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.

1 March 2017

Ulladulla–on this day 1964

March 2nd 1964 – The official opening of Ulladulla Harbour extensions.
In 1826 Thomas Florence mapped out the coast from Jervis Bay to Moruya, and in the five months the party took doing this they saw no other whites in the area.
Florence named the place where he camped ‘Buedella”.  Which in the Aboriginal language meant, “land of the flint”.  Buedella became corrupted into “Ulladulla”.
Other sources say it was known by the Aboriginals as Nulladulla,  meaning “safe harbour”.
Alternative spellings as Woolladoorh or Ngulla-dulla have been recorded.

The  main industries in the 1900’s were the timber mill,  the tannery and ship building all operated close to the foreshore of the harbour.

Ulladulla Harbour was one of the important ports of call for the Illawarra Steam Navigation Company.   Produce was bought to the harbour from surrounding farms, corn, potatoes, cattle and pigs were bought to the wharf by horse and cart to be loaded onto waiting ships,  and taken to the Sydney markets.  In return ships would bring goods for the stores and all manner of house-hold items.
A wooden jetty was built in 1859 to service the Illawarra Steam Navigation Company.
After several years and pressure and threats from the steam ship company a stone pier was built by the government.

The original Harbour was a very dangerous place to enter or leave in adverse weather conditions, several ships and lives were lost on the bomboras on the north and south side of the harbour entrance while  trying to enter the harbour.
Once a vessel was moored inside the harbour,  the breakwater still didn’t offer much protection in large swell conditions, the walls were short and low, and in heavy seas waves would break right over the wall.


To illustrate the point here is a dramatic photograph of the “S.S Belbowrie” being driven ashore inside the harbour in large seas which were pounding the coast in 1912.

The steamers, the “S.S Belbowrie” and the “S.S Seagull” were lying at the pier awaiting for the weather to abate so they could continue their journey south,  in the former case to Kiola,  and  the latter to Bawley Point.

The Seagull came into the port on Tuesday and tied to the wharf.  The Belbowrie arrived on Wednesday and moored alongside.
Being the larger boat of the two the latter was squeezing the Seagull up against the pier, whereupon the Seagull drew out and let the Belbowrie on the inside.

The seas increased in voilence during the night,  and at about four o’clock on Thursday morning the Belbowrie’s lines carried away and she was driven out from the shelter of the pier,  taking with her the Seagull,  which was tied to her.

Both were quickly driven ashore,  the Seagull and Belbowrie ending up broadside to the beach and taking waves right over them.  The seas were running right over the breakwater and many small fishing boats and launches had to be drawn high onto the shore clear of the breakers.

Both vessels were eventually refloated.

The first breakwater saw the erection of a small steel lighthouse in 1873.  The lighthouse was totally inadequate for shipping, situated so far inside the harbour behind the north and south headlands,  and was moved to Wardens Head further south of the harbour.


Ulladulla’s trawler fishing fleet slowly developed, becoming one of the chief sources of fresh fish to Sydney, the growing trawler presence meant something had to be done to improve trawler and boating safety.


In 1960 the decision was made to extend both breakwaters, extensive testing was carried out by model testing at the Public Works Department's Manly hydraulics laboratory.
The design called for substantial extensions to the rock wall on either side of the harbour, more than doubling the size of the harbour,  making it much safer for the fishing fleet and boating community.   The southern and northern breakwaters would be extended to 1050ft and 500ft, respectively, at a cost of $188.040.

The work on the project was finished in 1964. and opened by Hon, P.N. Ryan, MLA. Minister for Public Works, on March the 2nd 1964.


The harbour today.

Continue reading about Warden Head Lighthouse.

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