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.

25 February 2017

The Queen of Jervis Bay.

”You have lived on a long while.” we said.  ‘' Ah, yes, she answered, with a smile.  ‘I suppose my time’ll come”.

Feb 26th 1928 - Mary Golding, known as the Aboriginal Queen of Huskisson was laid to rest in a quiet little burial ground far up Currambene Creek   Mary was at the time the oldest resident in the district,  locals stated her age was between 105 and 108.   She always enjoyed good health right up until the week before she passed away.  Her mental faculties were remarkably clear,  she could relate stories of happenings in the early history of the district.  Her husband shown here was known as King Billy died some years before Mary.

Mary had been residing for many years with one of her daughters on the banks of Currambene Creek, Huskisson.  Residents of Huskisson and the police gave her every attention, except for being very thin,  she was a very well-preserved woman.

Not long before she died she was photographed and appeared in a pictorial daily, and needless to say,  was greatly pleased.

A few days before her death local residents paid a visit to Mary taking with them some tobacco, which they knew would cheer her old heart.  They found her sitting on a rug in the shade of a tree with her dogs about her.

In full possession of her senses, she conversed pleasantly, smoking the whole while,  and telling an interesting tale of the district  when there was no residents between Kiama and Nowra.

“You have lived on a long while,” we said.'  Ah, yes, she answered, with a smile.” I suppose my time will come”.

A few days later Mary became ill and was attended by the Nowra Doctor,  she passed away on the 25th and the funeral took place the next day.

A large number of people gathered in the lonely bush setting to pay a last tribute of respect to such an aged Australian.  The service at the graveside was particularly solemn and impressive,  with the shadow of the densely growing trees falling sombre across the grave.
So passed Mary Goulding,  may the earth rest lightly on her remains..

Mary was known by other names, Queen Golden, Mary Goulding, Mary Golden and Queen Mary.


24 February 2017

First Fleet arrive in Jervis Bay - 9 News Report 1988

This was a fantastic day, the ships moored close to the mouth of Currambene creek, during the night their masts and rigging were festooned with lights.


23 February 2017

A scene from the past.

Today we had the good fortune to have a very historic visitor in the bay.
Very early this morning in the distanct haze and light you could make out the silhouette of a three-masted sailing ship at anchor near Honeymoon Bay.

The tall ship James Craig.

1874 - Built in Sunderland England  she was first launched as the “
Clan Macleod”
Plying the world trade routes for 26 years, carrying general cargo,  rounding Cape Horn 26 times.
1905 -The name was changed to the James Craig.
She was purchased by br Mr J.J. Craig of Auckland, New Zealand, who used her on trans-Tasman trade routes carrying general cargo.
1911- she was laid up because of competition from steamers and was eventually stripped and used as a copra hulk in New Guinea.
Early 1920’s – She was bought by Henry Jones “IXL” and refitted in Sydney, but her return to service was brief.
1925 – She was reduced to a coal hulk at Recherche Bay Tasmania.
1932 – She was abandoned and became beached after breaking her moorings in a storm where she remained until 1972.
1972 – Volunteers from the Sydney Heritage Fleet refloated her.
1973 – She was towed to Hobart and temporary repairs carried out.
1981 – She was towed to Sydney and restoration work commenced.
1997 – The James Craig’s restored hull was relaunched.

She is one of only four Barques still capable of sailing world wide, and the only one in the southern hemisphere. She now reguarly carries the general public to sea.
She is a full restoration not a replica.

This morning.

Around 7.15am she slowly started to make her way out of the bay in a scene reminiscent of the early 1900’s,  she soon disappeared into the haze behind Bowen Island to continue her journey south.


At anchor in the early morning golden light near Honey Moon Bay.


Leaving the bay in the early morning haze.


After posting the story above Alan Woods sent us this photo of the James Craig entering the bay under sail yesterday afternoon -  22nd Feb.

James Craig. https://www.shf.org.au/explore-the-fleet/our-operational-vessels/james-craig-1874-tall-ship/




22 February 2017

20 February 2017

Whaling Jervis Bay

Sydney Morning Herald 1842
Continue reading about whaling near Jervis Bay.



Paddle steamer Natone seeks shelter in Jervis Bay.



23rd October 1884,  the double ended paddle steamer Natone was on a voyage between Sydney and the Tamar River in Tasmania when she encountered very heavy seas while approaching Jervis Bay.  Like many vessels caught in deteriorating conditions along the south east coast she sought shelter inside the protected waters of the Bay until conditions improved.    The Natone arrived safely at her destination on the 29th October.

This type of vessel was made to be used on rivers,  not on the open ocean.  One can imagine the journey across Bass Strait to Tasmania would have been filled with apprehension.

The Natone was built in 1883 at Mort's Dock in Sydney for the Tasmanian Steam Navigation Company and was capable of carrying 800 passengers.






16 February 2017

Hourigan’s Camp Sussex Inlet.

Leave the dusk and musk, the hustle and bustle of the city far behind you . . . come to the garden of Eden.

Yesterday,  I  had a meeting with Sonya Cropper,  Sonya along with her husband Danny manage Cropper’s Cabins located on  a small strip of land on the eastern side of Farnhem Headland, overlooking the entrance to the sea from Sussex Inlet river mouth.
Croppers Cabins was originally known as Hourigans Inlet Camp and named after Henry Hourigan.  Henry was granted a lease on the land in 1918.
Next year will mark 100 years since the camp was established.  Sonya has collected a lot of historical information and old photographs of the camp,   and has asked me to help her put together a small book about the history of the camp to be released next year for the  anniversary.
Below is a brochure produced by Henry Hourigan to advertise the camp.

The camp also overlooks the wreck of the S.S Mokau, which went ashore at the entrance to the river in 1922 becoming a total wreck. Continue reading the fascinating story about this wreck and it’s links to Ireland and the Southern Highlands.


14 February 2017

Ships in the Bay.

HMAS Yarra.

hmas-yarra-14th-feb-2017---aTaken before sunrise with her running light on.


It was fairly early with dim light so please excuse the fuzziness at full size.

Today we have HMAS Yarra (IV), the sixth of six Huon Class minehunters in the bay. She isn’t a big ship at only 52 meters long but has some very unique features.

Her hull design is shock resistant with a low magnetic and acoustic signature.  This allows the ship to operate in hostile mine environments.   When mine hunting,  propolsion and precision manoeuvrability is achieved using retractable thrusters.

Puzzled solved - This explains how this morning she was doing tight pivitol circles while at anchor. I was wondering how she was able to do this as I couldn’t see any sign of her engines working . 

The Ship uses variable depth sonar to search for and prosecute mines.  Upon detection, the ship deploys the remotely operated Mine Disposal Vehicle (MDV) or clearance divers to identify and neutralise mines. The MDV, equipped with a searchlight, camera, sonar and disposal charge, is controlled from Ship's operations room.

She is the sixth Huon-class minehunter to have been built for the Royal Australian Navy and the fourth warship to be named after the Yarra River in Victoria.  Built in Newcastle, she was commissioned in March 2003.



11 February 2017

Jervis Bay

The start of another very hot day, Point Perpendicular was shrouded in mist and heat haze.  As the sun slowly rose behind the headland it cast an orange veil over the bay...

10 February 2017

On this Day – 8.56 pm ,February 10, 1964

HMAS Voyager and HMAS Melbourne collide, Voyager sunk.

This morning I went down to the shores of Jervis Bay and took a couple of photo’s of the memorial dedicated to the men of HMAS Voyager located in Voyager Park at the entrance to Currambene Creek.  I had a conversation with a lady walking her dog  about the memorial,  she said she went by the memorial weekly, and was surprised and unaware of todays significance.     There was nothing to mark the occasion, other than the stark black memorial being warmed by the rising sun.



Two tragic shipping disasters near Jervis Bay have been on a scale which sent shock waves across the whole country and in the latter case around the world.

The first  tragedy was the sinking of the S.S Dandenong in 1876 with the loss of 40 lives, many were women and children.
The second disaster which shook a nation and has effected so many lives to this day was the loss of HMAS Voyager in 1964.

Today is the anniversary of that disaster and we should all take some time to remember not only the  young sailors that lost their lives 54 years ago,  but also the survivors of this tragedy off Jervis Bay who’s lives were changed forever.


 HMAS Melbourne underway with the Daring class destroyers Voyager and Vendetta in 1959
REF: http://www.navy.gov.au/hmas-voyager-ii

On the 11th February the world awoke to the news the destroyer HMAS Voyager and the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne had collided during night time exercises 19 miles off Jervis Bay.
The 3,658 tonnes, Voyager was sliced in two when she crossed in front of the 20,322 tonnes, Melbourne.   HMAS Voyager’s for’ ard section sunk within 10 minutes and the after section 3 hours later,  82 sailors were killed,  mostly in the for’ ard section,  making it the worst peacetime disaster in naval history.
Continue reading.



Bow of the Melbourne.
 (The National Library of Australia/Australian Women's Weekly)

The museum has an amazing video presentation about the incident, come along and take the time to watch and listen to this moving tribute to the people involved.


S.S Dandenong - Continue Reading.

9 February 2017

7 February 2017

A poem about Jervis Bay 1930

With compliments and apologies to The Colonel.

A fantastic poem about Jervis Bay and Captain Wilmot,

Who was Captain Wilmot?

colonelCaptain Wilmot was quite a character,  he was well known in the Huskisson area in the 1930’s,  after his retirement from the railways, he moved to Jervis Bay and lived rough on the sand spit opposite Huskisson with his Foxy dog.
He earned a meagre living as a ferryman for holiday makers wanting to cross the creek,  charging two shillings (20 cents) a head.  He was a  likable character and entertained visitors with poems and stories.
Seen here with his little Fox terrier dog,  which would perform tricks for the tourists.


I stood one morn, upon the cliff,
As dawn flashed o'er the sea ;
A golden path of sparkling waves,
In glory came to me.
The waves rolled on the yellow beach,
And crashed in foam and spray ;
Up rose the glorious orb of light,
For night had crept away.
A flock of snow white gulls flew o'er,
The ripple round the reef ;
The fishing boats chugged home from toil,
No zephyr stirred a leaf.
And 'neath my feet an emerald rug
Of Nature's carpet lay ;
The lighthouse in the distance stood,
The guardian of the Bay.
A magpie warbled to the morn,
High up a leafy gum,
And insects bright and many bees,
Made music with a hum.|
The scented smoke from many a home
Rose softly in the air,
Oh lovely day ! Oh shining Bay,
What scene could be so fair,
Lo ! from the wharf a boatman glides,
Across the mirrored tide,
A " foxy " in the bow is poised,
He loves his morning ride ;
The kindly Colonel plies the oar,
To reach the sandy spit ;
His craft is watertight and " strong ''
The Colonel too is " fit.'"
" Not know the Colonel '' did you say ?
Why man he's known for miles,
His jokes, his dogs, his bait, his boat,
Have won him friendly smiles.
No winsome lass might trust to me,
Perhaps not trust to you, .
But they would trust this well known friend,
O'er miles of rippling blue.
Old friend when once again I " trek "
To stroll on Jervis Beaches,
To smell the brine, or spoil good twine
In fishing from the reaches,
I'll ask for you, and " foxy " too ;
And hope you're there to greet me,
Should you first reach the " Shining Strand,"
Look round and kindly meet me.

Here we see Captain Wilmot entertaining visitors near Sharknet Beach.

6 February 2017

Net mending at Huskisson

The four main industries which kept local people employed in Huskisson in the early 20th century were tourism, fishing, ship building and the timber industry,  all were closly linked.  This photograph shows fishermen repairing their nets near the present day Huskisson wharf.

In the background you can see the timber guest house “Ingleburn” which was sighted on the land which has just recently been rezoned as “community land”.   This was after a heated community debate about what this land would be used for in the future.   The majority of the community wanting to keep the site open to preserve the wonderful view of the river,  and the other side wanting to develop the site into a commercial venture.
A nice relaxed photograph of men mending nets near the present day wharf at Huskisson.

There are some interesting things to see in this photograph.
The long net spread out with floats attached,  the casual stroll of the man in the distance slowly walking towards the water with his hands in his pocket, the casual manner of the relaxed fishermen,  the tilt of the hat on the man on the left,,,,the rolled up trousers, the mens bare feet, enabling them to hold the net taunt while they repair the net,  a story revealed in this brief moment captured in time.


3 February 2017

On this day - February 4 1890

The Schooner Hally Baily dismasted off Jervis Bay.

The schooner Hally Baily under the command of Captain Bezer was on a voyage between Rockhampton to Hobart carrying a cargo of 170 tons of bonedust.

The voyage south had so far been uneventful - Arriving off Sydney in the early evening a sudden heavy S.S.E gale sprang up, with a tremendous cross sea. Around midnight the Jib boom was carried away,  the foremast was next to go as the crew were below having breakfast, the foremast being snapped off about 25 ft from the deck.  Shortly after the main mast went by the board.  The vessel all this time was being continuously submerged by mountainous waves.

Hopes dashed a passing vessel failed to see distress signals.

Friday –
The Hally Baily was at the mercy of the seas and wind, the crew kept watch for a passing vessel,  the crew’s spirits were raised when they sighted a  vessel on Friday morning but the vessel failed to take notice of the distress signals, leaving the crew in an increasing state of dispair.

Saturday  - The German steamer G.M.S Bremem was sighted,  being attracted by distress signals bore down on the disabled schooner,  but after getting particulars proceeded on it's voyage without rendering any assistance at all.

The passing steamer S.S Lindus under the command of Captain Broughton saw a blue distress light and steamed towards the stricken vessel, recognising the dire circumstances the vessel was in they quickly prepared to take the schooner in tow.
A hawser (tow rope) was secured by coming along side with great difficulty,  this dangerous task had to be repeated four times during the tow as the hawser kept parting in the extreme conditions.

Hurricane conditions off Jervis Bay – Soon the vessels were battling hurricane conditions just off Jervis Bay, now the steamer Burrumbeet appeared and with great skill took over the tow, the Lindus continued her voyage to Melbourne.  The wind at this time was blowing a hurricane,  and waves were breaking over the vessel.  The bad weather was experienced almost all the way to Sydney.


S.S Burrunbeet.


S.S. Lindus

32%2F382%2F16301423 (1)S.S. Lindus
Photo Ref: http://passengersinhistory.sa.gov.au/node/927194

2 February 2017

Black Diamonds Jervis Bay.


Black Diamond recovered from the wreck of the Plutus at Currarong..

Did you know?
In the early 1900’s coal was discovered near Jervis Bay, the news motivated capitalists into investing time and money into trying to persuade the Government of the time, to contribute to the many mining schemes and turn the speculation into profit.


1874 - A meeting of about thirty gentlemen met at City-Hall for the purpose of hearing a scheme for floating a coal company at Jervis Bay,  it was stated immense seams of coal,  besides other minerals, such as iron, anthracite coal and fire-clay were known to exist. They showed specimens of coal and other minerals from the intended mining sites.  The area concerned was about 22 miles from Jervis Bay, and consisted of 3000 acres of land,  containing two seams of coal,  one 22 feet wide,  and the other 20 feet, besides smaller seams,  and was computed to contain 259 million tons of coal.

The speaker had prepared a scheme for forming a company, a capital of 150,000 pounds would be required,  the chief items of expenditure being:-
Purchase of lease, 11.000 pounds.
New South Wales Government, 7000 pounds.
Proprietary shares, 6000 pounds.
Railway, 25 miles at 3000 ponds a mile, 75,000 ponds.
Locomotives, 20.000 pounds. 
Trucks, 15.000 pounds.
Opening mine, 5000 pounds.
Wharves, 18,000 pounds.
Survey, 7000 pounds.

Against this there were 37.000 acres of land containing 70.000 tons per acre, which would yield 103,600.000 pounds; and by allowing for 1000 tons per day being shipped,  the outlay would give a yearly income of 105.000 pounds.

In it's time the sums being spoken of were quite substantial and the returns on their investment quite lucrative.
The meeting broke up without any decision being arrived at.

Over the following years the interest in the coal deposits and the prospects for development and huge returns were very much on local investors minds.

1884 - A deputation comprising a local doctor, the Mayor of Nowra and the Mayor of Shoalhaven approached the Mining Minister to ask for the use of a diamond drill and the necessary skilled labour, to be supplied free of charge, to bore for coal on Government Land in the vicinity of Jervis Bay.


The minister refused the application on the terms mentioned.  -  "After all, prospecting for coal at Jervis Bay was a matter of private speculation,  and the Government had laid down certain regulations upon which the diamond drills would be lent to the public." - he went on to state  - "Our present coal fields were already sufficient to supply demand." -   He acknowledged the importance of future investigation.  " But was inclined to think there was sufficient
enterprise there to pay the cost of the drills."

1890 - A private land holder sunk a bore 103 feet deep on his land a Sassafras,  and in the words of a competent authority, 'is in splendid coal measures." with every indication of soon striking a seam...

Nothing more was heard about this.

1900 - Coal deposits were identified in the Jervis Bay Region and there were companies activity pursuing leases for the purpose of coal mining.  One such lease was for the parish of Tiangara immediately west of Jervis Bay where eleven square mile was applied for to take up coal mining. Australian and British investors had inspected these sites near the base of Sassafras Plateau and determined the coal was equal to the best Welch coal for steaming purposes.


1902 - The Sassafras area came under consideration as the possible location of the Federal City, and with this some twenty sections were measured off as coal mining sites by capitalists..

1907 – Workable coal seams - The government geologist had identified the occurrence of workable coal seams in this district and being accessible to the fine harbour if Jervis Bay was considered as "One of considerable importance."

1908 - Further exhaustive investigation by mining experts were confident – “That valuable seams exist in the vicinity of the Falls, Jervis Bay."   - This prompted local people assisted by the shire council to urge the Government to sink a bore, to prove that southern coal deposits extend to Jervis Bay.  - "It would be a great factor in opening up the district." -  It was anticipated a positive result would result in the establishment of large smelting works.

1908 - Trial bores refused.
The Clyde Shire Council was informed by the Under Secretary for Mines that the application made by council for trail bores in the neighbourhood  of Jervis Bay cannot be granted.

1911 - No coal of commercial value.  The geological surveyor for the Department of Mines stated  "He was absolutely certain that there was no coal of commercial value south of Mount Kembla.  It may be suitable for coke making. -  “ I am prepared to admit however,  there  may  be a time when it will be necessary to develop even this unpromising source of coal supply."

The statements above didn't deter potential investors or the local council,  they saw it as a way of promoting the districts commercial prospects.

1912Links to Federal Port - With the proposed linking of the new Federal Port of Jervis Bay by railway with Canberra,  the interior,  and Sydney,  a Sydney M.P made an application   for 1920 acres of land for the purpose of mining coal in the parish of Tianjara, county of St. Vincent. This was driven by reports from a licensed surveyor employed by  Sydney capitalists to inspect the country seaward side of Sassafras.
He gave the opinion the coal area embraced an extensive area north and south of Pigeon House.
Capitalists were excited by the prospect of the proposed railway to Canberra and Sydney running right through the area concerned, then linking with Jervis Bay.

The surveyor also applied for three leases of 640 acres each,  these adjoined the same leases mentioned beforehand, declaring   -  "The coal in these deposits to be equal to anything in Australia"
The rush was on and another investor applied for 320 acres to mine for coal in the same location..

The area applied for was part of that tested 20 years earlier by the Shoalhaven syndicate.  "The Tianjara and Jervis Bay Coal Mining Co."

1913Jervis Bay Coal Syndicate - Efforts were still being made by local and Sydney investors to develop the coal fields close to the Federal Port,  where the Jervis Bay Coal Syndicate have 1920 acres under lease,  20 miles from Jervis Bay and one mile from the surveyed railway line from the Canberra to Jervis Bay.
The syndicate drove a tunnel 80 feet on a 7 feet seam of coal,  which analysis showed to be of excellent steaming quality.
"The future of the Federal Port as a great naval base is assured,  the opening up of the coal industry there should give a great boost to the district and capital and also help develop other large industries in the success of which  'black diamonds' are such an important factor."

1923 - A Sydney investor pegged out an area of eight square miles near Sassafras for which he has made and application for a lease to mine coal.

Nothing came of the above application.

Back to 1884 - The only record I have found of actual mining was a small operation which did get started at the head of the Clyde River, spurred on by coal being found, particularly after heavy rain amongst the boulders along the river.     A group of 10 men endured unbelievable hardships exploring every possible creek and gully along the river, they eventually found an exposed seam, at the head of the river, which they decided to develop.
Because of the location the work was done by hand, this required the coal to be hauled 600 feet up the side of a steep mountain on the men's back, to be loaded onto waiting bullock teams, the men had to cut steps in the face of the mountain to make the task manageable.

The venture proved a failure as coal was cheap at the time and the long and arduous haulage swallowed up any profits..  Ambitious proposals were made to sink a shaft and haul the coal to level country to be loaded on to a tramway built to Jervis Bay.

Like so many other schemes it did not reach fruition.

Despite continued interest, coal mining never developed in the district, nothing came of the railway or the Jervis Bay Federal Port.   Coal in commercial quantities has never been commercially extracted from the district.