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.

27 January 2016

Wirreecoo Garden’s January flowers

Despite the overcast rainy conditions – the Wirreecoo garden will put some sunshine into your day – the garden look a treat at the moment.  I took just a few shots of some of the flowers that are in full display,  if your looking to relax away from the holiday crowds come along and stroll around the gardens of the museum,  take a stroll along the mangrove boardwalk,  you will be surprised at what you see.



Mangrove Boardwalk.
A whiting swiming across the sand flats at high tide.
IMG_0003Friendly toads trying to hide.

Lady Denman

Lesley Pavitt from Ulladulla sent us this image of the Lady Denman she took while visiting the "South Steyne" in Darling Harbour on the weekend & thought we would be interested.

Thank you Lesley for the fabulous image.

26 January 2016

“I thought she was gone”

The S.S. Allowrie – the life and times of this stout little steamer.

S.S. Allowrie, Illawarra & South Coast Steam Navigation Co Ltd

The S.S. Allowrie
Built in Gladscow in 1880 the Allowrie measured 179ft 4inches x 24ft 8 inches x 16ft hold,  she weighed 504ton, was made of  steel and was a two funnel vessel,  The Allowrie was designed for carrying passengers and cargo, including livestock and dairy produce.
Owned by the Illawarra Steam Ship Company the S.S. Allowrie was a well known coastal steamer to south coast ports.
During her working life she made countless uneventful journeys between the north coast port of Nelligen and the far south coast port of Tathra.   Like many coastal steamers working the open seas along the east coast, she had her share of mishaps and adventures.

Some of her reported incidents.

The fate of the Allowrie,  for the first time in her history hung in the balance.
During a great storm that hit the coast the Allowrie was within an ace of giving the gale a name.  When making a hard struggle against the fury of the elements the steamer shipped an immense green sea which completely buried the forepart of the vessel for an unusual length of time,  and caused her to vibrate from stem to stern.  The passengers were below at the time,  and in view of the threatening nature of the weather,  every door and port hole was closed in case of emergency.  Only the captain and officers were on the bridge,  the former exercising the greatest vigilance in his battle against a storm which raged with all the fury of a hurricane.  When abreast of the Shoalhaven Heads and while the vessel was heading for Jervis Bay,  where shelter could be obtained,  the green sea in question came aboard,  and the fate of the Allowrie,  for the first time in her history,  hung in the balance. The great wall of water held the stout little ship under, as if to smother her,  but gradually her head lifted through the angry waters,  and the captain and his men were relieved of a painful suspense. The captain speaking of the incident afterwards said. "I thought she was gone."  The passengers heard the sea come aboard but they little dreamt of the perilous position they were in.

1897She took the passenger from the wrecked steamer S.S Kameruka back to Sydney.  The Kameruka was a total loss after hitting the reef at Pedro Point near Moruya.

1889 - She sustained a large hole in her bow after running into a pier in Wollongong Harbour and had to be beached for repairs.

1900 a 63 year old passenger suffocated on board in front of his wife and fellow passengers, the autopsy showed he had a piece of meat caught in his wind pipe.

1900 During a full force gale the Allowrie went to the assistance of the 4 masted Drumalis which was drifting helplessly in close proximity to the rocks in Wreck Bay.  - Continue reading about the Drumalis from a previous post.

1903 - Despite  many doubting it could be done by such a large vessel, she successfully negotiated the Shoalhaven River,  well known at the time for it's sand bars and rocks,  she docked at Nowra Wharf in front of a large gathering of onlookers.

1903 - Trying to repeat her previous Shoalhaven River journey, she ran aground on a sand bar near Greewell Point, the ship was undamaged and was later successfully pulled free by the dredge Altleon, she finished her journey without further incident.

1907 During one of her trips south she encountered very heavy seas,  tossed about quite severely she was lucky to escape disaster after one of her propellers had all  it's blades stripped clean off the shaft,  she limped into Botany Bay for safety.

1908 – She struck an unmarked reef at the entrance to Batemans Bay and lost two of the blades off the starboard propellar,  she refused to answer the helm and went aground on the mud bank,  the steamer Moruya came to her assistance and towed her off.

1908 - On a trip to Tathra one of her crew was sleeping on a pile of timber on the deck,  the ship lurched and he was tossed over board and despite an extensive search was never seen again.

1910 the Allowrie was out of service,  in the later half that year she was dismantled,  leaving nothing but a hulk.


“Allowrie”  Aboriginal word meaning  “pleasant place near the sea” or “high place near the sea”


22 January 2016

Wandandian 1935


The timber industry played an important roll in the development of the south coast, hundreds of men were employed in the mills and the collection of timber. Before mechanised bulldozers, “Bullocky’s” drove prized bullock teams that hauled large logs from steep and difficult forest, it was a dangerous and specialised job.

The image below appeared in the Newcastle Sun in 1935.


Accompanying caption.
Bringing in the logs.


“To the creeking of wheels, the rattling of chains, and the chant of the “bullocky” wealth wrestled from the forest passes it’s way to the timber mill at Wandandian”.


After the logs were milled the timber was loaded onto trucks like the one below for distribution.

truck 1938


Tomerong News 1866

Gun powder and Brandy.
In a time when medical assistance was no existent, people had to improvise and find their own cures.  You can only imagine the panic a father would feel after his son was bitten by a snake, miles away from help, he used extreme measures to save the boys life.  - in this case it worked.


South Coast News 1910


20 January 2016

Jervis Bay 2016

Another glorious start to a summers day.

Gale off Jervis Bay nearly claims another ship

April  - May 1870 - The weather along the coast had been frighful.   The coast had been lashed with torential rain and strong winds and monsterous seas,  flooding at Windsor saw the water rise over 20 ft above normal,  Penrith, Dunbar and Wagga Wagga were all flooded,  Yass had it's new bridge washed away. 4 people were drowned in the Shoalhaven.
              The storm  caused severe damage to coastal areas,  many ships were badly damaged and lucky to make port or ride out the storm,  some were never seen again.

The Storm

The schooner Alcandre.

After a harrowing time the schooner Alcandre bound from Newcastle to Melbourne,  put into Port Jackson, in a distressed state. 
She encountered a fearfull gale off Jervis Bay,  she lost a lot of canvas, a boat,  and her main boom,  the bulwarks were washed away.

imageDuring the same gale the schooner Hannah was wrecked at Bulli with all hands lost. The schooner Notion foundered at Broken Bay,  The ketch Dauntless was wrecked at Port Hacking,  and one of the crew drowned.  The brig Spec became a total wreck at Bulli;  the crew were lost.

Portions of two wrecks - but of what was never known_ was washed ashore at Wollongong.

The beautiful schooner the Walter Hood was wrecked in tragic circumstances near Bendalong,  with the loss of the captain and 13 hands.   A story of hardship, desperation, loss and heroism. Continue reading.

Life was tough
at the best of times for the sea going men on sailing ships, sailing in what was regarded as state of the art technology for it's time,  they gained their knowledge from years of perserverance,  experience and the tough life they endured every working day.

The schooner Alcandre broke up in 1877 and the remains of her hull could be seen rotting in the water near the Lime Loading wharves at Waratah Bay Victoria,  as depicted in this wood carving featured in the Australasian Sketcher 1879.
australasian sketcher 1879

17 January 2016

Words of appreciation.


We recieved a nice comment from one of the Settree family, we don’t know who because they signed it ‘Anonymous”,  It’s a credit to the past volunteers who spent many hours gathering information, photographs and recording the rich heritage of Jervis Bay and the surrounding districts. 
Letters like this would make many past volunteers smile with satisfaction.


Anonymous 8 January 2016 at 15:53

It was a pleasure to visit, and being a Settree, I knew of the history but had no pictures so I have now,  and so glad wonderful people did such a great job in making all this happen. Good on you!

Link to the story and the comment.

14 January 2016

A fishing tale of three men in a boat from Jervis Bay 1929.

Jervis Bay Snippets - The Blue Mountain Star Saturday 26 October 1929,

Messrs, B.G. Lambert, Jim Murphy and Bernie Neenan were on a fishing trip to
Jervis Bay and Bernie tells the following Story.

Bernie makes no claims to be another George Washington, but when he tells you a story earnestly you may safely accept it.

One morning Bernie had hooked a nice red bream and was pulling him in,  when a swift swimming barracuda swallowed the bream.

Bernie went on hauling,  when suddenly from the depths a blunt, nosed monster swallowed the barracuda,  and Bernie had nothing to haul.

The shark had the bream,  the baracuda, as well as the lead and hooks.

Bernie's face was a study,  but with resignation in his voice he said;-

"What do you think of that boys? I think I'd like to have a beer."

He had it.


Jervis Bay Signal Flags

Each coastal port is numbered and flags indicating that port are flown when necessary.
These two flags represent Jervis Bay and are designated by the numbers 4 and 6
flag of jervis bay


The flags above would be of the type flown from the Cape St George flagstaff seen in the photo and illustrations above, they would be flown to help passing ships identify their location.

12 January 2016

Firefly sonar scan

Above is a sonar scan of the remains of Fairy Firefly VX381.
During navigational training on the 27th November 1956 two Fairy Firefly aircraft collided over Hare Bay within Jervis Bay. Fairy Firefly VX 381 crashed into Hare Bay, the crew survived.  Fairy Firefly WD 887 has never been located to this date and the crew unaccounted for.

The wreckage of VX 381 was located in 1983 by Charlie Pickering while diving for Scallops, the wreckage is located in about 13 metres of water.

Charlie told me he was scouring the bottom looking for scallops when in the green gloom he saw a big cross shape rising from the bottom,  approaching cautiously he soon realised he had found a plane.

Shortly after,  we dived the plane with Charlie, it was basically intact with all the instruments and equipment still inside - one wing was half buried under the sand the other was raised a few feet above the sand.  Other divers over many years have stripped most of the parts off the plane.  We dived it quite often over the next 10 years,  usually dropping in on the way back to the Callala Bay boat ramp...The area is subject to green water compared to most of the bay,,,but I have been lucky enough to have dived it a few times when you could see the wreckage right after leaving the surface....

11 January 2016

Wreck of the Coonatto.


Back in March 2014 I posted a short story about the wreck of the Coonatto,  that post came about because the Maritime Museum has on display the beautifully carved figurehead from the Coonatto.  The figurehead is part of the “Halloran Collection”.  The museum is very fortunate in being able to display and share this wonderful artefact with our visitors.
Earlier this week I was contacted by Oliver Hutchinson,  he currently runs a coastal archaeology project working to record fragile and eroding archaeological sites around the South East coast of England and they have recently completed a survey of the wreck of the Coonatto which lies on the foreshore of Birling Gap near Eastbourne, East Sussex.

Links to Citizan web site and their Flickr page.



Photographs – Citizan - http://www.citizan.org.uk/resources/key-zones/south-east/wreck-coonatto-crowlink-birling-gap/

This coming year he will be attempting to create a 3d model of the remains of the ship using photogrammetry.

Oliver Hutchinson writes.


“This coming year I will be attempting to create a 3d model of the remains of the ship using photogrammetry and it would be absolutely fantastic to be able to include some images or modelling of the figurehead of this wonderful ship to share with our volunteers and followers. I was wondering if you had a 3D record of the figurehead that the owner might be willing to share or whether any of your staff or volunteers have any experience of using photogrammetry to produce such models? If not I would be very willing to help you to undertake such a task if you are interested. I am of course more than happy to share with you the model I produce (hopefully it will work!) for you to use in your museum if you wish”.


This sounds like it could be an interesting project for us to be involved in, and might open up many more possibilities for displaying our collection in a very unique and fascinating way.

Previous Post about the Coonatto.