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.

16 October 2017

Jervis bay snippets 1918

This small article appeared in the Singleton Argus (NSW : 1880 - 1954) , Thursday 30 May 1918.


I doubt there would be many trees left these days that could provide such timber from the one trunk.


15 October 2017

Royal visit to Jervis Bay


June 15 1920.
The gloomy weather of the previous days cleared as the Royal Highness the Prince of Wales entered the heads of Jervis Bay aboard the H.M.S Renown at 1.pm and anchored off the college jetty at 1.30pm.   The Prince's first sight of the College was the clock tower standing above the trees flanked by groups of white buildings with red tiled roofs and green fields surrounded by forest.

imageLanding at Jervis Bay.


The Prince inspecting the compass of the German Raider Emden which was sunk November 1914 by the Australian Cruiser Sydney.

H.M.S Renown.

As the Renown passed the Brisbane her guns boomed out the Royal salute of 21 guns, and the men on deck cheered the Renown in a way that only sailors can. The H.M.A.S Brisbane had arived at 8 a.m the same day flying the new Australian Naval Board flag, the Franklin was there as well.   Other small coastal vessels  bought a full passenger list of people from Wollongong and Kiama and three motor launches were filled with people from the college.

Franklyn0002H.M.A.S Brisbane (top) and the Franklin.

Motor vehicles and horse-drawn vehicles streamed into the college from the neighbouring districts.  The waiting crowds moved towards the jetty where the landing was to take place.

Cars assembled at the College for the Prince's visit.

Coming ashore the Prince was greeted by a band playing the Royal Salute in synchrony with the presenting arms of a guard of honour from the Brisbane.

He received another welcome from the fringe of spectators who thronged the foreshores and hillsides.


The quarterdeck was festooned with colourful bunting flying on the fresh breezy sunlit afternoon. The Prince conducted an inspection of the college frequently expressing his appreciation of the admirable site selected for the college and the general layout of the buildings. He ended the formal programme watching a rugby football match between the officers of the Renown and the cadets.


The Price inspecting the cadets.

The Prince closed the official proceedings by inspecting the cadets before returning to the Renown.
The following day the Prince traveled to Tomerong, and there mounted horses, which they rode for a couple of hours.
At 3a.m the next day the Renown left Jervis Bay, and five hours later entered Sydney Harbour.



11 October 2017

A schooner in distress off Jervis Bay 1883.

At the mercy of the winds, tides and currents, the old sailing ships could find themselves at sea longer than they were prepared for.

Melbourne Age. Saturday 15th September 1883.
Captain Herberts, of the barque Acacia, which arrived today reports having fallen in with the schooner Edith May, 25 days out from Daintree Bay to Melbourne off Jervis Bay.  She signalled that she was short of provisions,  and a supply was given to her.  The captain stated that a part of the crew had  been laid up with fever,  but were much better.   The schooner tried to make Sydney, but failed.


8 October 2017

On this day

October 7 1826 - Wesleyan missionary John Harper led an expedition to the South Coast in the hope of finding a suitable location to base a mission.  During the voyage he visited Jervis Bay and met with local aboriginals on Bowen Island.


On this day

Wreck of the Summercloud – 10th October 1870

When you visit Booderie National Park you could find yourself in an area called Summercloud Bay
The area nestles on the northern reaches of what is known as Wreck Bay.  Summercloud is a small south facing  bay with crystal clear blue water fringed with a white sandy beach. When a northerly offshore wind blows you will find the area calm and peaceful.  This calm belies its past history.   The Wreck Bay area is a graveyard for ships, hence the name.   The topography which affords protection in northerly winds is the very reason so many ships have met with disaster withing Wreck Bay,  following is the story of one of those ships.



5th October 1870  -  The Barque Summer Cloud
, with 60 tons of salt on board, left Melbourne, and experienced fine weather on her journey north,

7th  - The wind freshened from the E.N.E, with thick dirty weather setting in..

8th - During the evening the wind veered to the N.W.

9th - The wind turned back to the N.E., and blew in strong gusts, the weather still being very thick, no land having been sighted since clearing the Kent Group.

10th - The wind turned to the S.S.E., They sighted land on the weather bow, which afterwards proved to be the east side of Wreck Bay,  the vessel at the time was steering N by E., and being unable to get an offing, Captain Anthony at once squared away, and ran her ashore on the beach, about 5 miles to the northward of where the ill-fated ship Walter Hood was wrecked, but before she took the beach she grazed on a reef;  the fore and mainmasts were afterwards cut away to prevent her rolling, and it being the top of high water, the crew, with the Captain's wife and owners, soon managed to reach the shore after a deal of difficulty.

13th - Mr Parnell junior discovered the wreck and conveyed the crew and passengers to the Cape St George Lighthouse where they were kindly treated by the lighthouse keeper Mr Lee, from there the sad news was telegraphed to the owners.

Captain Anthony states that when he left her on the 21st she was lying high and dry at low water, apparently uninjured, with about two feet of water in her.  She is the property of Mr Thomas Trelevean of Newcastle and is insured in the National Marine Insurance Company, of Adelaide, for the sum of £1500.

She became a total wreck and today the vessel's ballast and anchor chain cable can be observed northeast of the Summer Cloud Cove boat ramp

A wooden barquentine of 336 tons gross, 39.28m, built in Miramichi, New Brunswick, Canada in 1855.

The wreck was purchased by Craig Brothers, of Sydney for 301 pounds.


Meaning: Barque - a sailing ship, typically with three masts, in which the foremast and mainmast are square-rigged and the mizzenmast is rigged fore and aft.

imageExample of a wooden barquentine

Continue reading about the Walter Hood which became a total wreck in Wreck Bay.
Continue reading about the Barque Italy which ran aground in Wreck Bay.
Continue reading about the Corangamite which became a total wreck in Wreck Bay.
Continue reading about the Hive and the Blackbird which became total wrecks in Wreck bay.
Continue reading about the Mokau which became a total wreck in Wreck Bay.


5 October 2017

Huskisson Past

Owen Street Huskisson 1985.



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.


3 October 2017

Battling a storm off Cape Horn in the Barque Peking 1929.

This incredible footage was taken by a sailor aboard the 4 masted barque Peking as she rounded Cape Horn during a storm. It gives you a dramatic insight into the difficulties ships and their crews could deal with in the course of their life at sea. 

Tremendous storms were often encountered by ships travelling along the south-east coast.  Looking through this blog you will find many stories about ships, crews and passengers fighting for their lives battling monstrous seas stirred up by hurricane-force winds

The Peking Battles Cape Horn was filmed by Captain Irving Johnson in 1929, & was voiced over by him in 1980.


On this Day Jervis Bay 3rd October 1913

In what must have been an impressive display the first fleet of the Royal Australian Navy comprising the flagship H.M.A.S. Australia and her sister ships Sydney, Melbourne, Encounter, Psyche, Cambrian, Parramatta, Yarra and Warrego assembled in Jervis Bay for final preparations before their journey to Sydney to steam into Port Jackson as part of Fleet Week.

hmas sydneyHMAS_Melbourne_(1912)_-_Project_Gutenberg_eText_18333HMAS_Encounterhmas PsycheHMS_Cambrian_1910_AWM_302155HMAS_Parramatta_1910yarra-010002


28 September 2017

Wreck of the Martha and Elizabeth May 1855.

There are many shipwrecks in the Shoalhaven area, some have a story to tell while others leave us in wonder as to the fate of the ship, crew and passengers.  The people involved in this story found themselves in a rapidly deteriorating life-threatening situation where small decisions and quick actions made the difference between life and death.

The story of the Schooner Martha and Elizabeth is one of heroism, and a great deal of luck. 
The fact that there were no casualties in such dire circumstances is amazing.

As you read the story try to put yourself in their situation.   It's pitch black, you trying to stay upright on a twisting, pitching, rolling ship,  all around you the noise of the ship smashing and grinding against the cliffs down both sides of the ship,  timbers are splintering and coming apart around you, the rigging is hanging everywhere,  the ship is quickly breaking apart.   The fearful shouts and screams from the passengers trying to be heard over the sound of crashing waves engulfing the ship, the captain shouting orders to his crew, the wind-driven rain against your exposed wet and cold skin.  These people were in a desperate struggle for survival.

The schooner Martha and Elizabeth under the command of Captain Anderson was on a voyage between Melbourne and Newcastle when she ran into difficult weather and currents
close to Jervis Bay.

April 26th -  At 5.30pm. nearing Jervis Bay they sighted Cape St George,  the wind at this time was variable from the S.S.E, with rain and thick weather, Captain Anderson steered the vessel N.E by N. 

7.30pm - The wind was variable, with heavy showers and the current setting was very strong to the southward.

8.pm - Captain Anderson found the current setting put the vessel down upon Point Perpendicular, he immediately tacked to the southward.

8.40pm - Finding the schooner would not fetch the south-head of Jervis Bay, on the port tack, the captain tacked to the N.E.

8.50pm - At this time all was calm,  but, the vessel was setting in fast to the breakers with a heavy swell from the eastward. 

9.pm - Finding the vessel close to the cliff,  with no possibility of saving her, they cleared away, and launched the boat but owing to the heavy ground swell the boat filled and parted from the ship with one hand,  Robert Jellicar in her, but he, fortunately, caught a rope  and was saved by hauling him over the stern of the schooner.

9.30pm - the vessel came stern on,  the main boom struck the cliff and she parted amidships.  the vessel payed around to starboard and was driven into a gully in the cliff just large enough to admit her lengthways. Upon entering the vessel struck instantly abaft,  the sea breaking furiously over her. 
Finding she could not last many minutes they endeavoured to get a line ashore by means of a small grappling.   Finding the grappling would not hook the rocks one of the hands R. Jelliear,  got footing by swimming from the stern,  while another,  John Rogers,  jumped from the bowsprit, which instantly afterwards parted from the vessel.  The remaining hands, with the captain's wife and sister, had robes slung around their bodies and hauled ashore by those ashore,  the captain was the last to leave the vessel. The crew and the captain's wife and sister had scarcely any clothing,  and not a shoe to their feet. They had scarcely secured a footing on the slippery rocks when the vessel broke up.

11.pm. - The vessel had broken into small pieces.  After some searching in the dark, they found a small ledge in the rocks where they all assembled for the night.  It was intensely cold, with a strong easterly wind and incessant rain throughout the night. 

April 27th.
First light revealed a desperate scene.
- The survivors could see nothing of the Martha and Elizabeth other than some small pieces of wreckage,  nothing could be saved.

Assending the cliff
. They found themselves at the base of steep cliffs, they now had to find a way to the top,  which they did with great difficulty.   The area they were in was isolated with no help close by,  to make their way to the Shoalhaven they had to contend with thick high scrub trees and in some places wade through waist-high swamps.   Having no shoes and scarcely any clothes made the task more painful.  After walking about 18 miles they had the good fortune to come across Mr Kinghorn's whaling station.   Captain William Kinghorn set up a land based operation on the northern side of the bay near Montague Point on the Mount Jervis property belonging to his father Alexander Kinghorn.  How long the station remained in operation is unknown

They remained with Captain Kinghorn for the night and were kindly treated.


Captain Kinghorn.

28th April - The party proceeded to the Shoalhaven where they were heartily made welcome by Captain Noel,  of the steamer Nora Creina, and received from him a passage to Sydney.

30th April - After an uneventful trip, the party arrived in Sydney at about midnight, they were most grateful for their lives and to those from whom they received so much kindness.

An amazing story!.

Specifications: Martha & Elizabeth. Schooner, 81 tons. Built Clarence River, 1843; reg. Melbourne, 277/1854. Length 67 ft. Operated in the timber trade off Wilson's Promontory in the 1850s.

                         Nora Creina 142 gross tons, 93 net. Lbd: 133'7" x 18' x 7'7". Iron paddle steamship built at the Neptune Foundry Waterford Ireland for the Commercial S N Co., Waterford. 1853 owned by A G Robinson, Sydney. 1854 purchased by the Shoalhaven S N Co., Sydney and worked the Sydney - south coast ports of New South Wales as a passenger - cargo vessel. February 1857 of the unofficial Illawarra S N Co. (read - Kiama S N Co) Sold 1861-2 to Far East interests. Wrecked October 1849

Meaning: Abaft - in or behind the stern of a ship.

Ref: https://www.flotilla-australia.com/iscsnco.htm


Huskisson then and now.



An interesting comparison, the top photograph was taken circa 1929, the bottom photo was taken September 2017.


Huskisson 2017

As summer warmth approaches getting up early is becoming easier. The rewards for the early risers is well worth the effort.