April 7 - 13, 2013: Issue 105


Broken Bay Customs Station at Barrenjoey 

In Smuggling at Broken Bay by Shelagh Champion OAM a notorious instance of smuggling in Pittwater indicates a ‘final straw’ reason for constructing and maintaining a Customs Station in Broken Bay. Pittwater, Broken Bay and the many tributaries of the Hawkesbury with all their caves along shorelines and creek beds were obvious places to hide contraband and move it overland into Sydney. The amount of large and small vessels coming and going or mooring in Pittwater’s quieter waters when gales made seas dangerous, and a logged count of these, would have added impetus in checking the destinations and safety of the many ships running up and down the east coast of Australia. The Pittwater waterways and sheltered coves in the early days of New South Wales settlement by Europeans were considered to be Sydney’s second harbour and a port people at leisure as well as in the business of shipping goods knew well. Relatives of original settlers speak of an attitude of Pittwater being far enough away from Sydney to be free of the scrutiny of Law keepers. With men who also worked their own holdings appointed as constables for the district, Martin Burke and Robert MacIntosh (Pittwater) Robert Henderson (Brisbane Waters), a man who later sold rum, ambiguity around those sent to catch crooks smuggling or residents running illegal stills focused further scrutiny on the district. Interestingly the name of a local cave, the ‘Hole in the Wall’ at Avalon, seems to illustrate a long held local attitude towards the ‘rogue’s game’;

Hole In the Wall."
When I was in Scotland, I visited many crofter's homes in the Highlands with my uncle, a minister of the Church of Scotland. The typical home of the Scotch peasants consists of a passage and a "But and Ben" on the ground floor, and a loft above the "But" is the living room or kitchen, and the "Ben"  is the best room. In both are the concealed beds always known as box-beds. Sliding doors hide the beds during the day. I have seen these beds in a modern flat in Glasgow, and in crofters' homes around Grantown, also at Cromarty, Inverness, Dingwall, Oban, and Helensburgh, but never heard them called  "The Hole in the Wall;" they are always termed box-beds. I believe Robbie Burns was born in one, and I think so was Hugh Millar. 
Is it not more likely that the old Inn at Paddington called "The Hole in the W'all" derived its name from the old "Hole In the Wall" at Pittwater, near Sydney, which was well known 70 or 80 years ago, or from some similar natural formation in the cliffs found very frequently along the Cornish coast. These were commonly associated with the smuggling of brandy and French wines to escape the duty. Many a boatload of contraband spirits escaped the excise officers by disappearing through one of these, natural arches called "The Hole in the Wall." It seems very possible that some old Sydney Innkeeper associated with smuggling in his early days, or with the providing of duty free spirits, called his inn by this name in the hope of attracting ex-smugglers, seamen, and others who, on principle, preferred spirits that had evaded the duty.
I am, etc.,   MARY E. J. YEO. Yass, Oct. 27.
"THE HOLE IN THE WALL.". (1927, October 31). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved from
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article28054926

The fictional ‘Three Fifties and a Ten’ by the proprietor of the ‘Hawkesbury Chronicle’ George C Johnson, written under one of his non de plumes, Kooyal, gives a further great recounting of one groups escapades meeting a ship off Barrenjoey and moving contraband up the river. Another letter regarding the then recent offloading of rum and brandy from the Fair Barbadian into Broken Bay ignited the District’s infamy anew and was a clarion call demanding to be answered:

SMUGGLING. To the Editors of the Sydney Herald.
GENTLEMEN,--As the late seizure of spirits made by the Water Police, is now the general topic of conversation, 1 have no doubt it will arouse the Government from the state of apathy and indolence in which it has been indulging itself for the past two years, and show its members the necessity of taking the most prompt and energetic measures, in order| to put a stop to a practice which threatens materially to diminish the revenue, and cause distress to the fair trader : for there can bono doubt, that although the quantity lately seized is large, yet we are warrantee! to say that it bears a very small proportion to that already successfully run during the past two years, or since the extra inducement has been held out by the Government in the increase of duties ; an inducement which would have yielded to the smuggler of the above spirits, had he succeeded, a clear profit of upwards of £280 above the amount of duties, hail they been as before, at 10s. 2d. per gallon; with such a fact before our eyes, let us ask the Government what has it done to prevent these nefarious transactions? Has it increased the number of revenue officers? Has it established any outports along the coast? No! Or, in a word, has it taken such measures as the nature of the coast, and the inducement offered to the smuggler, would lead us to expect? We are reluctantly compelled to answer in the negative. But leaving for a short time the above, let us take a slight glance at the manner in which these smuggling transactions are carried on, which is simply as follows : a merchant enters for exportation a certain quantity of spirits, signs the usual bonds, passes the proper entries, which being duly accomplished, a Custom House officer is appointed to see the goods properly shipped, which is accordingly done; thus far everything goes on correctly. After receiving the quantity of spirits and tobacco intended to be run, the vessel clears out for Guam, New Zealand, or some such port, hovers about the coast some time to see if she is observed, runs into Broken Bay, and there discharges her cargo, which is stored in some secluded spot, and brought up to Sydney in small quantities, (according to the demand), by the various coasters in the employ of the agents at those parts; these, upon arrival, land their cargoes without the slightest examination, which are accordingly carted away and deposited in the warehouses, and the smuggling finally and successfully completed.

If the above is a correct statement, of the manner in which smuggling is carried on, surely Government is called upon to use every endeavour, if not entirely to suppress, at least to prevent its being carried on to so alarming an extent in the first place, if  instead of allowing the revenue cutter to lie idle in the harbour for weeks together, it was sent to keep a continued and vigilant cruise along and in the inlets of the coast, much good might be effected; again, an, active revenue officer with a boat's crew, might be stationed at Broken Bay, or one of the most convenient spots to overhaul every coaster in and out; and thirdly, one or two officers might be stationed to examine the discharge of  the coasters, these, with an active watch by the Water Police stationed at Goat Island and Bradley's Head, and keeping an eye at Johnson's Bay, might tend materially to lessen such practices,-and there is no doubt that the increase of the revenue would fully meet the increasing expense of such appointments, and give satisfaction to all parties opposed to this wholesale system of smuggling. COAST GUARD. SMUGGLING. (1842, June 25). The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 - 1842), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12875864

Government discussions then took place;

Some conversation took place relative to some additional officers being stationed at Broken Bay, for the prevention of smuggling in that neighbourhood. The Governor said he was aware that it was requisite something should be done in that quarter, but he was not yet prepared with any measure to propose to the council. Legislative Council. (1842, August 11). Australasian Chronicle(Sydney, NSW : 1839 - 1843), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article31736840

While the trial of those responsible appeared in local newspapers late in 1842, four convicts were sent to build a three roomed timber Customs House and track up to the headland. The cottage was built beside where the current Ranger's House is. Directions from Colonel Gibbs of the Customs Service, Sydney, regarding the track were to
"Form a winding path up the south face of the mountain by clearing the bushes and making steps where required, to a flat place on the top near  the western end where a sentry box or watch hut is to be built and a flag staff erected."
When the Customs Station was established, ships were required to report before entry into Broken Bay, so a watchman was posted to observe vessels arriving and departing.
From "Tales of Barrenjoey" Jervis Sparks, 1992. National Parks and Wildlife Service NSW

This track is what we now know as 'Smugglers Track'; a steep, winding and narrow path. These prerequisites were completed by April 25th 1943  at quite a large sum - but in consequence of the formation of an establishment at Broken Bay, which had been deemed absolutely necessary, in order to prevent the recurrence of frauds on the revenue, which had been perpetrated to an enormous amount, an additional expense of £4386 10s. had been incurred. Legislative Council. (1843, September 30). Australasian Chronicle (Sydney, NSW : 1839 - 1843), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article31741175

The first Customs Officer of Broken Bay did not have an auspicious beginning;

Providential Deliverance.,-On Wednesday last, a boat was picked up in the vicinity of Bird Island by the steamer Thistle, on her passage from Morpeth. She had made signals to the steamer, which was instantly stopped for the purpose of affording succour. The boat was found to belong to the customs, having on board Mr. Howard and a party of three men from the custom's department, who had left Sydney in company with the revenue cutter, which latter was taking down several articles for the formation of the establishment of customs at Broken Bay ; and, upon getting outside the Heads, it commenced blowing very hard from the southwest, when the boats separated, Mr. Howard's boat being drifted off the land, which not withstanding their utmost exertions the men could not gain again, and in all probability never would, as they were twenty-four hours short of provisions, and being somewhat exhausted, they must inevitably have been drifted off to sea and perished, had not the Thistle providentially rescued them from their perilous situation. Captain Mulhall took them onboard the Thistle, and also had the boat hoisted in, and brought them back to Sydney. The other boat, which had also three men on board, has not since been heard of, and fears are entertained for her safety. SYDNEY. (1843, May 20). Launceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 - 1899), p. 6 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article36233574

Left: Barranjoey Head, Broken Bay [1884?] nla.pic-an6438965 by Graham, H. J. (Harold John), 1858-1929. Courtesy National Libray of Australia

NEW APPOINTMENT. — His Excellency the Governor haes been pleased to appoint Mr. Richard Williams, of the department of customs at Broken Bay, to be an inspector of distilleries. DR. LEICHARDT. (1846, April 1). Morning Chronicle (Sydney, NSW : 1843 - 1846), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article31747700

John Broadley Howard had a whaling boat and a smaller boat at his disposal for his work. Assigned to him were a coxswain and five convicts. It wasn't long before some of these men ran into trouble:

A CONVICT BOATMAN.—On Saturday last, Mr. Richard Williams, Custom-house officer, stationed at Broken Bay, gave Bartholomew Doran, an assigned boatman to the Customs at Broken Bay, in charge to constable McDonald, of the Sydney Police, for robbing the hut of a man named Cornelius Shee. As Shee was absent when the charge was made, and his hut open and emptied of its contents, the value of the property stolen could not be estimated, Doran, on arriving in Sydney, was forwarded to the Hyde Park Barrack Court. Family Notices. (1847, January 27). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12900402

J B Howard was vigilant in his duties, accepting the help of Bowen Bungaree, who lived with his family at Barrenjoey, in finding illegal stills and venturing out on dark nights to patrol the waters. His duties in successfully stamping out smuggling and illegal stills within the vicinity could also be attributed to a wooden soldier;

PITT WATER. EARLY HISTORY. IN THE DAYS OF THE SMUGGLERS.  In a paper on early Pittwater read at the monthly meeting of the Manly Warringah and Pittwater Historical Society Mr W L Ross said that the inlet was an important centre in the early days of the settlement at Sydney Cove. The Hawkesbury and its tributaries produced the bulk of the cereals for the colony and Pittwater was the port for the farming districts. Shipbuilding  was also carried on at Pittwater which was considered a wheat growing area. In 1819 a constable Robert McIntosh was sent to the district to preserve law and order

In 1804 said Mr Ross the natives complained to Governor Hunter that the settlers had grown so numerous that the natives had been driven back from the river. The Governor promised that a portion of the district would be reserved for the natives and the remains of their camping places may still be found around the head of Pittwater. For many years a customs-house remained at Barrenjoey and the customs officer had brushes with smugglers. One customs officer fashioned and erected a wooden figure of a soldier near the beach to check the smugglers. The wooden figure was dressed in a pair of white trousers, a scarlet coat and a tall helmet made of tin surmounted with a plume. There was a sword in the hand of the figure and scabbard at Its side. The figure was placed in front of a cave near where the lighthouse now stands. The figure said Mr Ross kept off many smugglers but the captain of one vessel thinking that the drawn sword was a signal of distress, landed to offer assistance and the ruse was exposed. The figure remained until a few years ago when white ants ate the  legs and the figure collapsed " Wooden Soldier. (1927, August 2). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 10. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16394068

Tricks of the Smuggler By . . E. S. Sorenson. SMUGGLING was a more or less active waterside industry even before the roaring days of the goldfields, which attracted hordes of Chinese to the country. Pittwater seems to have been the first port for the illegal traffic. A custom house stood at Barrenjoey, where the officer in charge had many a brush with the smugglers. At last the official rigged up a dummy soldier to scare them oft". The figure was made of wood, dressed in white trousers, scarlet coat, and tall tin helmet stir mounted with a plume. With a sword in hand and scabbard at his side, Dummy was stationed in front of a cave near the present lighthouse, and for a time his presence caused the smugglers to sheer oft". Then one wily mariner, after a long scrutiny, noticed that the sentinel never moved, even to scratch himself. So he sailed in, and the ruse was exposed. But the figure remained for years afterwards, till white ants ate his legs away and he collapsed. Tricks of the Smuggler. (1936, May 29). The Land (Sydney, NSW : 1911 - 1954), p. 14. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article104230976

Mr Howard was one of many men who became fathers while stationed at Barrenjoey:

On Wednesday, the 14th instant, at the Customs Station, Broken Bay, Mrs. J. B.Howard, of a daughter. Family Notices. (1845, May 21). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12879665

Apart from keeping an eye on all things shipping Mr Howard was an example of another obvious responsibility these men undertook was to care for those who came within their waters:

Shipwreck. - On Tuesday last, the 22nd instant, about thirty minutes past eight p.m. the cutter Mary Walfe, master, belonging to Mr Parnel, parted her cable whilst laying off Mount Elliott and went ashore. The master and his mate, the only persons on board, managed to save themselves and a portion of the stores. They were taken off the island by Mr Howard, the officer in charge of the customs station at Broken Bay, who lent them a boat, and assistance to proceed to the owner of the vessel, who lives up Burrowra  Creek. IMPORTS. (1845, May 3). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12879197

Records researched indicate ship dilemmas on an almost weekly basis around Barrenjoey and waters further south and north. In these incidents the customs Officers at Barrenjoey appear again and again as those who have saved lives. Albert Thomas Black, who commenced duties at Broken Bay Customs Station in 1868 soon after his marriage to Kate Margaret Mulligan on March 21st, appears again and again in these rescues. One example:

 

Barrenjuey [i.e. Barrenjoey], Broken Bay 1869 Jan. 16 by George Penkivil Slade. nla.pic-an6454687, courtesy National Library of Australia. 

FATAL OCCURRENCE AT BARRANJUIE,  BROKEN BAY.
ON Boxing-day, Mr. George Smith, J.P., of Manly, held at Barranjuie a magisterial enquiry into the cause of death of a man named Henry Tucker. The following evidence was taken :-Francis Smith deposed that he was a gentle-man living at Balmain; on the morning of Saturday, the 23rd instant, he started from his wharf in company of John Walker, George Williams, and deceased Henry Tucker, in  an open sailing-boat of about three tons, the ketch Ada to proceed to Broken Bay on a pleasure; trip ; a southerly wind was blowing at the time, which fell light after they-got outside the Sydney Heads ; about 12 o'clock the wind came round to the north-east, so they tacked about till about 6 p.m., when he found himself about two miles to the north of Long Reef, and about eight miles from the land; witness then started their course for the North Head of Broken Bay, which he passed at a distance of about two miles; the breeze freshening, and night coming on, he ordered a sharp look-out to be kept for the lights on Barranjuie, which were not visible; the time, as nearly as he could calculate, was then about 7 o'clock; it having set in night they continued a northerly course, deciding upon making the nearest place for shelter; upon daylight appearing this proved to be a bay called Boat Harbour, about one mile south of Barrenjuie; when witness saw the light-house and flagstaff in the morning, he made sail for Broken Bay with a E.N.E. wind blowing ; he rounded Barranjuie Point about half-past 8 o'clock on Sunday morning, and anchored under the inner light-house; he remained for some time fishing, and then made for the inner (western)point of Barranjuie and anchored again ; the wind shortly afterwards freshened ; he rode the breeze out in this spot until he saw indications of a southerly wind, when he attempted to take up a safer position; he made sail, and began to tack up the bay, when their small boat at the stern broke away: he attempted to wear his own boat round to recover the small one, when she jibed and took in a considerable quantity of water; he then tried to run under the lee of the land, but before reaching it she gradually sank; witness made for the shore with George Williams, deceased and John Walker still clinging to some portion of the seats;  after being in the water some twenty minutes, witness was picked up much exhausted by the captain and crew of the Weat Hartley No. 2 schooner and taken to the residence of Mr. A. T. Black, Collector of Customs, where, after much attention, he gradually recovered; he saw the body of deceased brought into the same room as himself, where every means were used to restore animation, but without success ; had he seen the lights on Barranjuie, his intention was to have entered the heads that night and made for the basin; had these lamps been alight he was sufficiently off the land not to shut them out from view, and he believed that the sad occurrence would have been avoided; deceased had been in his employ for about five months, and was a sober, steady man. George Williams, residing at Richmond Villa, Domain, gave corroborative evidence ; had they seen the lights, their intention was to have gone into the bay, but not seeing them they stood in for the land as it was getting dark; witness was picked up, after the occurrence by Mr. A. T. Black, as was also deceased, who appeared to be dead.  John Walker also gave corroborative testimony;  he stated  that on the boat setting down, deceased and witness went into the water together but seeing him paralysed, with fear, witness tried to encourage him by placing a piece of wood under his arms and cheering him up;  he kept calling out for help, which further exhausted him, so that on assistance reaching them he believed life to be almost extinct; at the Custom House everything was done to restore animation. Albert Thomas Black, Collector of Customs at Barranjuie, deposed to starting with his crew to the rescue of some men in a boat which he heard had upset; he rescued George Williams, John Walker, and deceased (whom he believed to be dead),and seeing that a boat was making for Francis Smith, and considering him safe to be picked up, he made for home; he tried for a couple of hours to restore life in Tucker, but failed; he desired to mention the heroic conduct of a lad named Jeremiah Connolly, who, of his own accord, put off in a small boat to save these drowning men. John Connolly, one of Mr. Black's crew, gave evidence as to the up-setting of the boat, which he witnessed from the shore. From the evidence adduced, Mr, Smith, gave it as his opinion that death had resulted from drowning. FATAL OCCURRENCE AT BARRANJUIE, BROKEN BAY.
(1871, December 29). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 9. Retrieved from 
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13250096

Albert Thomas Black, courtesy John Black, great grandson of A T Black.

THE LATE FATAL ACCIDENT IN BROKEN BAY
To ALBERT T. BLACK, Esq., Customs House Officer, Barranjuie.
Sir,- We hasten to avail ourselves of the first opportunity since our arrival in Sydney, publicly to return you and  your courageous crew our sincere and heartfelt thanks for having, with the assistance of the Almighty, been the means of rescuing us from a watery grave on the above occasion. The fact of your having lowered and manned your boat and pulled a distance of over a mile in an almost incredibly short time during a gale of wind, and in a  boisterous sea, reflects the greatest credit on you all – one minute's delay would have caused a further loss of life. Your courage was scarcely exceeded by your kindness in the careful attention bestowed by yourself and family onus when carried in an exhausted and almost dying state into your house, where our wants were carefully supplied, and all seemed to vie with each other in doing the utmost in their power to add to our comforts. Your sympathy and untiring exertions to restore animation to our  unfortunate companion, although without success, deserve more praise than we can find words to convey, and reflect  credit upon the Government for having men like yourselves in the service, who show by their actions that they are willing and prepared to risk their own lives to save their fellow -creatures. In conclusion we trust that your life may be long spared to your wife and family ; and we feel convinced that should a boat accident occur in Broken Bay whilst you are there life will not be lost, if in the power of man to save it. Having remained under your hospitable roof for nearly three days, we bid you a hearty farewell, and assure you that the name of Albert Thomas Black shall be engraven on our hearts as long as it pleases God  to spare us. 
We further desire to express our admiration of the heroic conduct of Master JEREMIAH CONNELLY, who nobly ventured out in a small boat with the object of rendering assistance, thereby showing his willingness, and incurring a great risk, to save life, if possible. 
P.S.-We enclose a small remittance, which please divide among your crew as you think fit. '
Signed, FRANCIS SMITH, Peacock Point, Balmain. J. C. WALKER, Balmain. GEORGE A. WILLIAMS, Richmond Villa, Domain. THE LATE FATAL ACCIDENT IN BROKEN BAY.
(1871, December 29). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 10. Retrieved from
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13249989

John Connelly, one of Mr Black's crew, experienced a fire and loss in April of that same year. Another 'report' points to what families living together and in semi-isolation can experience. Someone here had too much rum or too much sun, or both;

SUPPOSED INCENDIARISM AT BARRENJOEY.-Information was brought yesterday morning to the police, that a night or two since a person named Connolly, residing close to the Custom-house station at Barrenjoey, was alarmed by hearing crackling noise apparently on the roof of his house, and on going outside found the building in flames. Connolly had, during a series of years, got together a large and valuable collection of shells, valued some time back by a skilled conchologist at L200, and these were totally destroyed, as well as the main part of the house. An assumption that the lire was the work of an incendiary, is strengthened by tho fact that some persons at a distance saw some small flashes of flame before the fire broke out, and thinking the family had not gone to bed, made for the house, which was all in a blaze before they reached it. We believe that Mr. George Smith, J. P., of Manly, who usually attends to such matters, will be despatched by the Government to hold a magisterial inquiry into this very suspicious affair. GOVERNMENT GAZETTE. (1871, April 15). Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1875), p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60871107

THE CASES OF W. J. STEERE AND J. QUINN.-Two petitions were lately presented to the Legislative Assembly of a somewhat remarkable character, by two men employed in the Customs' boat at Broken Bay. The accusations and other statements are nearly in the same language, and are as follows, as given by Quinn in his petition:-" On the18th day of January, 1871, while on duty in the Broken Bay Customs' boat, on our way from Gosford to the station, your petitioner was unlawfully assaulted and forced down in the boat by Michael Madden and John Conolly, boatmen. The officer (Mr. A. T. Black) and those men were in a state of drunkenness. Madden was like a madman; he held a stretcher in his hand, as if about to strike me with it, accompanying it with a threat that he would knock my brains out, to that I considered my life to be in danger, and was compelled to jump overboard to save it. Your petitioner attributes the saving of his life to Mr. H. P. Palser, J,P.,  C. E. Jeannerette, manager of the Parramatta Steam Company, and Mr. Rock Davies, master-shipwright, of Brisbane Water, for they took all the stretchers they could got hold of, and threw them overboard, to prevent their being used about some one's head, and one of them assisted W. J. Steere (boatman) to pull the boat into shallow water. After I left the boat, Madden assaulted Steere, and to prevent being struck by Madden with the stretcher he (Steere) had to jump overboard. Messrs. H. P. Palser, C. E. Jeannerette, and R. Davies left, thinking it unsafe to go any further in the boat ; we had to wade over a hundred yards to get to the shore, through the water, and we left the other two boatmen (Connelly and Madden) and Mr. Black, the officer, quarrelling and fighting among themselves in the boat. Your petitioner and the above named gentlemen, and W. J. Steere, boatman, walked to Mr. Davies's place, and Mr. Davies kindly lent your petitioner and Steere a small boat, and we started for the station ; and we had to go across Brisbane Bar in this small boat, and arrived there about half-past 9 o'clock the same night. Your petitioner was discharged on the 9th day of February,1872, without any fault of his own ; and the case having been taken out of the Collector's hand your petitioner could not get an investigation into his case." ADELAIDE. (1873, February 28). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13320475

TO THE EDITOR OF THE HERALD.
Sir,-A paragraph appears in your issue of 28th ultimo, containing the substances of petitions lately presented to the Assembly by two men formerly in the Government service, Customs branch, Broken Bay. As the petition contains statements which reflect upon my character, not only privately, but as a Government official, I beg that you will give insertion to this letter, in which I emphatically and distinctly deny the statements contained in the petitions. These misrepresentations, to call them by no other name, made by these men, were investigated sixteen months ago, and I was honourably exonerated from all blame by the Government. ALBERT T. BLACK. H. M. Customs, Broken Bay, March 10, 1873. TO THE EDITOR OF THE HERALD.
(1873, March 13). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved from
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13308942

If Charles Jeannerette did testify against Mr Black it did not stop the two from being best of friends and entertaining the official party at the laying of the foundations for the lighthouse or Mr Black joing Jeanerette when he hosted other dignitaries in trips up the Hawkesbury river.

Another note of ambiguity is struck with this appointment, despite an attested record of undertaking duties all around Pittwater, due to Albert T Black being the grandson of the deceased privateer (state-sanctioned pirate) and ship's officer Captain John Black and Mary Lord (nee Hyde) one of the colony's richest women by the time of her passing. To his title of Coast Waiter, (a customs house officer who superintends the landing or shipping of goods for the coast trade) Mr Black became a correspondant by telegraph for the Sydney Morning Herald on coasters, schooners and other vessels sheltering in Pittwater,  as well as the Telegraph Officer, the Post Master when a Post Office was opened, superintendant of the Barrenjoey school (1872) in the boatmans cottage and;

Government Gazette. FRIDAY, AUGUST 9. APPOINTMENTS,-Mr. A. T. Black, Customs' Officer at Broken Bay. to act as Inspector of Distilleries for the district of Brisbane Water;  Government Gazette. (1878, August 17). Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 41. Retrieved April 4, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article70594021

APPOINTMENTS.-Mr. Albert Thomas Black, Officer of the Customs at Broken Bay, to be an Acting Assistant Inspector of Fisheries GOVERNMENT GAZETTE. (1883, July 4). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article28375709

Barren Joey Lighthouse (Burrin Ju) [picture]. A. J. Vogan (Arthur James), 1859-1948,[ca. 1910 - ca. 1915] Image H82.254/8/34, courtesy State Library of Victoria.

Mr Black, like many of the Customs Officers stationed at Barrenjoey, saw all of his four sons and two daughters born at Barrenjoey:

BLACK—January 3rd, at the Customs Station, Broken Bay, the wife of Albert T. Black, of a son. Family Notices. (1869, January 29). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13180619

BLACK—November 27, at Barrenjoey, Broken Bay, the wife of Albert T. Black, of a daughter. Family Notices. (1870, December 2). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13214188

BLACK—January 16, at Barrenjoey, Mrs. Albert T. Black, of a son.  Family Notices. (1874, February 13). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13331540

BLACK—June 24, Broken Bay, Mrs. A. T. Black, of a daughter.  Family Notices. (1875, July 9). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13356799

Improvements to dilapidated customs structures and construction of extra buildings, water tanks and the stone wharf began from 1860.  The grounds and buildings, well tended, were singled out for praise more then a few times by visitors. From A Ride to Barranjoey, Sydney Morning Herald 1867:

Just under Barranjoey is the pretty cottage of the Customs officer, Mr Ross and the residences of those connected with the Customs station. There is evidence of taste in the gardens and the other cultivated ground around thestation, and an air of peaceful comfort quite refreshingto those engaged in the turmoil of city life. From the station to the flagstaff on the top of the mount, theascent is by a pretty walk, which must have taken to make and on either side are various shrubs so planted as to throw an acceptable shade over the road. The view from here is a fitting climax to those on the journey down  -to the south-west is a harbour that would hold the  fleets of Great Britain, to the west the mouth of the Hawkesbury, to the north Pyramid Island and the entrance to Brisbane Water, and the innumerable inlets that dent the land stretching far into the sea and forming the South Head of Broken Bay, and on the eastthe unbroken curve of the Pacific. The Ross's house had a pretty rustic appearance with its neatly painted front, and leaf covered verandah, but, as he informed me, the beauty was all in appearance, since the house, a timber erection, had been built so many years ago, that slabs and posts and weatherboards were now so far decayed as to make it doubtful on the occasion of every gale of wind, whether it would stand it out, or succumb before the blast. However, by dint of constant painting and repairing, it is kept in an apparently comfortable state, despite the rottenness that lurks below the surface, and what is worse, the leakage from the roof above. In front of the house is a small, but well kept garden, on a terrace, built up on the side of the hill evidently after a considerable amount of labour, and overlooking from the farther side the men's hut and the beach beyond. From the side of the house, a wicket gate opens upon a broad pathway leading down to the beach, formed into broad low steps, by means of protecting logs, behind which gravel and stones have been laid just sufficiently off the level to secure drainage. The men's hut is a large slab house with a shingle roof admitting wind and rain everywhere, since the lower ends of the slabs have completely rotted away, and they rock away crazily in the wind in all the helplessness of extreme old age; whilst the boat's crew have their slumbers protected from the pelting rain that would otherwise penetrate the leaky rotten roof, only by the large tarpaulin, or sail, or whatever it is, that is thrown over it. A large boathouse, under which was stored the new and crack boat of the station, stands to the right of the men's hut, with a workshop, in which was a very good and complete supply of tools, attached to it; and at the back, under a shed or lean-to, a little punt, sufficient to accommodate three or four persons, was in course of construction, for use on fishing expeditions.

Running out from the beach immediately in front of these is a long and well constructed jetty, built on piles, and carried into good deep water at the lowest tides. At the back of the cottage we were shown, with evident pride, the arrangements that had been made for supplying the station with water. These were effected by bringing the water of a beautifully clear and crystal spring, by means of long troughs from a dank, rocky gully in the mountain's side, whence it took its source, down to the bask of the premises, and within easy reach of the domestics. This stream, which has never been known to fail, even in the dryest season, is said to be deliciously cold and refreshing…


The Ross's house had a pretty rustic appearance with its neatly painted front, and leaf covered verandah, but, as he informed me, the beauty was all in appearance, since the house, a timber erection, had been built so many years ago, that slabs and posts and weatherboards were now so far decayed as to make it doubtful on the occasion of every gale of wind, whether it would stand it out, or succumb before the blast. However, by dint of constant painting and repairing, it is kept in an apparently comfortable state, despite the rottenness that lurks below the surface, and what is worse, the leakage from the roof above. In front of the house is a small, but well kept garden, on a terrace, built up on the side of the hill evidently after a considerable amount of labour, and overlooking from the farther side the men's hut and the beach beyond. From the side of the house, a wicket gate opens upon a broad pathway leading down to the beach, formed into broad low steps, by means of protecting logs, behind which gravel and stones have been laid just sufficiently off the level to secure drainage. The men's hut is a large slab house with a shingle roof admitting wind and rain everywhere, since the lower ends of the slabs have completely rotted away, and they rock away crazily in the wind in all the helplessness of extreme old age; whilst the boat's crew have their slumbers protected from the pelting rain that would otherwise penetrate the leaky rotten roof, only by the large tarpaulin, or sail, or whatever it is, that is thrown over it. A large boathouse, under which was stored the new and crack boat of the station, stands to the right of the men's hut, with a workshop, in which was a very good and complete supply of tools, attached to it; and at the back, under a shed or lean-to, a little punt, sufficient to accommodate three or four persons, was in course of construction, for use on fishing expeditions.

Running out from the beach immediately in front of these is a long and well constructed jetty, built on piles, and carried into good deep water at the lowest tides. At the back of the cottage we were shown, with evident pride, the arrangements that had been made for supplying the station with water. These were effected by bringing the water of a beautifully clear and crystal spring, by means of long troughs from a dank, rocky gully in the mountain's side, whence it took its source, down to the bask of the premises, and within easy reach of the domestics. This stream, which has never been known to fail, even in the dryest season, is said to be deliciously cold and refreshing…

Broken Bay. Date(s) of creation:1889. Image No: mp000367. Courtesy State Library of Victoria

Mr Black passed away in August 22nd, 1890, at only fifty years of age, at his then home at Woollahra. His wife, Kate, did not leave the Customs Station until February 24th 1891, continuing her duties as postmistress during this time. Mark Thomas Cohen was stationed at the Customs Office until August 1891 when Captain W H Champion and his family then took over the duties.

Captain William Henry Champion was then the head Customs Officer from 1891-1903, his wife and ten year old daughter sharing the 'postmistress' duties. His wife, through Duguld Thomson, MP, was appointed to Pymble Post office on the Captains retirement in 1903.

CHAMPION. —March 10, 1906, at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Captain William Henry Champion, late of Barrenjoey, Broken Bay, aged 71 years. Family Notices. (1906, March 12). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article147582Barrenjoey Lighthouse, ca. 1900-1910, Image No: a116418, courtesy State Library of NSW;  Mona Vale Library Image's state this is circa 1890 and Captain William Champion is gentleman to right of this sepia photo.

CHAMPION.-August 28, 1914, at the residence, Postoffice, Pymble, Eva Aldena (late Postmistress), widow of the late Captain W. H. Champion, H.M. Customs, Barranjoey, Broken Bay, and dearly beloved mother of Queenie and Nathalie Champion. At rest. Interment at Gordon Cemetery, Saturday, 29th, 11.30 a.m. Family Notices. (1914, August 29). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 12. Retrieved , from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15533371

Further threads point to a Hawkesbury river association in Mr Frank Eckman, anoither Customs Station Officer of this last period. He married the daughter of a renowned captain. The Eckman's also lost a loved one at Barrenjoey;

ECKMAN. May 16, 1943, at her residence, 117 Douglas Street, Stockton, Newcastle, Frances Phelemina Eckman, daughter of the late Captain Peter and Sarah Melvey and beloved wife of the late Frank Eckman(late of the Customs), and mother of Melvey, Willie, Ernest, Ada, Zita, and Frank, aged 83 years. R.I.P. Family Notices. (1943, May 17). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved April 4, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17848742

ECKMAN.On Monday, March 16, John Joseph, the youngest dearly beloved son of Frank and Frances Eckman, and grandson of Peter and Sarah Melvey, Hawkesbury River, accidentally drowned at Barrenjoey, aged 18 months.  Family Notices. (1891, March 20). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13818120

ECKMAN. —October 28, at his son-in-law's residence, 29 Douglas-street, Stockton, Frank Eckman, late of Customs, Barranjoey and Newcastle, dearly loved husband of Frances Eckman, and father of Melvey, William, Ernest, Frank, Ada and Zita, and son-in-law of the late Captain Melvey, of North Sydney, aged 72 years. Family Notices. (1925, October 30). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 10. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16251639

Another gentleman Customs employee of Broken Bay illustrates men of high calibre were chosen:

MR. C. E. STUART. Mr. Charles Edward Stuart, who came to Sydney in 1884 with the late Edward Hanlon, then champion sculler of the world, and who was later a prominent member of the old Mercantile Rowing Club, died recently at his home, 22 Milner-street, Mosman. Mr. Stuart joined the Customs service in 1897, and was stationed at Barrenjoey, Broken Bay. There, in May, 1898, he was the first to see and report the wreck of the steamer Maitland on the rocks at Cape Three Point. He was transferred to Sydney in 1901, and was attached to the warehouse branch. He retired in 1922. A widow survives him.

The funeral took place at the Presbyterian Cemetery, Northern Suburbs. The Rev. D. P. McDonald conducted a preliminary Service and read the prayers at the grave-side. The chief mourners were Messrs.Walter Stuart (brother) and B. Stuart, W. H. Smith, Stuart Massey, and Raymond and William Dawson (nephews). Others present Included Messrs. J. Banks (Sub-Collector of Customs),R. Lynch, R. Bindon, J. Smart, W. Bedford, W. Stockbridge, sen., H. Stockbridge, Jun., N. Doney, and A. Parsons. MR. C. E. STUART. (1925, September 7). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 13. Retrieved March 25, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16240366

The Commonwealth of Australia Act, 1901, transferred of the Customs Department to Federal jurisdiction. The collections of customs and excise by the New South Wales Government ceased on 31 December 1900 and the Broken Bay Customs Station was closed. As you may see from the letters found in National Archives of Australia, this took a few years.

In 1932, the Barranjoey Lighthouse was converted to automatic operation with the installation of a acetylene gas apparatus and soon after, the first sign of this headland being used to save ships and people was also rendered defunct and 'closed' too:

OFFERS, closing with the Commonwealth Works Director. Customs-house. Sydney, at 2 p.m. on MONDAY. 26th June, 1933, are Invited for the Purchase and Removal of One Flagstaff from BARRENJOEY LIGHTHOUSE. Advertising. (1933, June 17). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 18. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article28029207

 Above: Wharf, Barrenjoey, Hawkesbury River, 1900-1910. Pic No: a116421, Courtesy of The State Library of NSW

Incidentals: 

June 24, 1837 Mr. John Broadley Howard, of the Customs'  Department, - called in and examined :-I was a resident in Bengal from the year 1827 to 1833. I was employed in the cultivation of indigo. We used to sow abut 8,000 acres annually. The land was cultivated by Boonaha, Hindoos, and Mahometiass. Their wages were about three rupees per month. The labourers found their own rations in all cases. The Boonahs came down from the Hills in gangs of from fifty to two hundred. They were under the superintendence of a sirdar or leader. I have always understood that after two or three years' residence in the Lower Provinces, they return to their own country. They are ac-companied by their wives and children. The women also engage in agricultural employments, at wages somewhat lower than the men. They were employed by as, first in digging the land with a "cadda lee" (a sort of pick-axe), and afterwards in weeding and cutting the indigo—carrying it to the Factory. They were also employed in the preparation of the article. They are very peaceable and quiet. Task-work appeased to answer best with us ; and in hoe-ploughing, one cottah, or the sixtieth part of an acre was reckoned a day's work on rough lands. They used to work from sunrise to sun-set. Their food consists ofrice, fish, and vegetables. They are fond of animal food, and do not, like the Mahometans and Hindoos, object to eat pork or beef. I do not think they could manage an English plough. The ploughs used in India are of a rude construction. They are very unwilling to use English implements ; they say their fathers did without them, and they can do the same. They cannot speak English. They are below the com-mon stature. They are well made, and capable of enduring fatigue; but they are inclined to be indolent, if not looked after. They do not possess the physical strength of Englishman. They will drink spirits, and strong temptation would makethem drunkards. Their clothing is very simple, consisting of nothing more than a d'booty or apron, and a " copra" or cotton rest thrown loosely over the shoulders, which they take off whenat work. They wear no shoes. Their habita-tions are extremely simple ; they own no furnitnre; they sleep on a loose mat, laid on the ground; their amusements are innocent ;they delight in hawking and wild boar hunting, andin the evening they sing an play on their " Tom-Toms;" they marry very young. It s common to see a mother only twelve years old. Their religion I am unable to speak of. I have only been a few months in this Colony, and I am, therefore, unable to speak with precision as to their usefulness to settlers. I do not think they could use the common spade; they would be a service in brick-making, weeding. planting potatoes. There are a class of persons in Indlia called " Barree -wallahs," who would answer better as shepherds if they could be induced to emigrate. I do not think any of the Bonnahs are acquainted with the management of live stock I have occasionally employed them as grooms : they have no scruples about caste, and aredespised by the Hindoos and Mahometans. Theyare decidedly less cunning than the other natives. We found them very useful, and could obtain them in abundance at certain seasons.; that is from the month of October to Febrnary. As to the best mode of obtaining a ship load of Boonahs, I would suggest that an agent, acquainted with their manners  and language should be sent to Calcutta, and from thence proceed up the Ganges to the manufacturing districts - to Jessore and Kishasghur, where he might engage them for a team. They would require about 20 rupees each in advance. Great care should he taken in selecting them--as they differ very much. Their rations on ship board would he similar to those served out to Lascars. The women would be of no use to the Colonists as domestic servants. They are particularly faithful to their husbands. The Boonahs would work best in gangs. I do not think they would work singly. The natives on the Cormmandel Coast are a fine strong race, and I should imagine men might be obtained from Madras or any of the ports on the Coromandel Coast. The Coolies at Calcutta would be useless, and I would not recommend their importation.  (Concelsia qof Indaina Emigratian--evidence. oaBritia. Emigration in our court.) JUNE 21, 1837. (1837, August 11). The Sydney Monitor (NSW : 1828 - 1838), p. 4 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article32156952

TELEGRAMS. Colonial & Intercolonial Messages. BARRENJUEE. Saturday.
The tug Challenge, with a brig in tow, light in ballast, tried to make Broken Bay this afternoon, but, not succeeding, the brig anchored off Cape Three Points, and at 5 p.m. was still at anchor, having fore and main staysails set; but she seemed to be drifting fast to leeward. Wind, S. to S.S.W., blowing a gale, with rain, and the sea rising fast. The tug put into Broken Bay.
The following small traders put in to-day forshelter :-Star of Peace, Prince Alfred, and Eliza. A fresh breezewas running strongly out of the Hawkesbury.
Tuesday. The steamer Pelican, from Brisbane Water to Sydney, sprang a leak, about 4 p.m., off the entrance to Broken Bay. She was at once headed for Pitt Water and beached near the Customs station. It is supposed the injury is only trifling,and can be readily repaired.
TELEGRAMS. Colonial & Intercolonial Messages. (1876, July 29). Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 6. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article70602959

THE ETHNOLOGICAL COURT.
The Ethnological Court in the north-eastern gallery, which has for some time past excited so much curiosity on the part of the public, from the fact that they were excluded from it, and could only gaze at its exhibits over the top of the canvas barricade erected to prevent their admission, is now almost in a state of prepared-ness for the inspection of visitors, only a few finishing touches being required to complete the labours of the gentlemen who have had the matter under their care. We shall take an early opportunity of giving a detailed description of the various exhibits, but must at present content ourselves with stating the names of exhibitors and the localities from which their exhibits have been obtained. This Court will probably be one of the most thoroughly popular in the Exhibition. The following list shows the number of exhibits, the exhibitors' names, and the localities represented: Mr. A. T. Black, Customs, Broken Bay, New Zealand and Solomon Island; 507-891, THE ETHNOLOGICAL COURT.
(1879, November 10). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13450036

FOR PEAT'S FERRY.-The fast and commodious steamship MARRAMARRA leaves Patent Slip Wharf at9.30 a.m. Cargo received all day. Freights pin able in Svdnev. MELVEY and FORD. GOSFORD, BRISBANE WATER. Advertising. (1885, August 18). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved April 4, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13595557

An item of interest that occurred about this time may be mentioned. During one of the many floods in the Hawkesbury the tool chest of Captain Books was washed away. - Further down the river lived a Captain Peter Melvey, with his wife and family, and at the time we refer to Mrs. Melvey's sister, Miss Annie Williams, was staying 'with her. Whilst out rowing' one day they discovered a chest floating in the stream, and on being towed ashore and opened it was found to be the property of Captain George Books. Captain Melvey having informed the owner of the whereabouts of his chest, the latter called on his Way to sea to pick it up. He met Miss Williams, and a little later began a courtship that led to many ;years of marital happiness. AN APPRECIATION. (1934, September 28). Windsor and Richmond Gazette (NSW : 1888 - 1954), p. 9. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article85797947

Barrenjoey Customs Station at Barrenjoey -  threads collected and collated by A J Guesdon, 2013.