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.

15 March 2017

S.S Tamar arrives at Jervis Bay.

Living around the bay, you become accustomed to seeing all manner of vessels in the bay, from very large Navy ships to small fishing and sailing vessels.   It's hard to imagine a time when you would have only seen the occasional wind-powered ship.

Captain James Cook (1728-1779)Navigator and explorer Captain James Cook first described Jervis Bay in his journals after passing in the HMS Endeavour in 1770, he wasn't able to enter the bay because of adverse winds but noted it's distinctive features.

386px-Captain_Richard_Bowen21 years later in 1791  Lieutenant Richard Bowen, aboard the convict transport ship Atlantic, part of the Third Fleet, sailed into the bay and named it in honour of Admiral John Jervis, under whom he had served.
From that time on the bay has been visited by many sailing ships,  some seeking shelter in it's protected waters,  others manned by explorers looking for new lands to explore and develop.  At the mercy of the wind and sea,  travel was slow, unpredictable and dangerous aboard these tall ships powered by the wind.

In 1835, 44 years after Lieutenant Richard Bowen sailed past the virtical cliffs of Point Perpendicular into the bay,  the steamer S.S Tamar
owned and operated by the  General Steam and Navigation Company,  steamed into the bay, heralding a new era in faster safer travel for passengers, cargo and produce,  for the settlers of Jervis Bay.

”The Tamar arrived at South Huskisson during the middle of the night and created much excitement by having a noisy high-pressure engine, she was the first steamer many of the local inhabitants had ever seen”.  In due course,  the  Tamar was loaded with wool destined for Sydney.

Wreck of the Hive – 1835,  The S.S. Tamar was involved in the rescue and transportation of 100
Irish prisoners to Port Jackson.  They were part of a human consignment  being transported to Port Jackson aboard the convict ship the Hive which went ashore on Bherwerre Beach at Wreck Bay during a foul storm.

In 1841,   On a calm, clear, star-filled night,  the Tamar returned to the bay, she set anchor in what was then known as the North Harbour in about 5 fathoms of water,  where she lay until morning.  She proceeded at daylight to the north-western part of the bay near to the site of Jervis Town, where she landed some passengers.  She then steered a course for Inner- Harbour where the township of South Huskisson was laid out, (present day Vincentia )

advertOn her return to Sydney,  the passengers confirmed the good accounts of Jervis Bay as a harbour. The return voyage only took twelve and a half hours to reach Darling Harbour,  deducting the time she was detained at Wollongong.  The Tamar was soon after doing regular trips to the bay.

S.S.Tamar – 200 gross tons, length 96’3”,  width 17’8”. Paddle Steamer built in Glasgow 1833,
Held first mail contracts to north-east ports of Australia in 1860,  she was wrecked on Cabbage Tree Bay, Nora Head in 1873. REF: https://www.flotilla-australia.com/iscsnco.htm

In 1841 the paddle steamerSophia Jane,  famous for being the first steamer to operate in Australian waters, made her first trip to Jervis bay, soon after she began regular voyages, transporting wool, cargo and passengers to and from Jervis Bay to Sydney.

A new era had arrived.


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