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.

2 January 2014

Whale hunting – Jervis Bay

whale-harpoon-4 It doesn’t matter how many time you see a whale, it’s always an amazing experience and will be relived in your conversations over and over.Between the months of May and July many whales are seen migrating north past Jervis Bay to the warmer waters of north eastern Australia.
There are many places to observe this annual migration and one of the local favourites is the lookout atop the cliffs near the old ruined lighthouse in Booderrie National Park.
During September and November we see the return of the whales, many with calf's, during their return they seem to have the time to call into the bay, sometimes seen right beside the beaches, a couple of years ago a southern right whale confounded the experts and attracted large crowds of onlookers by staying just outside the entrance to Currambene Creek, the experts had all sorts of theories, it was resting. it was sick, it might have been attacked by sharks or hit by a boat,,,we heard it all, but the whale surprised everyone, because a few days later it gave birth to a beautiful calf before moving off with it’s new baby to finish it’s migration south.

Jervis Bay has a number of tour operators more than willing to give you a close encounter with these magnificent marine mammals. detail of these can be found at the visitors centre inside the museum.

Types of Whales Hunted. There were two main types of whales pursued in our waters, the Humpback and the Southern Right Whale.
Haunting whale sounds here.
whale-image right-whale
’Bend ya backs and row me lads and take me to me whale”
In the past this annual migration was seen as an opportunity by whale hunting companies to get rich by turning these magnificent creatures into oil and other by products.
All of which can be replaced with synthetic equivalents now.

Jervis Bay whale hunting.I can hear you saying!!…….. I didn’t know they hunted whales from Jervis Bay?
Whalers visited the bay hunting whales as early as the 1790’s right up until 1913.
Large whaling ships called into the bays sheltered waters during whale operations along the southern coast and reprovisioned their ships at Bristol Point.
1790’s Whaling was a messy, smelly and dangerous low paid job and when gold was discovered in the hills behind Jervis bay many of the ship crews would desert the ship hoping to strike it rich in the gold fields around Nerriga and Yalwal.
Calling into the bay became less desirable for ship owners and eventually stopped.
Read more - Captain William Kinghorn
1840 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. There is an area of land between Culburra and Currarong named after the family,  Kinghorn Point and can be accessed from the road out to Currarong as are Kinghorn Street in Nowra and Goulburn. Captain Kinghorn died in his home in his eighties in Goulburn in 1878.
How long the station remained in operation is unknown, In 1859 The Caroline was wrecked at Point Perpendicular and the crew made their way through the bush and came upon the station of James Kinghorn, Esq., “who’s superintendent rendered them every assistance”.so it appears that the whaling station was possibly still operational in 1859.
1912  The Norwegian factory ship the Loch Tay, plus three chasers the Sorrell, Campbell and Lionel arrived in the Bay to hunt whales with the full support of the NSW government, they harpooned 158 whales in the opening season.
Their eventual take totaled 537 whales in two seasons, but they were forced to close because of the strong odor that drifted across the bay towards the now operational HMAS Creswell and Huskisson, when the summer north east winds blew, as well as putrid offal floating in the bay that attracted large sharks and made the navy’s training operations dangerous.
One of the beautiful paintings by Ian Hansen on display in the museum, depicting whale operations near Bristol Point.
Records show that a small whale hunting operation was running on the southern side of the bay, near Bristol Point and Greenpatch, this operation may have been used to supplement the fishing families income.

1919 an investor Mr Moore was willing to spend large sums of money to set up another large land based operation in the bay. With the experience of the previous operation and after correspondence between the NSW Premier and the serving Prime Minister William Watt, the Prime Minister stated!
“it would be unwise to permit the establishment of a whaling station which is in close proximity to the Naval College  HMAS Creswell" and with that, all whaling from Jervis Bay ceased.
Today: Fortunately for us all, most countries have ceased whaling operations. In the oceans close to Australia the Japanese are still conducting operations under the ridiculous facade of research.
Despite this the whale population around the world is slowly recovering, but sits on a knife edge, with more pressure being applied to the few remaining whale hunting countries to stop operations, hopefully we will see some common sense and a return of large numbers of these amazingly beautiful creatures to our oceans.

The museum has a fine collection of equipment and information on display from the whaling industry, some can be seen on this page,  pay us a visit and take a walk back into an era long since past!
bone-ship scrimshaw

REF: Read more:

1 comment :

  1. Interesting history. I wonder what they did with all the skeletons?