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.

2 May 2016

Schooner Dairymaid1867.

The sailing schooner Dairymaid was built by William Woods for the Shellharbour
Co-operative Steam Navigation Company on the banks of Currambene Creek Jervis Bay.  She was taken to Shellharbour on her first trip in October 1867.

dairy maid

The Shellharbour Co-operative Steam Navigation Company was formed because of the  uncertain nature of the coastal shipping trade. Many ships would by-pass Shellharbour leaving local producers witout a way to get their produce to Sydney markets.  The local farmers had grown tired of being left out of the coastal trade and formed their own shipping company.

The Dairy Maid described as a ‘smart little vessel” was built especially for this trade, she measured 85 feet (25 metres)  in length, and around 25 tons, she was placed in the command of Captain W.Wilson the son of a local Shellharbour resident and shareholder.

The vessel transported pigs, calves and butter to Sydney in a trip taking about 60 hours.

This would sometimes cause considerable risk to the livestock when headwinds and delays caused the journey to take much longer, sometimes as much as a week or ten days, and needless to say the produce didn’t improve on the voyage.

The venture was very successful and the profits of the Dairymaid paid for the vessel within five years.

Pressure mounted to purchase a steamer, but the owners and shareholders resisted until the Illawarra Stream Company started running a steamer to Shellharbour,  named the Blackwal, this vessel started to receive a lot of support.   This development prompted the local farmers to invest in their own steamer which was also named the Dairymaid.

The Shellharbour Co-operative Steam Navigation Company was replaced by the Shellharbour Steam Navigation Company, the farmers prompt action in securing their  own steamer and the unfortunate running aground of the Blackwal saw the local farmers co-operative survive in profit for many years.

The schooner Dairymaid was eventually sold leaving the steamer to carry on the trade.

Capture 1

From what I have been able to find out the schooner Dairy Maid may have ended it’s days as a pearling vessel and foundered in a gale 6 Miles North of Roebuck Bay taking 4 poor souls with her in 1887.  But this information is yet to be confirmed.

If you have any information regarding the Dairy Maid please don’t hesitate to contact us here.


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