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.

29 September 2016

War ship in Jervis Bay today.

The HMAS Melbourne steaming across the bay in a spectacular Jervis Bay sunrise.
30 minutes later the colour had disappeared and been replaced by a complete cover of grey rain clouds.
HMAS Melbourne is currently in the bay.



23 September 2016

Tall ship spotted

In a scene straight out of the 18th century I spotted this tall ship sailing by Steamers Beach…
With thanks to “old salt” Paul Newman for helping me find out which ship she was - The HMB Endeavour on one of it’s East Coast tours .


22 September 2016


These are some of the headlines that announced the narrow escape from disaster of the S.S. Eden in 1909.


S,S, Eden in Eden Harbour – no copyright restrictions.

Today with the aid of modern navigation equipment,  communication and radar,  it's hard to imagine a ship running into the imposing cliffs of Point Perpendicular,  but for the coasting vessels of the early 20th Century given the "right" or "wrong" set of circumstances Point Perpendicular could pose a serious problem.  Point Perpendicular headland is one of the most easterly projections into the Tasman Sea, coasting vessels often sailing and steaming close to shore and without due diligence,  could find themselves on a collision course with these imposing cliffs.

vessel at eden wharf

In this case it was a slightly strange combination of  circumstances that caused the mishap and near disaster of the Luxuriant Steam Ship Eden.

Saturday 18th 1909

Sailing on smooth seas  between Eden and Sydney, the S.S Eden carried  100 passengers including 40 to 50 women and children and around 30 crew, and cargo,  Captain S.Bishop who was temporarily relieving Captain G. Walker, was staying closer in to shore than would normally have been regarded as prudent or necessary.  

The first unusual circumstance.
At the time of the accident striking workers created  a shortage in the supply of coal for the steamers. To keep their ships operating  Captains were forced to burn timber and coal combined.  Staying close to the coast made the journey shorter and would burn less fuel, but with it came increased danger.

The second unusual circumstance.
6.30 a.m  - At the time the S.S Eden was plying the coast at half speed,  there were  bush fires burning around the south coast,  Jervis Bay area,  causing a heavy haze to drift off shore and hang low over the sea,  this combined with a dense fog  obscured the view of objects ahead.

7 - 8a.m  -  Ulladulla light had been shortly spotted,  the Eden cut straight across Wreck Bay and kept close in.

Breakers Ahead - The man on lookout saw the cliffs and rushed aft,  the captain in the wheel house ordered the the engines to be put into full speed astern,  but it was to late,  and the steamer crashing on,  was brought upon the rocks.
Most of the passengers were in their bunks when the impact took place,  others were knocked off their feet.   On feeling the shock which sent a violent shutter  from stem to stern, the passengers quickly rushed to the decks, many still in their night attire to learn what happened.  At first they were greatly alarmed, the 300ft towering cliff face loomed from the haze above their heads,  the impact was violent enough to dislodge large overhanging rocks which came crashing down around the ship,  one piece hit the ships bow plates with such force it became firmly embedded in the ship. Captain Bishop and his officers reassured the excited passengers,  telling them that there was absolutely no danger.  Captain Bishop and his crew acted with great coolness,  the stewards and stewardesses acting under Captain Bishops command served out the life belts, this caused more alarm amongst the passengers,  but the officers reassured the passengers this was done purely as a precaution,  the boats were swung out and lowered to the rail,  but they were never needed.

The Eden responded to her engines and was backed off straight away,  an examination showed that the fore-peak had become flooded,  the bulk head kept the remainder of the vessel perfectly tight. The ship was examined and found to be badly damaged below the water line Captain Bishop  judged the Eden to be sea worthy and without delay headed the Eden away for Sydney.   The wells were sounded periodically during the run up the coast,  and it was found that the water had not extended to the holds, the pumps were not required,  and consequently the cargo was not damaged.

The Eden was fitted with two bulkheads and therefore if the damage had been much greater than it proved to be she would have remained afloat.

Miraculous Escape.
One of the firemen was asleep in his bunk,  and the port anchor,  coming in contact with the rocks,  forced the hawsepipe within a few inches of his head,  he was thrown out of his bunk by the shock of the impact.

Damage Report.
The survey of the Eden in dock showed the damage forward is of a very extensive character,  and the opinion was expressed by experts that the vessel has a very narrow escape from disaster.  The whole forefoot was turned right to starboard,  thus exposing an irregular gap of great dimensions.  The whole of the plates below the 10ft water mark at the stem were either broken or fractured,  and the frames and floors in the vicinity of the damaged stem are in a buckled and broken condition.


REF: http://www.photosau.com.au/cos/scripts/ExtSearch.asp?SearchTerm=089597

Description of vessel.
The Eden was a steel screw steamer of 693 tons gross,  purpose built in 1900,  by Russel and Co of Port Gladscow, for the Illawarra Steamship Company  she was 197 ft long, beam 26.6 ft,  depth 16.6ft, Propelled by two compound engines producing 750 HP.   Luxurious accommodation had been provided for 60 first class and 12 second class passengers,  and all the modern improvements, including elaborate refrigerating plant and a complete installation of electric light.  The main salon and state rooms are unusually large and handsome and tastefully decorated and furnished.

Captain S. Bishop one of the oldest and most careful of the coasting masters was temporarily relieving Captain G Walker at the time of the accident,  but it had been arranged that he should take over permanent command of the vessel.  Captain Walker having been selected to command the companies new luxuriant steamer Merimbula,  which in 1928 went ashore and sunk after running into Drum and Drumsticks near Jervis Bay. Continue reading about the Merimbula
The Eden at this time was laid up in dock,  but was immediately rushed back into service to replace the Merimbula.

Other reported incidents involving the Eden.

1905 - The Eden had previously survived a tremendous gale off the coast of Jervis Bay.  Seeking shelter in Jervis Bay, the Eden entering the bay with great difficulty,  she took four hours to pick up the lighthouse,  Sea after sea broke over the steamer,  smashing the fittings and saloon furniture.  The passenger of whom there were a large number had an exciting time,  and the women suffered severely, weeping and praying all night.   The weather was so tempestuous that the female passengers were not the only ones on board who thought the Eden would never survive the storm.
The Eden sheltered in the bay until the weather moderated and arrived in Tathra  three days late.

1910 - Tidal Wave.
A tidal wave was experienced at Ulladulla on the south coast.  The weather was rough outside,  but the steamer Eden was loading in comparative comfort.  Suddenly huge seas broke completely over the wharf,  carrying 400 sleepers and everything portable with them,  The mooring ropes were snapped and to save herself the Eden had to stand out to sea.  Such a thing has never before been know at Ulladulla.

1921 -- The Eden was used to carry cargo and passengers to relieve Tasmania which was cut off during a seaman’s strike.

1929 - Man Lost Overboard.
A passenger went missing and presumed to have fallen overboard somewhere between Bermagui and Sydney.  Aged between 50 and 60 years,  When the Eden left Sydney the man was on board,  but his bunk was found to be unoccupied and he was no where to be seen.

1933 - The Eden was scuttled at Tathra.

Hawsepipe - A ship’s hawsepipe is the pipe passing through the bow section of a ship that the anchor chain passes through.
Forefoot - The area of a ship’s hull where the keel and stem are joined.
Stem – The most forward part of a ships bow, referring to the timber between the forward end of the keel and the deck.


The red hawsepipe can be clearly seen in the bow of the Lady Denman Ferry.
In this case it’s very small,  but in a larger vessel the pipe can be quite substantial and weigh many kilo’s.




15 September 2016

Cape St George.

After being replaced by the Point Perpendicular Lighthouse, The Cape St George Lighthouse was still causing concern and confusion for coasting vessels,  especially when the white painted  tower would almost glow under a bright full moon.    The authorities deemed the old light a navigation hazard and the navy was employed to use the tower for target practice and bring it down.  What you see now are the remains of the once beautiful hand made lighthouse, strewn across the ground just the way it was after being demolished in such an undignified way.

By visiting the old ruins you will get a magnificent view of the Point Perpendicular Lighthouse.


The museum has on very interesting collection of artifacts from the lghthouse on display.  It’s well worth the effort to come along to the museum and delve into the local history.

If you would like to see other posts and photographs of the old light, type Cape St George into the search box on the right…



14 September 2016

French lighthouse keepers changing shift.

Amazing footage taken at the French Lighthouse Kereon, built in 1914 in the Iroise Sea,  despite continued rough conditions. Kereon was automated in 2004.

Related imagestill frame from the video.

The Cape St George Lighthouse and Point Perpandicular Lighthouse have both featured on this blog site on many occasions.  When we visit the ruins of the Cape St George lighthouse we marvel at the isolation and effort the pioneers would have had to endure to keep the families and the lighthouse running.   I found this video of the French lighthouse keepers changing shifts during gale force winds.  The lighthouse itself is a marvel of engineering,  the skill of the boat master in the dangerous conditions  is amazing,  and worth the small time it takes to watch the film.
follow the link below.




13 September 2016

Crookhaven Heads.

Wrecks and Melancholy.

image1822 - Alexander Berry entered the Crookhaven River with the Royal George,  a vessel of 500 tons,  charthered by him in London. Berry found the entrance to the Shoalhaven River was to dangerous and impossible owing to the shoals with which the entrance was dotted.  He entered the Crookhaven River and proceeded to cut the first canal to be formed in Australia  three quarters of a mile in length joining the Crookhaven to the Shoalhaven River,  the canal has since grown to be wide and deep making the bar crossing at Crookhaven Heads  the main entrance for vessels of all descriptions into the Shoalhaven River.
Being safer than the Shoalhaven River entrance didn’t mean the Crookhaven River entrance didn’t pose it’s own problems.  As can be seen by the list below there is history of catastrophe and and lucky escapes associated with crossing the bar.

This is by no means a complete list, there are other stories to find and tell.

Even now in these so called “modern times” when lifesaving and communication equipment are readily available, vessels and people still get into difficulty crossing the bar,  sometimes with tragic endings.

1858 – The Schooner Mountsbay. Once the news of the wreck was known, Captain M’Cue of the Steamer Nora Creina,  sent out his lifeboat,  manned by a portion of his crew and two volunteers ashore,  who were accompanied by Mr. Barker,  mate of the steamer and Mr. W.C. Morrison of Greenwell Point.  Fortunatly these parties saved all the cargo but the schooner became a total wreck. - All hands were saved..

1853 – Wooden Ketch Susan. From Broulee, 27 tons, went ashore during a heavy gale – reports indicate all hands perished.

- The Barque Solon
, 565 tons with Captain H. Rohde left Sydney at 10a.m. bound for Geelong with a cargo of 35 tons of coal, 35 tons of hay and a quantity of ships stores.
The vessels head was kept offshore in the S.E wind. The S.E wind started to develop into a gale and all sail was reduced until she was under close-reefed topsails and reefed courses.   A heavy easterly swell continued to set in,  and the ship continued working to the southward until morning at about 3 a.m.  when breakers were discovered,  every inch of canvas the vessel could bear was at once set,  and endeavourers made to claw her off the land, but without effect,  and shortly after she was lifted bodily onto the rocks,  her head being at the time to the southward.
The ship was driven over the outer batch of rocks into deep water,  but she was still separated some distance from the main land. The vessel broke up rapidly,  and the crew with great difficulty saved their lives,  with the exception of one lad,  named Louis Lase a native of Britain,  who was unfortunately drowned.
Daylight revealed the vessel had gone ashore at the south side of Crookhaven Heads.
The hull split into three parts,  with the sea making a clear breach over the ship,  there was little hope of saving anything beyond spars and part of the rigging and sails.

1864 - The Barque Pacific, During devastating floods and gales that inundated the farms and towns of the Nowra Shoalhaven region, two vessels were lost .  The 313 ton American Built Barque Pacific,  property of Mr.. William Wright, of Sydney, under the command of Captain Chase became a total wreck at Crookhaven heads. The beach below the Crookhaven Heads was strewed with candles.
One man was lost after jumping from the ship onto the rocks.

1864 – The Ketch Sarah, from Sydney was lost at Crookhaven Heads during the same storm as above - one man was lost after being washed from the helm.

1873 – The S.S. Coolangatta, paddle steamer, 87 tons, during floods and in ballast she parted from one sea anchor and dragged the other.  She was swept out of the river and capsized,  the crew escaped with great difficulty in their boat. She was later picked up, bottom upwards and during an attempt to tow her into the Crookhaven River and right her,  she sank in deep water.

1880 – The Schooner Henrietta.
In ballast between Sydney and the Shoalhaven went ashore in squally conditions on Wednesday night at 11.pm,  by Thursday she had parted amidships and became a total wreck.   all the crew were saved.

1893 – The Result
, 56 tons, built at Wangaroa N.Z in 1882, on a dark and overcast night the Result under full sail went ashore, near Crookhaven Heads, Master Walter Graham, and the crew were saved and were engaged in dismantling the wreck. The marine board found captain Graham guilty of careless navigation and suspended his licence of three months.

1899 – The entrance was becoming a very big problem,  large swells had cut away a mangrove flat on the northern entrance and debris and silt were making the bar imposible for the steamers to cross except on very high tides…this was causing delays to shipping and with the improvements to the railroad between the Shoalhaven and Sydney the need to spend money to fix the problem wasn’t as high on the local and federal governments adjenda as it might have been in the past.

1901 - The Ketch Chippewa 26 tons, wrecked at Crookhaven Heads during a heavy gale – reports indicate that all hands were lost,  she lay in about 60ft of water and attempts were made to salvage her,  but when the cables gave away, she went to pieces. .

1907 - The S.S. Allowrie,  grounded at Crookhaven Heads on the 30th.  But since floated off  and apparently undamaged.


Allowrie crossing the bar 1905.

1908 - S.S. Moruya, built in Preston England she is a twin screw steamship of 525 tons,  belonging to the Illawarra and South Coast S.N. Company Ltd.. went aground at Crookhaven Heads,  she remained fast, but she wasn't in a dangerous position and was floated off the next day.

imageS.S Moruya. REF: https://www.flickr.com/photos/powerhouse_museum/8029078562

1907 – Rocket Brigade, was stationed at Crookhaven Heads. Continue reading

1908 – The S.S. Peterborough, 159 tons, built by Atlas Engineering Co., Woolwich, New South Wales for the Shellharbour S N Co Ltd.  grounded near Crookhaven Heads,  but was not in a dangerous position and was refloated on the next high tide.

S.S. Peterborough. 

1909 - The Ketch Wave. The well know ketch Wave went aground at 3.30p.m inside Crookhaven Heads while attempting to beat into the river.  As the sea was smooth,  the vessel was in no immediate danger and was floated off at high tide.

1901 - S.S. Ben Bolt. wooden steamer, 83 tons grounded at Crookhaven Heads,  she was refloated at the next high tide..

1910 – Building a breakwater.  With fears of the entrance becoming totally unpassable because of silting the decision was finall made to build a breakwater to help alleviate the washing away of the Commerong Island Point,  at the time these photo’s were taken the bar was almost completly blocked to steaming vessels.

1- Hoisting stone from pontoon to breakwater.
2 -Mode of tipping the stone.

image3- Crookhaven pilot station opposite the breakwater.
image4 - Quarry from which the stone is obtained. It is about 200 yards from the shoalhaven bridge,  and the stone has to be hauled about twenty miles to the breakwater.
5 – Crookhaven Lighthouse.

1911 – S.S. Coomonderry
– 147 tons steel steam ship, Aground as Crookhaven Heads - at this time the entrance to the river was very badly silted, going from, and coming into the river posed many challenges without the added pressure of the river becoming to shallow to cross except on dead high tide.  After being grounded Captain Willes was so concerned he wrote a report to the South Coast Steam Navigation Company, Ltd; outling his fears.

"I consider the crossing is almost as shoal as it was after the January flood,  and if immediate steps are not taken the Coomonderry will only be able to cross at very high tides.   In the present condition I do not think we could manage it at the neap tide at all.  As it is,  on high tide we can only cross in at high water,  instead of three hours before,   and this will be a serious thing to be so delayed.   There is no tug at Crookhaven Heads,  and when a steamer gets into trouble she must depend upon her own steam and anchors"

Full-size imageS.S Coomonderry – In rough seas off Bernie Tasmania.   She was originally a steamship but was converted to a fore and aft schooner.
Stranded on the shore in Bernie Tasmania.

1912 – The S.S. Brooklyn, Wrecked at Crookhaven Heads, crew of 8 saved...continue To previous post about the S.S. Brooklyn.

1924 – S.S. Bodalla – Grounded on rocks Crookhaven Heads. Continue Reading below. 

1934 - The S.S. Unique, Wooden screw steamer,  84/58 tons. steaming from Sydney, she Sprang a leak and foundered off Crookhaven Heads,  Crew of seven saved

1936 - A launch,  skippered by Mr. Hope Bartlet and accompanied by his mechanic, Mr. Frank Ball, left Crookhaven River at night,  soon after leaving the entrance the weather changed,  the sea began to rise in front of a developing north east gale,,,motoring for some time without making any headway and starting to ship a sea or two,   it was decided they should return to the safety of the river.  Trying to enter the river in total darkness, the launch ran right up onto rocks smashing a hole. The men managed to find safety by scrambling across the rocks and getting ashore,.  The vessel became a total wreck.



8 September 2016

Crookhaven Heads–The S.S Bodalla

The Shoalhaven has many ports of call for  coasting vessels,  each port entrance poses it’s own challenge to the captains and crew during foul weather and one of the more dangerous is Crookhaven Heads, particuarly before the breakwater was built in 1910.
Open to large swells from the east and north, and flanked by shallow reefs and changing sand bars, combined and swept by the very fast outflowing tide from the Shoalhaven River, many ships have found the crossing a daunting and sometimes fatal place to be.

leumea-commy-views-010Calm conditions disguise the potential dangers.

Thursday the 13th of May 1923
The Steamer Bodalla a regular visitor to the south coast ports in the early 1920’s,  she had a very lucky escape from disaster at the entrance to the Crookhaven River and came out fairly unscathed.  Caught by the fast outflowing tide,  called the “ebb tide” she was carried onto the rock where the tide-guage was erected. The steamer remained hard and fast till 4.45 a.m. on Friday.  When she floated off and put to sea,  having sustained no apparent damage.

1914 . S.S. Bodalla was launced and was owned by the Illawarra and South Coast Steam Navigation Company, Ltd., She was used on the south coast run, often picking up a cargo of Silica rock from Ulladulla. The Bodalla was expressly built for the Moruya and Narooma trade with special provisions for carrying cheese and passengers.

1923.  S.S. Bodalla ashore at Ulladulla.
She was blown from her moorings at Bawly Point and ran aground at Ulladulla, where she was stuck fast for  some time before being floated off.  Despite running into foul weather and taking over a foot of water in her hull, she limped her way back to Sydney, unassisted.

1924.  S.S. Bodalla’s luck runs out.
The Bodalla was wrecked on 19 January 1924 at Narooma, Caught in a violent north east swell,  she went aground at the entrance to the Wogonga inlet.  Despite the dangerous sea all passengers and crew made it to shore safely.
Mastered by Captain Jackson, the vessel was owned by the Illawarra & South Coast Steam Navigation Company. Built at Balmain in Sydney in 1914 by Norrison and Sinclair.  The Bodulla was a wooden twin screw steamer of 345 gross tons and 39.62m in length. It was powered by a compound engine, the engines were built by Campbell & Calderwood, Scotland.

Initial salvage was thought to have been possible,  but all attempts were abandoned when the seas relentless pounding broke her back and washed away or spoiled her cargo.
The engine & boiler were salvaged,  and the rudder salvaged by PWD in 1981 during building of a the breakwater.

out of copyright.

Her wrecked remains were later sold at auction for 50 pounds to William Waugh Limited of Balmain.
At the time of the wreck, the Bodalla was insured for 11.500 pounds.
REF: http://www.eurobodalla.com.au/Things-to-See-and-Do/History-and-Heritage/narooma-lighthouse-museum
Marine Court Enquiry.

Update: 2016.
93 years after the S.S. Bodalla became a total wreck and her remains disappeared below the waves, the east coast Low in July this year, which produced huge swells right along the south east coastline, has once again bought the S.S Bodalla to the publics attention by exposing what remains of the wreck of the S.S Bodalla.

Continue to a previous post about the loss of the  S.S. Brooklyn at Crookhaven Heads.

5 September 2016

Sunk off Jervis Bay

The big guns roar during target practice off Jervis Bay.

The Navy and Jervis Bay have been linked together since the first tall ships sailed past the 300ft high magestic vertical cliff face of Point Perpendicular,  and anchored  in the sheltered waters of the bay.

A look through this blog site will reveal many interesting facts about the Navy and it's relationship with the bay and the waters around Jervis Bay.


The navy to this very day still conduct training exercises in and around the bay,  local residents are accustomed to the rumble and vibrations from the war ships when their using the live firing range at Beecroft Peninsula for ship to shore bombing practice.

They also use the waters surrounding jervis bay for target shooting.   Floating targets are dragged hundreds of meters behind a tow vessel,  the big guns roar as they fire their deadly rounds towards the moving target.

When navy ships are no longer fit for active service,  the navy sometimes uses this opportunity to build on their skills by using the stripped out hulks for target practice.

Two ships met this fate and found their final resting place on the ocean floor just 40 miles off Jervis bay.

The first was the HMAS Kara Kara,  she was sunk on the 31st of January 1973,   after serving as a target for ships and aircraft..

The second vessel was Bathurst class minesweeper,  HMAS Colac - she was sunk off Jervis Bay on 4th March 1987.

The life and times of these two vessels is a fascinating story in itself,  follow the links below for more information.
HMAS Kara Kara - HMAS Colac.