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.

10 March 2015

Whalers – Jervis Bay

The Factory ship Loch Tay.
The history of the largest factory whaling ship to work from Jervis Bay.
TBG14219110220001 Loch Tay

Built 1893. and named the SS Loch Tay, Newcastle UK for the Dundee Loch Line Steam Ship Co. Ltd.
5,474 tons gross and 3,300 tons net. 410 ft long – 49ft. 3inches in breath and 30ft deep.
1911. Sold to the  Australia Whaling Company Norway and converted to a whale processing vessel.
The Loch Tay and three new whale catchers Campbell, Lionell and Sorrell began operations off Jervis Bay, but found the whales merely passed our coast at certain seasons.   After 3 months of operation only 150 whales had been caught, one of them measuring 90ft in length.
They up anchored and proceeded to test the New Zealand waters, after only a few months they found the same problem there, despite catching thirty three sperm whales, which are one of the best obtainable for oil,  the fleet returned to Jervis Bay.



After returning to Jervis Bay for a second season it proved to be a good season for whales and no fewer than 329 were caught and dealt with.

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), Wednesday 6 August 1913,


1912. They moved the operation to Western Australia but ran into the same sort of problems with the authorities as they had with their Jervis Bay operation, and with the Freemantle Whaling Company.
1913 they closed their operation because of rising costs and the ongoing conflicts with authorities and trade unions.
1914. The company was liquidated, and the Loch Tay was converted to a cargo ship.
1918. She was Grounded and wrecked at Cap Ruby, Morocco with a cargo of wheat.


Ambergris  is a solid, waxy, flammable substance of a dull grey or blackish colour produced in the digestive system of sperm whales.

Freshly produced Ambergris has a marine, faecal odour. However, as it ages, it acquires a sweet, earthy scent commonly likened to the fragrance of rubbing alcohol without the vaporous chemical astringency. Although ambergris was formerly highly valued by perfumers as a fixative (allowing the scent to last much longer), it has now largely been replaced by synthetics.


Ref: Loch Tay image.

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