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.

19 January 2017

Rose of Austrlia

January 1874
143 years ago the wooden Brig “Rose of Australia”  ran aground at Wreck Bay NSW.
The vessels scattered remains in shallow reef area on west side of St Georges Head. A wooden brig, 262 tons gross, 30.14m length, built at Gateshead, County of Durham, UK in 1862. Register of British Shipping, Newcastle, NSW, folio 7 of 1864, Official No. 45153. Wrecked when it ran ashore during a fog on a voyage from Melbourne to Sydney on 22 January 1874. No lives were lost.
No further details are known at this time.



16 January 2017

The role of the Light House Keeper.



One of the many important rolls of the Jervis Bay Lighthouse Keepers was the daily reporting of ship movements along the coast.

The keepers of lighthouses all along the coast would keep a careful vigil over the sea looking for passing vessels.  Once a vessel was sighted details of the vessel including the name, type and any distingushing features would be recorded, this information was then passed onto the Department of Navigation by wire telegraph.

The reports were advertised in the Sydney newspapers under a column titled “Shipping Movements.”.

Before direct ship to shore radio communication,  this was the only way the authorities and relatives had of knowing where a vessel was at any particular time.

When vessels were overdue,  it came as a great relief to the relatives, loved ones,  owners and merchants
to read the name of a vessel in the shipping movements column.

Speculative reporting.
Concerns were often raised by speculative reports like the one below which appeared in Newspapers across the country.
They would speak of the loss of a ship and all on board,  many times without any evidence to back up their story other than a vessel being late.  In this case wreckage was found off Botany and concerns for the ketch Arab were raised.


In 1907 The story above and many like it appeared in the morning papers.
This would have undoubtably have many interested parties concerned and fearing the worse. Fortunately in this case the news was found to be wrong.

Point_Perpendicular_Lighthouse_1917Jervis Bay Lighthouse 1914

”The welcome news was flashed over the telegraph wires from the Jervis Bay lighthouse keeper that at 8.am
the ketch Arab was observed safe,  and bound south.  This news came as great relief as fears were held for the safety of the Arab as she was known to be heading south in foul weather and nothing had been heard of her for some time”.

It has to be remembered these ketches were very small vessels by todays standards, carrying  redimentary safety equipment and no means of communication with other vessels or the shore other than flags and flares..

The mystery remained. To which vessel did the wreckage belong?.
The news that the Arab was safe created even more speculation as to which vessel the wreckage might have come from. The Department of Navigation could throw no light on the matter,  as so far no vessel is reported missing.

Captain Snoor of the steamer Allowrie had seen the wreckage and alerted the authorities,  he stated “ that when strain was put upon the wreckage it came away quite freely,  indicating that it is not attached to a vessels hull.”

Captain Newton, Superintendent of the Navigation Department, ordered, the pilot steamer Captain Cook to proceed to  the scene, and the vessel left at 3 p.m.  steaming south against a big sea, under Captain Sweet's command.  The wreckage was sighted, a boat lowered,  and a line, made fast to the submerged mast.  The Captain Cook then towed the wreckage out of the track of shipping towards Botany Bay, where it is expected it would drift ashore and  might possibly be identified.


Pilot Steamer Captain Cook.

Below are a few examples of the type of simple notices in Sydney newspapers that would mean so much to waiting friends and businesses.






imageAnother headline which had many people concerned for the safety of the ketch Arab.

In 1902 she had a lucky escape from disaster.
The ketch Arab was a well known small coasting ketch of 87 tons, she had been in the timber trade since 1898 and did regular trips between Sydney and south coast ports.  On one occasion she left Bawley Point with a full cargo of timber destined for Sydney and ran into a tremendous blow off Jervis Bay, with the wind and mountainous sea behind her she sped along the coast weathering severe squalls and rain, she handled the condition well throughout the night.  As the new day began the conditions became much worse, by this time she was abreast of Port Hacking  -  “ The little ketch was buffeted about by the violent elements in such a manner that at one time tears for her safety were entertained.” – the buffeting continued. – “Suddenly, without any warning, a tremendous sea broke over the bows, completely swamping the vessel those on board state that the mountainous sea was at least 10ft. above the rails fore and aft, and that the ketch was for a few seconds almost totally submerged.  The galley and other buildings on the after port of the deck were struck with such violence that they were reduced to atoms, and a large portion of the deck fittings was carried away, the cabin was completely flooded and damages of a more or less serious nature were suffered in other directions.”

She limped into Sydney harbour a sad and sorry sight and all on board were glad to be safely at anchor off Moore’s wharf.

Ketch - a two-masted, fore-and-aft rigged sailing boat with a mizzenmast stepped forward of the rudder and smaller than its foremast.

Example of a ketch from around this time period.


14 January 2017

East Coast Low hits Jervis Bay

Callala Beach 1974.
My cousin Wayne Hadfied  just sent me this image of Callala Beach showing the damage to the beach after the massive swell that was generated by an east coast low in 1974 slammed into Jervis Bay.
Some of the houses along the water front at Callala were very lucky not to be washed into the sea, I spoke to John Hatton recently about the swell and he was at Callala with local residents and people of the bay and surrounds filling sand bags trying to form a barrier to hold back the swell and stop further damage.

The once grass and scrub sand hill I use to play on when we were children was now gone,  replaced by a 5 meter straight drop to the beach…
Continue reading about this and other east coast lows that have caused massive damage and loss of life in our area.



13 January 2017

Falls Creek Bridge

1512-Falls-Creek-Bridge---aJanuary marks the anniversary of the construction of the wooden tressel bridge over Falls Creek in 1865, making the journey on the south coast road safer and more convenient.
Continue Reading.

11 January 2017

On this day 84 years ago

Today marks the anniversary when Air Commodore Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, accompanied by Captain P. G. Taylor (co-pilot and navigator), Mr. S. E. Nelson (secretary of the New Zealand and New Plymouth Aero Clubs), Mr. J. Stannage (wireless operator), and Mr. J. Percival,  took off in the Southern Cross from Seven Mile Beach at Gerroa. ”Smithy” his crew completed the 1400 mile trip in 14 hours and 10 minutes achieving the first commercial Trans-Tasman flight.
imageREF: http://www.greateasternflyin.com/docs/GHDHS_Kingsford%20Smith%20DL%20Program_PRINT%20LOCAL.pdf
REF: http://library.kiama.nsw.gov.au/index.php/southern-cross-flight


9 January 2017

Jervis Bay January 2017

The bay truely is a magical place.
imageThis beautiful little poem appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1940.


Jervis Bay early morning in January

For the early risers amoungst the many christmas visitors to the region, Jervis Bay has turned on some spectacular mornings over the first part of January 2017.



6 January 2017

Karaga Bell

This wonderful bell is from the Ferry Karaga it forms part of the Jervis Bay Maritime Museum collection.
The Karaga started out as the Waringa before a complete rebuild  in 1913, the alterations being significant enough that she was basically a new ship.

Karaga ran the last Lavender Bay to Circular Quay service for Sydney Ferries in October 1932. The route was soon taken over by Hegarty's Ferries who defended their new territory when SFL realised the mistake they'd made.

Along with the Wallaroo, she was requisitioned and sold to the Royal Australian Navy in 1943. There are no records of her disposal (like the Wallaroo).

ref http://www.ferriesofsydney.com/waringa.html

waringa rebuilt and relaunched in 1913 as the KaragaSeen here as the Waringa before she was rebuilt and relaunched as the Karaga.
1894 – 1913 - By Kerry & Co. Contributed by Powerhouse Museum [85/1284-304 (Tyrrell 1/220 548)] (Tyrrell Photographic Collection)


Type : Wooden steam ship
Launched  : 1894
Builder : Dunn Brothers
Berry's Bay, NSW
Gross weight : 125 tons
Dimensions : 105.70 x 21.90 x 7.90 (feet)
Passenger capacity : 588


Operating on the busy Sydney Harbour presents challenges for any vessel, in September 1924 she was involved in a serious collision with the ferry Kosciusko off the Neutral Bay Wharf in front of a large crowd of waiting passengers.

  Eyewitness report.
”All of a sudden ther was some tooting of the whistles, one steamer blew three short blasts and the next thing we heard was a crash and the sound of smashing timber.  The vessels had met right in front of us  - it could not have been better,  so far as the view was concerned.”

The Karaga sustained the greater damage,  her front Bulwarks were smashed and one side of the boat badly splintered.  Fortunately there were not many people on board at the time and no one was injured.


1926  -  Doing her usual 8.30 run from Neutral Bay she ran into difficulties after leaving Kurraba wharf. Her engines stopped and she drifted across the bay towards the large overseas liner Hurunui at anchor in the bay,  Fortunately the ferry Kanimbla was near by at the time,  the master of the Kanimbla hastened to render assistance putting his vessel between the Karaga and the liner before  securing the Karaga and moving her to safety.


Oil Filler

A beautiful brass oil can from the museums collection.


4 January 2017

Shoalhaven snippets - Nowra Fire Brigade 1897.



S.S Benandra

The article below this one outling the finances of the Illawarra and South Coast Steam Navigation Company ( I.S.C.S.N.C ) mentions the S.S Benandra.  Another beautiful small steamer that worked the south coast run between Sydney and Moruya carrying passengers and cargo.  She sought refuge in Jervis Bay through stress of weather a number of times.

March 25th 1924.



The Benandra was a twin screw timber vessel of 345 tons and by 1924 her days of coastal cruising were numbered.

The Benandra had already survived a few recent accidents,  only a few weeks before her final voyage she became stuck on the beach while trying to negotiate the Narooma Bar,  that time she was refloated without serious damage,  just prior to that she went ashore in the Clyde River.

Moruya Bar and breakwater.


2017 - The present day bar.  You can see the old pilot station perched amongst the trees on the southern headland, areas of shallow water are clearly visable,  the small swell formed waves on the shallows on entering the river mouth..

10.30am - March 25 1924 - The Benandra completed loading at Moruya Wharf.
Fully laden she set out along the river towards the rivers entrance, she had done this many times before on her way to Sydney via coastal ports.
11.20am,  she arrived at the bar on the ebb tide, as indicated by the tide signal on the flagstaff next to the signal station, the master of the Benandra Captain Richmond acknowledged the signal personally.

Leaving the bay on the ebb tide wasn’t an ideal situation,  the Benandra was drawing 7ft 10inches of water,  only 6 inches less than her total loading draft.

While negotiating the crossing  she grounded with her port bilge on the northern side.  Steps were at once taken to re-float the vessel,  but considerable delay was experienced.

After considerable effort she was refloated by hauling on wire ropes from the land.  The Master tried to back the steamer up against the tide, but without success.  Almost immediately after,  the vessel took the ground on the southern side of the crossing, causing further delay.

The master was afraid if the vessel remained aground throughout the whole of the ebb tide she would have sustained heavy damage,  and he considered the lesser danger would be to cross the bar.

The vessel proceeded outwards, but touched the bottom 100 yards outside the northern breakwater.  She was struck by a large sea and this turned her broadside on,  a second wave washed over her filling her with water. The heavy seas made her shiver from stem to stern and carried away the port lifeboat and penetrated the boiler and engine rooms extinguishing the fires.  The engineer informed the master of the situation,  and the position became more serious. She quickly settled down.

The master gave orders to abandon the ship, The first boat was to take away the stewardess, the cook and the passenger.

Cries of distress.
When the boat had been lowered the cries of someone in distress were heard in the vicinity of the engine room,  but access to that part of the vessel was impossible as the engine room was full of water.  The cries ceased, and on account of the increasing danger the search for the passenger was given up as useless.

The first boat's crew were landed,  and the boat returned to the vessel and took off all the other persons remaining on board,  with the exception of the master,  he was loth to leave the ship until fully satisfied that it must be a hopeless wreck.

The last person to see the passenger ( William Ward ) was the engineer, who stated that he saw him on the main deck,  and directed him to the boat deck.  From that time on the passenger was not seen again.

After she was abandoned she quickly settled in the channel becoming a navigation hazard until such time she could be removed. Pigs, cheese and other cargo was soon strewn along the southern beach.

The wreck was observed by the harbour pilot who informed the fishing launches in the river for help.

pilot-houseThe historic pilot station today, it was built in 1860.


Pilot station as it appeared 1917. REF: John Ross Moruya’s first pilot and harbour master.
Marine Enquiry. April 8 1924.
The court found that the loss of the vessel was not bought about by any negligence on the part of the masters or officers; and it was the opinion that the master and crew displayed great courage and self - restraint in very trying circumstances,  and that it was a matter for congratulations that their lives were saved.  The court expressed regret at the loss of the life of the passenger,  who must have been in some way disabled while below,  after having been directed by the chief engineer to the upper deck.

The Moruya Bar is a particuarly difficult bar to cross,  fast flowing tides, river floods and large swells constantly change the sand bars along the river and particuarly across the river entrance.  Even experienced masters had great difficulty negotiating the bar and the river.

Below is an example I found of the difficulty modern vessels have in crossing the bar and this was in relatively calm seas.

Uploaded on 23 Jun 2010

Boats attempting to cross the bar at Narooma, December 2008.
The boys in the yacht were intercepted by NSW Maritime just after I finished filming. They weren't wearing lifejackets.

Meaning: Ebb Tide - The period between high tide and low tide during which water flows away from the shore. Also called falling tide.

3 January 2017

I.S.C.S.N. Yearly Report 1914.

This small article makes interesting reading…At this time the company were operating and expanding at a fast pace….The big surprise to me was the amount of shareholders in the company.
The S.S Bodalla as mentioned in the article was about to be launched and join the company’s fleet of ships plying the south coast of NSW.
Continue reading about the Bodalla and her adventurous life and ultimate distruction.