Monday, 10 December 2012

Signal Hill

In the early days of settlement at Shellharbour, when ships came into the harbour, the Dunster family who farmed ‘Signal Hill’ (known locally as ‘Duster's Hill), would send a signal to farmers living in the outlying areas.

Early settlers and farmers relied on the shipping trade to make their living and survive. From as early as 1856 steamers called in at the harbour however the ships were restricted by the tides as the water was not very deep at that time.

Over the years vast improvements were made to the harbour; it was deepened and a jetty added for loading and unloading goods. A storehouse was also built at the end of the jetty to store supplies.

In those early years before the telegraph when communication across Shellharbour was greatly restricted and the population widespread, a means of communicating with the outlying settlements was needed.

Dunster’s Hill is the highest hill in Shellharbour and is visible over almost the entire City, even to this day. High atop this hill, the Dunster family could keep watch for coastal ships calling at the harbour. When ships did arrive, a huge wicker ball was raised into one of the large fig trees atop the hill.

Settlers in the low lying areas of the Macquarie Valley would then set off to the harbour with their produce to be taken to the Sydney markets.


The ball tree and members of the Dunster family at Dunster's Hill c.1923
Shellharbour Images, Shellharbour City Libraries

Draw tube telescope used at Dunster's Hill to watch for coastal shipsin the 1800s
Shellharbour Images, Shellharbour City Libraries

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