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.

5 October 2017

On this day 1911

The Royal Australian Navy officially came into existence.

The announcement that Australia was to have its own navy would have a significant impact on Jervis Bay.  During the 1840's  the bay was best known as a port for exporting wool from the highlands.  South Huskisson ( present-day Vincentia) grew into a bustling town with hundreds of people involved in the wool trade.  Ships called into the bay and were loaded with wool transported by bullock teams on the newly constructed wool road connecting Jervis Bay with the interior.  Jervis Bay was finally becoming what many had wanted and predicted, a centre for industry.   Around 8 years later the boom had finished and South Huskisson had almost completely disappeared back into the bush with little evidence any sort of town ever existed.   The bay had once again slipped back into a slow-moving sleepy district, best known for a small shipbuilding industry based at Huskisson. 

Reliable transport to Sydney had always held back developement around the bay,  the announcement by the government Australia was to have its own navy and shortly after would build the Royal Australian Naval College at Jervis Bay thrust the Bay into the headlines once again.  Jervis Bay had now become a major focus for the navy and the rest of Australia.

Before Federation in 1901, five of the six separate colonies maintained their own naval forces for defence. The colonial navies were supported by the ships of the Royal Navy's Australian Station which was established in 1859. The separate colonies maintained control over their respective navies until 1 March 1901, when the Commonwealth Naval Forces were created.  Originally intended for local defence, the navy was granted the title of 'Royal Australian Navy' in 1911 and became increasingly responsible for the defence of the region.

1901 - There were moves by the Commonwealth Defence Authority to establish an Australian navy.

In the years following 1901 there was much discussion from supporters and the opponents of the scheme.  The controversy revolved around the costs involved in Australia establishing and maintaining its own Navy. 

1903 the Australian Government paid an annual contribution to the Royal Navy of 200.000 thousand pounds for an auxiliary squadron.

1909  -  Since the Defence Conference of 1909 Australia had gone steadily forward with a definite and progressive naval policy.

1909 – It was clear Australia was to have its own navy when the Federal Government ordered two torpedo destroyers and to have a third constructed in Australia.



HMAS Parramatta.

"When they arrived in Australia in the destroyers Yarra and Parramatta, the men of Australia's nucleus fleet wore the distinctive letters 'H.M.A.S.' to show that they were of His Majesty's Australian ships. The designation has received official sanction at the hands of the King, and the High Commissioner has received from Downing street a letter covering a dispatch from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, to the Governor-General, to the effect that His Majesty has been graciously pleased to approve of the naval forces of the Commonwealth  being designated the Royal Australian Navy  and of the ships of that navy being designated his Majesty's Australian Ships. Following this arrangement, It is added, ' the citizen naval forces of Australia will receive the official title of the "Royal Australian Naval Reserve".


H.M.A.S Yarra

1912 -  A circular was sent out to all state premiers informing them of plans to establish a Royal Australian Naval college and facilities thereby afforded to boys between 14 and 16 years who are desirous of following a maritime life.

1912 – Recruiting for the navy was temporarily suspended owing to lack of accommodation at the Williamstown training depot. The permanent establishment at Williamstown was 88 men.

1913 - Following indecision and controversy work began to build the
Royal Australian Naval College at Captains Point Jervis Bay which was officially opened in 1915..


The rise and fall of South Huskisson – Continue reading.


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