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.

20 October 2017

Jervis Bay signal flags


Signal flags played a vital roll in the safe navigation of all vessels working along the coast. In the days before radio communication it was the most reliable way ships, lighthouse keepers and harbour masters could communicate.


S.S Wee Clyde

The east coast of Australia was a very busy place during the 1920's, tall sailing ships were still being used but were rapidly being replaced by the smaller faster steamers. Hundreds of steamers were plying the coast from northern Queensland to Victoria.  Every now and again one vessel would stand out from the rest and become a household name in the region she operated, sometimes by the sheer volume of work, sometimes by the vessels exploits. The S.S. Wee Clyde was one of those steamers.

    "The S.S Wee Clyde is a household name on the south coast and few travelled as far as Tilba Tilba or Tathra without hearing of the doings of the Wee Clyde."
Daily commercial news and shipping report 1918.

She was a small coasting steamer built at Fosters Bay, Wagonga River for the Clyde Saw Milling and Shipping Co., purely as a cargo steamer.  168 tons with a carrying capacity of 220 tons, used first to ship timber from the companies mills,  it wasn't long before she became a freighter for general cargo doing weekly runs to and from the south coast.  During her life at sea, she covered many thousands of miles and suffered her share of incidents some involved Jervis Bay.

imageThe Wee Clyde being built in Forster's Bay, Narooma] [picture] / [William Henry Corkhill]
REF: http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-140311923/view


October 1929.
Fears held for missing steamer.

Thursday 13th October – On one of her regular trips to Sydney the Wee Clyde was reported missing and concerns were raised when she didn't arrive at her destination as expected.   Nothing was heard of her until the steamers second officer, Martin Fiel contacted her owners from the Crookhaven Heads Light House telling them she was helplessly adrift off Crookhaven with a broken tail shaft. 
With no way of reporting their plight and no other help at hand the second officer, Martin Fiel, manned the Wee Clydes lifeboat and rowed a hazardous 15 miles to shore to raise the alarm.

Friday 14th Oct -  the following day the Wee Clyde was picked up by the S.S. Benandra and towed safely into Jervis Bay.

Saturday 15th Oct - The Fenwick & Co.'s Tug Heroic was sent from Sydney overnight and on
Saturday Morning with the Wee Clyde in tow headed out of Jervis Bay for Sydney arriving about 6 p.m. the same day.


The Wee Clyde was a valuable asset for the south coast communities
, leaving Sydney the steamer would call at Ulladulla, Batemans Bay, Narooma and Wagonga, and at intervals at Shallow Crossing which is situated on the Clyde River, as well as Beagle Bay and Potato Point.  The steamer was a vital link for these places providing provisions and trading goods.

During the course of her working life the Wee Clyde was involved in many incidents, below are some of the reported ones,  I'm sure there were many more.


May 1912 - she towed the 272-ton brigantine, Carmen, back to Sydney. The Carmen had been dismasted during strong gales and was drifting helplessly near Montague Island.  She was described as being in a very battered condition.
July 1912  - She ran ashore at the head of Nilligen reach during the night, refloated without injury.
July 1912  - Bar Bound for a week Batemans Bay, refloated without injury.


December 1912
,  - Went aground crossing Batemans Bay Bar, refloated without injury.
June 1913 – She sought shelter inside Jervis Bay from a south coast gale and rough seas.
April 1915 – Damaged her rudder crossing the Narooma Bar, however, she proceeded on her voyage to Sydney.
March 1916 - Heading to Batemans Bay she put back into Sydney Harbour because of heavy seas.
Feb 1918  - She ran aground on the Narooma bar, refloated without injury.
Feb 1918 -  During bad weather the Wee Clyde was reported by the lighthouse as passing Jervis Bay on Wednesday. Fears were raised when she didn't arrive in Sydney as expected the following day. Up until Saturday midday there was no further mention of the vessel and it was believed she had foundered in the gale. Late on Saturday, the owners were notified the Wee Clyde was safe and sheltering inside Jervis Bay.


January 1922 - The Wee Clyde was involved in an incident near Lime Street Wharf, Sydney.  A small launch was caught up in the wash from the steamer Wyandra and capsized,   a passenger was trapped inside the sunken launch,  despite individual efforts in dangerous conditions by three men, the man couldn't be rescued.  The Wee Clyde's crew assisted in the rescue attempt..

benandraThe S.S. Benandra which rescued the Wee Clyde in the above mentioned incident also has an interesting story attached to it's life on the south coast.
Continue Reading about the S.S. Benandra.


17 October 2017

Jervis Bay Road then and now..

Jervis Bay Road before bitumemjervis-bay-road-from-the-collections-of-the-State-Library-of-New-South-Wales.Public Domain Image. State Library of NSW. Date 1937.


Some interesting articles about Jervis Bay Road.

The Nowra Leader (NSW : 1909 - 1939) Fri 26 Jul 1912.



The Shoalhaven Telegraph (NSW : 1881 - 1937) Wed 16 Mar 1927


The Nowra Leader (NSW : 1909 - 1939) Fri 22 Oct 1937



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.