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 June 2016

East Coast Low - 1974

In a previous post we covered a devestating East Coast Low that formed off the coast in 1974 named the Sygna Storm” Named after the 53,000-tonne Norwegian bulk carrier Sygna that went aground near Newcastle..

During the 74 storm
,  15 meter waves ravaged the coast causing widespread damage to shipping and coastal properties.  The semi protected waters of Jervis Bay didn't escape the onslaught of swell. Callala Beach had extensive damage and nearly lost houses, The beach along Elizabeth Drive had meters of sand scoured away and there were some very nervous property owners at the height of the storm

During the last storm on the 6th of June 2016  HMAS Creswell suffered extensive damage to the break wall and infrastructure.    Two navy yachts were badly damaged, one being totally wrecked and is still at the time of writing laying on Soldiers Beach with a large hole and two concrete pontoons attached.  The other yacht was dragged back behind the wall but suffered a large hole in her side and other damage.

During the 74 storm Creswell also suffered sever damage, the break wall was broken and the sea swept past the buildings carrying stones and boulders from the wall and surrounding reef.
These two photographs were sent to us by local surfer and photographer Russ Quinn. He wrote the following words.

   ”They were taken by my father John Quinn. His dad, Stan Quinn, was commander of Creswell from 1974 to 1975 , the family lived out there for years on the base”.

The first amazing shot shows the wall of water reaching higher than a telegraph post smashing on the reef that lays just in front of the wall.
Richard Quinn … “The photograph was also taken looking down from the quarter deck aprox 50 ft above sea level, so it’s anyones guess how big the sea was”…

The photograph above show us the aftermath of the waves intrusion.  The photograph is very similar to the recent photographs of the June storm damage to the base sent to us by Paul Newman.
See those photographs and post here.

Thank you Russ for sending us these incredible photographs.



Huskisson - brisk winter morning

A lone fisherman walks beside the breakwall hoping to catch his breakfast.  While a catamaran heads out of the creek and into the morning sunrise.




29 June 2016

Cape St George Light House


The vegetation that usually obscures your view of the ruins from where this photograph was taken was totally burnt out in 2006 as bush fires ravaged Booderie National Park, the charcoal rendered coastal heath yeilds a rare view of the ruins.


Click Here - Further reading about this once magnificent lighthouse and the controversy surrounding it’s location.




Whale Tail–Wreck Bay

Whale season is upon us and if you are lucky enough to be near our beautiful coast especially near wreck bay,  you are more than likely to have a close encounter or two.

Migrating whale “tail slapping” with Pidgeon House mountain in the background.



27 June 2016

Old buildings of Huskisson.

Bessy Stewart tea room, Owen Street Huskisson – Later turned into the first chemist shop in Huskisson.



Museum Artifacts.

Here are just a few glimpses of some of the items in the museum’s collection that aren’t on display at the moment.
HARPOOJHead of a whale harpoon, launched from a harpoon gun.
Detail of the the firing mechanism of a hand held rifle used to launch small harpoons.
Tip of the bomb lance from the gun above.
Flight from the bomb lance above.
IMG_7186The gun is very heavy and I should imagine would produce quite a kick on firing.

The hand-held shoulder gun was invented by the American whaler Captain Eben Pierce around 1868.

Used in whaling during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The projectile was a bomb lance or whaling bomb, which exploded when it hit the whale.

Bomb lances were introduced with shoulder guns to solve the problem of getting close enough to a whale to lance it, particularly in ice fields, and eliminate the often hazardous hand lancing operation.

The bomb is provided with a fuse which is set to fire automatically when it is discharged,  and burns for three seconds before exploding the bomb itself.
This arrangement gives the bomb plenty of time to strike the whale and become embedded in the flesh before it explodes.
The bombs are filled with a pound of powder, so the result of the explosion is likely to be fatal.


firing a bomb lance
Firing a bomb lance.
The recoil from such a gun often resulted in the whaler being thrown into the water.



24 June 2016

S.S. Koonya - seeking shelter in Jervis Bay.

The Koonya was a wood carvel screw steamer built in 1887 at Hobart.
The vessel Koonya was placed into weekly trips between Sydney and Moruya. The vessel had a relatively uneventful life till her shaft broke off near Jervis Bay on the 10 June 1897. She was towed into the bay by the steamer Murray during the night. It took approximately a fortnight till the vessel returned to her regular journeys.

Public Domain Image.


Eventually her luck ran out.

The Koonya was wrecked on January 25th when it struck  Doboy reef off Cronulla Beach,  Port Hacking whilst carrying passengers & cargo between Moruya and Sydney.

Officially the wreck has never been found,  but divers have recovered many small artifacts from the wreck strewen amongst the rocks.

Public Domain image.


Huskisson 1957

This is from a series of photographs of Huskisson taken by B. Mendon in 1957.


23 June 2016

Owen Street Huskisson. 1916

Jess Rossen House Owen Street Huskisson 1916.
Going by the state of the fence we would say this photograph of Jess Rossen House was a little earlier than the picture above.


20 June 2016


'NOTORIOUS' is a recreaton of a 1480's caravel, researched, designed and constructed by Graeme Wylie. The ten year project used 300 tons of reclaimed timber. 'NOTORIOUS' was launched in February 2011 at Port Fairy.

In November 2013 the Notorious visited Jervis Bay and spent a few days anchored near Vincentia.  The small timber ship created quite a bit of excitement and this seems to be the case wherever she travels.

Below is a short video of the Notorious sailing between Waratah Bay and Wilsons Promontory on Thursday 9th June 2016.  She had encountered strong winds from the North West which had her sailing along at 7 knots and more.
She was in the midst of two swells meeting SW & E as she rounded South East Point en route to Twofold Bay, Eden.

For most of us we will probably never go to sea on a sailing ship,  let alone one faithfully recreated from the 1480’s , but watching and hearing this video gives you a small sense of what it was like.
Continue to more photos from when she was in Jervis Bay Nov 2013.

Graeme and Felicite kindly gave us permission to use their video and you can follow their adventures here. https://www.facebook.com/notorioustheship/

South East Point lies on the southerly tip of Wilsons Promontory, Victoria, Australia. It commands sensational views of Bass Strait and is a major landmark for all ships travelling between the southern Australian ports (Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth) and the Pacific Ocean. South East Point is the site of the Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse.

Huskisson 1930’s

How times have changed.
Naval Drill Practice on Owen Street Huskisson in the 1930’s


17 June 2016

Lady Denman Ferry

She may be showing a few wrinkles in her old age but she is still a beautiful old girl and Huskisson and the shoalhaven community are lucky to have her.

You are allowed to roam her decks and ring her bell, you can stand in her wheel house and imagine steering her across Sydney Harbour.   For many of our older visitors coming aboard will be a trip down memory lane, this beautiful old ferry has taken thousands of passengers across Sydney Harbour and many who visit her today can tell a story or two.  For the younger people,  you can experience and learn about an era that has  long past, and by the hard work of many volunteers won’t be forgotten.


The Maritime Museum.

Is a beautiful place to relax, take a leisurely stroll around the gardens, keep your eyes peeled for the many different birds that are attracted to the fish pond and  native plants.


Hull Patina

Below is one of the bolts securing the hull of the Lady Denman Ferry.
A combination of rust, shell fragments, copper sheet, nails and atmosphere, give us this wonderful texture and patina any artist would be happy to create.
june 2016

14 June 2016

Wandandian Snippet

July 1890





Shoalhaven Snippet.

16th June 1939



Old houses of Shoalhaven

Heading south along the highway you will see this old building situated next to the highway near Wandandian. It was used as a post office and was built around 1937.


Directly behind the building above and adjoined to the same property is this wonderful old house built around 1908. Sitting on timber stumps and in need of repair.  Both property’s are for sale,  hopefully somone will see the value in preservation and not demolition.

wandandian-2016 wandy post office pic by don gazzardWonderful photo of the Wandandian Post Office while still in operation taken by Don Gazzard  http://www.dongazzard.com/

10 June 2016

The age of Steam and Sail.

There was a period in maritime history when steam driven vessels and sailing vessels were in a state of transition.  Sail had been the only means by which large loads of cargo and people could be transported from place to place relativly easily and cheaply.

Steam engines were a slow development around the 19th century, mostly used for river journeys in small boats, as the technology improved, timber was replaced with coal as fuel to drive the steam engine. Smaller more powerful engines were developed and were being used by “coastal steamers”.

Many of the first coastal steamers still carried a full set of sails, they were known as ‘auxiliaries”.  The engines were used to drive large paddle wheels attached to the sides of the vessel,  but their efficency depended a lot on the conditions they encountered during their journey.

Was the 150 ton “Sophia Jane”,  Built in England in 1827,  equiped with two 50 horse power engines, she sailed to Sydney Australia in 1831, and was the first coastal steamer to be used in N.S.W.  The vessel was a regular visitor to Jervis Bay and South Huskisson.


Ian Henson's painting of the Sophia Jane loading Wool at the wharf near South Huskisson, this painting can be seen at the Jervis Bay Maritime Museum.

Another paddle wheel (sail) steamer to operate along the south coast was the 117 ton wooden paddle steamer,  P.S. Mynora.  She went ashore in 1864 just south of Jervis Bay on the beautiful “Steamers Beach”,  which is named after her. 


By the 1860’s compound steam engines were introduced and the paddle wheel was replaced by screw propellar propulsion.  A drive shaft went directly to the stern driving propellars.  This development meant steam vessels could travel greater distances more efficently.   Sail was still relied upon to cut running costs and could still be more efficient in the right conditions. 

There were many Australian built timber steamers plying the Australian coast,  they required quite a lot of coal  to run the engines.  Besieged by bad weather the steamers could run out of coal and be forced to use their sails.

On occasion Jervis Bay was a convenient place for steam/sailing ships to seek refuge in foul weather.image
The story in the previous post of the Balclutha is a perfect illustration of the use of steam and sail to save a vessel.

Over time steam became the prefered means of propulsion,  the ships became larger, ports provided coal so the ships could restock their holds along their journey, their capacity for carrying coal increased,   passengers could now travel in luxury.

Steamers didn’t have to rely on favourable winds, they were able to leave port in almost any conditions,  the end of the great sailing ships was drawing to a close…

Shipbuilders along the coast had to adapt to the changes, and the shipbuilders operating at Jervis Bay started to produce steam powered vessels of all sizes.

A beautiful example of this was the S.S HILLMEADS 206 gross tons,  Length:126'4" x Width:27'5" x Depth:9'2". She was a wooden twin screw steamship, driven by  2 compounded engines producing 28 nhp.
Built as a passenger-cargo vessel by E Pritchard at Jervis Bay New South Wales in the Joseph Dent ship yard on the banks of Currambene creek in 1907 for the Numba Steam Shipping Co Ltd.
The vessel worked the trade from Sydney to Moruya, Bawleys Head and and Batemans Bay carrying passengers and timber.

S.S Hillsmeads – continue reading.

Some of the many vessels built at Huskisson.
1874 – The Australian - Wooden Steamship/schooner
1874 - Fleetwing – Steamer, builder James Hardiman.
1876 - Maggie – Steamer, builder Joseph Dent Jnr.
1879 - Heka – Steamer, builder George Dent Snr.
1881 – Meteor – Steamer, James Dent.

There are many more and their story and their stories are yet to be told.