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.

19 May 2015

Jervis Bay Whaling – Profit and Loss

1913 Reports of large pods of whales, ‘for as far as you can see”, drew whalers and their ships from as far away as Norway to the east coast of Australia in search of large profits.
  After a short time working the east coast of Australia, profits were as hard to find as the whales.

Below is a report from the Shoalhaven Telegraph 1913, it gives some insight into the costs of operating these large ships.

The Captain of the Norwegian Whaler now lying in Jervis Bay,  in a conversation with the writer on Saturday last,  gave the following information:-

It will be 16 months on the 8th of August since the whaler left for these waters.  The expedition is financed by a wealthy Norwegian company,  and was formed in the first place to operate principally in Tasmanian waters,  where,  it was said,  there were plenty of whales.

On arrival however,  Captain Egeness says they were found to be vary scarce.

Therefore the trip so far has been a financial failure,  the loss to date being something in the vicinity of 40,000 pounds.  Even with a run of good catches from now until the end of the trip,  the company would still sustain a slight loss.

The expenses of the factory ship alone run to 1500 ponds a month.  This includes insurance,  provisions, etc,  but not wages.

There are 113 men all told employed on the whalers.

The men on the factory ship work on wages,  with a percentage on the oil ( so much per cask).

The men in the whale boats get wages also so much per whale,  which varies according to the class of whale.

Captain Egeness and Dr. Kolflaath both consider if a factory could be established to treat whales it would be a paying concern.  They are of the opinion their own country men are best adapted for shooting and landing whales,  and Australian workmen for the work on shore.

The best results for the trip have been secured at Jervis Bay.


1913 the Norwegian whale boats Sorell and Campbell operated from the bay,  supporting two factory ships the Loch Tay and the Polynesia,  the Polynesia had spent the 1912 season working in New Zealand Waters.

From June through to October they took 379 whales, making a total of 537 whales for the two seasons yielding 2666 tons of oil. This operation was forced to close down after only two seasons as there were many complaints received due to the strong odour and offal floating in the Bay.

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TBG14219110220001 Loch Tay

The Norwegian  factory ship Loch Tay.

whale in the bay

A whale being readied for processing inside Jervis Bay.




You can see these medieval like tools on display inside the museum, along with whale bones, drawings, and photographs.


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