the relate, Messrs, Marriot, Wolf,  and Lambert each landed on board a schnapper at the same time,  so the sweepstakes had to be divided between the three.  Speculations were rife as to who would be lucky enough to catch the largest fish,  and as they were drawn up one after the other they were eagerly scanned.

Many other places were 'prospected" during the day,  but not with any great success.  At 4 o'clock the steamer turned her head homewards,  being then much further down the coast than Wreck Bay,  upon the rocks at which place were to be seen yet the remains of the ill-fated steamer Corangamite.   The steamer got into Jervis Bay and anchored about 5 o'clock,  when the prize for largest fish was awarded to Barney,  whilst that for the largest number went to A. Wolf.  The gong rang for tea as we proceeded up the Bay,  and judging by the style the party adopted,  each of them enjoyed tea very much.

Talk about Lawrence's best-laid out table,  of which much is heard ! Tis nothing to the table this fishing party provided.  On leaving the steamer three hearty cheers were given for Mr. Dent and his crew,  and returned by them.

Horses and coach were looked to by the party's  "whip"  and "shine all over." but it was decided to await the moon before starting the return journey.  All hands once more then drew around the fire,  for the weather was then very cold,  and during the short attachment to the glowing embers Mr. Marriot took the opportunity of proposing a vote of thanks to Messrs Miller and Leeming for organising the days outing,  mentioning especially the quality and quantity of the editable supplied by Mr. Leeming .   The vote was carried by hearty acclamation,  and Messrs Miller and Leeming thanked the company for the unexpected compliments.  On the return trip to Nowra which was reached at 11 p.m., Messrs "Barney." Lambert,  Newmark,  and Notley contributed largely the the amusement of the party by their songs and witticisms.


This is an unrelated photo from the period.

On examination this article gives us some interesting details from 1891

1 - Jervis bay road didn’t exist as we know it, the only way to get to Huskisson was by going all the way to Tomerong, taking 4 hours.

2 - George Dent famously know as a Huskisson shipbuilder, was always looking to diversify and expand his opportunities, in 1891 he was conducting fishing excursions in his steamer the Marvel inside the bay and around the surrounding coast.

The Marvel has it’s own story to tell – that's for another post soon.

3 - The wreck of the Corangamite ran aground inside Wreck Bay in 1886, wreckage was still visible on the shore in 1891.

4 - And something I had never thought about before this article, Travelling at night by coach was best done while there was a full moon.

Continue to a previous post about the wreck of the luxury ship the Corangamite.
Meaning: Recherché - rare, exotic, or obscure.
             Nimrod – From the Biblical Nimrod, a mighty hunter,

Light Houses

Crowdy Head Lighthouse.
Built in 1878 with a fixed catadioptric light of less than 1,000 candelas.
It was the last of a series of small lighthouses designed by James Barnet, made of stone and painted white,  it was originally manned by one keeper until 1928,  in 1972 the light was converted to mains electricity.

Situated on a beautiful headland overlooking Crowdy Head and the boat harbour,  with sweeping views to the north and south.

Meaning: Candelas - the SI unit of luminous intensity.

21 June 2015

Rocket Apparatus from ship to shore.

"lost ships can be replaced, but lives lost are gone forever"

Many shipwreck reports mention the use of a “Rocket Apparatus” by a “Rocket Brigade” while trying to rescue survivors of a shipwreck.,

What is it?,  how was it used? 

Rocket Apparatus exhibited at the historic Trial Bay Gaol.

While many vessels were lost at sea far from the help of anyone on land,   many other vessels were lost close to shore, running aground on beaches, reefs, and break walls,   lives were lost when only a short distance away on land were onlookers helpless to offer any kind of assistance

The wreck of the
Walter Hood near Bendalong in 1855 was one such vessel.  Sailors and passengers lost their lives trying to get to shore,  while people gathered in increasing numbers on land watching the terrible situation unfold, without being able to help in any way.

Similar situations happened wherever man sailed the open oceans,  something needed to be done.


1807 - A mortar launching device devised by Captain Manby, F.R.S. was used for many years,  it had proved successful in saving many lives,  but the device was found to have a limited range and the violent nature of the initial blast often caused the life line to break.

Britain 1807Henry Trengrouse. During a furious mid-winter gale in 1807 a large frigate (H.M.S Anson) drove ashore on a bar  in Mount's Bay. .  Of those onboard,  upward of 100 were drowned.  Among those who witnessed from the shore the loss of the gallant ship was Trengrouse,  the scene made and indelible impression on his mind,  and day and night he pondered upon the means whereby some assistance could be given to the shipwrecked,  some communication be established between the stranded vessel and the shore.

His idea was a rocket launching apparatus with a line attached, similar to the the Manby device,  it could be launched from shore across the wrecked vessel whereby a line could be drawn from shore to the stricken vessel, upon which a chair was attached for transporting survivors,  could be pulled back to shore.

The rocket proved to be more successful than the mortar because of the gradual launch speed,  the line would not snap and the rocket travelled a far greater distance than the mortar.

1808 -  His eventual solution lay in the direction of the vessel being equipped with the apparatus by the use of those onboard to get in touch with the would be rescuers on land,  in preference to the first efforts coming from shore to the men on the wreck.

220px-Henry_Trengrouse1818. Trengrouse finally exhibited his apparatus before the government.    The government ordered 20 sets, but later had their own ordinance department construct the apparatus,  he was compensated with 50 ponds and a silver award, a small compensation for so much work and expense, his health deteriorated and he died penniless in 1857.

As time went on the rocket design was improved by Colonel Boxer who devised a double rocket combined in a single case, increasing the range considerably.

1872.   Rocked brigades were established right along the British coast and many ships carried their own portable device and the British Marine Department of the board of trade issued instructions and illustrations of the official use of the apparatus,  to all masters and seamen, including how women, children, passengers,  and helpless persons should be landed before the crew of the ship.

The device proved it’s worth and was responsible for saving thousands of lives.

1859. After the loss of many lives on the wreck of the S.S. Admella in South Australia the Victorian government placed an order for 12 sets of rocket apparatus. Over time many coastal communities had their own Rocket Brigades, these men did regular training in the use of the apparatus.

Despite shore based rocket brigades being established along our more populated areas,  the  Australian situation was different to the well populated British coast, where any wreck would surely be spotted.   Australia had vast areas of uninhabited coastline, thereby making it impractical to have only shore based rocket brigades.

slwa_b3048771_1State Library of Western Australia - https://slwa.wa.gov.au/

One such wreck at Catherine Hill bay in April 1914 of the collier Wallarah, illustrates the problem.

"The Rocket Brigade had to travel 26 miles overland from Newcastle to effect the rescue of all hands".

The shore based apparatus had other failings,  most shipwrecks required the rockets to be fired into the teeth of a severe storm, resulting in many attempts being required to achieve it's aim and the delays cost lives.

w,schermuly pistol1899 - The need for lighter more portable rocket apparatus led to many improvements, wire hawsers were replaced with a lighter canvas hawser,  the rocket base and anchor back were reduced in size and weight, making transport easier. 

1908 exhaustive tests were in progress with a view of discovering the best type of portable rocket apparatus to be carried onboard.

After the loss of so many ships and lives along our coastline, the need for the apparatus to be carried aboard vessels was making news,  many articles appear in Australian newspapers for action to be taken to address the problem and make it compulsory for every ship to carry  a portable rocket apparatus.

Despite the public outcry, wrecks and loss of life, a portable devices still wasn't made compulsory.

Testing went on.


wil 1947 The British designed and widely used "Schermuly Pistol Rocket" was successfully exhibited at Homebush Bay. Great interest was taken in the demonstration by representatives of practically every shipping and maritime company in Sydney.

Was it ever made a compulsory piece of safety equipment on board coasting vessels,  I'm not sure,  I have been unable to find any evidence to support this notion..  If you have information that can help, I would be very please to hear from you..

William Schermuly.

Continue to the story about the Walter Hood.



17 June 2015

M.V. Macleay

During out trip to the north coast we visited the South West Rocks Maritime Museum.

Just like the hard working and dedicated volunteers who fought and took risks to bring our own Lady Denman back home to Jervis Bay.  A group of  volunteers on the north coast at South West Rocks were rescuing a beautiful part of their own maritime history.


The Pilot boat M.V. Macleay is located at the South West Rocks Maritime Museum.
In June 1935 she arrived at South West Rocks and went into service.  31 feet overall, 28ft on the waterline and a 9 foot beam fitted with a 20hp diesel engine. She was self righting and as near as possible “ unsinkable”.

She operated into the late 1960’s before being de-commissioned and leaving the area.

In later years she was discovered at Dora Creek,  Lake Macquarie,  and after negotiations was bought back to South West Rocks.

Restoration by volunteers began in the early 2000’s and can be seen today at the rear of the South West Rocks Maritime Museum.


16 June 2015

Bullock Bells


Another story about straying stock roaming the streets of Huskisson upsetting local residents.

The Shoalhaven Telegraph Wednesday 13 February 1939.

Once again another complaint from Huskisson about straying stock.
           At Clyde Shire Council meeting on Friday a communication was received from F.W O'Brian,  proprietor of the Hotel,  stating that his guests were unable to sleep at night because of the row of bullock bells,  and cut their stay short because of the nuisance.  He asked protection.
          Councillors again discussed the question at length,  pending reply from the Department of Police re certain ground at the hamlet of Huskisson,  under a consideration for a pound-yard.
          The Clerk said the difficulty was to successfully prosecute those in charge of the roaming bullocks,  as he was aware of "bullockies" working oxen which did not belong to them and denied ownership if taxed about them when they were straying the street.
           The Engineer thought it would be good to put the onus of proof on some of the complainants;  it would be a simple matter for them to detain straying stoke in their own yards,  by way of proving ownership,  and the Council's officers could easily do the rest.  He had seen one owner - the principal offender  - who promised to remove the bells from his bullocks;  the bells caused the most nuisance the residence complained about.
           Cr. Watt opined that proof of ownership would be an easy matter;  he mentioned the names of Ernie Pepper and Prossy Coulon as owners and moved that they be informed that they would be prosecuted if their bullocks were again found on the though fares of Huskisson.  Seconded by Cr.  Harding,  who endorsed the previous speakers remarks,  and the motion was carried.


No bullocks here,  just a fabulous picture of the main street of Huskisson in the  60’s.

Previous post about straying stock in Huskisson – Continue Reading


Light houses.

I have just returned from a three week tour along the north coast and had the opportunity to visit a few Maritime Museums and lighthouses.
I will post a few images over the coming weeks.


Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse Seal Rocks - Completed in 1875.
An increase in coastal shipping and the subsequent occurrence of a number of shipwrecks in the area compelled the need to establish a lighthouse. This lighthouse is built in a beautiful location and well worth the effort to visit.