Essentials for a shore-based whaling station:
- A sheltered Harbour, safe anchorage for ships leaving supplies and picking up barrels of oil.(WFM)Close to migrating whales. " ... the station nearest the headland was preferred as it was closest to the whaling grounds." If whales came from the South, then the south headland was preferred. (WFM)
- A lookout (tall tree, headland, island etc. Whales came from a known direction, eg South in Spencer's Gulf Remains of eg stone shelters can sometimes be seen at lookout points.(WFM)
- Tryworks. Trypots or tuns with some kind of support and fire underneath, maybe a stone slab platform for workers to stand on. Had to be away from water because water spoiled the oil. (WFM)
- Cool, damp storage for barrels of oil. (WFM)
- Huts and workshops positioned upwind of the smelly, smokey tryworks, but on level ground (WFM)
- Fresh water and building materials, both stone and timber, though any of these could be brought in by ship if necessary. (WFM)
- A gently sloping beach for hauling up carcasses and blubber; a natural rock platform was convenient for cutting in.(WFM)
My Notes on Fishery Beach:Location: Whales would have come from the South, so most likely lookout would have been on the Southern headland. Anchorage presumably okay. The beach is very stony, with rock outcrops extending into the sea and the drop to the water's edge is steep in 2019. Might have been different in early-mid nineteenth century.
Level sites: Land above the beach consists of terraces. Clark's hut located on one of these. Likely also workers' accomodation, though much has been obliterated by the building of a silver smelting works on the same site.
Building materials: There may have been timber, but it's gone now. Plenty of large slabs of slate available on the shore and creek bed and small, rounded stones for paths also on the shore.
Location of tryworks unknown, but probably far end of the beach
|Fishery Beach. Slate outcrops provided|
materials for floors and chimneys. Kangaroo Island
can be clearly seen on the horizon.
Image copyright Anne Tichborne 2019
My Notes on Encounter Bay:Locations were: near the Bluff (Rosetta Head) with the lookout stationed on summit of the Bluff - a flag signal was used. On Granite Island / Nulcoowarra with lookout at summit of the island.
The famous sketch of Christmas Day 1850 shows a very straight row of slab huts with substantial if roughly built (stone, not brick?) chimneys, and a couple of slab sheds. The roofing material looks same as the slab walls, though one or two may have been thatched. The prevailing wind is from the south. No sight of tryworks, but a structure on a slope of the Bluff could be shear-legs, though I understand this was on a floating platform at least some of the years whales were hunted at Encounter Bay.
The anchorage was not so very safe - three ships incl Solway were lost in a gale. Ships eventually learned to anchor in the lee of Granite Island.
- The Archaeology of Whaling in Southern Australia and New Zealand Susan Lawrence, editor 1998 (AWS)
- Whalers and Free Men. Life on Tasmania's Colonial Whaling Stations by Susan Lawrence Australian Scholarly Publishing Pty Ltd, Melbourne 2006 (WFM)