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.

27 April 2017


31 May 1900
A new ketch, which has been named Verdelais has just been launched by Dent's yards, Jervis Bay and will be towed up to Sydney this week to be completed.  She has been constructed for the Catholic Mission and is intended for the island trade in and about the Solomon Islands.  Mr. Justus Scharff, who is the local agents for the Verdelais, states that she will be fitted with a Standard engine during her stay in port here.

8 June 1900.
A tug from Sydney arrived at Jervis Bay to take the Verdelais in tow,  she made the journey to Sydney without incident, and was shortly after fitted with a new engine.


25 April 2017

HMAS Creswell

After the Anzac Dawn Service I took a few photo's of some of the beautiful historic buildings of HMAS Crewsell.

Anzac Day

April 25th 2017 Dawn Service at HMAS Creswell.
A large crowd slowly and quietly gathered before sunrise within the grounds of HMAS Creswell.  The sun was still below the horizon brushing the sky with the slightest hint of orange.  We stood on the historic soil of the Royal Australian Naval College like so many others have done since 1915 to pay our respect to the men and women of the Australian and New Zealand Armed Services who lost their lives in the service of their country.  It was a moving ceremony held against the beautiful backdrop of Jervis Bay.  As the Last Post was being played by Garry James the sun showed itself from behind the golden clouds casting a beautiful glow across the ceremony.

19 April 2017


Two timber ships being built on the foreshore near Huskisson -  No futher details are known.



18 April 2017

On this day April 18, 1805

The Cutter Nancy.


Example of a typical cutter
By Fanch (originally posted to Flickr as PICT5694) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Nancy was wrecked on 18 April 1805 near Jervis Bay.
The Nancy was a wooden sloop of some 20 tons constructed in 1803 on the Hawkesbury River, New South Wales by Kable & Co. It arrived in Sydney on its maiden voyage on 17 October 1803.

April 17 1805 – Appearances strongly indicating an approaching gale, she hauled off shore, and in the evening a dreadful hurricane set in accompanied with very vivid lightning, and awful peals of thunder that rolled without intermission, together with an incessant torrent of rain. The rage of the elements increasing, split the mainsail, which was close-reefed, the vessel still driving at the rate of 4 or 5 knots, and at the same time making much lee way.

April 18th -  Midnight the gale became furiously violent, not a sail was left, and the sea making a fair breach over her, prevented the possibility of keeping a light in the binnacle. The gale blowing dead on the shore.

April 18th 2am - the man at the helm gave notice of land to leeward, which was discernible by the lightning; and such was its appearance, being a chain of perpendicular cliffs against which the sea dashed with inconceivable violence, as to fill with horror and consternation the minds of those already hopeless of escaping a destiny presented in a variety of dismal shapes; all above-board was by this time washed away, and to avoid grounding in a situation where every person on board must have inevitably perished, all that remained to determined perseverance was effected, and by keeping her as much to the wind as her helpless condition would permit, she happily changed her ground, and striking on a small sand-beach between two bluff heads, unhung her rudder at the first blow. To this interposition of providence alone is to be attributed the rescue of the people from a melancholy fate, one of whom, Richard Wall, a native of Exeter, was unfortunately lost.

April 18th - The same morning the hull parted, and shortly after went to pieces, the continued violence and rapidity of the surf preventing any part of the cargo from being saved; and such few articles as were washed ashore were carried off by the natives, who, though they offered no personal violence, had become too numerous to be resisted.

April 20th - One of the people, whose conduct Mr. Demaria, the master of the vessel, notices as being in all respects opposite to that of his brethren, cheerfully undertook to conduct his distressed party round to Jervis Bay which they reached the same evening.

April 21st -  In the morning perceiving that the natives, possibly with no other design than the gratification of curiosity, were clustering round them from all directions, it was considered most advisable to commit themselves to the Providence that had thus far bountifully preserved them, to make the best of their way for Sydney by pedestrian travel.  Destitute of provisions, without a musket, except one that was useless and only borne to intimidate the natives, the proposal was readily concurred in, and after a terrible journey of eleven days.

May 1st – The journey lengthened much by the inundated state of the country, they arrived at Sydney, crippled by fatigue, and reduced to the last extremity by actual want.”

The cargo of the Nancy consisted of 3187 skins; she was the largest vessel ever built at Hawkesbury, from whence she was about two years since launched by Mr. Thompson, and sold to Messrs Kable and Company, in whose service she remained to the moment of her dissolution.

A cutter is typically a small, but in some cases a medium-sized, watercraft designed for speed rather than for capacity. Traditionally a cutter sailing vessel is a small single-masted boat, fore-and-aft rigged, with two or more headsails and often a bowsprit.





17 April 2017

14th April 1943 - A mid air collision claims the lives of 8 young airforce pilots over Jervis Bay.


The media's cameras were following a spectacular low pass of three World War 2 Royal Australian Airforce Beauford Bombers when something goes terribly wrong.

"The two Beauforts A9-27 and A9-268, of the RAAF's 8 OTU, while performing a 'Prince of Wales' break for people of the media."  "All eight crew members were killed when both aircraft hit the water: Crew of A9-27 F/O Raymond Sydney Green (Pilot), F/O Maurice Francis Hoban, F/Sgt Eric William Sweetnam, Sgt Albert John Bailey.
Crew of A9-268 F/Lt David George Dey (Pilot), P/O Jack Norman, P/O Rex Lindsay Solomon, Sgt Hugh Sydney George Richardson."

The tragic incident was caught on film.



16 April 2017

Sailors bones lay bleaching on the shore of Jervis Bay.

15th April marks the anniversary of the death of Robert Johnson.

It took 8 years after the tragic death of Robert Johnson for his remains to be shown the respect this young man deserved.

April 15 1892 a young 19 year old Blue Jacket named Robert Johnson was serving aboard the HMS Orlando when he was involved in a tragic boating accident near Tapalla Point Huskisson that cost him his life.  Robert Johnson was  burried just above the high tide mark near Tapala Point and his grave was marked with a simple white picket fence.
Unfortunately a few years later higher than normal tides causing erosion exposed the remains of this poor sailor to all that passed by.

The deplorable state of the grave gained a lot of attention when it was bought to the media's notice.




An illustration showing the erosion and the exposed bones of Robert Johnson.


1900 - Captain Dicken, of the Royal Arthur, set about giving Robert Johnson a properly marked grave and show him the long overdue respect he deserved. He went about raising by subscription amongst the naval people a sufficient sum to have the body of young Johnson removed to a point which overlooks the anchorage of the men-of-war at Tapala Point.  The crew of the HMS Boomerang were assigned the sad duty of removing the body from the grave.  The government of the day agreed, and a beautifully designed monument was set above the grave.


The Sharpshooter-class  torpedo gunboat,  HMS Boomerang 1900

I covered more of the story in 2014 which you can read here.

13 April 2017

Huskisson snippets 1919

As reported in the Shoalhaven News and South Coast District Advertiser.

Huskisson folk were delighted to read,  through the medium of the "Shoalhaven Telegraph," that permission has been granted for whaling at the bay.

Schnapper fishing is the order of the day. Many large catches are reported by visitors.  Several local men make big money by schnapper fishing. Many are caught weighing 14 il to 2 ib,  These fish sell at 1 shilling 3 pence per pound.


Last Sunday Mr Timbery made one haul,  and landed about 80 boxes of beautiful bream.  Fishing is good as, if not better than dairy farming.


The new launch on Dent's stocks is nearing completion,  and looks well.
She will be launched in a  month or so,  and the launching will be a gala day. The vessel is to be fitted with a very large turbine engine,  and is commonly reported to be for the whaling industry.


The new sawmill when completed will be one of the most up to date on the coast.


If the sand spit was removed and a break-wall put in to allow ocean going steamers to get to the wharf,  Jervis bay Jervis Bay would take it's place as one of the greatest commercial ports in Australia.


It is a shame and disgrace that the bay is not connected by railway.  If this were done,  the wheels of industry would soon be moving,  and a big infux of population would soon follow.


Dr, Rodway had a very nusy day on Sunday at the bay inoculating against the flu.



11 April 2017

Monday 7th April 1924


The Special Service Squadron has entered yet another harbour in its Empire  cruise of more than 30,000 miles.   The stately ships came in with the same lack of display and of ceremony that marked the day when they quietly slipped their moorings and entered upon their long journey.  It was about 8 a.m. when under a dull grey, threatening sky they were first sighted from the Naval College miles out on a turbulent sea. They  looked like vast phantom shape as they slipped past George's Head towards Bowen Island. They were furrowing in a rough sea, beating up against headlands, and tossing white spray high up.  Then they gradually disappeared from view behind Bowen Island before entering the harbour.  It was not a difficult entry for they had a doorway, so to spĂ©ak, to the harbour of about two miles wide.  For the few people who witnessed the squadron's entry it was an impressive spectacle


On this day - April 11 1901, Shoalhaven.


1901 The Prince of Wales Hotel in Junction Street, Nowra, was a two-story building of wood,  the partitions on the upper storey being of canvas covered in paper.
The fire originated in the servant's room on the first floor,  but the cause was unknown.  The flames spread with great rapidity, and many of the inmates only escaped with their nightclothes.
Mr William Wilford, of Milton and his son,  Mr John Wilford, were sleeping in an upstairs room immediately over the room the fire broke out,  and it was believed they suffocated in the smoke and perished in the flames.  Mr Fisher a lodger jumped from the balcony to the pavement,  and broke his leg,  and another lodger had a narrow escape,  his head and face being singed as he rushed through the flames.  Mrs Robinson,  the wife of the licensee,  escaped by getting over the balcony and climbing down a post.  The building was insured for 1000 pounds,  The hotel was being rebuilt,  and another building in the course of erection was also damaged.

The Nowra fire brigade attended the fire under Captain Marriott, rendered excellent service, the water supply being all that could be desired.



The Prince of Wales was located on the corner of Junction Street and Kinghorn Street, where the clothing store Best & Less is today.
It was a landmark for 100 years and was built by Anton Wolf in 1883,  after the fire it was rebuilt with verandas and balcony.


10 April 2017

S.S. Easby.

1905 – Encountered a severe gale off Jervis Bay.

Monday 1st of September 1905 -  It was midnight before the well known coastal collier S.S Easby was ready to leave the Newcastle Port on one of her regular trips to Melbourne, under the command of Captain Prideaux, she was only three hours into her voyage  when she ran into a terrific gale that was sweeping the coast.

Tuesday 2nd - She arrived off Jervis Bay,  the gale had increased in ferocity blowing from the south-west the Easby was soon afterwards plunging in mountainous seas which threatened to engulf her. 
Showing the violence of the wind and the sea the Easby's engines were going at full speed,  so terribly did the vessel pitch that although she was deeply laden with coal,  her stern repeatedly rose high out of the sea causing the propeller to "race" with such violence that it seemed as if it would shake itself loose from the shaft,  but with all their power the vessel was not making more than two miles and hour headway.

The vessel was awash with immense bodies of water, coming right over the vessel, flooding the decks and doing severe damage.  At this time the Easby was burying herself in the sea and there was no opportunity of using any of the sails as the wind was too far ahead, the crew went about their duties at extreme risk of being washed overboard. The cabin skylight and companion were smashed and the hand steering wheel was carried away,  the cabin flooded  breaking the panels of one of the deck houses.  Several members of the crew who were attempting to cover up the broken skylight and prevent water from flooding the cabin were caught in the seas, and one of the men was badly injured about the legs.

The Easby eventually arrived severely battered at Melbourne and would require repairs before heading to sea again.

Captain Prideaux when asked about the voyage said.  "He had not experienced such a long continuance of heavy weather on the coast in five or six years.  It was a continual blow for three days,  and blowing very hard throughout.


S.S. Easby

Built 1873 - 1 x 2 cyl. compound engine, single shaft, 1 screw

Length: 76.4 m.; Owned by J. Paterson & E. Newbigin; Built at Richardson, Duck & Co. in 1873. Registered at Melbourne. Registration no. Melbourne 8/1879.  1,489 gross 969 net tons. Lbd: 250'7" x 32' x 21'4". (76.4 x 9.8 metres) Iron steamship, collier built by Richardson Duck Thornaby Stockton, England

Wrecked 1907.
On 06 April 1907, EASBY (Capt. Wallace) was on voyage from Davenport to Sydney with a cargo of potatoes, oats & general produce, when she was lost after running aground.

REF: http://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?56964


1952 - 47 years later -  S.S. EASBY (2).  Adrift off Jervis Bay.

Easby 2


47 years after the original S.S.Easby was beaten and battered off Jervis Bay, S.S. Easby 11 found itself in a similar predicament. The worst fears were held for the missing ship and it's 43 crew, including 41 from Victoria,   nothing had been heard of the vessel and the coast was being lashed by severe gales.  Headlines like these had the families and employers praying for the safe return of their seamen..


The 3341 ton, coastal collier S.S. Easby loaded with 5200 tons of coal was on her way from Newcastle to Melbourne.    A steel single screw steamship , She was built at Walsh Island Sydney for the Australian Governments Commonwealth Line of steamers and named the Dinaga in 1920. She was then sold to Huddart Parker and Co, Melbourne in 1926 and renamed Colac,  She was renamed Easby when she was bought by James Patterson Pty. Ltd, in 1951.    Her master A.E. J. Caines of Williamstown was regarded as one of Australias finest captains.

Sunday 27th July – The Easby radioed for help after her steering broke down in the cyclone sweeping the coast.

Monday 28th – Nothing has been heard or seen of the Easby since the distress call.

Tuesday 29th .  The first sea and air search failed to find the collier which had called for assistance 90 miles off the coast.
The ocean going tug 'st Giles" failed to find the vessel.   Firefly's from Nowra searched 800 square miles before returning without finding any trace of the Collier.
The Navy Frigate Murchison was prepared for sea and could be deployed in 30 minutes if rescue work was needed.
Where was the Easby?  A larger aircraft , a Catalina, was organised to search for the missing vessel by James Peterson's manager Mr. L.M. Masterton. 

Wednesday 30th  - Naval Firefly aircraft from Nowra  used radar  equipment to locate the missing collier Easby.  The tug St Giles which had been sent out in search of the vessel was found to be 28 miles apart from the Easby, the St Giles proceeded to the Easby and took her in tow.

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Sea going rescue tug St Giles

1956 – The Easby was purchased by J.Manners & Co (Hong Kong) and renamed Clyde Breeze, she was eventually scrapped in 1959.
REF: http://www.flotilla-australia.com/jpaterson.htm

6 April 2017

James Craig – Jervis Bay.

Creating a piece of her own history the James Craig visited Jervis Bay recently.  You would be forgiven for believing this was a scene from the early 1900's when many sailing ships used the bay for shelter in the course of their journey north and south along the east coast.

I was fortunate to be down at Huskisson to take this photograph early on the morning she left the bay,  Seen here slowly gliding past Point Perpendicular ready to resume her voyage south.

HMAS Anzac – Jervis Bay.


HMAS Anzac is the first of her class and a modern warship, capable of operating in a multi-threat environment. Anzac's design is based on the German Meko 200 Class that uses modular construction methods. A feature of this method was the ability to share the construction of the 8 Australian and 2 New Zealand vessels throughout Australia and New Zealand.

Anzac is fitted with an advanced package of air surveillance radars; hull mounted sonar and electronic support systems that interface with state-of-the-art weapons systems. Anzac's armament comprises a five-inch (127-mm) gun, Harpoon missiles, Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles and Ship Launched Torpedoes.

REF:  http://www.navy.gov.au/hmas-anzac-iii



5 April 2017

Ship Building Huskisson

AWM Settree " "Pop", arrived in Huskisson in 1932 and started building large wooden ships.  When his son Alfred Raymond Settree took over the business in 1948,  the age of large sailing ships had passed by.   Raymond Settree built timber trawlers, his reputation as a master ship builder was established.      During World War 2  trawlers were requisitioned by the military  for the war effort,   Alf received orders  from the US Army to build for them a series of small vessels to assist them in their New Guinea campaigns.    Alfred  Raymond Settree or "Alf " as the locals knew him," passed on his skills to his son's,  John and Trevor.  They continued  building trawlers with John building the last timber Settree vessel the trawler Tasman Sea.

The long, amazing and one time important industry of timber boat building at Huskisson came to and end  when the water front ship yard on the banks of Currambene Creek was sold by the Settree's in 2014.

Anyone who had anything to do with boating around Huskisson knew Alf.   He was always motoring along the river, checking moorings and securing new ones.  I spoke to him on many occasions while i was putting signs on vessels hauled out onto his slip-way.   His old workshop was a treasure trove of shipbuilding history.


Alf Settree -  continue reading


Jervis Bay Hotel

1900 Shoalhaven News and South Coast Districts Advertiser.
jb motel


4 April 2017

Ships in Jervis Bay

This morning we have two ships in the bay, HMAS Anzac the lead ship of the Anzac-class frigates in use with the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal New Zealand Navy and the Spanish Air Warefare Destroyer Christobel Colan which remained anchored  while Anzac moved back and fourth across the bay sometimes completely disappearing behind rain squalls and sea mist, occasionally the sun would peak through the clouds making it possible to take a resonable photo.


Caught in the early morning sun.


HMAS Anzac.


Spanish Air Warfare Destroyer Christobel Colan

There has been a long tradition of foreign ships visiting Jervis Bay.  Following are accounts of Japanese and German war ships using the bay for training and target shooting as far back as 1904.

German warships,  live shell practice at Jervis Bay.
Not everyone was impressed!

One report raised many an eyebrow in Sydney when an indignant newspaper correspondent disseminated the news of German Warships doing live shell practice in Jervis Bay.

"For astounding though the news is to the layman, it is said that German warships when they happen to be in Sydney, sometimes go to Jervis Bay and practice shell firing there with just as much freedom as though they owned the territory.

Point Perpendicular, Jervis Bay, is steep,  and hence it's name, but it isn't anything like so "steep" as the idea of a foreign warship shell practising on a British coast with or without the "let" of the more responsible authorities".

He went on to explain about the German fleet doing a sham fight in English waters and how the English newspapers were not at all impressed with what had happened.

"But what would they have said if one or more of the vessels fired on an English Cliff with live shell?." This must be left to the imagination of those in Australia, who did they read of such a thing in "the cable" would no doubt wax a lot more indignant than they do when the cliff is washed by an Australian sea."

This story suggests the Germans fired on the cliff face of Point Perpendicular.  I haven't found any other evidence of this,  so it may be speculation on the correspondent's behalf.


Japanese Imperial Navy conducted live shell practice at Jervis Bay.
On the 5th July 1917 the Cadet-Midshipmen of the Royal Australian Naval College at Jervis Bay were able, at the invitation of Rear-Admiral Yamagi, to observe these ships during gunnery and torpedo exercises.

"The two cruisers  were HIJM ships Chikuma and Hirado. They were light cruisers of 5,129 tons, constructed at the Kawasaki Dockyard in 1912, with eight 6″ guns and four 3″ guns, and capable of doing 27 knots.  On the 5th July 1917 the Cadet-Midshipmen of the Royal Australian Naval College at Jervis Bay were able, at the invitation of Rear-Admiral Yamagi, to observe these ships during gunnery and torpedo exercises."

On 26 March 1917, the British Admiralty further requested the deployment of Chikuma and Hirado to Australia and New Zealand to protect shipping against German commerce raiding operations.

REF: https://www.navyhistory.org.au/japanese-gunnery-and-torpedo-exercises-in-jervis-bay-1917/
The Japanese Imperial navy steaming into Jervis Bay on a visit to the RAN Naval College – Photo,  Commander PR Middleton
Japanese_cruiser_Hirado_1918 Japanese Cruiser Hirado, one of two Japanese ships that sailed into Jervis Bay in 1917.

IJN_Chikuma_in_1912_during_commissioning The second Japanese Cruiser Chikuma.

Both can be seen in the newspaper photograh above.