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.

31 March 2015

Brigantine Eliza Firth, built in Huskisson 1869.

The many adventures of the finely crafted ship Eliza Firth.
She was 145tons, 98ft long, a two masted brigantine rigged timber sailing vessel.


Seen here in the background of this image on Waitemata Harbour as the yacht 'Tangaroa' sails past..

Once described.
”Eliza Firth was said ‘to be beautifully rigged and well cared for. While in port she always kept her yards nicely squared. Each bunt cloth had a star painted in red and black on it’. Perhaps foretelling Southern/Te Kopuru rugby colours.”

She spent her early years trading around the South Island and back to Melbourne and Tasmania. Into the 20th century Eliza Firth ran almost continually from Kaipara to Wellington and Lyttelton with timber, back-loading with produce for the Kaipara
A typical load.
Eliza Firth, brigantine, from Tairua, New Zealand: 10,750 pieces undressed timber, 371 hundles shocks. George Thompson, ship, from Puget Sound; 6848 pieces rough timber, 350,000 laths. ...

Like all coastal ships Eliza Firth had her sad and bad times.
There never seemed to be any lack of drama aboard a frequent Kaipara Harbour visitor, the schooner Eliza Firth. One Wellington reporter wrote, ‘With kauri planking and sawn timber piled to the top of her bulwarks and a lifeline lashed between fore and main rigging, she would come bowling up the harbour, carrying double top sails, stay sails, jibs and mainsail to a strong gale. She always drew a goodly crowd to the foreshore to watch her berth’.

When crew were called to shorten sail while on their way south from Kaipara, a Frenchman named Jean Yviquel was standing on timber on the deck, slipped and shot through the rail. A life belt was thrown and boat lowered but it was too late. He was 19 years old.

Drastic action was needed on one occasion to save the schooner after a storm drove her in to shelter near Picton. When her two anchors dragged, the captain decided to cut down the foremast ten feet above the deck. By doing that they stopped her drifting onto the nearby shore.

A passing steamer was asked to pick up the mast — worth £50 — but the steamer couldn’t, or wouldn’t, oblige.

Her luck eventually ran out.
Eventually luck ran out for the feisty trader. On 2nd July 1915, as she was beating out of Kaipara Harbour, Eliza Firth clipped the inside end of Tory Shoal and grounded. She was towed to Waikere Bay but became a total wreck.
Ref. http://www.kaiparalifestyler.co.nz/Of_Interest.cfm?NewsID=4015

Capture 1

Incident inquiry findings.
That Captain Gilbert Brown committed an error of judgment in over-estimating his distance from the lighthouse at 10.30 p.m. on the night of February 21st; and further that in heading in for the land, the lead should have been used.

At the same time we are of opinion that the errors are not sufficiently serious to warrant the suspension of his certificate; which certificate we have therefore returned.


eliza firth download(3)
Capture2 Eliza Firth painting by a.h.messanger 1950

http://www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/dbtw-wpd/exec/dbtwpub.dll?BU=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.aucklandcity.govt.nz%2Fdbtw-wpd%2FHeritageImages%   2Findex.htm&AC=QBE_QUERY&TN=heritageimages&QF0=ID&NP=2&RF=HIORecordSearch&MR=5&QI0=%3D%224-1583%22
. http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=NZH19021119.2.29
. http://www.kaiparalifestyler.co.nz/Of_Interest.cfm?NewsID=4015

30 March 2015

Jervis Bay

Dream time for most.

Jervis Bay has a part to play

Kingsford Smith, from New Zealand to Australia.

cks_L96364_350 Commander Kingsford Smith while conducting one of his historic trans Tasman flights sought the help from the Department of Civil Aviation through ministerial sanction asking that lighting arrangements on the coast of New South Whales should be made at Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong or Bulli.

Tentative arrangements were made for the military searchlights at Newcastle, Middle Head and the naval searchlights at Jervis Bay to be displayed from sunset until such time as the ‘OK’ was given that the fliers had landed at Richmond aerodrome.

It was decided that if the Southern Cross came into either of the three zones, Newcastle would send a succession of ‘N’s” from the shutter attached to the searchlight. Middle Head searchlight a succession of “S’s” by the same means and that Jervis Bay would switch over from a big search light to a 10in projector,  which was also fitted with a shutter signal a succession of “J’s”  If the pilot on picking up the coast,  saw any of these three lights,  discernable for a distance of 40 miles,  the watchers on the ground,  having heard him within their zones,  would send those signals,  and Flight-Commander Kingsford Smith would immediately know whether he had to turn north or south.


Kingsford Smith’s plane the Southern Cross, surrounded by onlookers sits on Seven Mile Beach Gerringong,  before one of his historic Trans Tasman Flights.

What’s blooming at the Denman in April.

I took a quick walk around the Museum this morning and shot a few images of what’s blooming in the grounds. 




27 March 2015

The Rise and Fall of South Huskisson

The story of South Huskisson, enterprise, profit and greed.
The Southern Tablelands and the Goulburn Plains was growing at a rapid rate,  farmers looked for a way to get their produce to the Sydney markets cheaper and easier than the long journey overland to Sydney they now faced.
A practical route was needed to Jervis Bay, the nearest potential port.

1839: Messrs. Murray and O’Connell looking to fill that want, discovered a satisfactory route, and formed a company with other interested parties with a capital of 5000 pounds for the purpose of constructing a road.

February 1841: Work begun after 70 men and implements were transported to Jervis Bay in the coasting vessel the Isabella.


“ The circumstances of a good dray road being completed between Braidwood and the sea cannot but increase highly the value of property in the neighbourhood,  as will afford and easy outlet to the Sydney Markets”

July 1841: The work was hard and dangerous, but  twenty-five miles of road was complete, the men were then at work on the hardest part of their task,  where rock-blasting and cutting were required.  This pass was completed towards the end of the same month.

October 1841: Accounts stated, that work on the road had progressed to such an extent that drays laden with wool, would soon be passing daily.

December 1841: Work on the “Wool Road” as it became known and still carries today, was all but complete and bullock drays started to use the road.

No township existed when the announcement was made of the proposed road between Nerriga and Jervis bay, it became necessary to take steps to lay one out.  Accordingly the Surveyor-General was requested to give necessary instructions for laying out a township at Jervis Bay.

On examination of the land acting Surveyor-General Captain Perry pointed to the south side of Mooney Mooney Creek, which he considered to be without comparison the most favourable for the laying out of streets and the construction of wharves.

The location selected was in private ownership,  so the land between Mooney Mooney Creek and Jervis Bay River (Currambene Creek) which was still in Government reserve was selected for a new town, the site of the present day Huskisson.  The announcement of the road led other land holders to quickly submit town plans,  eager to cash in on the expected growth.

image The first township subdivision to be advertised in the Sydney Newspapers was the subdivision of E. Deas Thomson’s estate, and was named “South Huskisson’'. The very place Perry originally selected for a town.

June 1841: Land was advertised in the Sydney Herald, The first sale was successful,  one hundred allotments totaling the sum of 3519 pounds.


South Huskisson’s first store.
July 1841:
A Mr. Campbell opened a store, which was doubtless the first of it’s kind in the bay.
October 1941: Excitement grew for the towns prospects as newspaper reports were released.


November 1841. Sydney Herald:
“The practicability of rapid communication between South Huskisson and Sydney had been tested several times and the safety of the harbour established beyond doubt, the steamer Tamar having come to anchor in the middle of the night”.
”A sloop of 300 to 400 tons was expected to proceed to the port in the following February to take wool direct for London,  a cargo of 700 to 1000 bales having been guaranteed.


The township started to grow.
An inn, the Braidwood Inn,  had been licensed and opened some months earlier.  A wool store owned by Mr. Campbell was in course of construction,  Several Mechanics of the most useful kind had already located themselves upon the allotments, as well as a baker and over time several more licensed Hotels.

March 1841: Sydney Monitor.
It is certain the success of South Huskisson,  inasmuch that it is likely to become one of the most important seaport towns in the colony.

March 1842: Sydney Herald.
”I am happy to inform you that this township is at last emerging from obscurity”

December 1842: The wharf at South Huskisson is now about being completed, and every facility is offered for storing and shipping wool from that port.

December 1842: His Excellency the Governor announced that South Huskisson was permitted to sell wine and fermented liquors (but not spirits) at places so declared, in quantities not less than two gallons.


One can imagine the noise from the many bullock drays, the bullock bell, the rattle of the billy hanging from the dray, teams backed up waiting to load their wool onto waiting ships, Hotels bustling with work hardened, thirsty bullockies, ship captains and their salty crews, the truth stretched yarns, it must have been an amazing time.


January 1843: The paddle steamer the Sophia Jane was doing monthly trips from Sydney to South Huskisson, the road to Nerriga was considerably improved and several dray loads of wool weighing 3600lbs. each had been bought down from the present years crop. The dray men all spoke favourably of the road and the facilities it offered to the settlers for moving goods back and fourth between the Bay and Sydney.
painting-be-Ian-Henson Ian Henson's painting of the Sophia Jane loading Wool at the wharf near South Huskisson, this painting can be seen at the Jervis Bay Maritime Museum.

The new township faced mounting opposition.
Sydney’s well known business men and merchants afraid of loosing their large profits if South Huskisson became an established port, begun circulating rumours about the road, the wharf and the townships ability to meet the need.  Hell bent on keeping the commerce in Sydney and boost their profits, they lobbied the government to extend the train line from Sydney to Goulburn.

The bubble had burst – The extension of the railway was the final straw:
Despite many years of commerce, the thriving town of South Huskisson was doomed by the  Sydney businessmen achieving their aims,  the rail line was extended from Sydney to Goulburn, it was no longer necessary for wool producers and farmers to ship their produce to the coast, it  bought a quick end to the township of South Huskisson.
  1848: J.P. Townsend, in his Rambles and Observations in New South Wales. makes some comments.
” At Jervis Bay which is not far from the Shoalhaven are five towns,  but amongst them all,  are but two inhabited houses. The temptation here was the fine bay,  and it was suppose that it would be the outlet of the countries interior.  The architects of these aerial towns were often greedy land sharks who richly deserved the pillory,  but the originators of others were sometimes as much deceived as those they gulled.
Wool stuck on the road
There’s a certain romance associated with large teams of bullocks numbering between 12 and 20 plodding along slowly carrying their burden towards the bay, bullockies slowly working their teams, the sound of the whip cracking, sleeping under the stars and boiling their billy’s,  this romantic view was sometimes far from the truth,  especially  in the later part of the 19th century as rail replaced steamers.,  the road was starting to disintegrate, wet weather created many problems.
The Goulburn Herald and Chronicle January 1869.
  “Teams laden with wool became stuck on the mountain, The carriers became forced to carry provender for their horses, there being no sign of vegetation.  At some places on the road poor miserable bullocks are left unable to proceed any further,  and there the old workers stand and will not get out of the way,  ultimately perishing of starvation,  no grass or water within their reach”.
By the  late 19th century there was nothing left but empty, broken, overgrown buildings, the wharf so carefully made was just a pile of tumbled stones. The wool road had fallen into disrepair and was almost impassable.

A few years later the great hope of Jervis Bay, South Huskisson, had reverted back to the wild bush it had been carved from, only a few soil mounds and one large Norfolk Pine tree gave any indication that there had once been something there.

25 March 2015

‘good old friends of yore”

In a time when we can travel at great speeds in comfort from place to place, have all manner of entertainment at our fingertips, have conversations instantly with friends from every part of the globe at the press of a button, this story takes us back to an era where time and fun and community was seen in a completely different way.  I hope you take the time to enjoy this story…I did.

parker The lighthouse keepers and their families lived in isolation in meager accommodation on top of the exposed cliffs of Cape St George headland,   tasked with the responsibility of maintaining the lighthouse, monitoring passing ships in all weather,  aid in their safe passage along the dangerous and rugged coast.   The occupants of the lighthouse must have been very happy to have a visitor call in every now and then and break the monotony, and receive news from the colonies.

This story from the Shoalhaven Telegraph August 1892, is full of joy and good spirits, and speaks of a simpler time, it’s about a group of friends that make a surprise visit to the lighthouse.

Harry Parker, principal keeper at the time.


To the weary voyager across the vast Pacific,  who see’s naught to relieve his monotony,  nothing is so gladdening as the sight of land which reminds him that home is not far distant;  hope springs within his eternal breast,  rising like a giant pillar till it reaches the summit of his ambition.  Not less jubilant is he than were the residents of Cape St George lighthouse on the evening of Friday, 5th August, when to their astonishment entered some two dozen visitors – several others,  including your humble scribe,  entering at a later hour - from Nth Huskisson, St Georges basin,  Erowal, Bherwerre, and Sydney.  The event had been mooted several weeks previously.  but owing to circumstances could not be accomplished till above date.  Perfect secrecy was maintained with a view of thoroughly bombarding the enemy,  in this case one not hostile to such proceedings.

The day opened rather gloomily,  as also the day previous,  but Mr Sun,  now and then sent fourth his splendour,  gladdening the hearts of one and all.  But in the afternoon at the appointed hour of starting,  our hearts almost sank within us when the sky became overcast,  and a very heavy storm passed,  but inclined to the west.  However,  a start was effected.  Having travelled at least 13 miles of the worst vehicular roads in the colony,  we alighted in order to satisfy our craving appetites,  and to arrange the attack.

Rain threatening we lost no time in resuming our journey in order to bombard the enemy between lights,  having posted our sentry at an earlier date,  and who proved equal to the occasion.

The first residence of the Keepers in sight was that of the principal,  Mr Parker,  Who along with his family and our sentry,  were having pleasant reminiscences over the tea table.  Not a foot was heard,  and as if ordained by Providence,  the canine species were all indoors.  We eagerly alighted,  entered premises by pioneer entrance,  and with loud “hoorahs”  announced our arrival.  The inmates were astounded,  each and everyone helter skelter to witness the scene,  Parker even blessing the victuals to which he was partaking owing to misrepresenting his garments for his mouth.

Some vowed we were from foreign parts,  others from the city,  and elsewhere's.  but in our gentle demeanor we were soon detected as ‘good old friends of yore”  and were made welcome.  We spent no time in illuminating the room,  and ridding it of it’s contents, piano, etc,  going to adjoining room, where we began operations as true warriors alone can do.  Travel where you may,  you could not find a happier assemblage,  as evidenced by their smiling countenances,  and by the familiar,  yet graceful demeanor of the ladies,  than when no worthier could be found,  not omitting the names of the three keepers,  their worthy spouses and families who joined the assemblage as soon as circumstances permitted.  To those who indulged in the ‘'”terpsichorean art”  a suitable floor was at their disposal,  and not long was it before they indulged in the light fantastic.  Music,  concertina,  being supplied by several of the company,  including our sentry.  The talented “Gus” was ever on the alert at the piano. Several of the company not being equal to the occasion,  at least in the aforementioned art,  several intermissions were made,  interspersed with many amusing games,  causing much merriment at times. Not less amusing were the pranks of our worthy hostess,  and a talented Boniface  by title “Jack”  from Sydney,  in recruit of health.  Several songs were ably rendered during the night,  many comics' relieving the monotony of sentimental on such occasions.  Punctually at 12 p.m an adjournment was made for refreshments,  and I need hardly say,  were partaken of with much gusto,  recipients dooming edibles A1. The former program was then resumed and was kept up until daylight,  the only regret expressed,  that the night had elapsed far to soon.
Refreshments were again provided,  after which the company again assembled to sing  ‘Auld Lang Syne,” and “For he’s a jolly good fellow,”  
after which one and all separated for their respective homes.

Many expressions were made regarding the event,  that not a more enjoyable company,  nor a more satisfied one had ever assembled at Cape St George, as evidenced by the host and hostess the outcome of which  I trust will be the re-assemblage of a similar nature on some future occasion,  not only in the above tone,  but in true meaning of the expression, With hearty congratulations, au revoir


The exposed cliffs and ruins of the Cape St George lighthouse, bathed in light from the morning sun.

Schooner Dora a total wreck – Jervis Bay

1870 Captain Sayers account of the catastrophe..

The Three mast schooner Huddersfield built by J Dent at Huskisson.

eg: Coastal schooner used around this time.
They were typically used for transporting all manner of cargo, timber, bricks, coal, cattle etc, to all parts of the colony and outer islands.

On a passage from Newcastle bound for Geelong Melbourne,  with a cargo comprising, 4600 spokes,  on the 29th ultimo,  and on the 1st instant returned to port,  having split her mainsail on the previous day.  She resumed her voyage again on the 5th,  and on the 9th,  met with a strong southerly breeze which necessitated her running into Botany Bay,  where she remained until the 11th at 7 a.m,  and put to sea with a light breeze which subsequently freshened from the eastward;  passed Sydney Heads at 2 p.m. and at 4 p.m,  the vessel was discovered to be making a good deal of water,  and as Captain Sayers found it the quicker process to put the water out with buckets than by pumping,  the crew were kept bailing out throughout the night to prevent her sinking.  on the next morning,  the 12th instant, at half-past 6 o'clock ran into Jervis Bay and brought up in 7 fathoms water;  veered out 50 fathoms of chain and at 9 p.m. the wind commenced to blow in fearful squalls from the eastward;  let go the starboard anchor,  and at 10p.m. carried away the port chain.  Endeavored to get underway,  but the whole of her canvas was immediately split,  and the vessel drove onto the shore on the S.W, corner of Jervis Bay,  where she was left by the crew,  with a heavy sea breaking over her and two-thirds filled with sand.  Captain Sayers desired to express his thanks to Captain Clinch of the City of Hobart,  for his kindness to himself and crew.
The Dora was property of the Captain of the Sydney Griffiths Barque,  but Captain Sayer does not know if she is insured or not.

The crew were later transported to Hobart by the Schooner “City Of Hobart”
Meaning: Fathom - a unit of length equal to six feet (approximately 1.8 m), chiefly used in reference to the depth of water.

24 March 2015

Cape St George Lighthouse

Simply put the Cape St George Lighthouse was a disaster in organization and decision making.
Commissioned in 1860 and in operation for 39 years, it was embroiled in controversy even before construction began. The lighthouse was built in the wrong location, despite repeated warnings leading up to the lights construction.
The poor old lighthouse never stood a chance, It was suppose to be a lifesaving, guiding light for mariners, a beacon for advancements in coastal navigation and safety, instead it became a hazard, and was blamed for many shipping mishaps while in operation.
This letter to the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, May 1891, some 31 years after the first rays of light shone across the Tasman Sea, from R. A. Kearney, Intercolonial Pilot, clearly outlines and reflects what many captains plying the south coast were saying about the lighthouse.



Sir,-On three different occasions during the past four years I have had a narrow escape from loosing a fine ship on the particular part of the coast,  in consequence of the absurd and useless position the light is placed in.
Upon the first occasion I was conducting a large ship, the Thorniebank, of Glasgow, from Melbourne to Newcastle.  We had passed inside Montague Island about 9p.m., there being and unusually strong current setting to the southward offshore,  which we were anxious to avoid.  At midnight the ship was abreast of Bateman’s Bay, so I hauled her out N.N.E1/2 E. magnetic to clear the land and to open Jervis Bay light.  The wind was blowing fresh from the S.S.E,. and the Thorniebank was travelling over 12 knots,  and carrying as much canvas as she could fairly stagger under,  as we were desirous to making all we could of the wind whilst it lasted. 
    However, just as daylight was coming in the lookout man reported, “land close ahead”.  and looking along the lee side sure enough we were within two miles of where the steamer Corangamite now lies at the bottom.  I need scarcely describe the scene on board when the helm was put hard down and the ship bought to the wind with such a press of canvas on her.   Immediately she heeled over Captain Erakine,  one of the oldest commanders in the Melbourne trade,  came rushing on deck,  but when he saw the position of the ship,  with the Cape St George close on our lee-beam and looming as high as out mastheads, he was absolutely speechless for a time.   When he did speak he said calmly,  “Where is Jervis Bay light,  Pilot?” I replied,  ‘'It is round the corner somewhere,  captain,”  and immediately afterwards the light opened up clear of the land to the southward of it.
The next narrow squeak I had was with the fine four-mastered ship Waterloo;  and my third and last experience was three weeks ago with a Norwegian barque,  which I was piloting from Adelaide to Newcastle.

Now, I am certain that when the substance of this letter is bought before the notice of the Marine Board as usual the first thing that body will say is that I had no business being so close inshore.”  But I must unhesitatingly state that I am the better judge of such matters. I have been a pilot round the whole coast of Australia for the past 11 years, and many dark,  dirty night I am off Sydney Heads when the members of the Marine Board are in the warm beds.   And, as regards hugging the land,  why during the season of westerly winds now fast setting in,  if one of those large iron ships bound from Melbourne or Adelaide  (in ballast)  to Newcastle were to get off the land she would not get hold of it again perhaps for a month.  And again ballast costs from 4s to 5s 3d per tone at Melbourne.  Therefore, taking into consideration the low rate of freights ruling between England and this country,  shipmasters cannot afford to half load their vessels with Ballast at the above figure to be thrown over the ships side in Newcastle.  Consequently the ship being light in ballast has to be kept close inshore so as to take advantage of the land breezes,  also to ensure the safety of the vessel,  the master employs the services of a “coast pilot” – not to relieve him of the responsibility,  as some people may think,  but to assist him in the safe navigation of the ship close to land.

Of course,  with the wind hanging to the eastward any prudent navigator would avoid the land and keep a respectable distance off shore.

Regarding Cape St George light,  there are a score of ship masters out of the port of Sydney who will bare me out in the assertion that the lighthouse on this part of the coast is absolutely useless as a guide to shipping bound north or south, or for entering Jervis Bay, and if the government of New South Wales do not take steps to alter the present site,  believe me,  some terrible disaster will yet occur.  Sooner or later the question will be, ‘Who is to Blame?”   

R. A. KEARNEY.  Intercolonial Pilot.  May 7 1891


The controversy continued, and representations from ship captains and pilots eventually led to the Point Perpendicular lighthouse being built and the light at Cape St George being extinguished in 1899.

Previous posts about Cape St George – Continue Reading

23 March 2015

An exciting incident and and Accident. 1909


Jervis Bay was one of the Navy’s favourite places of call in the early 20th century.
fishing and shooting were all enjoyed on the bay and in the wild bush surrounding the bay.
I came across this amusing article in the Evening News 1909, dealing with a visit to the bay by the flagship Powerful, the object of her visit was to carry out the annual gun layer’s test with small quick firing guns.

Trying to shoot, “THE THING”


The day following the ship’s arrival being Sunday,  and a splendid day,  as many as could availed themselves of these pastimes.  Some small parties betook themselves to the bush with guns,  others went snapper fishing and a large party dug out the ships seine,  and proceeded to the beach, The net,  which is some hundreds of feet in length,  was cast several times and a fairly good haul resulted.  The party afterwards repaired to the beach,  where the camp fires,  boiling billies,  and the gambol of the Jack Tars,  like children at play,  made a picturesque scene,  in striking contrast of the bush- fringed solitude of Jervis Bay.

Among those who were attracted by the mysterious bush,  was a party of about half-a-dozen.  They mustered a revolver and a catapult,  the latter promising to come in handy when one reflects upon the stories told of the rabbits being so numerous in Australia that it is difficult to avoid tripping over them.

Dodging in an out among the gum trees,  gathering wild flowers and occasionally taking an erratic pot at an elusive quail,  the conversation had drifted on to the man-eating tiger,  of which a good deal has been read recently,  when suddenly it was rudely interrupted by a cry “There e Is!”
”There e is!”
  from one of the number,  who had caught sight of something and was pointing at it.

All eyes and ears were alert.    ‘Where is it?”  inquired a sepulchral voice.  “Why,  just behind that tree; It’s a  wot-you-callum!”   “A wot?” testily queried the catapulteur,   “Tiger!”  hoarsely came the reply,  “Garn!  Wot ya call Tiger?    There aint none ere.”   “Ain’t there by gum!  What about that one we see in Norfolk Bay, eh?'”    “That wasn’t a Tiger:   it was a Wallaby!”

At that moment the “thing”  showed up clean and abruptly ended the discussion.  Bang! rang out the angry revolver,  and as the smoke cleared the ‘Thing” was,  climbing up the gum as nimbly as a cat,  perhaps more so.

It was described as having eyes like a searchlight,  and the body the size of a dog (whether Newfoundland or Toy Terrier was not stated)  It clambered right up to the top most bow,  along it ran,  stopping half way,  where it lay crouched down  glaring and grinning savagely at the intruders.

The revolver man “Flapper”  was the hero of the moment,  and,  as he propped himself against and adjacent gum,  and took aim,  all hearts ceased to beat,  with suppressed excitement,  only to thump again with the startled vigor,  as bang went the second shot,  hitting the underneath bough plump 10ft wide.

Fourty-five rounds were thus expended,  and still the “thing.” tiger or whatever it was,  lay there grinning fiendishly.  In justice to the marksman,  it must be admitted that once,  at the least,  the “thing” moved.  It lifted up one hind foot,  and rubbed it against the other.  Some declared it was hit,  and cheered Flapper on his luck.

The last round having been fired a suggestion was made by Flapper which was as practical as it was obvious.   ‘Don’t let’s shoot the poor thing;  Lets catch ‘im and take ‘im ome to the Zoo!”

A volunteer was soon forthcoming,  and while the remainder spread round the gum to hem the “tiger” in,  he shinnied up the gum in a manner to rouse the thing’s envy,  until at last puffing and blowing,  he reached a bough immediately beneath the one upon which the ‘tiger” crouched,  and here he hove to,  to take bearings.

The intrusion greatly upset the “thing” and it’s attitude became suspiciously aggressive.  The Jack Tar looked first at the ‘tiger” then at his mates some 30ft below.  The ‘thing” stood up-urg!.   The sailor winced and the bough bent and cracked,  it was rotten and hollow as as an empty beer bottle,  and down it toppled with able seaman Charley Healy, R.N landing with a sickening thud on the ground a sheer drop of 30ft.

With some sticks and a couple of sailors jumpers,  a rough stretcher was made and the disconsolate hunters conveyed their injured shipmate to the beach,  where he had to lie until the arrival of the ships boats,  when he was tenderly conveyed to the ship,  and found by the doctor to be suffering from a nasty shaking.  It was a miracle he was alive.

Meanwhile an office with a gun hove in sight. His attention was excitedly drawn to the “blooming thing” up the gum tree.

‘Ere ye are, sir.  Yer’ll git a good shot from ‘ere”  aim high and maneuver round that lower bough,  and yer’ll out im!'”  advised Flapper, of the 44 misses – one doubtful.

The officer cast his eye gumwards.  “Sorry.”  he remarked,  with an amusing smile,  ‘but there is a very heavy penalty for shooting native bears.”

So ended one phase of the Powerful’s shooting.  It was an experience,  however,  and provided just a little taste of the real original Australia,  of which the average sailor experienced only to little.

The young sailor Healy,  of the tiger episode is progressing favourably,  and although not sufficiently recovered to resume his work on deck,  is up and about again.

flagship powerful
Ref: https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/302241/
HMS Powerful was Australia’s new flagship and replaced the aging H.M.S Euryalus.
Meaning: Jack Tar (also Jacktar, Jack-tar or Tar) was a common English term originally used to refer to seamen of the Merchant or Royal Navy.

21 March 2015

Woollamia Estate.

Splendid land suitable for all kinds of farming, orchards, poultry, vineyards, pigs, vegetables, etc.

Advertisement from The Sydney Mail, October 1927. promoting the benefits of buying land at Woollamia.


20 March 2015

Dainty Water Nymphs

In 1953 there was controversy surrounding women wearing bathing suits on the beaches of Huskisson, there doesn’t seem to be a problem 30 years earlier, this photograph appeared in the Sydney Mail March 1924.
Back link to the previous article entitled Bikinis and Sharks disturb Jervis Bay.
arnotts-addAdvertising from the time.
This Arnott’s Biscuit add appeared next to the photograph above.

Jervis Bay


Another beautiful day to be out and about early.

19 March 2015

SS Brooklyn Wrecked Crookhaven Heads, crew safely landed.

With her bottom ripped open, the coasting steamer Brooklyn, owned by the Nowra and Jervis Bay Shipping Company, is a total wreck at the entrance to Crookhaven on the South coast.

A regular visitor to Jervis Bay,  on a calm night in December 1911.
The steamer became wedged fast on a shelf of rocks right in front of the Crookhaven lighthouse
The night was very dark,  with a thick haze over the land, which prevented the captain distinctly making the steering lights.
Later being sold at auction for 75 pounds and becoming a total wreck.
Crookhaven Heads Light c1908.jpg
Crookhaven Lighthouse, as it appeared in 1908 - a public domain image

She was wrecked near where the Duncan Dunbar was wrecked 42 years before.

imageFrom the Sydney Mail 27th Dec. 
As reported in numerous newspapers - December 1911.

“The entrance to Crookhaven Heads is always considered dangerous to navigation”.


Captain Bavestock.
We left Sydney at 10.35 on Friday morning 16th December. The weather was fine,  with a north-east wind,  which continued throughout the passage.   We made Crookhaven at half–past 9 at night,  and on entering we struck the outer reef.  The engines were promptly reversed,  and we kept going astern for three hours or more,  and could not get off.  I and the crew remained on board all night,  in preference to landing on the reef.  We landed at half past 8 in the morning.  A strong westerly gale was blowing.  I was in charge when the vessel struck,  and sent up the usual distress signals,  which were promptly answered by the pilot station men,  who stood by all night,  though they could do nothing,  as they could not get to us.

I have been eight months in command of the Brooklyn,  which was built not quite two years ago.  We had aboard fair cargo for Nowra and Jervis Bay,  and landed practically all except a little that washed overboard.  The steamer might come off,  provided the weather keeps as it is,  and we get the coal out or her.

"Yes.”  continued the captain,  ‘'There’s a chance of salvaging her.  She was a tip-top sea boat, I never had any trouble with her, thorourally seaworthy, well found and only lately out of dock.  There’s nothing more I can say.  I congratulate myself that nobody was lost.  That is why I didn’t want the men to go ashore till morning.  I ma quite satisfied with the promptitude of the pilot hands.  They did all they could,   but there was no need for bringing out the rocket apparatus.  We were in a position to get off any time during the night,  but thought it advisable not to attempt it”.


The crew of the vessel was hospitably assisted by Acting- Pilot Leverton and Mr. F. Hundt,  the officer in charge of the aborigines’ mission station.


“The sea was freshening from the south–east,  and as the steamer had a hole in her bottom,  and with some of the seams and joints given,  it appeared highly probably that she would become a total wreck,  especially with the making of a south-easterly on a rising tide”.

’'The hull is in several places submerged”


Built 1910 - Wooden coastal steamer – 77 tons gross – Engine 20hp – Length 81ft 2in, breath 21ft, 4in, debth 6ft, 7in.
Builder: David Drake at Balmain Sydney. Drake also built the SS Mokau that was wrecked at the entrance to Sussex Inlet and featured in a previous post – Continue Reading
Owner: Nowra and Jervis Bay Shipping Company.
10 people on board including the manager of the company Mr. J. W. Buckley.
Trade: Between Sydney and Jervis Bay.
Cargo: Value 1200 pounds, uninsured, General cargo including Christmas store goods, furniture, and supplies for Yawal mines and 40 tons of Newcastle Coal for the Nowra gasworks.



The pilot station as it appears today.

Today the old lighthouse stands in ruin, built in 1904, the original lantern was from the Cape St George Lighthouse decommissioned in 1898, and replaced with the Point Perpendicular Lighthouse.

18 March 2015

Point Perpendicular


The scene of many maritime dramas, now used as a playground for the adventurous rock climber.
If you look carefully you will observe people climbing the sheer walls of this remarkable headland.

The bay full of whales

September 28th 1901.

Captain M’Veigh, of the Velocity states.
”Having put into Jervis Bay on the 12th instant from stress of weather, he found the bay full of whales,  so much so that they had scarcely room to swing;  large shoals were also seen along the coast”.


Amongst this collection of old articles, were a few lines of text that help paint a picture of the times around Jervis Bay in 1851.

17 March 2015

Whale stoves in boat – Jervis Bay


The greatest gamble on earth, with life as the stake, that is the industry of whaling.

Whaling meant many months at sea for the crews involved, long periods of boredom staring at the ocean looking for whales, the time was spent maintaining equipment and the ship. Once a whale was spotted, adrenaline charged excitement pulsed throughout the ship, men scurried to their positions and the chase began.
Dangers were ever present for the sailor, with many sailors loosing their lives in the pursuit of a meager living.

One such incident happened inside Jervis Bay in 1878 as reported by Captain Folder.


“ Mr. Thomas Graham, the first mate,  was fast to a whale in Jervis Bay, on November 8, another whale stove in the boat by biting it.   The crew were subsequently submerged, and one of them, named John Cannoord, known by the sobriquet of ‘Hydrabad,’  who could not swim was immediately drowned, notwithstanding the efforts of the first mate to save him.  In endeavouring to rescue Cannooard, Graham was also nearly drowned, Graham and the reminder of the crew, except the one alluded to, were rescued,  after being in the water for about half and hour.

This short incidental account, appeared in the Hobart Mercury, amongst other shipping and whaling news.
Old whale song.

Oh!  the rare old whale, mid storm and gale,
       In his ocean home will be,
A giant in might,  where might is right,
       A king of the boundless sea.


10 March 2015

Whalers – Jervis Bay

The Factory ship Loch Tay.
The history of the largest factory whaling ship to work from Jervis Bay.
TBG14219110220001 Loch Tay

Built 1893. and named the SS Loch Tay, Newcastle UK for the Dundee Loch Line Steam Ship Co. Ltd.
5,474 tons gross and 3,300 tons net. 410 ft long – 49ft. 3inches in breath and 30ft deep.
1911. Sold to the  Australia Whaling Company Norway and converted to a whale processing vessel.
The Loch Tay and three new whale catchers Campbell, Lionell and Sorrell began operations off Jervis Bay, but found the whales merely passed our coast at certain seasons.   After 3 months of operation only 150 whales had been caught, one of them measuring 90ft in length.
They up anchored and proceeded to test the New Zealand waters, after only a few months they found the same problem there, despite catching thirty three sperm whales, which are one of the best obtainable for oil,  the fleet returned to Jervis Bay.



After returning to Jervis Bay for a second season it proved to be a good season for whales and no fewer than 329 were caught and dealt with.

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), Wednesday 6 August 1913,


1912. They moved the operation to Western Australia but ran into the same sort of problems with the authorities as they had with their Jervis Bay operation, and with the Freemantle Whaling Company.
1913 they closed their operation because of rising costs and the ongoing conflicts with authorities and trade unions.
1914. The company was liquidated, and the Loch Tay was converted to a cargo ship.
1918. She was Grounded and wrecked at Cap Ruby, Morocco with a cargo of wheat.


Ambergris  is a solid, waxy, flammable substance of a dull grey or blackish colour produced in the digestive system of sperm whales.

Freshly produced Ambergris has a marine, faecal odour. However, as it ages, it acquires a sweet, earthy scent commonly likened to the fragrance of rubbing alcohol without the vaporous chemical astringency. Although ambergris was formerly highly valued by perfumers as a fixative (allowing the scent to last much longer), it has now largely been replaced by synthetics.


Ref: Loch Tay image.

Whaling - Jervis Bay

Sydney Mail (NSW : 1912 - 1938), Wednesday 4 March 1914, page 5

Below are just a few of the many articles appearing in newspapers about whale operations being conducted in and around Jervis Bay in the late 19th and early 20th century.

They highlight how active early whale hunting was and how Jervis Bay was used by many whalers for processing, shelter, and recruiting crews, but how over time, objection to the industry started to mount.

image Article appeared
image 1870.
 image 1871.
image 1872.
image 1872.
image 1872.
image 1872.
image 1875.
 image 1912.
 image 1912.
Whales started to disappear.  
image 1912.
image 1914.

Norwegian’s want to re-establish whaling operations at Jervis Bay.
The Commonwealth and local residents express their concerns..

 image 1914.
image 1914.
image 1919.

The Museum has an extensive collection of information and artifacts from the whaling industry on display.