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 March 2016

Cape St George lighthouse at night.

I used lights to illuminate the old lighthouse ruins. I hope I didn’t disturb the ghosts to much.

A fond farewell


In a different age, long before automation had taken over the duties of the lighthouse keeper in many of the lighthouses along our coast, the men and women that manned these guardians of the coast, were held in great esteem.
When a lighthouse keeper retired from his trade it was most often accompanied by ceremony.
This story in the Shoalhaven Telegraph December 1901 tells us about the celebration arranged for Mr and Mrs Parker on Mr Parker's retirement after 33 years of service as a lighthouse keeper at Point Perpendicular and earlier serving at the controversial Cape St George lighthouse.


Use the search box above to see other articles about Cape St George and Point Perpendicular lighthouses.

29 March 2016

Whaling Jervis Bay


Jervis Bay has a thriving tourist industry based on whale and dolphin spotting.
These companies still hunt whales,  but in a completely different way.

Between June and August the magnificent Humpback Whales move north along the east coast of Australia, coming from the cold Antarctic where they have spent the summer feeding on krill, they head north to the sub tropical waters of north Australia to mate and give birth.

Then between September and November the whales travel south again, heading back to the Antarctic to feed.

Just like the whale hunters did in 19th century the tour operators today head out from Jervis Bay in large boats seeking whales, but now the boats are filled with tourists all hoping to capture a glimpse of these magnificent animals during the migration.

But,  it wasn't that long ago whales were being chased in the waters near and inside Jervis Bay for a totally different reason.    Between 1949 and 1962,  8300 whales were killed along the east coast of Australia.  mostly humpbacks as the more favoured blue whale and southern right whale had became scarce.

I came across this article from 1918,  about whalers lobbying the government to allow a whale station and processing operation to be built inside Jervis Bay.

Thankfully this operation was never allowed.

This small article is from the 

  • Albury Banner and Wodonga Express (NSW : 1896 – 1938.  Fri 19 Jul 1918

You can see this harpoon gun and much more on display inside the museum,  the display is a real eye opener into the role Jervis Bay played in the whaling industry on the south coast.

You can also see other posts about whaling and jervis bay by typing whales into the search box in the right column.


22 March 2016

1832. Jervis Bay. A sudden and awful death.

Rev. Thomas Kendall.

In August 1832 the wrecked cutter Brisbane was found by aboriginals on a beach inside Jervis Bay,  there was no sign of the crew.

The owner and master on the vessel was Rev. Thomas Kendall, a well known and respected member of Sydney society,  together with his son-in-law Surveyor Mr Florence and several other persons.

The vessel left Mr. Kendalls farm as Ulladulla or (Nulladulla) as it was then known,  bound for Sydney,  carrying a cargo of cedar, cheese and other articles,  to the value of 200 pounds.

Thomas Kendall was baptised on 13 December 1778 at North Thoresby, Lincolnshire, England.

After leaving home at the age of 14, Kendall became a school monitor in Immingham, Lincolnshire, and then an assistant school teacher in North Somercotes, Lincolnshire. On 21 November 1803 he married Jane Quickfall in Kirmington, Lincolnshire; there were nine children of the marriage

In 1808 Kendall applied to the Church Missionary Society to become a settler in New Zealand.

Kendall was one of the first and most indefatigable Missionaries to New Zealand.

He was an emotional, idealistic and self-torturing man, driven by evangelical zeal and seeking perfection, although believing at the same time in his own deep imperfection;  he was subject to outbursts of ungovernable temper.

He eventually returned to Europe and visited South America,  subsequently returning and resuming his Missionary labours in New Zealand.
While serving in New Zealand Thomas Kendall pioneered the transcription of the Maori language, and published the first grammar of the New Zealand tongue.
He moved to Australia and not wanting to live in Sydney applied to Governor Darling for a  land grant at Ulladulla,  there he entered into the cedar timber trade.

Watery Grave.
Mr. Kendall had frequently made the same voyage:  but in two, if not in three instances,  he had nearly met a watery grave by the upsetting of the vessel. but was providentially preserved.

The weather had been exceedingly boisterous for some time after the party had sailed, when the cutter failed to arrive in Sydney,  it was supposed they had run into some of the numerous bays or creeks on the coast,  seeking shelter. Unwilling to believe what a protracted absence could mean, their arrival was expected with the most intense anxiety.

Mr. Kendall's well known excellence of character and disposition,  and the respect in which he was held in society,  contributed to keep alive the excitement.

These hopes however,  were dissipated when news arrived that a party of black's scouring a beach in Jervis Bay found the remains of the cutter Brisbane ashore. None of the bodies were found so hopes were still high that somehow, someone could have survived.

But shoes of Mr Kendall,  and a small trunk,  which was recognised as the property,  having been picked up near the wreck,  leaves little doubt regarding the untimely fate of the whole party.



image Cutter - Traditionally a cutter sailing vessel is a small singlemasted  boat, fore-and-aft rigged, with two or more headsails and often a bowsprit. The cutter's mast may be set farther back than on a sloop.

21 March 2016

A bit of wishfull thinking.

Despite all the publicity and grand ideas, as far back as 1917 by specualtive land developers such as Henry. F. Halloran,  Jervis Bay was still a sleepy little bay in 1924,  with few permanent inhabitatants.   Timber and shipbuilding were the main employers, tourism was just starting to become an important part of the bay’s development.

Developers such as Henry Halloran who aimed to exploit the promise of Federal government investment in Canberra, and hence the Fedral Capital Port of Jervis Bay,  planned great cities on the shores of Jervis Bay.  

Despite these  “grand visions”, his plans for two great cities with the most modern fascilities never materialised and remained nothing more than plans on paper


Investors were drawn to these schemes, many lost their investment over time,  much of the land was aquired by the local Shoalhaven Council through acquisition from rates arrears.

The powerful business people of Sydney who had the most to lose if any one of these grand visions was realised ,  went to enormous lengths to stop development of another city, and take commerce away from Sydney.

Stories of folly and fraud appeared, articles describing the developement of the bay in negative terms all contributed to investors staying away.

This advertisement appeared in a Sydney Newspaper in 1924,  and didn’t go down to well with the correspondent of the Catholic Press.

The last few lines sum up the sort of words described in many articles from this time.


The museum has a wonderful exhibition with large maps and information about the Grand Visions” it’s a real eye opener to what could have been.
The museum volunteers have also produced a small book called ‘Grand Visions” that goes into much more depth about those times, it contains some fantastic photographs from the era,  and the people involved.




17 March 2016

Lady Denman.


This photograph shows the Lady Denman high on a sand bank in Curambene Creek.
Work was being carried out to dig a channel so she could be floated into her present location.


Lady Denman


Early photograph of the Lady Denman.  At this time she was still exposed to the elements and it was only the tireless work of many volunteers that kept her from deteriorating.


15 March 2016

Museum Visitors

The museum is located in a very unique location and has a beautiful fish pond right at it’s front door, this has created a fantastic habitat for local birds and wildlife.
On any day you might see a whole range of different birds around and in the pond.  A very special place unique to this museum and an asset to the area,  so don’t forget to bring your camera when you come to the museum, you may be lucky enough to take a picture of one of our many local feathered friends..


Early light.

An Australian War Ship heading out to sea from Jervis Bay into the intense light of the rising sun.
On the far horizon another ship can be seen appearing like a mirage.

10 March 2016

S.S Chimborazo ran headlong into Point Perpendicular.

Morning mist

Below this post there are some pictures of a dense fog taken on the 8th of March 2016.  At 5.30 am the bay was very clear, the water was as smooth as glass, with a very slight almost undetectable offshore breeze,
the stars were still visible, Jupiter was bright in the eastern sky and Point Perpendicular and the revolving lighthouse could be clearly seen from Huskisson.
At the time I was at Moona Moona Creek looking back at Huskisson, the town was shrouded in a rising mist, that was slowly drifting offshore, becoming thicker by the minute.
By 7 am. visibility had been reduced to around 40 meters, Point Perpendicular had disappeared,  the rising sun was reduced to a strange subdued glow, it looked like a dim light globe in the mist.

S.S Chimborazo


138 years ago on March 14th 1878 the grand steamer S.S Chimborazo was passing Jervis Bay Under the command of Captain John Vine Hall, known as a gentleman of some experience in Australian waters,  she was travelling to Sydney carrying cargo and passengers.
The ship was making good way at full speed in fine weather on a remarkably smooth sea, shrouded in a heavy veil of mist.

Captain Hall was hugging the coast more closely than would have been prudent in such a large vessel.  At a quarter to 10a.m. St Georges Head was observed "not far off" the port bow,  the officer on deck sent word to the captain that the course the vessel was steering would bring her close to land.  Captain Hall merely altered her course to be N. by E. which would cause the vessel to go a little more to eastward than she would otherwise had done.

A second message was sent about seven or eight minutes later,  to the effect that the ship was close to land,  and that the officer on watch had hauled out.  This bought the captain on deck,  he found the ships heading to be N.E. by compass,  with a deviation of two points E. he saw Cape St George not very far distant; and when he was asked by the second officer whether he should keep the vessel's course up the coast his reply was - "No keep her as she is going at present."  all this time her speed was 12 knots an hour.

It's important to remember the sailing rules of the mercantile marine direct that when in fog the whistle should be sounded and the speed slackened, the Chimborazo was going ahead at full speed despite being in a heavy mist..


"Breakers ahead!"

Suddenly the alarm was given by the look-out on the forecastle in a tone bespeaking terrified earnestness  "breakers ahead".  There was no possibility of averting the danger,  quickly responding to orders the machinery was promptly stopped in it's action, but then quickly followed the crash, which was severe enough to throw passengers off their feet. There was a rush of passengers to the deck,  and before many moments had passed the shock explained the meaning of the sudden stoppage.

There was intense excitement and confusion particularly amongst the ladies.   The whole of the ships crew came swiftly into action,  and the steady and quick way in which orders were attended to spoke of the excellent nautical discipline.

The first order was to swing the ship's boats out in their tackles ready for lowering if the worst fears were realised,  and simultaneously guns were fired to inform the lighthouse - keeper of their distress.

The water was found rising forward of the collision bulk heads,  and then in the forward compartments,  but none had made it's way into the main compartment. It was found the ship had struck the rocks on the inner side of point perpendicular, and rested with her bows on the rocks,  and that round the place there was 23 to 25 fathoms of water,  while on the starboard side a sunken rock was visible.

15 or 20 minutes had elapsed when efforts were made to get the ship out of her critical position;  orders were given for all the passengers to run aft with a view of tilting the ship up,  and the engines being
reversed the ship slowly moved off but was not yet out of danger,  for grave fears were entertained that the fire compartments bulkheads might give away,  and in that case would have gone plumb to the bottom.

A coasting ketch observing the danger,  ran down and stood by the ship until she had got to an anchorage.

As the ship drifted into Jervis Bay,  all the passengers behaved admirably,  and were soon transferred to the boats,  the ladies and children being first placed in them with a supply of provisions.

In about half an hour all the passengers were landed on a little beach,  a few hundred yards from where the vessel struck,  the sailors  and others carrying the women and children through the slight surf.

The Chimborazo then went to Darling Roads,  a sheltered position in the southern part of Jervis Bay.

The passengers re-embarked onto the A.S.N. Companies steamer Collaroy,  which had been chartered by the agents, Messre. Gilchrist, Watt and Co,  to take them to Sydney.

chimbozaro repair

The ships bottom was examined by a diver and it was found that about 24 ft of keel from the cultivator aft, is gone;  some of the garboard planking is also damaged,  and there is a hole about 10 feet long in the garboard.

The cargo was unloaded onto the steamer 'Corea" to lighten her, and after a few days she slowly made the rest of her voyage to Sydney, where she was shored up in the government dock at Cockatoo Island.
The repairs were carried out at Messrs, Mort ADN Co's establishment.

'The bulkhead saved the vessel."
"Every one who has seen the fissure made by the rocks cannot but wonder and be thankful that she did not founder on the passage"

Fortunately the Chimborazo was built in compartments and, as Captain Hall laconically put's it 'the bulkhead saved the vessel."


June 14 1878 - The Chimborazo's repairs were complete and she was launched from the dock at half-past 5' o'clock in the evening in the presence of some 400 spectators,  who cheered as the ship floated out into the bay.

Marine Board Inquiry.
After all the facts were presented the Marine Board decided the Captain Hall would have his license suspended  for six months.

This caused an uproar in the press of the day.

The Argus Tuesday 23rd April 1878.

"The punishment is ludicrously disproportionate to the offence.  If the Chimborazo had gone to pieces,  and the coast strewn with corpses of her passengers and crew,  with her valuable cargo, and with the wreck of a noble piece of marine architecture - her master would have been legally and morally responsible for the terrible disaster,  By  a wonderful stroke of good fortune this calamity was averted, but the culpable negligence or temerity of Captain Hall was so great as to deserve a commensurate penalty, if only to serve as a warning to other master mariners occupying similarly responsible position.
The temptations to make a rapid run from port to port in coasting voyages are so great,  while the means by which it is accomplished are full of peril to life and property that these adventurous experiments require to be sternly discouraged and repressed. But the decision of the Marine Board in Sydney in the case of Captain Hall is more likely to encourage than to refrain other 'smart" skippers who may be addicted to hugging the coast where the unnoticed inset of a current and a few minutes' fog,  are sufficient to doom a magnificent vessel, with all on board, to total destruction"

Hugging the coast.
The issue of vessels hugging the coast to reduce their time spent travelling from port to port and thereby reducing costs comes up time an time again in relation to ship wrecks.  in this case as described,  “It was a perfect marvel" the Chimborazo incident didn't become another tragedy that could have been avoided.



9 March 2016

Jervis Bay Items -1938




Jervis Bay

8th March 2016. A spectacular strange start to the day. The air was very still and clear, there was no indication anything extrodinary was going to happen.
fog35am  - the sky was clear and Point Perpendicular could be clearly seen. The last of the moon was still visable and Jupiter was the brightest star in the sky.
IMG_16645.30 am -  Looking back at Huskisson…the fog started to rise and was illuminated by the neighbourhood lights.
fog17.30 am - As the sun rose the fog started to sweet across the bay, at this stage you can still just make out Point Perpendicular – 30 minutes later you could hardly see the headland in the foreground.
IMG_17988.00 am – Point Perpendicular had disappeared, the sun was a strange dull glow. nearly all the colour had disappeared creating an almost black and white world.

9.am - Currambene Creek looked particuarly beautiful.



3 March 2016

2 March 2016

Jervis Bay – Lithograph

This rare and beautiful lithograph of Jervis Bay with Plantation Point in the middle ground was by Captain Robert Westmacott, the image was printed on stone at William Spreat’s Establishment.  believed to be from 1848.
The title accompanying the image – Drawn from nature by Captain Westmacott.

Captain Robert Marsh Westmacott. 1801 - 1870

  • Artist (Painter),
  • Artist (Draughtsman)

Sketcher, army officer and pioneer, is best known for his Sketches in Australia, a volume of eighteen tinted lithographic views each preceded by a short description of the locality pictured and some historical background.

Widley travelled in his capacity as the governor's A.D.C. – The govenor at the time was
Bourke who was probably the most traveled colonial governor since the time of Lachlan Macquarie (1810-22), visiting many of the settled areas of New South Wales and Port Phillip, Westmacott therefore had the opportunity to see much of the Colony as it was then known. These travels took him to Illawarra (1834, 1836), Twofold Bay and Eden on the New South Wales south coast (1835), the Southern Tablelands, Newcastle, Port Stephens, over the Blue Mountains to Bathurst, and as far south as Port Phillip in 1837.

During his travels he took his sketch book and recorded many scenes of the time.

”He was an efficient Aide-de-camp to Governor Richard Bourke and played an important role in the development of the Illawarra district of New South Wales between 1838-47”

ref: https://www.uow.edu.au/~morgan/rmw1.html