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 September 2015


The Journey to Jervis Bay 1915.
Jervis Bay, which is only known to the great majority of Sydney citizens as the place where the weather comes from.

From Wollongong down to Nowra and even farther south, the district might be named Sydney-In-the-country. Cattle are feeding, butter factories are working vigorously, creameries are in active operation, and huge wagons bearing the names of city firms and full of heavy milk cans rattle along the road, beside the railway line, and everything seems to be going its hardest to feed the hungry city. Of course the South Coast feeds us and more besides, but we are a big customer. This has been a wonderful season. Never before within the memory of that celebrity "the oldest inhabitant," have the rains kept the paddocks green and springlike in 'the middle of February. It is a cheering and heart-encouraging sight to behold the quiet prosperity of all that district.   Men and women go on their way in peace and quietness, unaffected by war and war's alarms.

That Is the first Impression. "These people have never heard of the war."
But the first impression should not be trusted. As in other places, the influence of the great disturbance has penetrated here.  Red Cross work has been vigorously carried on by the Nowra women workers, and the society's funds have benefited by a very large sum from this centre. Even the horses of this part of the South Coast have answered to the world call, for many of them have been chosen as troopers' mounts, to say no- thing of the men who have enlisted.

Leaving Nowra for Jervis Bay, a sturdy little horse draws us in a sulky. Womanlike, and not understanding the degrees of height, I refer to him as "a nice little pony." The horse seems to hear, for he shakes his head irritably and jerks the sulky forward.

"He's not a pony," says the driver; "he's a horse, but he's just under the army standard. If he stood a little higher he'd be at the war now."

The equine self-respect seems restored at that, and the horse pounds along very bravely and steadily.

At a turn-off where two roads fork, stands a tiny fruit stall, kept by a buxom dame who is the wife of an adjacent farmer.
She sells "soft" drinks, cool as if kept on ice, and grapes with the bloom on them. Two or three tiny houses nestle amid the surrounding landscape, which is mostly gum trees, and not another living soul beside herself is in sight. "Does it pay," I ask, and am told that the weekly profits run into two figures. This information, though vague, certainly leaves it clear that stall-keeping, apparently in the uninhabited wild, is profitable. But along this road and the branch road there is a steady stream of vehicles all day long, motor cars, coaches, sulkies, buggies, and bicycles. A few years ago there was nothing but the daily coaches and a few, very few, visitors' traps. The establishment of the Naval College at Captain's Point, Jervis Bay has made the change.

Very glittering and gay are the college lights seen at night from a launch in the bay. Electricity in that part of the world is a rarity. By daylight the place is in the full swing of activity. The college now is administered by two departments, Home Affairs and Defence. Naturally, the former is diminishing in tho number of its representatives rapidly, now that the staff proper have arrived. But there will always be some Home Affairs officials there to look after buildings and so forth. Otherwise, the Defence Department rules supreme. The discipline of tho place resembles that of a man-of-war as much as may be. The isolation of Captain's Point is only realised after a visit to the surrounding districts. It is about six- teen miles from anywhere. This, of course, was purposely arranged for. Another determining factor in the choice of Captain's Point as a site for our navy training ground was that there is an abundant water supply.

What woman does not love a middy's uniform,  gold braid and brass buttons have a never-failing charm. The boys in training look what they are - the pick of Australia. The newly-joined cadet midshipmen are easily distinguished by the untarnished look of newness about their blue serge and gold fixings.

They liked Geelong, but they like this place better. For one reason, it is ever so much more spacious.
The boys go everywhere "at the double," and from one building to another is a good step. This is part of their daily exercise, and helps to keep them fit. Visitors are very frequent at the college gates, but a pass is necessary before inspection is allowed. This "keep-off-the-grass" attitude is quite literally to be understood, for the authorities are trying their hardest to conquer their present enemy, the black, dusty sand of the point, and are coaxing binding-grass everywhere.

76-First-Jervis-Bay-Hotel,-pre-1926First Jervis Bay Hotel – pre 1926 

Memories of warships and whalers cling around Huskisson, the township on Jervis Bay, which, though so small, has been a settlement for over 70 years, in the old R.N. days, when the ships went to Jervis Bay for target practice, there was only one hotel and a blacks' camp. The hotel and the black fellows are there still, but a township has grown up. On the point stands a monument to a young sailor from the flagship, who was drowned in the bay. That and a tiny, red-painted shed, formerly used for storing target gear, are the sole relics of the British Admiralty at Jervis Bay, which is only known to the great majority of Sydney citizens as the place where the weather comes from.



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