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.

30 July 2015

World War One – Jervis Bay

The Shoalhaven Telegraph Wednesday 12 August 1914 - 1915

As the war raged in Europe,  life around the bay went on.

The gardens at the newly constructed Naval College were a matter of concern from the head gardener from the Federal Capital.

A Bachelors Ball was held with visitors from Sydney,  Nowra,  Huskisson,  Tomerong,  and other centres coming in good numbers,  the College Orchestra supplied splendid music and the supper was dainty and good.

Other dances were arranged trying to raise funds for the Huskisson School of Arts,  The present day Huskisson Pictures.

The disastrous war being waged has had it’s effect on the holiday traffic,  and although the accommodation houses had their complements they were not overtaxed.

1915 The Shipbuilding family the Dents arranged dances to raise funds for the wounded soldiers

But war was never to far from peoples minds.


Great interest in being taken in the war,  and many wonder what the position will be in the event of a hostile fleet appearing off the bay.  As this is not  fortified no enemy can bombard,  etc.,  even though the future work of the college is to train officers of war.
It is hoped the Government will not be forced to reduce hands,  who would naturally go to over-manned centres.


What a remarkable piece of art.
  A mother and child gripped in fear, sharing straight out of the page, puts you in two positions,  one as an observer and one as the enemy,  the skill used by the artist to conveyed fear and emotion with  a few simple shapes and shadows can’t be ignored.


In Remembrance of the 100 year anniversary of the outbreak of the first world war the museum has a remarkable collection of images on display until September taken at Gallipoli – Continue Reading 


25 July 2015

Schooner Darcy Pratt – Jervis Bay


 March 1876

With much fan fair and celebrations the beautifully hand crafted Schooner Darcy Pratt slid into the calm waters of Currambene Creek Jervis Bay.
Built by Thomas Macaulay for Mr Willaim Peverley's of Balmain,  and launched at Mr Peverley’s  yard on the banks of Currambene Creek she measured 93ft on the keel and 22ft beam, and 10ft 6in depth of hold.
Made from local hardwoods, she was a fine looking ship.

William Macaulay’s yard was situated right next to the Dents yard.

The christening ceremony was performed by Miss S. Parnell,  many people came from all over the district to witness the launch.

Like many other launchings it was a time of great celebration,  months of work had finally ended in triumph,  the ships builder and his skilled workmen would breath a sigh of relief as their hard toil was finally floating safely in the cool element she was made for.

Much work would still have to be done  before she was ready for the open sea.  Secured to her mooring,  over the next few days she would be made ready for her first voyage.

The night of the launch a ball had been arranged to celebrate the successful launch.

She traded between  various ports in Australia and the South Sea Islands,  carrying all manner of cargo saw her on regular trips between New Zealand and Australia carrying Kauri Pine and other cargos..

Like all sailing vessels of the time,  her passage was determined by the conditions,  travelling vast distances over open ocean she would encounter fierce storms and sometimes have light winds and be calmed for days,   constantly having to adjust and re-adjust for changing wind direction to reach her goal.

 When good fortune is on your side.

1891 - She had a lucky escape on a voyage between Tairo to Australia,  two weeks of light winds ahead the whole distance, and a heavy rolling sea made the voyage  tediously slow.  Reaching Brighton  after dark, they sighted a small craft in shore,  convinced it was the pilot craft the captain ordered she be hauled to the wind to get near her,  coming grounded on a sandy beach.  An anchor was carried out and strain hove on the cable,  but she was hard and fast, with a strong list to starboard.
The next morning's tide a tug was in attendance,  and towed the vessel to harbour.

1891 - During a trip from Noumea to Australia in ballast, while in command of Captain Donald,  she battled heavy weather.    In sight of Port Stevens she met a strong south - south west gale which carried her off the land, requiring her to hove to for three days weathering the heavy conditions,  The conditions finally moderated and she was able to beat into land,  arriving safely.

1892 - After leaving port for New Zealand she encountered heavy going and was fortunate to be able to put into Port Stephens. Those who feared that the vessel would have a bad time of it will be pleased to learn of her safety.

1892 - Leaving Kaipara for Australia with 125, 000 ft of Kauri timber she ran into contrary winds that gradually increased to gale force and large seas.  For ten days she battled a succession of heavy gales,  swing from north east to north,  around to south- west and back again to north.    the weather finally moderated and she arrived in port at Newcastle.

When your luck finally runs out.
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1893 - The wreck of the Darcy Pratt
On a dark and hazy night the Darcy Pratt's luck finally run out,  In command was Captain Thomas Cogar,  leaving Rockhampton, bound to Auckland, New Zealand. with a cargo of 220 tons of bone and bone dust,  About ten pm on Friday in heavy rain and haze the Darcy Platt set a course to bear up for Cape Capricorn:  about half past one o'clock on Saturday morning she struck on a reef.

The sea started to breech over the ship,  the captain made the decision to get all hands into the boat and leave the ship. After leaving the ship the life boat grounded on the reef:  When the boat floated again they steered for Cape Capricorn,  arriving there about 6 o'clock. The boat had no water,  no sail,  three or four biscuits, and a bit of soft bread,  no mast or sail and no compass. Because of the dangerous, difficult position they found themselves in trying to leave the stricken ship,  there wasn't time to load any more provisions.

At the time of the grounding the sea was described as being heavy and confused with a stiff wind blowing. The captain thought  by his reckonings he would clear all reefs by 8 miles.

The captain and crew left the ship around 30 minutes after she struck,  by his description some of the bulwarks were gone on the port side,  and the decks appeared to have risen a little amidships:  the hatches were battened and wedged down,  at the time of leaving the captain didn't think she would come off on the next tide,  he thought there would be a rick to life by remaining any longer on the ship.


After two days of the enquiry,  where witnesses were tested on their evidence by (Chairman) Captain A. E. Sykes and Mr. F. J. Byerley, the findings came down hard on Captain  Thomas Cogar and his mate,  John Davis.

The decision was carried on 7 points that ended with the captain being censured for using inadequate charts.

(1) Not allowing enough distance between the vessel and the reefs,
(2) That the captain hadn't provided adequate lookouts,  which more that likely would have avoided the tragedy.
(3) Not taking soundings with lead to ascertain their depth,  which would have given the captain a clearer picture of his position.
(4) From the position of the steering compass,  it was utterly impossible to obtain anything more than approximate position.
(5)The master was guilty of negligence in not using the spare compass for this purpose.
(6) That cross bearings should have been taken before dark to fix the position at the time.
(7) The master instead of being doubly vigilant,  knowing that he was navigating a dangerous part of the coast with a practically useless chart for coastal navigation,  navigated his ship carelessly and negligently,  and to this cause we attribute the loss of the vessel.

Conclusion - We therefore censure the master Thomas Cogar for neglecting to procure the proper charts, and subsequently carelessly navigating his vessel. 
The enquiry ordered the master to defray the expenses of the enquiry.  one hundred and twenty nine pounds.

We also consider the mate,  John Davis gave his evidence in an evasive and unsatisfactory manner.

Captain Cogar made no statement.


Owner: Captain A. Gibbs of Auckland
Cargo" 220 tons of bones and bone dust. - Insured
Described as being 16 years old,  made of hardwood and well found,  making very little water up until the time she struck the reef.
Crew 8 hands including the Master.


19 July 2015

Walter Hood

The final resting place

In a previous post about the Walter Hood I mentioned the stone memorial that was built over the remains of the poor souls that drowned during this tragic event.  It had been many years since I last saw the memorial,  A few days ago i took the opportunity to revisit the site.   Not much has changed,  the track is still a little rough and overgrown,  recent rain had left areas muddy and damp,  signage is limited and the memorial would be easy to miss if you didn’t take the time to investigate properly,  the only real change was the wire fence erected around the grave to protect the memorial.


You get mixed feelings standing in front of the grave site reading the names engraved on the white marble plaque,  it’s in a beautiful setting,  surrounded by forest, adjacent to a long sweeping beach and rocky headland,   the only sounds coming from the ocean and the birds flitting about the bush.

Do you think they lay in peace?, so close to the place that took their lives,  does the relentless sound of the sea make them restless,  a constant reminder of that life changing event.

Who will ever know?,  It’s a sad sort of memorial, -  dark stone, covered in lichen and moss, slowly amalgamating into the elements from which it was made,  standing just a few hundred yards away from the small bay where the decaying remains of the beautiful ship that carried them on their last journey rests.

Continue Reading:


17 July 2015

Jervis Bay Job Adds.

  This add appeared in the wanted column of “The Scrutineer Wednesday March 14, 1900”.
The forests of the south coast were heavily exploited for their timber during this time, bullock teams and their drivers “ Bullocky’s “  were in high demand and would be paid well for their daily toil.
The town and Country Journal 1905 -  A correspondents observations as he travelled around Jervis Bay and the Shoalhaven

Six teams, laden up with "sleepers," drawn each by fourteen bullocks, gave life lately to the peaceful little-frequented roads between Nowra and Jervis Bay. The timber-getters have to go well back into the bush, far off the main roads, for the blackbutt and other hardwoods. They fell, saw, measure, and dress the sleepers there, and then bring them along on a sort of trestle or scaffold, which rests on the wheels of the original dray. Six teams on the road, one behind the other, made a fine sight, and helped to make one realise how essential the country is to the city; how we are fed and supplied by the rural districts, and how the energy and enterprise of the man on the land makes tho whole State go "forward." Bullocky Bill's language may be lurid as he "explains" the patient oxen out of the deep, soft, treacly rut;   but his accomplishment of a load of heavy timber at the Jervls Bay wharf is a far more creditable performance than many a city man can show for a day's work.

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This old bullock bell and yoke are on display in the museum.


Continue reading – a previous post about the bullock teams and the “timber jinkers”" used to haul logs and timber to North Huskisson late 1900’s

16 July 2015

Storm cell over Point Perpendicular.

Quite the dramatic start to the day over Jervis Bay – a massive storm cell rumbled across the headland as the Australian Navy conducted exercises.  Every now and again lightning flashed from the cell,  but I was unable to get the timing right as it was so infrequent.

12 July 2015

HMAS Creswell – clock tower.


HMAS Creswell clock tower – constructed between 1913-1914. The tower bell chimed in nautical chimes every half hour.

Between 1930 and 1958 the college was decommissioned for economic reasons and most of the buildings leased out as holiday accommodation. Somewhere during this time the original  bell was removed and it’s whereabouts became unknown.

In the mid 1960’s the bell turned up at an engineering works owned by Mr Hopkins in Chatswood.

Mr Hopkins decided to take the bell home, where he had it mounted as a display in his foyer.
After Mr Hopkins died, his son held onto the bell for some time.  The bell had faint markings that indicated it had come from the Naval Training College,  Mr Hopkins contacted the historical officer at HMAS Creswell asking if the navy would like it back,  a 50 year old mystery had been solved.

The markings were the initials of four 1914 entry cadet midshipmen who had gained entry to the tower and left their initials on the bell in what is thought to be some sort of crayon, the crayon has slightly etched into the bronze over time.

The bell was returned to the college, restoration was discussed,  but it was decided to leave the bell as it was found,  and is a valuable part of the navy’s collection at the college..

The bronze bell weighs between 200-300kg.

The College Quarterdeck featuring the Clock Tower


10 July 2015

The bay was alight


A slow dissolving mist drifting across the bay, catching the the orange of the sunrise, made the water appear to be being on fire..
It was really amazing to watch.  This photo doesn’t do the reality justice.


Denman Flowers

A quick stroll around the garden today revealed a lovely selection of winter flowering plants in bloom.

I don’t know the names of any of the flowers shown.
That might be something someone else can help me with.

Feel free the post a comment below.





8 July 2015

World War One Exhibition.

Appeal for Recruits.

While the first wave of Australian Soldiers were entrenched in a bloody struggle for survival on the foothills of Gallipoli,  Newspapers were starting to report on the carnage and brutal nature of the situation,  news of the mounting casualties were starting to effect the enlistment rates.
Emotional appeals and illustrations were used to get more men to enlist.
This emotive, appeal for recruits appeared in the Shoalhaven Telegraph in 1915.


The Jervis Bay Recruiting Association have issued the following circular:-

Tomerong, October 27th, 1915.

Men of Tomerong,  Huskisson,  Falls Creek,  and Wandandian.

The need for soldiers is greater now than at any time since the war was forced upon us,  15 months ago.

More soldiers are wanted at Gallipoli.
    400,000 more are required in the Balkan Peninsula.
Have you read the brutal murder of Nurse Edith Carvell?.
    Have you read of the horrible atrocities everywhere committed by our cruel,  unscrupulous,  and inhuman enemies?.
    Are you willing to your wives to the power of the German Huns?.
No Conscription or Compulsion is necessary.
     Your brethren at Gallipoli call on you to help them.
Your women call on you to protect them.
      Your country calls on you to defend it.
Your King appeals to you in a noble,  dignified and earnest manner for your help.
      Are you going to refuse all these appeals?.
Avoid the inevitable future reproaches that await you.
      Join the forthcoming Route March from Nowra to Sydney with your mates on the South Coast.

By Order of the Association
Hon.  Sec.  Jervis Bay Recruiting Association.


Another hand drawn image from the front pages of the Illustrated Sydney Mail 1915.


The illustration above is a very clever, guilt laced, emotional piece of artwork.

The Museum has an amazing collection of images taken at Gallipoli,  running through to September.  Don’t miss it – More Information.

7 July 2015

On this day – 7th July 1822.

1822 – Completion of Berry’s canal. It took Hamilton Hume and three men twelve days to complete the 209 yard long canal. It was Australia’s first canal. No Environmental Impact Study was required. The river itself cut the canal wider and deeper and dredging many years later opened up the Shoalhaven River for steamships and the coastal trade.
Continue Reading

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A swift and fearful destruction

The loss of the Schooner Jones Brothers.

"It seemed to me,  looking back on that awful experience,  as though some providential hand had been stretched out to save us".

Capture 1 Bert Lovett Collection
The Jones Brother schooner being towed out of port.
31%2F104%2F16300143  Newcastle Region Library.

The Jones Brothers three mast topsail schooner was built by George Dent Snr. at Huskisson in 1892.
She was originally built as a steamer,  but converted into a sailing vessel after being launched.
She was - 114ft 2in long,  24ft 6in wide,  and 7ft 4in deep – 133 tons

She was a well known schooner and made many voyages while engaged in carrying coal from Newcastle to Sydney for it's owners,  Jones Brothers of Sydney. 

1899 – Like so many other vessels working the open oceans she had some rough experiences, In June 1899 while coming from Newcastle to Sydney she uncounted a fierce squall,  Captain Teghlan and the crew had to work for their lives to avoid being carried to the bottom, she was forced to return to Newcastle losing her foremast,  and main topmast and parts of her rigging. 

Like most coasting schooners working between ports at this time,  she used her sails when the winds were favourable,  but sometimes as in this case for the Jones Brother schooner,  she would be towed from port to port by steamers,  this was still the most economical  way of moving large quantities of coal and other cargo along the coast.
The Helen Nicholl was also owned by Jones Brothers, and was employed to tow the schooner Jones Brothers.


Old Newspaper image : Jones Brothers being towed out of Port Jackson on one of her many voyages to Newcastle.


She was in command of captain Peter Olson, one of the oldest skippers on the coast,  who had been trading between Newcastle and Sydney for 35 years.

Mixed reports.

Some accounts of the day report relatively calm seas with a strong westerly to south westerly wing blowing off the land.
While others report a fierce gale was already blowing with a heavy sea rolling,  throwing up large clouds of spray on the break-wall.

Whatever the case the fateful decision was made to leave Newcastle Harbour for her trip to Sydney.

August 30th 1905

5 p.m. - The Jones Brothers passed out of port under sail and off Nobbys Head was joined by the steamer Helen Nichol,  in command of captain Henry Pender.  A hawser was attached to the schooner and Helen Nichol headed under full steam for Sydney.

6 p.m. - At first they made good progress,  but the wind increased to a full blown gale and turned to the south,  bring with it mountainous seas.   The Jones Brothers schooner pitched and plunged the seas swept both vessels.

The hawser snapped and the schooner,  at the mercy of the wind and seas was driven northward.  The Helen Nichol undertook a risky manoeuvrer by coming about in the conditions,  by expert seamanship captain Pender got his steamer around,  his ship was badly battered, deck fittings being swept overboard.

It was a long chase catching up with the schooner,  which was being driven before the gale at an alarming speed.

Nearing Nobby's Head the Helen Nichol was close up and after great difficulty a line was got aboard and with full steam an effort was made to enter port.

12.30 a.m. - The lookout man at the signal station saw the lights of a steamer with a vessel in tow making for the entrance,  The steamer was rolling heavily and huge seas were sweeping right over her, The night was intensely dark,  and the outline of the schooner,  which was hardly discernable, at any time was soon entirely lost to view.  But the Helen Nichole was observed to be steaming in a northerly direction,  which led to the impression that the other craft was making for Port Stephens.

Now almost abreast of Nobby's,  and in grave danger of being wrecked as well, the line was cast off,  and the Jones Brothers drifted towards the dreaded oyster bank.

" It was a case of every man for himself." said Olsen,  " and had we kept hold of the schooner both vessels would have been wrecked."

2 a.m. - Captain Pender found that his steamer was in a very dangerous position,  being within a few yards of the  Adolphe that had gone on to the oyster bank and become a total wreck in October 1904..

File:StateLibQld 1 133946 Adolphe (ship).jpgThe Adolphe wrecked on the Stockton Breakwater at Newcastle
Item is held by John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.
John Turner Collection


The steamer was at once headed for the open sea,  and although the engines were going at full steam little headway could be made against the great rollers,  with the captain expecting every huge wave to smash the vessel onto the banks,  the Helen Nichol battled with the storm for more than two hours before making her way to the open sea and safety.

3 a.m - The steamers light were observed again for about an hour by the signal hill,  before appearing to head away towards Sydney.

Captain Pender, hove his steamer to, waiting for daylight and a sight of the schooner.  but nothing was seen, at this time Captain Pender made the decision to head to Sydney, without making any signal to the station.

The first intimation the port officials received that anything unusual had happened was when the lookout man at Nobbys perceived a quantity of wreckage drifting into the harbour shortly after daybreak. Spars and beams and a quantity of decking,  shortly after masts of a vessel were found.

image 11 a.m - The identity of the vessel wasn't ascertained until coamings of the main hatch and fittings were discovered off Stockton Beach and towed into harbour with the official number 10,118 attached.  The figures corresponded with the designation of the Jones Brothers.


News spread and anxious relatives were waiting for news from the Helen Nichol, when she arrived in Sydney,  authorities and relatives were hoping she had saved the crew of the Jones Brothers.    When the Helen Nicholl arrived anxious enquiries met with the reply.

 "No, we have not saved anyone" .

Inspection the  Helen Nicholl showed signs of a great struggle against the elements, deck fitting were ripped off,  ladders were missing,  stanchions broken and doors bent,  twisted and wrenched, railings on both sides torn off,  with some still hanging over her sides,  her decks were a mass of debris.


Monday morning, 4th 
Any faint hope that the missing 7 men from the Jones Brothers had some how survived were soon dashed.
A body from the wreck of the Jones Brothers was washed up on Stockton Beach, about three miles from the scene of the disaster.
Shortly after two more bodies were found washed onto a beach, 30 miles away near Anna Bay.
The other 4 bodies were never found.


Enquiry Findings:
The enquiry found no fault on the part of the master or officers of the Helen Nicholl.   But he added,  it would have been better had he communicated with the men at Signal Hill before proceeding on his way to Sydney.

Further enquiries - At the time of the disaster,  the Signal station men said they hadn’t  observed any signals or flares to warn them of what was happening,  but a flare or light was seen by local resident, “Mrs Foster”  for a brief moment as the tragedy unfolded.  The enquiry accepted that the men of the signal station hadn't seen any kind of signal, but the enquiry was also of the opinion -  “because  these men had grave doubts and misgivings about the position of the vessels it would have been infinitely better had they taken the course put upon them by the port authority,  of firing the gun,  had this been done and the lifeboat launched it was probable,  seeing that a distress signal had been made from the schooner,  that some lives would have been saved”".

Crews on ships plying the Australian coast came from many nations,
Below is a list of the men lost from the Jones Brothers schooner.
Peter Olsen Master 60 years, Sweden.
Thomas Jenkins,  mate 45, England.
John Sheilds, AB., 38, Russia.
William Malley, AB., 31 Halifax.
W.A. Mason A.B., 37, Sweden.
Charles Peterson. A.B Sweden
Charles Johnson, cook. unknown.

The infamous Oyster Bank near the entrance to Newcastle Harbour claimed many ships, and the remains of those wrecked vessels above and below the water, made entering the harbour in rough weather, an even more perilous journey.


6 July 2015

Jervis Bay, “"the navy’s favourite resort”

The Navy and the history of Jervis Bay have been running on a parallel course since August 1791 when 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.
The bay has been used by the British, Australian and surprisingly by the German navy before the first world war for practice.

At the moment the Australian Navy is conducting manoeuvres inside the bay,  sirens, flares and helicopters can be seen coming and going from this ship. Sound travels quickly and clearly across the bay. When this was taken a couple of days ago before dawn, the sound of the helicopter on the platform at the stern of the vessel was very loud,  soon after it took to the air.   The Navy recognised Jervis Bay as an ideal area for practice,   in the early 19 century the navy conducted much the same style of exercise,  but used live shells and ammunition,  which causes a few problems…    ”more on that story in another post.”.


June 30 1888 – Artists impression - Town and Country Journal.  The vessels Nelson and Rapid in Jervis Bay – Torpedo and boarding practice.


H.M.S. Nelson, the flagship of the Australian station, accompanied by H.M.S. Rapid, left Sydney on May 28 last at noon for a course of torpedo and gunning practice in Jervis Bay. The target, a large one made of canvas, supposed to represent a ship under way, was towed from Sydney by the Nelson. The first portion of the exercise was the Nelson firing torpedos at a target towed rapidly past by a steam launch. The torpedos, of course, were not exploded. The gunners showed considerable efficiency in this practice.


May 14 1898 – Artists impression - Town and Country Journal.  Shot practice in Jervis Bay.

Part of the description attached is quite illuminating.

“Not that one imagines an armed invasion of Australia by any of the Great Powers at all probable.  Still either Russia,  France,  or Germany might,  choosing her time,  work terrible havoc along  our coasts by means of a flying squadron detached from one of of the naval bases they are so busily acquiring in the east.  And in such a case our only means of defence or retaliation lies in the Australian Auxiliary Squadron, a portion of which the artist has depicted as engaged in shell practice in it’s favourite resort,  Jervis Bay.  The big ship in the foreground is the Royal Arthur,  first class cruiser,  on the left is the Mildura,  whilst steaming along in the background is the 18-knot gunboat Karakatta.


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Friday 10th July – more drills, sharp turns,  horns,  flares and  gun fire while being chased by small boats  involved in a small boat attack simulation..