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 December 2016

Local advertising from 1935.


Royal Australian Naval College–Jervis Bay.

30th December 1914.
An article appeared in newspapers celebrating the news of the imminent arrival of the first group of young naval cadets at the recently completed Royal Australian Naval College at Jervis Bay.
17th December 1917
Three years later the first group of Cadets were about to graduate from the college..
After finishing their graduation the cadets entered World War One which was raging at the time.
It has to be remembered the average age of the cadets when they entered the college was 13 yrs.
image REF: http://news.navy.gov.au/en/Jan2015/Fleet/1744/100-years-at-Jervis-Bay---College-seeking-descendants.htm#.WGW3FlV97Gg
19th December 1929.
The college had operated for just 15 years when the government started proceedings to close the college as the cost of training and other maintenance was deemed to high.

Amazing archival footage of Bowen Island.

Click here to see some amazing archival footage of Bowen Island from the National Film and Sound Archive.

21 December 2016

Wreck of the S.S.Plutus


On any day.
Today I visited the site of the wreck of the S.S. Plutus, you could easily walk right past the remains sitting in shallow water aprox 30 meters from shore.  Unless you are aware of exactly where she lies you would be hard pressed to pick her resting place from any other part of the beach.    When the conditions are clear and the sea is calm and you know where to look, you can still make out the dark  outline against the golden sands.    Any slight wave action caressing her remains causes swirls of water that stand out from the surrounding calm,  giving away her isolation.

134 years ago it was a very different scene to the one I observed today which greeted a newspaper correspondent who made the considerable effort to travel to the wreck site to report on the loss of the S.S. Plutus..

It was a sorry scene you would have witnessed if you had been able to visit the wreck at that time.

‘'The hull of the vessel had parted nearly amidships,  just in front of the bridge.  She was heading S.S.E, with a lurch to port of 20 degrees,  and lying in about 8ft of water.”


The S.S.Plutus was a relatively new vessel, built by T. and W. Smith and launched at South Shields England in April 1982,  just 7 months later she laying broadside to Currarong Beach with waves breaking over her with no hope of getting her off.

The Plutus was described as "strongly put together, so as to adapt her for the heaviest description of cargo".   The best materials had been employed in her construction,  with a view to safety incase of touching rocks,  she carried no stone ballast,  the hull was double bottomed to the extent of 343 tons. 

Described as a scow steamer, schooner rigged, Iron throughout including decks and spars,  812 tons register,  compound steam engines of 135 horsepower.  She was furnished with the newest and most efficient mechanical appliances for cargo haulage.  Coal can be shot into or whipped out of four very large hatches,  designed to ensure rapid dispatch with a coal capacity of 1700 tons, only drawing 14ft 8inches of water enabling her to travel the Yarra River without lightering in the bay.

Owners,  Kish Brothers and a number of other partners of Sunderland England.

She arrived at Newcastle in July 17 1882, to fill the demand for economical well equipped steamers for the ever increasing coal trade.  Chartered  by Mesa's. J. and A. Brown, of Newcastle. and had since been in the Newcastle to Melbourne coal trade in command of Captain Kish.

Captain Kish was a young man of around 27 years of age at the time of the grounding. 

Leaving Newcastle she proceeded south in good conditions, passing Sydney Heads as expected,  the master set her course to S.1/2 W, which should have kept her 10 miles from shore.

When asked about the grounding by a correspondent from the papers.

Captain Kish. - " I had no doubts about my position; I expected and was looking out for Jervis Bay light; there was neither carelessness or neglect on the part of myself, officers or crew."

7p.m the weather was described as thick and hazy with a west wind and a sea in her favour she made good progress down the coast.

8p.m  Captain Kish thought they were around 15 miles off the land moving at aprox 9 knots.  Before leaving the bridge,  Captain Kish gave orders to her observers to look out for the Jervis Bay Light, or Beecroft Head.

8.20 p.m. The master was called on deck by second officer saying that land was right ahead. 

Captain Kish. - 'When I got on deck she was heading S.E.,  with the land on the port bow, I  thought it was a fog bank.  ordered the helm hard a starboard to make sure,  and stopped the engines and reversed them full speed." 

LAND AHEAD!.  was shouted by one of the  four men on watch,  he was in a forward position,  he received no response,   he rushed back to the bridge to raise the alarm,  "but before the way was stopped the vessel struck,  went ashore,  and never came off afterwards."
Firmly wedged in the sand the sea started to break over her,  washing away the bulwarks and driving the ship right up on the beach.  The night was very dark and with the rough sea it was decided to wait until daylight before leaving the ship.

In the hope of attracting attention rockets were fired at intervals of 10 minutes for an hour.

Currarong in those times was a very isolated, location with few permanent inhabitants.

Sunday morning -  The sea was a lot calmer and all hands alighted the vessel by the boats and rowed to shore.  Over a period they landed all movable materials from the wreck. The Captain and crew left for Greenwell Point to raise the alarm,  leaving the chief and second officer in charge of the wreck.

Marine Enquiry.
When asked to explain how the Plutus came to be in the position it found herself in.

The Captain had no explanation.


Captain - 'the course steered should have taken the vessel 10 miles clear at least of the light,  from whence I should have taken a fresh departure.  I cannot in any way account for ar explain the position of the vessel when she struck.' other than to think the compasses were off."


Marine Board Enquiry findings.
After interviewing all the relevant officers and crew and Captain Kish and careful deliberation of all the fact, the Marine board bought down it's findings on the 5th January 1883.


" We find the loss of the vessel was caused through the wrongful act or default of the master, Captain Kish. in carelessly navigating his ship,  and in not taking proper precautions before it got dark of ascertaining her true position.
The boards decision is that Captain Fisk's certificate should be suspended for six months from the date of the wreck."

wreck-locationsShe lies close to the beach and within site of the wreck of the T.S.S.Merimbula, which ran headlong into the distant headland and became a total wreck…

50 years later
Coal from the deep.
1925 some 50 years after the Plutus was wrecked, her cargo of Newcastle coal could still be found strewn along the beach adjacent to the remains of the wreck...'the coal burns as well as the present day coal."  - J.D.

134 years later. 2016.
Even today as I did.  you can still find Newcastle coal washed from the wreck,  I found quite a large piece ( 200mm x 100mm x 80mm) sitting on the sand at low tide.
If you dive on the wreck what you see will depend on what the sand has revealed....I have dived the wreck many times over many years,  usually as a passing curiosity on our way to other dive locations.
I have seen it almost covered completely with nothing but a few rusted bits sticking out of the sand,  and other occasions have seen her exposed down to her twisted deck plates with clearly defined hatch ways. Close to shore it’s an easy dive on calm days, but please always dive with a friend.

IMG_3608Newcastle Coal recovered 21st December 2016.
_MG_1670Remains of a port hole I recovered from the wreck site in 1996 now in the collection of the Jervis Bay Maritime Museum.
IMG_3593Just to the east of the wreck is Plutus Creek, named after the wreck.



14 December 2016

Longevity–The “good old days”

Image result for samuel elyardSamuel Elyard well known painter and photographer of the Shoalhaven.  Continue reading.

imageGeorge Dent shipbuilder and local Jervis Bay identity.
Continue reading about the Dent Family.



Huskisson population in 1932

As reported in the Canberra Times 84 years ago.



Huskisson 1930’s

This photograph shows up the Huskisson hire boat business located on the foreshore of Currambene Creek Huskisson, it opened in the 1930’s.  In the background you can see the Arundel Guest House, it once occupied the land at 59 Owen St Huskisson.  The guest house was built in 1910 and was demolished in the 1970’s.  


Nowra Leader 1933

It was a dominating structure, towering above anything else near by.  The guests had wonderful views looking up Currambene Creek and across the bay.

Shark proof net.

Nowra Leader 1933.
With all the talk about
sharks in the media this year you may be interested in reading about the once “shark infested waters of Jervis Bay”… It makes interesting reading and goes some way to explain peoples concern back in 1933.
Continue reading about the shark proof net that was once erected at Huskisson.

Huskisson News 83 years ago.

The Nowra Leader 1933


Jervis Bay.

Fishing News December 1937


Local advertising 115 years ago.

The Shoalhaven News and South Coast Districts Advertiser December 1901.





9 December 2016

On this day - 134 years ago.

The wreck of the Alfred and Edward 9th Dec 1982.

The Alfred and Edward was a 35 ton ketch under the command of James Conway, master and owner.  Mr. Conway had owned the vessel for nine months at the time of the wreck.
The vessel with 4 hands on board was on a voyage to Batemans Bay when a strong southerly wind came on the blow,  and they put into Ulladulla; but in trying to work the vessel out, the vessel missed stays,  and went ashore.  The anchor was let go,  but would not hold.  Every endeavour was made to get the vessel off,  but without avail.  Everything movable was saved.


19th December.

Charles Young and Morgan having corroborated the evidence of the master,  the Board deliberated,  and found that the vessel was lost through missing stays,  and that there was no evidence on which to found a charge of default against the master.

The vessel was valued at 600 ponds and insured for 500 pounds.



A ketch is a sailing craft with two masts. The distinguishing characteristic of a ketch is that the forward of the two masts (the "mainmast") is larger than the after mast (the "mizzen").


On this day –134 years ago

Plutus Creek, Currarong was named after the steamer Plutus,  which ran aground near the present day village of Currarong on December 9 1882.

CaptureThe remains of the wreck are still clearly visable on calm days even today.

8 December 2016

1883–Historic vessel seeks shelter in Jervis Bay.

Clipper City of Adelaide. May 1883.

The City of Adelaide, from Sydney, was compelled by sheer stress of weather to put into Jervis Bay until the weather abated.


“Shortly after leaving Sydney Heads the vessel encountered a heavy gale with a tremendous south-east sea,  and reached Jervis Bay with difficulty on the evening of the 10th May.
The passengers presented an address to the Captain M.Intosh,  testifying the courage and skill he displayed in the trying circumstances in which he had been placed.”


Today - City of Adelaide is the world's oldest surviving clipper ship.
The City of Adelaide was a small fast Clipper, built in Sunderland England and launched on 7th of May 1864.
244ft long, beam 33ft, draft 19ft.  she had 14 first class cabins and 270 second class cabins.

City_of_Adelaide_first class cabinsFirst Class Cabins.

She was purpously built to transport passengers and cargo between Britain and Australia.  Between 1864 and 1887 the ship made 23 annual return voyages from London and Plymouth to Adelaide, South Australia.

City of Adelaide is of composite construction with timber planking on a wrought-iron frame. This method of construction provides the structural strength of an iron ship combined with the insulation of a timber hull.

She was amongst the fastest clippers on the London - Adelaide run,  sharing the record of 65 days with the clipper Yatah.  She played an important part in the immigration of Australia.

An estimated 250.000 Australians can trace their ancestory to the City of Adelaide.

With the arrival of steamships, the City of Adelaide was sold into the north American timber trade, where it worked for six years as a cargo ship.
It saw its next 30 years as an isolation hospital near Southampton, before being taken over by the Royal Navy and used as a drill ship, and as Naval Volunteer Reserve Club rooms on the River Clyde in Scotland.


In 1989 it was moved onto a private slip in Irvine, where it remained until rescued by Australian volunteers and brought to Port Adelaide in 2014.

She is currently undergoing restoration and her final resting place is still being decided.

For more information on the history of the ship and voyage passenger and crew lists please visit http://cityofadelaide.org/wiki/
http://storieswelltold.com.au/blog/stories/815/  - beautiful photo’s of the inside of the ship as she stands today.