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 November 2015

Jervis Bay - The promised land.

The promise of a new port for the colony at Jervis Bay had been in the pipeline for many years.  Successive ministers and governments made grand gestures during discussions about the future of Jervis Bay.

A new railway would link the new National Capital,  Canberra,  with the sea.  Jervis Bay was destined to become the National Capital’s Sea Port.

The  railway line would also link Nowra,  where the current line now terminates,  with various location around the bay,  to the north the line was proposed for the great future city ‘St Vincent’s City” to be built by Henry Halloran, then on to the south shores of the bay where it would link the Woollamia Estate with North Huskisson,  “Huskisson”  then on to Lambs Point, present day “Plantation Point”,  then on to South Huskisson,  present day Vincentia”  then around to Captains Point, site of the the “Australian Naval College”  then finally ending at Bristol Point, where another town was laid out with plans for shipping wharfs and infrastructure.

But like so many things before and since Jervis Bay was never to see any of the proposed developments come into reality.


Shoalhaven News July 1915

 Opening of the new port and the National Railway.


“The long-promised opening of the port should soon begin. The accepted agreement between the New South Wales and Commonwealth Governments provides for handing over more territory at Bristol Point to the latter, who will build the national railway.
     The survey shows this line as running through the College lands to Lamb's Point, and thence on to Canberra. This means that the first wharves will be constructed and used at Bristol Point'; the College will retain its isolation; and Lamb's Point will be used for public wharves under State control. It is understood docks - will be erected at Bristol. The turning of the first sod will be done by the Governor General at the beginning of July.”



The Railway comes to Jervis Bay 1915.

Even though a railway link of any sort never eventuated,  I’m sure it would be a surprise to many people to know Jervis Bay did end up with a working railway line and locomotive operating on it’s shores.


Locomotive 530 travelling along the shore-line of Jervis Bay during operation at the Royal Australian Naval College.

During the construction of the break wall at the Royal Australian Naval College, two stone quarries were excavated and a small locomotive hauled the stone between the quarries and the breakwater.

Initially the wagons were hauled by horses but when the second quarry was opened further away the 530 was purchased from the NSW Government Railways in 1915.

The image above is taken from a small book available from the museum for 5 dollars by Peter Crabb,  it goes into great detail about the “Railways that Never Were”   the information contained in the book is fascinating.


The Shoalhaven News and South Coast Districts Advertiser Saturday 17 April 1915



The two images above shows the railway line extending onto the wharf and along the water front, it was used for unloading timber and coal during the College’s construction
The Sydney Mail 1913.

26 November 2015

Fire rages on Beecroft Peninsula

Strong westerly winds have fanned a large bushfire on the Beecroft Bombing Range.
locals are worried that the predicted southerly change this afternoon might send the fire towards Currarong.
Fires around the Jervis Bay region have featured in many old newspaper articles.
The people of Huskisson and the surrounding districts have had to battle bush fires since the the first Europeans arrived and started to clear the bush for settlement.

I will post a few of these stories at a later time.

Hornby Lighthouse

Sydney Harbour.

Hornby Lighthouse, also known as Sydney Harbour South Head Lower Light, is an active lighthouse located on the tip of South Head, New South Wales, Australia, a headland to the north of the suburb Watsons Bay.

The lighthouse was built in 1858 following the wrecking of the Dunbar at the foot of South Head. Designed by colonial architect Alexander Dawson, Hornby Lighthouse was the third lighthouse to be built in NSW.

Continue reading about the Dunbar.


1885 Huskisson

The Life and times – Police V. Parnell.
The Shoalhaven Telegraph July 1885
  In this case two information's had been laid against the defendant (Thomas Parnell), one charging him with allowing 8 logs of timber to be on the roadway in Currumbene-street, Huskisson, to the interruption of travellers ; the other for trailing certain logs on Owen and Currumbene streets to the prejudice of the road way.
       The defendant pleaded guilty to both information's. Mr. Jas. Thompson appeared for the defendant, and stated that his client had pleaded guilty as it appeared that the principal witness for the prosecution, Mr. George Dent, Sen., was away in Sydney owing to the death of a brother-in-law, and sooner than have the case postponed and bring his client here from Tomerong on two such paltry charges, his client had pleaded guilty.
        The Bench allowed the defendant to make a statement on oath, which was to the effect that the logs, about thirty foot long, were placed on the side of the road. As a matter of fact, did not interfere with the traffic. The logs wore takentakou down to the wharf on only one timber carriage, because Mr. Dents fence was so near to the wharf that it was impossible to turn two timber carriages there. Of course if he used two timber carriages there would be no trailing ; but on account of Mr. Dent's fence only one timber carriage could be used. Mr. Thompson addressed the Bench, pointing out the paltry nature of the  charge, and his client was suffering because the Government had allowed Mr. Dent to take his fence so close to the wharf, and that as matters now stood it was impossible to take timber to the wharf without, trailing it, he thought the Bench perfectly justified in dismissing both information’s.
    The Bench inflicted a penalty of 2s 6d and -Is 1Od costs.
Charlos Pepper and — Pepper were charged with the same offence and fined a similar amount.

23 November 2015

The Cruise of the Wolverene.

Jervis Bay has played a fundamental roll in the Navy's history.
The Navy has and still does use the bay to developed and train their sailors.   It was first entered by the British Navy In August 1791 by Lieutenant Richard Bowen, aboard the convict transport ship Atlantic, part of the Third Fleet, he sailed into the bay and named it in honour of Admiral John Jervis, under whom he had served.

The navy were  regular visitors and used the bay for rest and recreation as well as the all important shot practice

In 1889  the H.M.C.S Wolverine left Sydney Harbour bound for Jervis Bay  to engage in shot practice.  She was a well know warship and had been in Australia  since 1877,  and for some years was the flagship of the Imperial Squadron in Australian Waters.

Progress down the coast was slow,  on leaving the Sydney Heads she encountered relatively calm conditions,  but as she stood out a few miles she encountered a heavy roll, which catching the vessel broadside on,  caused her to tumble about a great deal.

The wind being from the west,  and blowing strongly fore and aft canvas was set,  and this steadied her a little.

A large percentage of her crew aboard formally belonged to the British navy.
These old men-o'-wars -,men showed great aptitude in the performance of their duties,  being noticeable for their activity aloft.


 hms corvette wolverene
 Untitled-1 image



64 pounder.
On the journey south they took the opportunity to drill with the converted 64-ponder guns.
Although they had fine weather progress was very slow,  from 51/2 to 6 knots per hour,  This slow rate was owing to the fact that beneath the waterline the ship is very foul,  having about six months growth on her.

Sunset Friday.
Shoalhaven bight was sighted,  and they dropped anchor in Jervis Bay at half past 9 o'clock.

Nearly one-fourth of the ships company suffered from sea sicknesses during the run down.

Saturday morning.
The weather this day was fine,  she ran out to sea and engaged in shot practice at  a floating target.

A party of officers and the press representatives  put off from the ship,  landed near Hole in the Wall,  and walked across the hill to the Jervis Bay Lighthouse.  The track lay through thick bush, covered with a luxuriant undergrowth of grass, bracken and native flowers,


On emerging from the bush we crossed an open grassy plain for the lighthouse.
The walk across the breezy uplands proved very enjoyable after the monotonous and never-ceasing roll of the ship on her way down from Port Jackson.

We found the light-keeper and his numerous family in the best of health,  and the lighthouse itself and it's surroundings were in excellent condition,  everything being neat and clean.

Looking seaward from the lighthouse the view is extremely grand.  The great ocean stretched away in front looking somewhat desolate and lonely,  while the long easterly swell dashed on the cliffs at our feet with terrific violence threw huge masses of white feathery spray high into the air,  which reflected all the colours of the rainbow as it fell back into the sea again.

Lieutenant Cohen, assisted by Dr. Knaggs and Midshipman Lewington took a number of views of the lighthouse and the occupants off the houses situated on the bleak, lonely headland,  after which we started the return journey,  leaving a number of telegraphic messages to be dispatched to the city prior to bidding the people who live in this lonely spot farewell.


A stiff trudge bought us to the margins of Jervis Bay,  where the cutter was waiting to transfer us to the Wolverene,  lying about a mile away from the shore.

2.15pm  the crew manned the capstan and raised the anchor, to the tune of "Ballyhooley"
in true old-day man-o'-war style.  played by the fife and drum band as the tars beat to their work.

A target was then dropped over the side,  and the Wolverene steamed round while the gun's crews fired at it at ranges varying from 1000 to 1500 yards.  Some excellent practice was made,  the majority of the shots falling on either side of the object aimed at, the general direction of the missiles being good.  Nearly every shot would have holed a vessel.

Riflemen were also stationed on the tops,  and these took long shots at the target: but despite the inducement offered by Captain Hixon of " a pound for every man who strikes it",  they were unable to hit the flag,  owing to the unsteadiness of the vessel.
At the conclusion of the shot practice we stood out to sea,  passing close underneath Point Perpendicular at about 5p.m.   This is a grand headland,  the great perpendicular wall of rock rising out of it's ocean bed to the height if some 200ft.

After clearing the great headland  we stood well out to sea,  obtaining a good view of a fine four-masted vessel,  which,  with most of her canvas spread to the breeze,  was heading for Sydney as our good ship left the bay behind her.

Leaving Jervis Bay.

Darkness now settled over the face of the old ocean,  the only signs of life visible to our eyes being the lights of passing vessels and the rays of the friendly beacon shining forth from the lighthouse on the now far distant cape.

The Wolverene made many trips to Jervis Bay for ‘shot practice” but this particular journey to Jervis Bay was at an end,  this report gives us a valuable insight into the life and times of Jervis Bay and the navy around the late 1880's.

 HMS-Wolverene-the-deck-state-libraryDeck of the H.M.S Wolverene
And what became of the H.M.C.S Wolverene?
In the early 1880's the Wolverene was presented by the Imperial Government to the New South Wales Government as a drill and training ship for the New South Wales Naval Brigade.
The title of the ship was then changed from H.M.S Wolverine to H.M.C.S (Her Majesty's Colonial Ship) Wolverene. The vessel served as a training ship for the Naval Brigade for quite a number of years.
At the end of her service in that capacity the Wolverene was sold to Mr. Peter Ellison, of Millers Point, Sydney.  Later the vessel loaded coal for South America,  and during the voyage her seams opened,  whereupon the vessel put into Auckland, New Zealand,  where she was condemned in March 1895.  The vessel was subsequently broken up in Auckland Harbour.

Nobby’s Head Lighthouse

John Waring, Manager of the Nobbys Head Lighthouse sent us this haunting image he took of the lighthouse as it emerges out of the sea mist after a brief southerly cool change early Friday morning.

18 November 2015

Step back in time.

The picture below is a hand drawn image that appeared in the Australian Town and Country Journal” in a story about Huskisson,  it featured this image of a ship being built on the shores of Currambene Creek in 1883.
Visit the Museum today, and take a step back in time 132 years.

This beautiful hull was purchased from Mr. Arthur Williams from Batemans Bay in 1986 after a lot of work by John Hatton,  John was the Member of the South Coast and also Chairman of the Lady Denman Restoration and Historic Site Committee at the time.

John and his dedicated team of volunteers worked for many years to get the then named “Lady Denman Heritage Complex” to where it is today, one of the premium regional maritime and heritage museums in Australia.

The committee had a plan to build a boat shed much like the original sheds that once stood on the banks of Currambene Creek,  and this boat frame would be the perfect centre piece once the shed was built.



Alf demonstrating how to use a broad axe.

 Alf Settree the last wooden boat builder had his sheds and slipway near the entrance to Currambene Creek at Huskisson, he designed and help build the boat shed in the traditional manner,  the shed is named in his honour.

In 2001 this beautiful old hull was nearly destroyed in the Christmas day fires that savaged the region.
Fortunately the fire was bought under control and the frame suffered only minor damage.


13 November 2015

Home of the Lady Denman

The museum grounds are looking fantastic at the moment – the bottle brushes are flowering and there are all sorts of birds flitting about.  Come along and take a leisurely stroll through the grounds,  you won't be disappointed.

Wirreecoo Garden

November 2015
flower flower2

11 November 2015

Australian Clipper Ship Mystery.

What happened to the Strathnaver? - 1875

 Clipper ship Maitland Example of a clipper ship - State Library of Queensland

The vessel was a first class sea going one,  and in every respect was well found and ably manned. The vessel left Sydney in April 1875 and was never heard of again.

Headboard found at Jervis Bay.
The only piece of the vessel found was her “head board”,  this was found at Jervis Bay a few weeks after she had sailed, no other sign of wreckage was found.

She was well freighted having onboard a valuable cargo, comprising 3423 bales wool, 21 bales skin, 15 casks tallow,  127 bags bone dust, 13 bales leather, 38 logs timber,  931 cases meat,  2517 ingots,  488 cakes copper,  3585 ingot tin.

During this voyage she carried no passengers,  but had a crew of some thirty all told.

Questions were asked of the government and the Navy why a search for this vessel was never undertaken, the correspondents at the time were scathing in their reports about missing ships and the governments response.


" Anyone familiar with the actions of colonial governments in the matter of marine disasters and missing ships in these waters will well understand that neither the governments of these colonies nor the representatives of H.M. Navy on the Australian Station seldom trouble themselves about such matters until urged by public opinion to make some effort"


"Until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore, you will not know the terror of being forever lost at sea."

— Charles Cook


Remembrance day

At 11 am on 11 November 1918 the guns of the Western Front fell silent after more than four years continuous warfare
The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month attained a special significance in the post-war years. The moment when hostilities ceased on the Western Front became universally associated with the remembrance of those who had died in the war. This first modern world conflict had brought about the mobilisation of over 70 million people and left between 9 and 13 million dead, perhaps as many as one-third of them with no known grave. The allied nations chose this day and time for the commemoration of their war dead.

10 November 2015

A journey to Jervis Bay 1908

The Macleay Chronicle (Kempsey, NSW : 1899 - 1952), Thursday 30 July 1908
The following story from a visitor to the bay over 100 years ago paints a different picture to the one we now have of the bay.  Some thing haven’t changed, the beauty of the area is still a sight to behold.

The main change derived from this story are the regulations we are governed by now.   The regulations have taken away some of the freedom people had back then to roam about the bay pursuing their own interests, be it fishing,  hunting or sightseeing.   The rules and regulations are necessary to deal with technology and the rising population,  and the associated pressure this is putting on the bays environment.

Enjoy the story below,  it’s a fascinating journey, there are a couple of inaccurate references,  The “Chimbozaro” did smash into Point Perpendicular, but without any loss of life.

The area described as “Boat Harbour” we now know as “Honey Moon Bay” - there is another “Little Boat Harbour”  it featured in the previous story about the ‘Torpedo Tubes.”

The reference to a waterfall at the head of Moona Creek, there is no such waterfall – I think the story refers to Currambene creek and the waterfall at Falls Creek.


The route from Nowra for the first eight miles passes through dairying country,  and over the last 81/2 miles through dense hardwood forests,  which have, as yet, only been partly touched by the woodman’s axe.

Here and there are to be seen busy little saw mills with large quantities of logs waiting to be turned into girders, paving blocks, and other commercial sizes.

Emerging from the timber at the end of the road,  the sudden view of the bay is one of the grandest imaginable. 

Straight in front is the entrance with it's bold headlands - Perpendicular Head,  with Bowen Island in the centre,  and Governor Head at the south - standing like sentinels on guard.  At the blush the entrance might be taken for Sydney Harbour,  but is of greater width,  being 2 miles across,  while the headlands are much higher.

Point Perpendicular is a most imposing mass of rock,  raising abruptly from the ocean to a height of 250 feet.
It was against this rock the "Chimbarazo."  some years ago,  in a most unaccountable manner,  ran full tilt,  the impact being terribly disastrous and attended with considerable loss of life.

The bay is nearly circular in form,  and almost landlocked,  being 10 miles across as the widest part.  A distinct charm of the bay is the regular manner in which it is divided into beaches of beautiful white sand,  alternating with rocky points jutting into the waters,  which constitute excellent fishing grounds.

Jervis Bay is destined to become one of the favourite fishing resorts in Australasia,  as capital bream and schnapper fishing can be enjoyed in any weather close to the hotel or accommodation houses,  the later being most comfortable and moderate as regards tariffs.  The transparent waters of Currumbene Creek literally make the most lackadaisical fisherman's mouth water,  as he perceives immense quantities of bream, blackfish, mullet, garfish,  and many other members of the finny tribe looking vainly for a hook and line.

It is a common occurrence for 3 and 5 pound bream to be taken,  indeed the bay is the veritable paradise for the angler.

Shooting enthusiasts are also well catered for,  bird-life of all kinds being most prolific,  The marsupial also abounds,  and many stirring stories are told of immense bags,  by the oldest inhabitant,  who,  incidentally,  has been in and around the bay for fifty years.

There are many point of interest.  the principal being Moona Creek,  with a public oyster bed,  and a splendid waterfall at the creek head.

The salamander,  in search of ideal camping spots far from the maddening crowd,  would do well to select Lamb's,  Chinamen's,  New Bristol,  or Captain's points.  All are charming places, plentifully supplied with with clear fresh water,  tons of fire wood,  and beautiful beaches,  the acme of perfection for sun-hatching; But the spot which eclipses all the rest is Boat Harbour,  a beautifully secluded lagoon at the northern end of the bay. Oil launches,  with a draught of 31/2 feet, can pass through the narrow entrance,  which will only comfortably admit one boat at a time.  Once inside one gets a view of this lovely little place,  an acre of crystal water,  a beach which circles around the whole,  safe bathing,  immune to sharks,  grass trees growing right to the edge of the basin,  fresh water in plenty,  high beetling cliffs surrounding,  and brilliant sunshine,  and you have a view of campers paradise.

imageHoney Moon Bay. 

Visitors to the bay should not neglect to land on Bowen Island,  on which are to be seen large numbers of penguin.  The antics of this strange bird are indescribable,  and one gets great amusement in watching the beautiful creatures walking awkwardly about.   There are also numbers of rabbits,  hares and wallabies,  and snakes are in-numerable.

The fishermen of the bay,  especially the brothers Dent,  know the bay from end to end,  and,  being equipped with fast launches,  guarantee sport,  pleasure,  and comfort to any visitors who may desire to make a trip to this charming resort for a holiday.



9 November 2015

Earthquake shakes the Shoalhaven.

The Shoalhaven News 1901.
A severe shock of earthquake was felt at Terrara and Numba on Oct 10the 1901.  All the storekeepers were made aware of the fact by the rattling of the crockery ware and a general shaking of the buildings.  In Jones’ store a large jar of salt fell from a shelf,  caused by the violence of the vibration,  whilst the doors of the building remained open were closed with a slam.  At Numba the clock of Mr. Alexander was stopped by the perceptible shaking of the house.   The vibration lasted for seven or eight seconds
Alcohol add that appeared in the local paper from the same time.

Australian Society for Growing Australian Plants

Crap Spider putting on a show.

The Australian Society for Growing Australian Plants will be holding a conference in Canberra on 16th November. Members attending will be from all states of Australia and some will be on the pre conference tour of the South East Coast from 9th November to 13th. This tour will take in different areas of Eurobodalla Shire and within the Shoalhaven.

They will visit local gardens as well as the Wirreecoo Wildflower Garden at the Lady Denman (JBMM) on Thursday 12th from 10am to 11.45.

Members of the Nowra group of the Australian Plants Society (NSW) will host the group for morning tea and take them around the garden and if there is time take in part of the complex.


One of our locals putting on a show.
A beautiful Crab Spider waiting for an unsuspecting insect in the Wirreecoo Wildflower Garden

The garden looks fantastic at the moment,  do yourself a favour and come along for a relaxing browse around the garden.  If your quiet and observant you will see all sorts of insects amongst the beautiful array of plants.


5 November 2015

Cape St George Lighthouse

As reported in the The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser - 1860
Continue Reading – Despite the great enthusiasm stated above, the light was embroiled in controversy even before it was built,

Meaning: Catoptric - a light in which the rays are concentrated by reflectors into a beam visible at a distance.

South Coast Snippet.

As reported in the Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser 1911